God Can Use Anybody


I wish I had a big poster like the one where Uncle Sam is recruiting men for the army and he’s pointing out of the poster and saying, “Uncle Sam wants you!” Only I wish I had a big one like that with a picture of Jesus on it, pointing out, saying, “Jesus Christ wants you!”

I believe Jesus Christ wants us – that the Holy Spirit is pointing to us and saying, “Jesus Christ wants you!” In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians we read: 

But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your call, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away.

1 Corinthians 1:23-2:6

Now the apostle Paul is saying to us that, in the initial stages of God’s dealings with people, He doesn’t approach them as though they were wise or powerful. How many of you remember what you were like when you first met the Lord? Some of us remember that we were really poor. Others of us may not have been literally poor, but we realized our spiritual poverty.

What I see from this Scripture and others is that God can use anybody – for the power is not in the individual but in the God who calls. Now God may give one wisdom and strength. God may give one wealth. God will equip.

But it’s important to see that God can use anybody.


Historically, God has used ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Later, we deify those ordinary people because we see what God has made of them and we attribute what they became to themselves, when in fact they were nothing until God laid hold of them. We think, “Well, I could never be like that.” But if we could have known them as God first knew them, we could identify with them.

One of the things God is doing is helping us see the people He uses the way they are. God is helping us to realize that He doesn’t need much – He just needs someone that’s available, that’s all.

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 

James 5:17

Now, this Scripture from James 5:17 tells us about Elijah – one of my favorite prophets. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn’t … not for three and a half years. Then he prayed again and God poured out rain on the earth.

The King James version says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are…” He had the same problems. He had the same temptations. He had the same nature. But God used this ordinary man in an extraordinary way.

Elijah went in before the king unannounced and said, ‘It won’t rain or dew ‘til I say so. See you later.’

For three and a half years it was bone dry until he appeared again. By that time, all the nations around were looking for him … he had the water handle in his hand. When they found him, he stood and prayed a very simple prayer of around 18 or 20 words, and turned the water on. Fire came down from heaven and burned a saturated offering on the altar of God, so that all of Israel fell on their faces and said, “The Lord He is God. The Lord He is God.” Elijah was a man just like we are. The difference between him and any other man was God Almighty. That was the difference.

You know, I can’t help but wonder what we would have done with Elijah had he appeared today. Elijah comes into town, looks up the local elders and says, “I feel like I have a word.”
“Where are you from?”
“Tish? Tish? We don’t know anybody from Tish. Where were you trained?”
“I have a word that I feel I need to deliver…”
“Well, brother, if you’ll just spend a few years in seminary…”

How many of you know that if he had gone through the traditional religious training to get ready to deliver that word, it would have been too late to deliver it, anyway? And when they got through with him, he probably would have doubted everything he thought he had from God in the beginning. Often we minister so much doubt to ordinary people that they can never do extraordinary things because they lose the simplicity of their faith.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to train people and to equip them. But their function in God depends on God’s choice of them and their availability – because God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

Jesus violated all the known norms of His day. He called ordinary people to change the world. Scripture goes to great lengths to point out that those whom Jesus called were from among the people – rank and file; not some group that had already been chosen and accepted by their society. Yet look at what God did through them.

God has likewise promised to do a mighty work in the earth in our day, Do you believe that’s true? You know if there’s one thing that I’ve gotten out of this conference, it’s a new hope and a new faith that God’s going to do something bigger than I thought He was going to do.

Many of us, when we came to the Lord, were hopeless… “without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12), But when we came to God, a spark of life came into us by faith, and as we’ve gone on with God, that life has increased and our hope and our faith have constantly grown.


God has promised to do a mighty thing in the earth. Now I didn’t always believe that. There was a period in my ministry when hope had dimmed to a flickering flame ready to be snuffed out completely by even the slightest breeze. Cynicism and sarcasm took over my personality. All of my jokes bit, and behind every smile was acid because hope was gone.

During that period of time, I became very politically oriented and joined the John Birch Society. I became gripped by a negative feeling that if nothing changed, the whole world would be communist by the mid- 70’s or late 70’s. As a result, I became a negative preacher.

I talked regularly about the need for a return to the faith, but I’ll tell you, without the Holy Spirit, faith doesn’t make any sense. And with the Holy Spirit, that faith is a live, raging fire. With every attempt to preach a return to the Bible and to warn people to look out for liberals, communists and modernists, things got worse. Each week, my sermons consisted of the latest crime statistics and how much worse things had gotten since the week before. I preached about apostasy and I got it every week.

It was in that condition, stewing in a squalor of pessimism and cynicism, that I somehow began to preach through the Book of Acts. And God began to thaw out my own heart. Finally, one Thursday morning in a little prayer meeting in a tiny storefront building in Pensacola, Florida, Jesus baptized me with the Holy Spirit and fire! Oh, hallelujah, what a day of rejoicing that was!

Now, that day I happened to be with an exuberant group, and I didn’t get the baptism quietly. I have no complaints. You can get it any way God will give it to you. But I got it loudly, thank God, laughing and crying and rejoicing. I did everything but speak in tongues because I thought Baptists didn’t have to speak in tongues. A few days later, though, God wonderfully liberated my tongue. But the first thing I did was prophesy.

The interesting thing was, I prophesied something that I did not know. What I heard coming out of my mouth was that God was going to do something mighty in the earth… that He was pouring out His Spirit and there would be a great revival! Now there was no room for that in my theology. My theology was that the Church was going to get sicker and sicker until, on its deathbed, Jesus would come and get it and give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the way to heaven. But all of a sudden, that theology exploded and I was talking about a glorious church without spot or wrinkle and a wonderful, exuberant, beautiful bride that the Bridegroom was coming for. Glory to God, that’s a better picture.

My mind had to catch up with my spirit, which sometimes takes years. At times I found myself trying to preach the old doctrine with a new anointing. You talk about getting messed up! I was trying to warn people to look out while at the same time wanting to shout “Glory!” It’s hard to get those two things to go together, so you can guess which one I let go.


I found that when I talked about the glory of the Lord, a joy came in and people wanted to serve the Lord more than when I beat them. I also found that when I fed them the word of God and began to lift their hope by preaching the Scriptures like Isaiah 60, where it says, “Arise and shine for your light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you,” that people wanted to rise to it.

Glory to Jesus! I began to preach that. As I shared on the glory of the Lord, I saw our people come alive with smiles and a new desire to be in church to worship the Lord and pray and read their Bibles. Something beautiful and wonderful was happening. We were rising to a vision, yet unclear – but its truth was dawning; Gad was going to do something awesome and mighty and splendid in the earth.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, I began to see Scriptures I never saw before. Have you ever come across a Scripture that you had read before but never really seen? God starts to show you something, and you say, “My goodness, Lord… You mean You’re going to do that before You do this? I thought that was all going to happen over there. You mean that’s going to happen here? Praise the Lord!” God’s word teaches us.

We’ve heard Joel 2 quoted “it shall come to pass, says God, that afterwards… (after all that fasting and prayer Joel talks about) I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” Now Peter quoted that on Pentecost, and it was fulfilled in a measure at Pentecost. That was a foretaste. But Joel 2 is still being fulfilled. It’s not finished. It’s connected with the end times.

We have quoted James 5:7, “The husbandman has patience for the fruit of the earth until it receives the early and the latter rain,” There’s going to be a great rain.

The Scriptures demonstrate that even the prophets who prophesied destruction and great problems always ended their prophecies with words of comfort. “Comfort! Comfort My people, says the Lord. I will yet do a great thing…” The Lord begins to lift their hope. He rebukes them and even brings judgment at times in order to purify them for what He is yet to do. Even God’s judgment is redemptive, for on the other side of the chastisement is both a glorious reward and additional work that God wants to do. The evidence is all around us.

Who could come to this ecumenical charismatic renewal conference here and deny what God is doing? It is unthinkable that a movement less than 15 years old should assemble the largest ecumenical gathering or convention of any kind right here in Kansas City. That alone is a fantastic testimony that Jesus is doing greater and mightier things in our midst.


Now, if you believe the Scriptures, the evidence that you believe is preparation. It is foolish for us to testify that we believe God will do a mighty work in the earth… that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea… and make no preparation. Preparation is the evidence of faith.

The Lord spoke to a man named Noah, whom the New Testament calls “a preacher of righteousness.” According to the Scriptures, he’s the only man in his family who found favor in the eyes of God. He lived in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation – very much like the secular society in which we find ourselves. But his heart was right toward God. He was a covenant man with a covenant family. He was an example to his wife and his sons. His sons, in turn, had apparently been an example to their wives – and their families were intact. They were walking in the ways of God in the midst of a disintegrating society.

Now God spoke to Noah one day as they were walking along. “Noah, you know what I’m going to do?” “No, Lord.”
God said, “I’m going to destroy the world by a flood, But you’ve found grace in My eyes.” Now Noah believed that.
“So I’ll tell you what I want you to do, Noah. I want you to build an ark … a ship 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. I want you to get right to work on it.”

Notice, Noah didn’t go home and teach on the ark. He didn’t start the ark prayer group. He didn’t put out an ark periodical. I’m not against any of those things; all I’m saying is: what Noah had to do was build the thing. A lot of us have been content to study the blueprints – to attend seminars about it – and to read magazines about it – and sing songs about it – but we haven’t built the thing. If we really believe God’s going to do what He said, preparation is required.

That’s not easy. Building is dirty and hard and toilsome. We’ve got to get beyond the seminar state into the building state; joint to joint; member to member; tying in; fitting together; working it out; reconciling ourselves to one another; and agreeing together in the Holy Spirit. It takes a long time to build. Scripture says that after Noah started building the ark, it was 100 years before he got in it.

But a hundred years later, when it started raining, the boat was ready. it would have been sad if 95 years later – after things had continued to get much worse – Noah would have said to his wife one day, “You know, I think we ought to start on that boat.” It takes as long as God says it takes to do what God says must be done. It’s too late to wait until it’s apparent. Now is the time to start preparing.

Zachariah and Elizabeth

Zachariah was a man who prayed but didn’t believe. Zachariah and Elizabeth prayed all the time that God would give them a child. A lot of years had slipped by, and they were up close to 90, well past child-bearing age. But Zachariah was a religious man, the kind used to praying without getting answers. And he had done it all the time. One day he was standing before God’s altar and the angel of the Lord appeared to him… and he got scared – which tells you there’s a lot of difference between ritual and reality. When reality hits a ritualistic person, it scares the daylights out of him.

But the angel of God said, “Zachariah, your prayers have been heard. I’m going to give you a son,”

Zachariah said, “You can’t do that. What do you mean, give us a son? Why, Elizabeth and I are too old.”

God said, “Well, you’ll still get your son, Zachariah, but you won’t talk till it happens because you didn’t believe Me.” And after that Zachariah went around writing for nine months. The Bible says he praised and prophesied when God loosed his tongue. I’ll bet you he did.


Simeon was a different kind of man. The Bible says he was just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. When Mary and Joseph laid the little baby Jesus in his hands… of all the hundreds of babies laid in his hands… when this one baby was laid, Simeon said, “Take me home, Lord. I’ve seen your salvation.” He was looking. He was prepared.


Now if we believe, it makes no sense to believe and do nothing about it. The Bible says, “Take earnest heed of the things that have been entrusted… Don’t neglect the salvation. Listen to the prophecies that have gone on before time” – 1 Timothy 1:18.

Now there are prophecies… and there are prophecies. Some prophecies are for exhortation, edification and comfort. Sometimes God will give you a revelation that will change your life. Other times, a prophecy may just be words of the flesh. But it pays to discern prophecy, and when you believe God has spoken, to take note of it. The Bible warns us not to despise prophesying. There have been instances when prophecy has affected the course of my life.

God once spoke a word to me when three of us Baptist ministers – Ken Sumrall, Ralph Branham and myself – were together. The three of us had been filled with the Holy Spirit together and night after night we used to drive 60, 70, and 100 miles just to be together to pray.

At that time, each of our ministries was in quite a state of turmoil – Ken had been asked to leave his church, Ralph was about to be asked to leave his, and I wasn’t sure about mine. Back then there was no charismatic movement that we knew of. We just knew we were being asked out of something and into a sort of wilderness, to trust God.

The night God spoke to me, we had been praying together late at night. All the lights in the church were out except the altar lights and it was about midnight. Ken and I were walking up and down the aisle together praying, and Ralph was standing in front of the altar.

Now, Ralph had a way of prophesying colossal, stupendous things… and I was always the careful, conservative one. God will always put those two kinds of people together to do each other good. Ralph used to always get me into trouble and then I’d have to pray my way out.

Anyhow, this particular time, Ralph began to prophesy concerning Ken Sumrall and me. “Thus saith the Lord, even as you two are walking up and down the aisle together, so shall you now go around the world and preach the gospel.” I said, “’God, You’ve got to forgive Ralph. He gets carried away. I’ve hardly ever been out of this county preaching the gospel, let alone the world.” But five years later, when Ken and I boarded a plane together in New York and sat down heading for around the world, it hit me. I said, “Do you remember that prophecy?” Ken said, “I was just thinking about it.”

God’s word is faithful. If God says it, He will do what He said. One night, when about 20 or 25 of us were gathered together, seeking the Lord in our prayer room, God spoke to us. We’d been through a real persecution – at least in our understanding of persecution – from other Christians. We’d been through the fire. In the middle of that situation, as we were waiting before the Lord, God gave us a word. He said, “When you are not gathering the harvest, don’t sit around on the porch. Get your tools ready and get your barn ready because when the harvest comes, it’ll be too late to do that. And the harvest is going to be so big that when you’re bringing it in from the field, you’re going to drop it along the way and weep because there are not enough of you to get it all in. Get ready. Don’t wait.”

There was just a handful of us then, but most of those men heard that word. And today, twelve years later, most of them are sitting right here in this room because they got ready. Nearly all those men are full time harvest gatherers now. Because they got their tools ready, they now know the joy of the harvest. And I want to say to you: This is not the harvest, this is just the laborers’ meeting. The real harvest is out there! Let’s get ready for it.

You say, “Charles, I’m not experienced in gathering the harvest.” Well, let’s just touch on the kind of laborer I’m talking about. I’m going to say something that will sound strange to some, but the calling that I see in Matthew 9:36 is not your typical evangelistic laborer – he’s a shepherding laborer.

Prior to Matthew 9:36, Jesus had just toured the whole area and had great miracles, deliverance, healing, tremendous revivals. If I had conducted that campaign, and someone had asked me about the results, I would have said, “Hallelujah! We’ve just had great victory. God is moving.” But what Jesus said was quite different. He was downcast… He was sorrowful… He was compassionate… and He said, “The thing that impressed Me about the meetings was that there’s nobody to take care of all those people. They are sheep without shepherds.” Then He said to His disciples, “Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth shepherding laborers who will take care of the harvest.”


Now, we can’t ripen the harvest. God does that. We can’t send the rain. God does that. But conservation and care are our responsibility. You say, “Well, I’m not experienced in that.” Well, Peter wasn’t experienced in it. Neither were John or Andrew. I want to stress one word – what God wants from you is availability.

Are you available to the Lord? Not everybody has the same calling. Not everyone will be a pastor or an evangelist or a prophet or apostle; but all of us, under God, need to be available to God.

Available. When John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” there was a throng, but there were only two or three that were available. The Pharisees were there, but they weren’t available. The scribes were there, but they weren’t available. Somebody said, “Why doesn’t God use the best people… the wise people?” Usually because they’re not available.

When Jesus went up to Galilee He looked at Peter and He said, “You want to come with Me?” Peter said, “I’m available.” Something about the way Jesus said it grabbed him.

Jesus walked by the tax collector’s table and said, “Matthew.” Matthew said, “I found all there is to know about money. I’m available.”
“Well, I doubt if you can do anything with me, but I’m available.”
“James and John?”
“Well, if there’s a fight around, we’re available. We always did want to see fire fall on somebody.”


Jesus believed the Father. The Father had told Him, “You’re going to be a light to the Gentiles,” He believed the Father in spite of Peter’s denial, in spite of Thomas’ doubt, in spite of James’ and John’s immaturity, He believed the Father, that God would fulfill His promise.

Pentecost was no surprise to Jesus. It might have surprised a lot of people, but it didn’t surprise Jesus. God has promised, and if we’ll believe Him in spite of ourselves and in spite of what we see, we’ll see what He promised come to pass.

Jesus taught His men to look for other men like themselves and do in them what He had done. He said, “I want you to go fish for men – just ordinary men. It’s not the kind of men they are, primarily. It’s what you’re going to do for them, and what you’re going to teach them.”

Jesus was the best fisherman there ever was. He could stand and see a man under a fig tree and He could cast over there and hook him. He knew how to fish. He knew how to bait His hook. A good fisherman knows when, where and how to fish and what to fish with.

Good fishing is not an accident. Catching men is not a mass plan that gets some by luck, but misses most. It comes by the discerning of the Spirit. Now, I have nothing against mass evangelism. But right now I’m talking about fishing for people individually – personally. A good fisherman is not necessarily the man with the biggest boat and the most seats in it. He’s the man with the fish.

I want to close with this story. Douglas Hyde, who was the number one communist leader in England years back and who edited the London Daily Worker, wrote a hook after his conversion to Christ called Dedication and Leadership. In this book, he said, “There’s one condition for making a leader, and that’s dedication.” One day he was challenged by a man who came up after one of his lectures. The man was obese, introverted and shy and he had a terrible stutter. He was an unlikely candidate for any kind of leadership, but he walked up to Douglas Hyde and said, “Mm–m–mister H–y–y–d–e, mm–m– make me a 11–1–leader.” Hyde said he almost threw away his idea.

But Douglas Hyde took that man, and tutored him. He said he saw one thing in this man – he was dedicated. Hyde taught him dialectic materialism until he knew the book backwards and forwards. Soon the man became confident because he knew what he was talking about. And then Hyde gave him one man and said, “Tutor this man.” And he tutored that man – and then he tutored another. Then Hyde taught him a trade, and he became so successful in his craft that finally he became president of his union. Douglas Hyde said that when that man died, he was the leading labor leader in all England at that time. That man had one quality. He was available.

God’s going to do a mighty thing in the earth. He’s looking for laborers, and as I give this message, I’m looking at a lot of laborers. Are you available? The job is open. We don’t need to make the plan. God’s got the plan. All we need to do is give ourselves to the will of God, to make ourselves available.

I want to ask you four questions and all I want you to do if you’re available is to say “Yes” right out loud. If you’re not available, keep silent. Now here are the questions:

  1. Are you willing for Jesus Christ to be your Lord?
  2. Are you willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit?
  3. Are you willing to be trained by someone who has proven they know how to fish?
  4. Are you willing to commit yourself to walk faithfully with your Christian brothers?

If you’re available, and if you’ve said “Yes” to those four questions, you can count on God. He’s going to use you.

This article is adapted from a talk given by Charles Simpson at the Ecumenical Charismatic Renewal Conference held in Kansas City, USA in 1977. First printed in New Wine Magazine, Vol. 9. No. 9, 1977.

Top image credit: Photo of young people Bible study group, from Lightstock.com. Used with permission.

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