Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In That Day

Last week while at church one of the youth's favorite bands blared a song through the sound system. There were a lot of kids and I'm not sure any of them were catching the prophetic lyrics of the song. The band played,

"I lay awake on a long dark night
I can't seem to tame my mind
Slings and arrows are killin' me inside."

Jesus talked about days like these. He said, as He spoke about the days preceding His return, "There will be great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now." I have always thought of this tribulation in the context of massive world war and hiding out from the anti-Christ, but that's not really what Jesus is saying. The understanding of this Greek word "tribulation" is key. The word in this context means a pressure or burden upon the spirit which causes grievous affliction or distress. It was not a new idea. Daniel prophesied the same thing, when the enemy would "wear out the saints of the Most High."

That is what I see both in many circles that I am in; Saints of the Most High who are worn out! Interesting to be living out what Daniel prophesied and Jesus spoke of. I say "living out" because it is often my experience too.

In the same setting, Jesus tells us what this wearing out of the saints will look like. He said, "Lawlessness will increase and the love of many will grow cold." The song continued to blare on Sunday morning and the band sang, prophetically, I think, of a love grown cold.

"Simple livin' is my desperate cry
Been tradin' love with indifference
And it suits me just fine."

I'm praying that this wearing out doesn't make my love or your love grow cold. Perhaps we are afraid to feel. Maybe we have been hurt and a scabbed wound won't let us feel. It's not impossible that sin has deadened us and we no longer feel because our spirit is dead.

There is an answer to this. The song screamed at me, even as I noticed those around me were fixed on their tasks or engaged in conversation. The band played,

"The day reminds me of you
The night hides your truth
One day it ends
One day we die
Believe what you will that's your right
But I choose to win
I choose to fight."

It reminds me of a prophet of old who was worn out and found the answer to his desperation and love grown cold. A prophet who confronted then ran from the spirit of his day embodied by none other than Jezebel. The culture wanted his total and complete destruction. We are told he fled. He spent 40 days and 40 nights on "Horeb, the mount of God." Here at Horeb there was rest for his weary soul. It's an interesting place to find the answer to weariness. Horeb in Hebrew means desolation. Desolation is defined as a state of complete emptiness. It was on the desolate mountain of God in a state of emptiness that Elijah could once again find God. May I remind you he found Him not in the wind, an earthquake, or in the fire, but rather in a whisper. Perhaps an empty state finally allowed him to hear the whisper.

My sense is not only that many of us are worn out and watching our love grow cold as we trade it for indifference. I also sense that the God of the ages is whispering to us. May you find Him as He whispers, and as you do, may you once again discover Him as your sole refuge. He is our provision in a day of great tribulation.

David Fuller

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Role Reversal

Recently a pastor with whom we partner in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon visited Winston-Salem. Over the last few months, the Lord has revealed an incredible strategy for ATC to reach the Middle East, and this pastor (we will call him John) is a key part of that strategy. In June, ATC was part of an effort to fund the beginning phases of the construction of a worship center and “safe house”, and I assumed that John was simply making a stop in Winston-Salem to say “thank you”.

The reality of operating a non-profit in this economy is a bit trying at times, and when John showed up in Winston-Salem, I was in the midst of one of those times. To be brief, I was not in the best frame of mind when he arrived as I was preparing for a board meeting and trying to discern how we would fund the on-going operations of ATC. However, the Lord knew exactly what I needed to enable me to continue doing what I believe he has called me to do.

John (whose name has been changed to protect his safety) spent two days in Winston-Salem simply sharing stories of what the Lord is doing in Lebanon. And these stories reminded me that the Lord is much bigger than the issues that trouble me; that the work we are undertaking is the Lord’s work; that the Lord will accomplish His work, with or without ATC; and that it is a huge blessing to be doing this work as the Lord leads and enables.

As I spent time with him, I was amazed that John never mentioned his ministry or talked about funding. He was completely focused on what the Lord was doing through the lives of people that have been a part of his ministry. In his sharing of a particular story that I had heard in Lebanon, I was even a little frustrated because I thought he was “underselling”. After all, the person he was talking about was from a particularly well known extremist group, had parents that were teachers of the Qur’an, and had come to Christ! But all that John shared of his background was that this man no longer had identification and could not return to his home. What John focused on was how the Lord was using this man in his current situation. He talked of this man’s love for Christ and his desire to share this love with his people. And for those interested, from an isolated cinderblock room, this man happens to be running the largest Christian online chat room for Muslims.

One story after another revealed how the Lord has touched people from all kinds of backgrounds and then sent them off to share what He had revealed to them. I was amazed and encouraged. To think that the Lord has connected ATC with this pastor; and through this connection, we are able to see how the Lord is expanding His kingdom in the Middle East.

John left Winston-Salem with a bit of a challenge to us. He thanked us for our forefathers, the missionaries that brought the Gospel to Lebanon, but warned us not to rest on their accomplishments. There are unreached people out there, and we have to be in the game! He also reminded us of the simple fact that we need each other. It is kind of cool to think of a small group of believers in the Bekaa Valley praying for us and us for them - and the Lord moving in both places! As this John pointed out, the front line of contact with Islam seems to have expanded outside of the Middle East and, and we need our Arab brothers and sisters to help us understand the most effective way to share the love of Christ with people of Muslim backgrounds.

So thank you John for doing for me that which the Lord has called ATC to do for you and others in hard to reach places – to share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations through prayer, encouragement and assistance of and for local leaders and pastors in their ongoing ministries.

Courtney Mauzy