What is it like to talk to God? If anyone knows, it’s Pastor Clark Taylor. He’s the founder of Christian Outreach Centres, now known as the International Network of Churches (INC), and at 83, he’s had a life full of encounters with the Holy Spirit.
Talking to Matt Prater on Vision’s 20Twenty, Clark told how he grew up in a farming family, running stock camps of up to eight men by age 16. When his father died in a tractor accident, he took charge of the million acre property, the 30th largest privately owned cattle station in Australian history.
When his cousin asked him to come along to Billy Graham’s crusade in 1959, he agreed because he wanted to know the price of cattle in Ipswich. “I was in those days against religion,” he said. “I thought Ministers were bludgers,, and I wasn’t very fussed on Americans. Quite stupid of me, but that’s who I was, very rough, very quick-tempered, very angry.”
But that night, Jesus appeared in the air in front of him, and he knew in his heart that His sacrifice was real. “I don’t remember one word that Billy Graham said,” he admitted. “I was occupied with the vision of Christ that I saw.”
“When I came to myself again, he was making the appeal for people to come forward. I wasn’t frightened of anything, fights or wild horses or cattle. But I was so frightened to get up and walk out in front of all those people. And at last I said ‘Jesus, help me’, and I found myself going to the front.”
Graham regularly mailed him material after the crusade. Having never been to school, at that time Taylor didn’t read or write much. “But I memorised every verse, and I read every word he sent me. I got four 78 records of him preaching. I used to have a gramophone, and I used to listen to them over and over, so often that I memorised them.”
Eventually Taylor started talking to God, but he was offended when at first he heard no answer. “Territory mateship means that if your mate’s in a fight, you don’t even think twice. It’s not whether he’s right or wrong. You’re into it with every bit of strength you’ve got. And I thought well Jesus and I have become mates, because I wasn’t used to Church. And I said Jesus, you’re not much of a mate. You don’t talk to me!”
“It might sound audacious. I wasn’t audacious. I just wanted Him to talk to me. I wanted a relationship with him. And I was, in a way, determined to have a relationship with Him.”
Eventually Taylor’s determination paid off, and he learned to hear God’s guidance. He was asked to witness to some farmers in the area, and 18 months later when he left for Bible college, they had to hire a Minister to run the Church and Sunday school he’d inspired. “People were standing in the back of cattle trucks backed up to the windows of the Church for my farewell.”
“Why did I say that? Just to say that God is incredibly gracious. I was real rough. I thought when I give up swearing, I’ll be ok. But as soon as I finally gave up swearing, I realised I had another problem. And after a while, I got to cotton on to what God did. He just gave me a bit at a time.”
That graciousness means that God doesn’t hold the past against us. “Christ died on the cross for you. He knew all about you, and he loved you anyhow. He knew all about me, and there wasn’t all that much that was brilliant. And he loved me as if I was the only person in the world. He’ll love you too.”
Taylor says part of learning to talk to God is learning to expect to hear from him, to listen and believe when you do. “You won’t always feel God near you, but he’s promised I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you. So whether you feel Him or not, He’s there. Talk to Him. Make Him your friend. He is the best friend you could ever have.”
In Mark 11:22, Jesus says “put your trust in God. He goes on to talk about Faith. “God is not difficult to know. God is easy to know, provided you come from your inner life. Your head discusses and argues and whatever, but it’s your spirit, your inward person, the hidden person of the heart, Peter calls it. It’s from deep within that you know God, and God loves you.
Soon afterward, Taylor was miraculously healed of a bout of cerebral Malaria which had left him suffering seizures for years. He spoke about what he learnt from that and how it lead him closer toward his destiny of planting 170 Churches. Listen to the podcast of his conversation with Matt Prater below for all that and more.
Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.
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