Perseverance – Mike Hill
Firstly, thank you so much for the way you are leading into this present crisis. Talking with many of you, it’s very clear that your churches have mobilised in imaginative and creative ways to help people through this important but frustrating season of self-isolation. From what I can observe, you are doing a great job and I am grateful to God for what is happening. Thank you.
The list of creative ministries is too long for me to mention here, but needless to say, some of the most vulnerable and at risk people are being helped to live day by day by the effort and care that many are offering However, churches are clearly in the vanguard of helping people at this time of unprecedented need.
This morning my daily reading reminded me of a big New Testament word – perseverance.
The apostle Paul wrote these words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers (including sisters!) whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Every day, the comment columns of our daily newspapers are including articles that raise the issue of how society might be permanently changed by Covid 19. There are some cynics who tell us that we shall default to ‘business as usual’ as soon as the Covid pandemic has passed. But who knows which way society will head when significant infection rates have dropped?
However, the big question for many of us is how churches might be changed by all this in the future? Clearly, online platforms have enabled local churches to extend their reach and many will persevere with delivering content online. Equally, congregations have been mobilised in new ways to assist the compassionate efforts we see. But will this mobilisation fall away when Covid 19 rescinds? When the crisis passes, there will still be a level of vulnerable, high risk and lonely people within our communities. To consolidate change will take perseverance.
In my daily reading, Simon Guillebaud reminded me of one of the most plodding but effective leaders of church history, William Carey. Guillebaud reminds his readers that Carey is attributed with the title, ‘father of modern missions.’ He was born into abject poverty, became an apprentice shoemaker, but couldn’t make the grade. He had a poor education. He tried running a school but failed. He was in an unhappy marriage and he lost a daughter early on, an event that led to his baldness!
He was a deeply committed believer. He tried his hand as a pastor, but his sermons were so boring that it impeded his desire to be ordained. Carey then formed his own missionary society and was its first missionary. He went to India. From a very unpromising beginning, he translated the Bible into over thirty different languages. At one stage he lost ten years of translation work in a fire. What was his response? He just started again! This man’s obedience and perseverance were used to impact the lives of literally millions of people.
Today, we speak of ‘completer-finishers’ – people who can see a project through from beginning to end. You may be a leader but not a completer-finisher. If you’re not, you will need to ensure that you have one such person on your team.
I hesitate to sound flippant, whilst people are still dying in their hundreds from Covid 19, by saying that this is a season of opportunity for the Church (and indeed, wider society). People are wonderfully responding to the challenge, but to return to my initial question, will it be sustained?
Somewhere in between short-term change and long-term transformation is the need for perseverance. I need to think about this some more.
With grateful thanks for what God is doing in you and through you.
CEO GLN UK & Ireland
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