June 2020 Mind of the Missionary

“I know that you(God) can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42.2)

The question that most people have been asking during COVID-19 has been, “Why is God doing this to me, to my family, etc…?” Personally, I think that’s the wrong question. The question should be, “What is God doing during COVID-19?” Some believe that God is bringing judgement. Others believe that He is preparing us for the final days. And yet others are expecting a great revival, even an awakening. Honestly, I don’t know which is the correct answer. However, there are three areas where God is working in people’s lives.

First of all, there has been an increase in prayer. Jeanet Bentzen, Director of the Study of Religion at the University of Copenhagen states “internet searches for the topic of prayer surged to the highest level during the past 5 years…surpassing all other major events that otherwise intensify demand for prayer…. The rise in prayer intensity supersedes what the world has seen for years.” Prayer is how believers cope with crisis, but non-believers are seeking for answers. Fortunately, this time, people are looking to God because they have seen that science, other religions, and technology do not have an answer. As believers, we need to help our unbelieving family and friends seek God for His guidance, His protection, and His salvation.

The increase of Bible reading is the next area of growth during the pandemic. Lifeway Christian Resources has seen a 62% increase in their sales of Bibles since the same time last year. Ben Mandrell, Lifeway CEO, states “people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty….people see a God who is with us during our suffering.” My concern is that those seeking help in God’s Word are “hunting and pecking”. It is our role as believers to show unbelievers and doubters Bible passages which speak to their needs. We have a great opportunity not only to share our faith, but allow God to speak to these “seekers”  through His Word. Nicky Gumbel stated at an online Easter conference, “There’s no football, there’s no sport. There’s no entertainment. People have time to hear the Gospel.” My prayer is that those who hear His Word will find Him.

Finally, the last area of growth is the number of views of Christian programming and worship online. Viewing is difficult to measure. A normal “view” lasts between 3 – 5 seconds. If the pastor/teacher or program doesn’t captivate the attention of the viewer, then he’s gone. However, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, “24% of US adults say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic”. This is good news! As I’ve spoken to many of our PBA pastors, they want to continue their online ministry. I applaud them for this aspiration. I do believe that online ministry must be more than just a worship service. It must capture the attention…not with fireworks or spectacular events, but with talking on the issues which concern the non-believer. It needs to be understood that this is the majority of the audience who will be viewing the programming after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. My biggest fear is that those who are interested or make decisions for Christ will not engage in follow-up discussions or attend a local congregation.

The focal passage states that nothing can thwart or hinder God’s plans. The coronavirus was not caused by God, but God is doing His work through it to bring His people and non-believers closer to Him. May we be do all that we can to make that message clearly understood.

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle