Stephen Nichols (SN): We’re on location at the G3 conference for this episode, and I’m bumping into various people up here that we’re going to put on the show. We’ve just bumped into Jeremy Vuolo, and he’s going to talk to us about some of the influences on him. He pastors Grace Community Church in the border town of Laredo, Texas.
Jeremy Vuolo (JV): That’s right.
SN: Jeremy, it’s good to have you with us.
JV: Thank you, Dr. Nichols. It’s good to be here.
SN: Before you stepped into the pulpit, you were on the pitch. Is that right?
JV: Yes, I played four years of professional soccer and about halfway through those four years, I began feeling this intolerable burden to preach the gospel. My passion was waning from the football field and into the pulpit and so, soon after, I entered into ministry.
SN: And into the pulpit you went.
JV: That’s right.
SN: And before that, you were in the Philadelphia area.
SN: So, we’ve got that Pennsylvania “Keystone State” connection in common.
JV: That’s right. I knew there was something special about you.
SN: Well, it’s good to chat with you. At this point, you’re early in your ministry and you’ve planted a church across the border.
SN: Tell us a little about some of the influences from church history that have personally influenced you and your pastoral ministry. Also, you’ve planted a church in Mexico. Tell us what you’re trying to do in the church there.
JV: One of the greatest influences in recent church history on me as a young preacher has been the Doctor.
SN: I know who you’re talking about.
JV: Yes, Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
SN: This is the Welsh-born London preacher: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
JV: That’s right. His preaching, his passion for souls, the unction that you can feel even in the recordings and in his writings, which are the transcripts of his preaching. You can feel the passion and what’s driving the preaching, the cohesive, the coherent, the logical breakdown, the deep exegesis of Scripture. It’s filled with unction, which is clearly divine, the unction of the Holy Spirit, and it’s hard not to be riveted and motivated by his preaching.
SN: You’re in good company. It seems like everyone I bump into is influenced by Lloyd-Jones. Derek Thomas was very much influenced. Sinclair Ferguson and R.C. talked about the influence of Lloyd-Jones. Just recently, I had a conversation with John MacArthur about this same influencer. I remember my pastor up in Lancaster had two pictures above his desk. One was Jonathan Edwards and the other was the good Doctor. So, you’re in good company, Jeremy. Any other influences from church history?
JV: Recently it has been George Whitefield. I’ve been working through his two-volume biography and, again, he was a man impassioned. He had this intolerable burden for souls. What is fascinating to me is that Whitfield very well could have stayed put where he was in the U.K. and had a thriving ministry. Yet he couldn’t be held back from the new terrain in the West and going into America and really uncharted territory, which he discovered to be much more difficult that he at first realized. But even leaving the crowds and staying stabilized in one place and having a popular ministry, he was after the souls who had not been reached. We’re obviously here at G3, which is focused on missions this year, and there is hardly anyone with a larger heart for the unreached peoples than George Whitefield.
SN: There was a real passion that drove Whitefield, and the interesting thing is that you had all these people who were churched and thought because they were churched, they were Christian. And I think Charles Wesley preached this sermon, but I think Whitefield actually preached it first, “The Almost Christian.”
SN: He had this passion for folks who may not even have been aware of their need for the gospel. And he’s crisscrossing back—speaking of the Keystone State—there he is in Philadelphia, quite often, speaking to crowds of tens of thousands. So, Lloyd-Jones and George Whitefield. Those are two pretty good influences.
SN: Well, it’s been a delight talking to you. Blessings on your ministry in Laredo, and thanks for your time with us.
SN: That’s Jeremy Vuolo talking about the Doctor and about the revivalist and evangelist, George Whitfield.