Tomorrow is election day in the United States. I confess, I am suffering from campaign fatigue. I will be glad when we know the results and can move on. Don’t get me wrong, I care who wins. Nancy and I cast our ballots two weeks ago before she left for SE Asia. I believe our democratic government is a gift from God and consider voting a blessing from God and my civic responsibility.
Nevertheless, I do not look to elections or to government for anything of real importance in my life. Like everything else, government is under God’s control. Even though it appears that government holds significant influence over my life, that influence is granted by God and only God is sovereign. I look only to the Lord for hope, purpose, health, security, etc. All candidates promise these kinds things, but these promises are hollow. Even if government appears to provide something of value, it is only by God’s grace.
People vote, but it is the Lord who places leaders. In America, we hear that elected officials serve at the will of the people. However, it is more accurate to say that they serve at the will of the Lord. Leaders are placed by God who desires to bless his people. At times God places leaders as a corrective act. In these situations you might say, “We got who we deserve.”
Prayer is a higher responsibility than voting. When I vote, I influence government. When I pray, I communicate with the Lord of Creation. Prayer changes me and gives me access to the only real power and authority. I do not get prayer fatigue. Rather, the more I pray, the more energized I become. Isn’t it wonderful that we have continual access to God? Can you imagine what it would be to have a “prayer day” every couple years with a big one every four years?
Thank God for the privilege of voting.
Thank God that this campaign season is finally over.
Most of all, thank God that he is always available and invites us to continually come to him!
While I was in Denver last week, I met with an outreach pastor of a large church. This church has faithfully cared for Nancy and me and has financially supported our work since the early 1990’s. The leadership wants to continue our formal relationship, but we don’t fit into their normal “missionary” categories. They have warned us for the past couple years, that their financial support might have to end unless the church’s policies and procedures change or we conform to their structure. Ironically, I actually created some of the policies that now exclude us.
As I met with the pastor, we agreed that the world is changing and that new roles are emerging for Americans who are committed to helping the people most in need. He personally understands and supports what Nancy and I are doing with Anda Leadership. Unfortunately, the church’s procedures have not stayed current with the new awareness of Americans’ role in the global community.
Traditionally, churches have sent missionaries who are relatively independent. They go to a specific place with a particular agenda. They are primarily task focused and see relationships as a means to their end. This approach is not inherently wrong or bad, but it is incomplete.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Americans can play an important role by not being so task focused and instead focus on building relationships with local indigenous leaders who are working within their communities to build Christ’s Kingdom and improve people’s quality of life. These local social and profit-minded entrepreneurs are finding creative and relevant solutions, taking initiative, and accepting risk to accomplish the same agenda as an American missionary might attempt. Often they lack something that hinders their success. Sometimes, an American can give them a hand up that enables them to succeed where they might have otherwise failed.
The outreach pastor and I committed to work together to find a way for his church and Anda Leadership to develop a new way to structure our relationship. Maybe Anda Leadership will become something like a consultant or a contractor hired by the church to help it more effectively relate to leaders in areas where the church is already invested.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out during the upcoming months. Have you or has your church dealt with this or a similar issue? Do you know people who are doing good work internationally and need financial support, but who don’t quite fit the traditional missionary model? I would like to learn more about what is happening along this line.