Do you recognize the name William Dawes? For those of us who claim the United States to be our homeland, especially if we can trace our family line back to the days of the Revolutionary War that erupted in 1775 his name and that of one of his closest friends should ring a bell.
May these words will stir your memory from your early studies in American history and lore: “The Red Coats are coming! The Red Coats are coming!”
On dark fateful night of April 18, 1775, William Dawes and his close friend Paul set out on a midnight ride to warn their friends and neighbors of the approaching British Army (i.e…The Red Coats). As the British planned their march on Lexington and Concord to capture John Hancock and Sam Adams, and to secure a stash of arms, these two men rode feverishly into the night going from town to town calling for men to arms to stop the advance of the British.
As you may vaguely remember from your studies, the Colonists responded in great numbers and with great bravery. A band of farmers, shop keepers, teachers, tanners, and silversmiths made their stand for liberty and turned back the British at Concord armed with nothing more than hunting rifles and a wide variety of muskets.
Interestingly, most of the colonists who stood their ground did not come from the villages and towns warned by William Dawes, but from the frantic route of his close friend Paul—Paul Revere. Now, there is a name we all recognize. Who would forget the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” but as Malcolm Gladwell noted his classic book “The Tipping Point” Revere was not the only one who rode that fateful night.
So what was the difference between Paul Revere and William Dawes? They both demonstrated bravery and passion. They both carried the alarming news—“The Red Coats are coming! Gladwell believes that there are a handful of people who have the ability to change the world, who apparently have a “contagious” personality or way about themselves. He calls this in his book “The Principle of the Few.” In his research he discovered that most “epidemics” of change can be traced back to a handful of people—a small cadre of individuals who through their attitudes, actions and even their body language have an uncanny ability to touch and change the attitudes and actions of others.
Assuming this principle to be true, it struck me this week that the Kingdom of God also advances on the backs of a “Few.”
When Jesus decided to change the world and to establish His Kingdom, first he called to his side a rag tag band of men we affectionately call “his disciples.” These men joined his ranks out of fishing boats and tax collector’s booths. What was it about these men that Jesus saw? Why did he choose what appeared to most to be a band of common ordinary people? Could it be Jesus saw something we overlooked? Could it be that these men had the gift of “contagious faith?”
What we do know is the Easter story of the resurrection of Jesus spread across the known world in one generation and these twelve men minus one got the word out.
Word of mouth, person to person communication without doubt changes the world. Do you have contagious faith? Test it! Invite someone today to join you on your adventure of faith. Let your light shine!