During June we’re focusing on finding strength in God. Please see the Monthly Prayer Focus page to read our strategic prayer request for this month.
By Jim Bliffen
How does one accomplish the impossible? How do we do what can’t be done? Where do we find the strength to do more than we thought we could and achieve more than humanly possible? Obviously the correct answer is, “The strength comes from God!” Good answer, when you’re giving encouragement to someone else. Where do you find the strength when you are in the Pit of Despair or the Slough of Despond and you’re face down before God crying out in your weakness and defeat? How do you find the strength to get up and keep on going? The strength does come from God, but in a way many do not realize until you’ve been on the mission field or in a ministry that is hard, and the difficulty of that situation drives you to your knees before the Lord. That is when the church should become the strength of the Lord for those who are on the front lines fighting the battle. People become the strength of the Lord.
Over the last year I experienced a health problem. I now have been diagnosed with stage three chronic kidney disease (that sounds a lot worse than it really is). Over the last year Joni and I have been dealing with trying to figure out if we were going to be able to continue our ministry in Papua New Guinea or come back to America to seek medical attention since there are no kidney doctors in PNG. I have been home on furlough for a short time and already I have heard from so many people, many who I have never met before, telling me they are lifting me up in their prayers and asking how I am doing, concerned about me and my condition. I have been drawing great strength from the Lord through those encounters. We went to a small house church where there were only 5 or 6 people in attendance and they gave us an offering of over $4,000 and I found encouragement and strength from the Lord. I told Joni that if we could average nearly $1,000 a person in offerings at every church we go to we could do incredible things for God.
As we were developing partners before coming to PNG for our first term I told congregations a Civil War story. I told half that story in an earlier article about the charge of the First Minnesota regiment. Just as impacting to the story was the Confederate response from an entire division of over 5,000 men who were resting under the trees on a hill watching the battle. On July 2, 1863 at about 6:00 pm outside the small town of Gettysburg, PA a fierce battle was raging. Three Confederate brigades of about 1,500 men each were heading for a large opening in the Union lines virtually unopposed. Each of the three Confederate generals saw the huge potential for success in defeating the entire Union army and began sending messages back to the division sitting behind them in the shade. Three times those generals sent messages to the men sitting there asking them to come to their support. Three times the answer came back, “We have no orders to come to your support!” In theory they did have orders to come to their support, but in reality they were saying, “Its hot, we’re tired, we fought all day yesterday, and we are comfortable sitting on this hill in the shade.” They never moved, even though their support would have almost certainly assured Confederate victory. The name of the hill they sat on was called Seminary Ridge, so named for a Lutheran Seminary that stood at the summit of the hill where they sat in the shade and watched the battle. Those men sat there comfortable and protected in the shadow of the cross watching over open ground as the attack failed, as all three Confederate brigades were repulsed, losing 50% of their forces. Unable to respond on their own, many of the men turned their backs to the fight trying to block out the cries from their fallen comrades. I have to admit that I am glad that attack failed, but I am grieved to see ministers and missionaries defeated and broken from a lack of support and care from the people, the church God has called to strengthen them.
Please lift up our literacy workers in your prayers. They are attempting to make needed revisions to the EP curriculum and adapt and complete E1 curriculum into four languages by the end of 2017 and enable schools to use them in accordance with government guidelines. Partner with more literacy workers and send them to PNG so the work can be completed on time. Be the strength of the Lord for our team as we attempt to do the impossible in Jesus’ name, lifting us up in your prayers and faithfully supporting us with your gifts and love. Without support the battle will fail but with the strength of the Lord we will be victorious. Thank you!
Jim serves in Scripture Impact.