November 1, 2010
As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Seattle, looking out the window at a typical autumn Pacific Northwest rain, and enjoying a host of memories. The rain and the scenery remind me of my youth, and the ministry associations remind me of the things the Lord used to build his truth into my life so many years ago.
I have just had the pleasure of speaking to a group of pastors and their spouses, meeting new friends and renewing connection with some others. Over the next two days, we will do the same thing in Tacoma and then across the border in Vancouver.
One of the privileges has been to get a small glimpse into the things the Lord is doing and to delight in the way the gospel is spreading, even in hard areas. The Pacific Northwest is notorious for having the lowest church attendance in the nation. Ministry here is difficult and the pressures of a secular and pleasure-loving culture are very strong. It has been said, not without good reason, that the true religion of the Seattle area is a form of nature worship.
But the Lord is at work. I think of the young African-American man who came from Louisiana, met and married a woman from Laos, who is involved in the third extension of a church that is reaching a broad diversity of internationals. Or another who is from the Philippines, who has a special burden for those from Asia, and has been used, with others, to plant four churches that are growing. To my great surprise, I met a young woman who had grown up in Bethany Chapel in Calgary, and come to Christ during our ministry there. She and her husband are pastoring in Gig Harbor, and are seeing a rich harvest, as the Lord opens the door into the lives of many people. At the same time, there were veterans of ministry – men in their seventies and even eighties who continue on, serving the Lord, often in hard and challenging places, but are determined to be faithful where the Lord has planted them.
I also had the privilege of talking with several couples from Singapore, who represent RBC Ministries, the group with whom I am working, and who serve as the publishers of my books. From their office in Singapore, they are reaching into the entire south-east Asia region, including China. In fact, they have the privilege of printing and distributing solid biblical literature in China, and the Lord is using it to build his church. It was humbling to hear one of the ladies talk about how she has used some of my books in that part of the world, and how some of the materials are being translated and used in parts of the world of which I had no idea.
My message was about the need for pastors to recognize that discouragement is one of the occupational hazards of ministry, and to listen carefully to the words of Hebrews 12:1-3 in light of that. By his grace, the Lord has used both the truth of his Word and these glimpses of his grace to encourage not only others, but me as well. I am grateful. It’s a great head start for Thanksgiving!