From My Perspective - - -
One of the more difficult moments in one’s life is when transitions occur. Some of them can be planned for in advance, whereas others occur due to events and decisions outside of oneself. In recent months, we have shared in the times of sorrow with those whose spouse either suddenly died or became afflicted with a malady for which there was little or no remedy. In other instances, there have been those who have experienced transition with their employment. This is especially trying and difficult if/when it occurs with one who has been called to serve the Lord as a Missionary or as a Minister/Pastor. The transition is borderline traumatic.
I think of the Missionaries who are trying to accomplish ministry in the so-called “hot spots” of our world. They are desirous of continuing their ministry. It has been their calling and they have sacrificed to be where they believed the Lord wanted them to be. The Geo-Political times in which we are living will determine whether or not the Missionary effort can continue in places where radical Islam is on the move and anything “Christian” is viewed as anathema and anyone who is attached to such a group will be removed or put to death. The Coptic Church in Egypt and the Assyrian Christians in Iraq (Mosul) are just two illustrations of what is occurring in recent weeks and months.
I also think of Pastors who are no longer viewed as viable in various church situations. A spiritual work falls under a secular-type assessment and the Minister/Pastor is viewed as expendable. In a more humane, although devastating way, he is asked to leave or is prevented from continuing in his calling in a local church situation. Over the years, as and when this has occurred, the desired result that was anticipated did not occur. These type things, while reported as being unanimous, seldom are to the liking and support of all the people. The church will either stay as it has been, continue to move sideways with little or no appreciable change, or the worst scenario - it will begin to drift downward.
Barna Research Group reports the following: “In America, 3500-4000 churches close their doors each year. Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to nominalism and secularism.” From Religious Tolerance, this report: “Only 21% of Americans attend religious services every week.” The drift downward in church attendance can be seen in an older report by the Church Society: “Usual Sunday church attendance has dropped from 1,606,00 in 1968 to 881,000 in 2005.” This trend continues to this day. Another sad fact reported is: “Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group.”
When my wife and I committed ourselves to ministry, we had originally begun application to go to China and the Chinese speaking people. Certain factors prevented that but the commitment level remained constant to (1) go anywhere, (2) do any work/task, (3) at any time, and (4) at any cost. Psalm 37:4-5,7 was especially significant for us: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, Now in our latter years, Psalm 37:25-26 have become an increasing reality and testimony to the faithfulness of God: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.” Transitions have occurred over the years, some of them were painful and confusing. We were concerned for our children as they witnessed carnal behavior on the part of those who were alleged to be “spiritual leaders” in the church. We are thankful that we and they were kept from bitterness by the grace of God. Consider these things with me.