Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 25

Wisdom Breaks Barriers

Have you ever faced a barrier in your path? Today, on the way to a meeting, a huge truck was stuck on the sloped pavement of a driveway, blocking the road in front of me. I had two choices. Give up and go home, or find a way past the barrier. While breaking through the barrier involved driving through a portion of someone’s front yard (no damage was done) it also involved some form of courage and decisiveness. “What will the car behind me think? What if I can’t clear the barrier and I get stuck?”

 Barriers of many kinds appear often and most anywhere. Do you get stuck, and turn around and go back home thinking “oh well” I tried, or do you push through. Breaking barriers takes wisdom to determine what needs to be done, and then takes courage and decisiveness to follow through.

Jesus broke through all kinds of barriers for us (most importantly the one separating us from God), and showed us the heart we need to break through barriers.

  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Sam Powell, lead evangelist of the NY Church of Christ, shares ways God used wisdom from others to break through barriers:

Wisdom Breaks Barriors

By Sam Powell

I met Wyndham in the spring of 1975. I was a freshman at N.C. State University and he was the campus minister. God indeed does move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. I think about the barriers the Lord used Wyndham to break in my life. 

The Spiritual Barrier

Wyndham counted the costs of becoming a disciple of Jesus with me. My life was about women, partying, and all the wrong things. I never thought I could or would be a Christian. The spiritual barrier for me was overcoming my sinful life but also believing and understanding that being a Christian meant being a man of strength, integrity, conviction, and character. Wyndham broke the barrier of how I viewed men who followed Jesus. He most definitely broke down the barrier of how I viewed ministers. It wasn’t just the absence of robes and collars. He was a man of deep conviction and intensity for God, but he also like sports and could talk about them in a practical and knowledgeable way. It was a far cry from TV evangelists and the church I had attended back home.

Sam’s wedding

The Racial Barrier

When I initially visited the Brooks Avenue church in the mid 70’s I thought it would be my first and last visit there. There were just a hand full of black people in the church and one black guy in the campus ministry to whom I could not relate. Wyndham, the young campus minister, and many others showed me the love of God that could break down racial walls. Though there were laws against segregation, it was still the norm in the hearts and minds of many, especially in the church. In the churches of Christ the strategy was to have a black church and a white church in the same town. At seminars there always a preacher from the “black church” to give one of the keynote speeches. Wyndham mentored and trained me just as he would have anyone else, not to be a black minister, but to be a minister of the gospel who just happened to be black. Because of his influence I was the first black man to be sent out to serve in the campus ministry in the churches of Christ, where diversity eventually became more the norm.

Sam preaching at world conference in San Antonio

The Ineffectiveness Barrier

Wyndham, more than anyone, helped me overcome the areas that stood in the way of my effectiveness as disciple. My sanguine temperament and conflict avoiding nature were detriments to fruitfulness and impact. I wanted everyone to like me. Wyndham seemed to not care about that at all as he spoke the truth to me. He taught me the most valuable lessons in life and ministry—Put character and heart above the outward appearance. The greatest battle in life is the battle to conquer self. More than in words he demonstrated it in his life.

Recently when facing a challenging situation of major importance and consequence I could think of no better person to call to seek wisdom than my mentor, example, and best friend, Wyndham. He may now be physically disabled and retired from full time ministry, but the life lessons he has taught me will never retire from my heart and soul.


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  1. Cynthia Mahagan

    Thank you for sharing! So inspirational! God is all powerful!

  2. Debbie

    So impactful. I remember well these two young men in 1975! Thanks for sharing and powerfully preaching the gospel these past 42 years!

  3. aladyinfrance

    It’s so neat seeing a picture of a young Sam Powell and hearing his experience from the early days. I’m so glad there are people like Wyndham who could break through racial barriers back when it was even less talked about than it is now – that he just saw Sam as a friend and a soul.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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