It's easy to forget the periods of wrestling and waiting that God uses to prepare us for His work. This month, as we approach Leading The Way's 30th anniversary, we continue to remember God's faithful work in Dr. Michael Youssef's life over the last 70 years to bring to fruition these 30 powerful years of passionately proclaiming uncompromising Truth.
1970: LIFE SPEEDS UP
"The story of Leading The Way is a story about God and His faithfulness."
Michael Youssef arrived in Australia on a Sunday morning. Within the first week, he had a job and an apartment. His third Sunday in Australia, Michael attended a church and met Elizabeth Bailey; in the short walk to her home to have lunch with her family, Michael had fallen in love. Though the couple stumbled over Michael's calling to the United States, they determined to trust God.
"We had not resolved the matter of the United States, but we knew we were both following God's will. I proposed, and we became engaged in March 1971, just ten months after arriving in Australia. In December, we were married. . . . In February, I enrolled at Moore Theological College. Three years later, I was ordained."
1977: STEPPING OUT IN FAITH
After two years of serving as an assistant rector, God pressed Michael to take another step. He shared his burden with Elizabeth, and though it would require her to leave her native land and aging parents, she tearfully agreed, "God is first in our lives. We need to trust Him and obey." They moved to Pasadena, California, so Michael could study cross-cultural communication at Fuller Theological Seminary.
"I [had] a sense that God had something special for me to do, and I knew that I would enter into that special work only after I went to America. . . . I had a strong urge to prepare myself to preach to people of many cultures."
1979: LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD
After completing his master's degree at Fuller, Michael planned to enter the doctoral program but had to face the fact that they had simply run out of money. God led Michael to serve full-time with the Atlanta-based Haggai Institute to advance Christian leadership in third-world countries.
"I knew it was God's next step for me. . . . Going to Atlanta, of course, meant giving up my dream for a doctoral degree in communications. . . . ‘I have surrendered to your will,' I prayed. ‘If you still want me to have more schooling, you have to open the door.'"Later, God rekindled Michael's hope of completing his studies. In 1984, Michael earned his doctorate from Emory University in sociology of religion, expertise he would later use in ministry.
Soon after joining the Cathedral of St. Philip, Michael was asked to teach a Bible class. As the class grew in attendance to even 150 people, he realized there were many who hungered for God's Word. The class became a highlight of his week, but something was gnawing at him.
"Finally I realized that God had been trying to speak to me and I hadn't been listening. . . . I began to listen to God, and then the message came through. Finally I voiced it to Elizabeth, 'I need to get into a consistent preaching ministry. . . . I need to have an ongoing, consistent place to preach the Gospel.'"
1987: THE CHURCH OF THE APOSTLES
In this period of restlessness, someone asked Michael what he felt led to do. He responded without hesitation: "To plant a new church." In this moment, the Lord revealed His plan to Michael—a church where His Truth would be proclaimed: The Church of The Apostles. After much preparation and prayer, the new church held its first service on May 10, 1987.
"My eyes moistened several times during the service as I realized that God had given me the vision, and enough guidance and correction, to now stand in front of this small group of attendees. . . . 'God, it's happened. You have done it.'"
1988: LEADING THE WAY
Though reluctant to get involved in radio ministry, Michael realized that God intended to fulfill His global evangelical vision for The Church of The Apostles through radio, and Leading The Way was founded, dedicated to passionately proclaiming uncompromising Truth. Today, Leading The Way broadcasts in 26 of the world's most spoken languages to billions of people."It has been an amazing accomplishment, but I cringe every time someone gives the credit to me. They do not understand that all I did was trust and obey—reluctantly at that. Despite the fast growth of Leading The Way, the global vision for The Church of The Apostles had yet to make its most dramatic turn."
1999: FROM THE STEREO TO THE SCREEN
In 1999, God opened a door that Michael had been certain he would never walk through: television. Faithful to the leading of the Lord, Ben Haden passed on his radio and television ministry Changed Lives to Michael Youssef. Through this act of obedience, Leading The Way began airing on television. Then, in 2009, the ministry established THE KINGDOM SAT, a 24/7 satellite TV channel hosting the best of Christian programming from the East and the West, to minister to audiences across the Muslim world.
"God was continuing to fulfill His global vision for our church. . . . Today, THE KINGDOM SAT televises the Gospel message into  million homes in the Arabic-speaking world."
2018: 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF LEADING THE WAY
"The story of Leading The Way is a story about God and His faithfulness. It is a story about His search for people who are willing to trust and obey. . . He is still looking for those who will say, 'I will go anywhere, do anything, as long as I know that You are in it.'"
*This article incorporates excerpts from Dr. Michael Youssef's book Trust & Obey.