Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Message to the Staff of The Voice of the Martyrs for 2008

Dear Team of The Voice of the Martyrs,

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to look ahead, to make resolutions or to seek God's direction for the year to come. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been giving some considerable contemplation to what God might be saying to us at The Voice of the Martyrs for 2008. What are His priorities for us for the next twelve months? What does He want to do in and through us as we seek to fulfill His calling on our lives as individuals and as a ministry team?

Two things have sealed themselves in my heart that I would like to share with you. Consider them in the quiet of your heart as you study His Word and seek His face in prayer. I trust that He will stamp them on your heart as well.

First, I believe that God wants us to take even more seriously the call to live out our first value as a ministry; the call to an uncompromising faithfulness to God. According to our values statement, this is reflected in our personal and corporate commitment, for example, to a) glorify God in all that we say and do as individuals and as a ministry, b) acknowledging our dependency upon God in all aspects of our service for Him, c) promote and model prayer above all other acts of service for the Persecuted Church, d) accept the Bible as our absolute authority in both mission belief (orthodoxy) and practice (orthopraxy), e) research, model and teach what it means to be a sacrificial, cross-bearing disciple in the 21st century in Canada and around the world, and f) choose to trust God to supply our needs rather than engaging in direct solicitation methods of fundraising.

Last weekend, I believe that God directed me to look at Deuteronomy 9 with its call to the people of Israel to cross the Jordan and enter the land. For the past couple of years, we as a ministry have been putting together the building blocks that, I believe, will enable us to move to "the next step" as a ministry. I am truly excited and confident about the future of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada. I believe that great, God-glorifying days are ahead for us. God has given us a solid, committed staff, wisdom to establish sound policies, increasing experience, and a growing support base. Now we stand at the river's edge and I believe that it is time to cross the Jordan and begin to take the land, if we dare to trust God for it.

Of course, there are and will be challenges that I need not elaborate on or try to predict. As a ministry and as individuals, we are still far from being all that we could be. The Enemy will certainly seek to hinder our progress. Critics will arise. Doubts will assail. We might be tempted to look at the challenges before us and ask as the Israelites did, "Who can stand before the sons of Anak?" (Deut. 9:2). The answer, of course, is found in the very next verse, "Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you."

Who can stand before the giants in the land? The Lord can! Are we prepared to demonstrate an uncompromising faithfulness to God in 2008, committed to trusting Him in the face of obstacles that may seem too great for us to handle? Are we prepared to accept that the Bible is true in all of its promises and to live accordingly? Are we prepared to live sacrificially for the sake of others, both co-workers and those we serve abroad? Our God is a consuming fire. He is not a safe God. But He is our God and His promises are true.

But with this promise comes the warning in verse 4. "Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, 'It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you." In 2007 we began to learn the lesson of how we need to keep looking to God in prayer to meet our needs as a ministry. In 2008, I believe that God wants us to continue to live this out even more. Prayer must saturate all that we do at the mission, not just scheduled prayer times (although it does include that too). Before we ship off the newsletters each month or send out the Persecution and Prayer Alert on Wednesday, or write that email to a supporter or co-worker overseas, we should be conscious of the necessity to pray and ask God to speak through the words that we are sending forth into the world. If He does not speak through us, we are wasting our time and resources, depending on our own goodness, methods and ingenuity. Development strategies are all fine but they are simply works of the flesh without the Holy Spirit's initiating, directing and empowering of them.

My call to you as staff of The Voice of the Martyrs, therefore, is to give yourself anew to the Lord today as you seek to do the work that God has called you to do. May 2008 be a year of personal revival in your life, a year in which you draw closer to God than you ever have before. Let us encourage each other on in looking to the Spirit of God to move us forward into the land that He has set before us, knowing that the Consuming Fire goes before us, fighting for us and empowering us for the works He has ordained for us to do as individuals and as a ministry. May our prayer be, "I delight to do your will, O my God" (Psalm 40:8); may it be our all consuming passion and desire.

The second thing that I believe God wants us to take even more earnestly in 2008 is the call to empowerment (our fifth value as a ministry). This, we say, is reflected in our commitment, for example, to: a) standing with the Persecuted Church, encouraging and equipping without creating dependency, maintaining and promoting their ability to be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating, and resisting any programs or ministry that would detract from this, b) unleashing the knowledge, experience, and motivation of each of our staff members through the accountability, direction, and support that only effective cross-centred, servant-leadership and a team-oriented environment can produce, and c) demonstrate trust with our staff by sharing as much as possible with them about the mission's operation.

Recently Floyd has been sharing with me his desire to "build capacity" in the lives of believers and churches that we minister to overseas. This, I believe, is a God-given aspiration. We need to do it at all levels of our work as a mission, here and abroad. This, I believe, will be a significant key to enabling us to do the level of work that we will be called to do as the Lord enlarges our ministry opportunities (as I believe He will). We cannot continue to operate with the old models of ministry to the persecuted that reek of expediency, power, and dependency if we are to see God do a new thing that honours Him and empowers His church worldwide. We must take seriously God's call to minister as servants, in weakness and sacrificially, encouraging dependency upon God (and not man), seeking real, lasting, long-term solutions to the needs of His people in restricted nations.

In conclusion, I would like to ask three things of you as we stand on the banks of the river here at the beginning of a new year.

1. Look to Him for direction. Unless God initiates, guides and leads us on our journey, we will never accomplish what He desires for us this year. May prayer saturate our lives corporately and individually in 2008 as never before.

2. Trust Him for results. Do you believe that God wants to use The Voice of the Martyrs in a new and significant way in 2008; in ways that He has never done so before? Please don't limit God with your fears and doubts. He is a consuming fire!

3. Honour Him with thanksgiving. I do believe that we are going to see some exciting things in the upcoming year as we exhibit an uncompromising faithfulness to Him as never before. But when that happens, let us not forget that it is not our righteousness, power or might (cf. Deut. 8:17-18) that will have done these things, but the grace, power and might of our Lord. To Him be the praise and glory forever and ever.



1 comment:

Todd said...

Amen and amen.