April 6, 2020
The Next Language 18 — Go or Stay Home?
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:12-14 ESV).
From the perspective of one who is actively targeting the last unreached world languages, the events of the last month are perplexing. Current issues raise questions about whether we will be able to put Jesus’ command to “go” ahead of the world’s mandate to “stay home.” As we “socially distance” ourselves it is certainly appropriate to rethink our way of doing the mission given to us by God.
When the lock downs began, I was very resistant. Along with many, I asked myself “Shall we obey God or man?”
I believe the Lord has showed me that to focus exclusively on all the political externals is to forfeit the confidence that God is ultimately in charge. All through the Bible we see man thinking man is in charge, but behind it all, the LORD is always in control, turning events to his own purposes. Just before the Great Commission is given, Jesus says, “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).
Rather than actively resisting what is going on externally, I’ve been led to take this imposed season as a time to pause, contemplate what the Lord is saying to me personally and to us as a mission, and to “strengthen our stakes” before setting out again to “lengthen our cords” (Isa. 54:2).
The “new normal” cannot block our access to the unreached if God has told us to go to them. In fact, current circumstances may open our eyes to possibilities that we have never considered before. Let me share with you two opportunities that came to mind in the last 24 hours and have brought back my confidence that after all this is over, we will have even more tools in hand to reach the lost.
Because of geography, for almost a year I have not been able to meet with my home fellowship in Palmer, Alaska. This morning I joined their live-streamed service via Zoom. Being pushed out of their physical building to a virtual service has brought them just as close to me as they are to each other in their separate living rooms! Even when they are physically able to meet again, they will probably continue to incorporate technologies that keep us from being divided by geography.
Yesterday I was walking through the sage brush of Arizona, brainstorming about how to contact the Caraballos – a group in Colombia who have not ever had sustained contact with the outside world as far as we know – without physical contact that could be deadly to them. I thought of the Aucas who were in that position over 60 years ago. Back then, lowering a speaker from a circling airplane eventually led to peaceful contact.
Could it be possible that today’s drone technology might allow us to approach such a group and collect language data to establish linguistic parameters? I think God is expanding our minds to consider new possibilities and to find as yet unused tools to further the gospel.
For many the whole concept of church has undergone a revolution in the last month. I saw an unforgettable picture of an empty church titled, “The Church is not Empty – it’s been Deployed.”
When the Church realizes it doesn’t need structures to function as Christ’s Body anymore, how might it reallocate its resources? These thoughts have triggered me and our Board to lead GRNUSA, as a nonprofit, to dispose of an enormous brick and mortar structure and morph into an entity fluid enough to reach the ends of the earth. Pray that this will happen as quickly and efficiently as possible, by God’s grace.
I’m also praying that today’s events will open the minds of young people to rethink their life priorities and will challenge older people to reconsider whether God wants them to play golf in retirement or to volunteer as office support and prayer warriors.
May we all be contemplating what God is saying to us during this time of lock down, and then may we be led out of this time with a fearless confidence that God is in charge of our future. Though we may not see it clearly just yet, God has a perfect plan for reaching every people group. I believe he is calling us to GO, not to stay home. I know that he has already strengthened my week knees and lifted up my hands. Praise him! Join us!
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
P. S. As a “thank you” for your continued support of the ministry of Global Recordings Network USA, and in celebration of over 80 years of God’s faithfulness, we have compiled a collection of 80 daily devotions written by GRN founder, Joy Ridderhof. You may read or download your copy of Rejoice Always – 80 Devotions with Joy Ridderhof here.