Christian Witness Category
BY DARREN DEGRAAF
As we exit 2020 and enter 2021, many of us look forward with tempered optimism to a better year ahead.
The global pandemic and lockdowns associated with it impacted every person on this planet. The under-resourced of our world and the aged in our own communities have paid the heaviest price. Many who live in less developed economies were almost instantly pushed into severe poverty and food insecurity.
These challenging days have created fear, uncertainty and despair world-wide.
Yet God is a God of hopeful action. In several places in scripture, God reminds us that He is all about renewal and making things and people new. Our God is a resurrection God – bringing life out of death and shining light into the darkest of times.
Isaiah 43:19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
God is on a world-wide restoration project. People redeemed, communities transformed, lives restored. The promise of the kingdom of God is the announcement of God’s eternal priorities invading even the wilderness and wastelands.
Here are four ways in which God is making a NEW way in these uncertain times:
1. More people are turning their hearts towards God than at any other time in history. Some of the most repressive places on earth are experiencing revival despite persecution and government intervention.
2. As the global church (particularly in Canada) has been hampered in its ability to gather – the good news of Jesus has not been quarantined. The scattered church is proclaiming the good news boldly into the least reached parts of our world. In the midst of their hopelessness and fear, many are open to the gospel message and are turning to Christ and finding hope, comfort and courage.
3. Organic disciple-making movements are multiplying trained young leaders who are eager to boldly proclaim the gospel. These young leaders are eager to make a difference and bold in their witness. We have the privilege to equip and unleash them into effective ministry.
4. As cross-cultural missionaries were forced to return home or faced great limitations in their movements – local leaders in the least reached places stepped in to take the lead in loving their communities and sharing the transforming message of Jesus. One leader from a closed Central Asian country recently shared that COVID restrictions were preventing his work until God directed him in a dream to go to the countryside and preach the good news to itinerant, impoverished farmworkers. As he shared the story of Jesus, several farmworkers exclaimed, “We have never heard this good news before, thank you for sharing it with us!” Some even came to faith in Christ. This evangelist shared – “if it weren’t for COVID-19, I would have never thought to go into the fields to share the good news of Jesus – and I would have missed the chance to talk to people so open to hearing.
God is doing a new thing in our churches, in our society and around the world. While it is easy to look longingly at the past and hope for a “return to normal,” I believe God is calling us to look hopefully towards the new things He has planned in the days to come. I am praying towards a new normal with clear evidence of God’s sovereign intervention in our world.
Come Lord Jesus.