Houston, TX (ANS) – In 1967 in Kabul, Afghanistan, I was introduced to some new and different customs and cultural dynamics. Being stationed at an Air Force base in a neighboring country, I had the opportunity of traveling to several surrounding countries in that part of the world. During those years, I became somewhat aware of the geo-political issues in the region. In subsequent years I got connected with people doing business and mission work in the region. The Lord was using those experiences and relationships to prepare me for something I could not have foreseen at the time.
God’s Mission Strategy
Most of the decade of the 1980s I worked with an international publishing and broadcasting ministry. During the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, we were involved in some mission work in the same region. In partnership and collaboration with medical and relief organizations, we were able to distribute Bibles and gospel literature among the Mujahideen freedom fighters and in the refugee camps of Northwest Pakistan. Over the course of those efforts we made some encouraging and amazing discoveries. The USSR was assigning known Christian troops to duty in Afghanistan, which was the most undesirable place of service in their military complex at the time.
Surprised by the Work of God
It was a pleasant surprise to be told that there were 22 Bible studies that had been identified taking place among the Afghan people in Muslim villages. They were being led by Soviet troops. This was obviously a very turbulent time for the people in that region. When you think of a mission strategy being carried out in a Muslim country, during a Marxist revolution, funded by an atheist communist government, it is quite remarkable. Only God could have arranged such an amazing Kingdom expansion effort.
Negative – Positive
Throughout history there have been many developments that can only be attributed to the sovereign hand of God. One of my mentors many years ago was the missionary statesman and author, Norman Grubb. He wrote many books and articles, one was titled “That Clever God.” I’m confident he would not mind my borrowing his title for this article. I think of his teachings and writings often when thinking about reaching people and carrying out God’s purposes. He often emphasized the fact that every negative has a positive. Furthermore, the more negative the negative, the more positive the positive. That principle is a good one to keep in mind these days during this global pandemic.
Value of Plans and Strategies
It is necessary and valuable to have vision, strategic plans, and goals and objectives, with metrics and measurements. However, to walk by faith, not by sight, and have flexible plans is also important. In fact, it is a good thing to be prepared for God to intervene, re-direct or change our plans at any time. He often has different, bigger and better plans than what we come up with. He also has veto power over all our plans and strategies.
History of the Work of God
There are many examples in modern history and throughout Scripture of how God has turned curses into blessings. Our pain and difficulty can be turned into blessings and benefit. It is true that every adversity does in fact have the seeds to an equivalent or greater benefit. God used the persecution of the Early Church to spread the gospel throughout the entire populated world. It was a time of great opposition to the gospel and many challenges. It should be encouragement to all of us who are seeking to follow Jesus and make disciple s as we are told in Scripture.
God is always at work, often behind the scenes, to use us to communicate the Good News of Jesus and make disciples. Sometimes we get to see His activities, and sometimes we do not. It often shows up later, but we can trust Him. In these uncertain times, we can have confidence that God knows what He is doing. He has always, and still is working all things after the counsel of His own will and has our best interest at heart.