John Paul Jones is known as a naval hero and the father of the American Navy. His most famous battle occurred on September 23, 1779, when Jones’ squadron met a large British convoy in the North Sea. His ship, The Bonhomme Richard attacked the leading ship of the force, the Serapis. The Serapis was larger and better armed than Jones's ship, so Jones took his vessel alongside it. The ships were so close that their rigging became entangled and the muzzles of their guns touched. When asked if he would surrender, Jones famously quipped, “Surrender, I not yet begun to fight!” That battle would make Jones and his ship legendary.
Many folks know that his ship was named in honor of his friend Ben Franklin. But few know why he named it after French title of Franklin’s famous book Poor Richard's Almanac instead of just after Franklin.
That story lies in how he got the ship in the first place. The revolutionary American fleet was in desperate need of ships, especially larger ship that could carry heavy guns. So Jones went to France to see if the French king would be willing give them some vessels. Not having much luck in his attempted correspondence, Jones turned to Franklin for advice. Franklin reply came in the form of the French version of his famous work bookmarked at the saying,
“Never try to ask by letter, To go yourself is far better”
Well, Jones did just that and went personally to the King at Versailles and got his ships, one that would become his flagship, was renamed The Bonhomme Richard.
Franklin’s advice is a good reminder to us as well. In a word today that make it so easy to never have to talk to a person face to face, we forget how important it is talk personally to someone. Churches spend all kinds of money in various forms of advertising, trying to get people to come in the doors but survey after survey tells us that the most effective way is simply for members to ask.
What kind of impact could each of us have for the cause of Christ this year if we would just make to the effort to personally ask each week someone to come to church with us? Could it be as simple as that, we do not have because we do not ask?
It takes courage to stand in the face of a superior enemy and be defiant. But it also takes great courage to willing to put yourself out there and make a request that could rejected.
Let's be people of courage and be willing to make a personal request!