Time To Embrace A New Direction?
When God calls for a change of plans, whose agenda takes priority? Isaiah 43:19
The earthquake that shook the nation of Nepal on May 12, 2015 12:50 pm with a moment magnitude of 7.3, shook more than the foundations of buildings. The epicenter of the quake was on the border of the Dolakha and Sidnhupalchowk districts, but the effects reverberated through almost every sector of Nepalese society including those conducting ministry to the military there. Our original plan was to assist a new ministry friend, Chiranjivi (“Just call me Steve, it’s easier!”). However, his outreach efforts to Nepal military personnel were shaken and thrown into turmoil as Chiranjivi and many in the military were forced to respond to the humanitarian crisis that gripped this nation in the Central Himalayas.
Al and Mark, from Military Life in New Zealand, arrived in Nepal this past November. Their plan was to do trauma coaching for military personnel and counselors in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Chirianjivi shared, “Our world was turned upside down. So many of the people we came in contact with, especially the military which was thrust into the position of national disaster first responders, seemed in such desperate need of the help that Al and Mark came to share with us.” During a meeting of the Nepal Military Christian Fellowship (NMCF), Al and Mark shared the foundations of ministry in the area of trauma. The information was well received and resulted in requests by those attending to help them further develop their understanding of trauma. But in this well-planned response to an immediate and seemingly quite evident need, God launched these great hearts into a
different direction for their missions work.
Al and Chiranjivi discussed a number of topics, including marriage, on the windy drive to Dhading, a village that had been badly affected by the quake. A couple of hours before arriving in Dhading, Chiranjivi turned to Al and said, “I think these people need teaching on marriage more than trauma – can you talk about marriage instead? So, Al and Mark worked out something to honor that particular request. (Missionaries don’t scramble, we change direction with alacrity and grace!) During their next time of sharing, Al talked about God’s plan for marriage, and Mark supported this with his testimony. This time of sharing about God’s love and His plan for marriage turned out to be the divine connection that truly opened doors and hearts! The trip and interaction with Indra (NMCF leader), Chiranjivi, and their wives, Susila and Prasula, has led to a plan to return for 5 years, initially, to help train Nepali military and police personnel to teach on marriage, parenting, as well as trauma. Al shared that he expects to hold onto their plans loosely so that God can shift them around as He pleases. Our current hope is that after five years, NMCF will be full of stronger families who are able to strengthen other families around them and help people to grow closer to God. Time To Embrace a Change of Direction? Ministering with NMCF in Sinhuli, Nepal.
When God calls an “audible”
An “audible” is a term used when a leader makes a change in an established or previously agreed upon plan. In the U.S. many football fans are aware a quarterback often does this right before a play begins, when he sees a potential threat or opportunity presented by the opposition that requires a needed change in plans to facilitate success. Pilots, leading multi-aircraft aerial engagements, are often required to “audible” a targeting plan so no enemy aircraft go untargeted and the mission success is enhanced. As followers of Christ, we who are engaged in the day-to-day execution of God’s plan to redeem a lost and hurting world to Himself, shouldn’t be surprised when our “divine quarterback” calls an audible. He does so to align us with His plans and purposes to help us exploit an opportunity to advance His Kingdom. In the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah shared with a reluctant Israel that the Lord was working something new and unexpected in their lives for His glory when he said in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (ESV) This is a key for any who seek to serve, with fidelity, in ministry for the Lord. We must perpetually be ready to perceive…receptive vessels open to God’s move, and willing to place our well thought out, even prayerful plans on hold as we discern God’s will and His agenda! How do we define success biblically? In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus shared a parable of two sons. In it, Christ said, “ 28What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” What I find amazing is that in this parable, the main spiritual point Jesus sought to convey to a host of individuals set in their ways…fixed on their plans, is that neither the sons nor the prostitutes nor the tax collectors nor the obstinate leaders He was addressing were the important element of this parable. Jesus wasn’t interested in a “No” that became a “Yes” or vice versa. I think he was challenging us to look beyond the individuals involved and see the greater Kingdom agenda: the grace we find in the person of Christ that makes it possible for us to be courageous enough to change our direction, and in that change, walk in His righteousness.
I think in this parable there is a spiritual marker on display for all of us to “perceive”, one that Al and Mark so courageously embraced in Nepal. That marker is inviting Christ’s abiding presence AND direction so that His agenda ultimately is embraced as our own. I see that “openness” is key to our success as we minister around the world. This is summed up wonderfully for us in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” To succeed in all God has called us to accomplish, we should each continually prepare our hearts for a God-inspired “change of direction” that propels us toward His purposes, where true success, biblical and Christ-centered success, awaits!
—Dr. Daryl “Bones” Jones, Col, USAF (Ret.)
International Director, Military Ministry of Cru
Reflect And Share With Us:
1. How do you think we each can better prepare ourselves to “perceive” God’s purposes around us? What are the obstacles to a better perspective?
2. What are some situations in your “ministry” in which God may be directing a change of direction?
3. How are you preparing “ministers” you serve with to invite more of Christ’s presence and grace in their service to Him?