By Mike Schrage
Economy or evangelism—which has our attention, and which is our priority as reflected by our calendars and checkbooks?
In the past 14 months, I’ve had the opportunity to see God’s people in action in Bosnia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Mali, Uganda, and Sudan. The needs are astounding in every place, in every way. Life is difficult, and the challenge of living a godly life in some of these countries is outright dangerous!
Yet Christian people are there working, serving, and evangelizing. The church is making inroads in these hard areas, but more resources are needed. And in Africa, the harvest is begging to be gathered, but there are just not enough resources to do the work! Missionaries and national workers need prayer and provisions!
However, the economic balance is far from even, fair, or equitable between any of those countries I visited and my U.S. homeland. I wrestle in my heart with the emerging economic news each time I return home and hear that America is suffering. True, people have lost jobs, investment values have tumbled, retirement funds have been jeopardized, and optimism has been replaced with pessimism.
But is this really “tough economic news”? Is this suffering equal to that of those who live on so much less or who lose their lives for the sake of their faith in Christ? (In the U.S., life can be difficult for those making $25,000 a year. But what about the billions of people in the world who make only $250 a year—or less?)
Instead of having a “woe are we” attitude, maybe we should consider our blessings during this season of uncertainty when the Lord is asking us to prioritize our “E’s” (economy and evangelism).
Things the Lord can teach us during this testing period include:
1. Understanding afresh that everything is the Lord’s (Psalm
2. Appreciating the tremendous blessings we have been given through Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
3. Reprioritizing spending and saving habits (Luke 16:1-3)
4. Looking at the eternal perspectives of life today (Luke 12:18)
5. Becoming more efficient with our resources (Matthew 25:14-30)
6. Learning that we are in community
(1 Corinthians 12:26)
7. Entertaining the option of self-denial as part of our personal discipline (Matthew 16:24)
8. Using our resources in God-honoring and kingdom-fulfilling ways.
With half the world living on less than $2 a day, I cannot imagine the changes the Lord may want to see in how I spend my dollars, use my resources, and leverage my time. This may be the very season new priorities emerge and the most evangelism occurs!
The question is—could it begin with me? Could I become more appreciative, more frugal, and more efficient in my home, community, and church? Could I learn to be content with the much I do have? Could I use less and give more? Could I see that the spiritual battle still rages for the hearts, minds, and souls of men; and that I have assets to help in the victory?
A hurting world and a suffering church desperately need our help. God is inviting us to join his purposes. Oh, don’t mistake a providential invitation for a desperate plea for cooperation from the Lord! God will accomplish his will, with or without you and me, and with or without America.
But are we ready in these challenging economic times to “read the season’s signs” (Matthew 16:3) and reprioritize our lives with a goal of living to evangelize instead of living to enjoy?
Mike Schrage is director of development with Good News Productions, International, Joplin, Missouri.