If you have not heard of it by now, you will very soon! I’m referring to PROMISE KEEPERS. It is a growing movement of men across the nation who gather together to encourage, challenge, and pray for each other to be men of integrity. We all know what “promise makers” are, and sadly so do many lonely wives, children and churches. “Promise Keepers” are men who by the grace of God look to the Lord for their strength in keeping their promises, and look to each other for accountability.
Last June, I went with 21 men from our little church to the Promise Keepers Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Approximately 64,000 men crowded the indoor stadium. That’s right, 64,000. I’ve always wondered what it would sound like to be in such a large crowd and sing great hymns of faith. Now I know! Some songs we had never heard of and learned to sing there; others we knew by heart. We will remember for a long time, our closing song, “Amazing Grace,” sung by 64,000 men a cappella. Awesome! A foretaste of things to come!
The conference was far more than just singing however. We were also challenged by a number of speakers to self examination. They pulled no punches about our relationships with God, our wives, children, churches and communities. I remember Jim, a friend of a member in our church, who turned to me in the middle of the conference, thanking us for inviting him to “Promise Keepers.” He said that he never had a church background or was taught the Bible, and that he couldn’t wait to get home to his wife and children to “make things right.” One month later, Jim came to our follow-up meeting and said, “For the first time in my life, I read the Bible to my children at night, and I regularly go to church with my family.” He went on to say that even his children have noticed the difference in their dad. Jim still comes faithfully to our monthly meetings, reads his Bible and worships with his family. Four other men in our church, who weren't always regular in their church attendance, were slack in their personal Bible study and prayer and negligent in family responsibilities, have made real changes. Each week they call each other up to encourage, admonish and pray for each other to keep their promises.
I’m a pastor, I was especially thankful for the strong message and emphasis to support pastors and the work ofthe church. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches us that belief in the “communion of saints” means that each member considers it his “duty” to use the gifts and treasures given by God, readily and cheerfully for the edification of other members. How the pastors who attended “Promise Keepers” experienced that! “Promise Keepers” are committed to a strong, vital relationship to the Lord, and they know that means an active church life as well. Most helpful was the time when all the ministers were asked to stand. After the encouraging cheers calmed down, men gathered around each minister and prayed a prayer for blessing upon the work ofthese men. They prayed that these ministers called by God to a special task, might remain true to God, true to His Word and true to the people placed under their oversight, by living a godly life. What a joy it is for a pastor to see men zealous for the spiritual health and strength of their families and church families.
I Chronicles 12:32 gives a description of the men of Issachar who were detennined to make David king. The men of Issachar were men who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” “Promise Keepers” are men who understand that the times in which we live today desperately cry out for men of integrity. They understand that integrity starts with a man who fears God and trusts Him for the grace and strength to keep his promises. “Promise Keepers” know that ifour communities are going to be peaceful and safe places to raise families, it will require communities infiltrated and guarded by men of integrity, men who daily are strengthening their personal relationship with God, are learning to improve in their love for their wives, are teaching and training their children with Biblical values and doing their part to enhance the witness of their local churches.
You have heard briefly what “Promise Keepers” is about. Mark this however; you will hear much more in the near future. Plans are already underway for many more conferences around the country because the demand is that great! I hope however, that you will not merely hear about it, but that you will participate in it. I hope your family has or will have the privilege and joy of a “Promise Keeper” in the home. I hope your pastor has the joy of watching “Promise Keepers” praying and supporting the work of the church . If you are a pastor, I hope you can experience the encouragement, appreciation and loving support that “Promise Keepers” give! Most of all, I hope that God will receive glory from the pagans on the day He visits because of your own “honest conversation” or PROMISE KEEPING (I Peter 2:12)!
Rev. C.J. den Dulk is pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in Sparta, MI.