I write this seeking your support amid restriction, lockdown and difficulty in this Covid season. Although in Sydney, Australia, we are seeing some semblance of good news as restrictions are easing and churches are beginning to meet in person, we would be remiss to not acknowledge the devastating effects of the pandemic. And yet, for us who have assurance of eternal life because of our faith in the Lord Jesus, we have a different perspective on things. It is possible to rightly acknowledge the suffering that has come about over this last two years, and still cling to our certain hope. After all, ‘…now that we have been justified by the blood of Jesus, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Rom 5:9)’
This has been something that has given me great encouragement over this lockdown season. It is all but impossible for you not to have been negatively affected by Covid. If you haven’t personally experienced suffering, you know someone who has been impacted. Yet, a virulent disease that has challenged governments, science, and technology in some way or form, has not stopped God’s purposes for this world. If anything, we have seen the opposite. The mirage of security and stability has been broken down to expose the fragility of humanity. Like a black felt background to truly reveal the beauty of a diamond, so in the midst of fragility we can’t help but notice the stability and security of our great God.
This is the learning of the righteous man, Job. At the very end of the book, Job comes to understand God’s unstoppable purposes, despite his experience.
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:1-3)
I hope that you have seen God’s purposes continue to thrive in this very strange season. I hope you continue to hear stories of those who God has brought from darkness to light. I hope you are encouraged by the initiatives of Christians in churches as they venture out into a broken world to tell people about our great Healer. Even in an online format, which keeps us yearning for face-to-face fellowship, how amazing is it that people continue to have their hearts quickened as they hear the word of the Lord? I trust you see the difference that an assurance of salvation makes to persevering through the most terrible of trials. I trust that you are heartened as you see the many men and women God has stirred up to consider how they might serve Jesus in a more meaningful way. Just at College, there are encouraging signs that next year’s intake of on-campus students will match the bumper crop of 2021. Praise God!
Of course, the above is by no means an exhaustive list of things that convince me of the steadfastness of God in achieving his purposes. Even in the realm of finances, I have been blown away by the generosity of Christian men and women like yourselves, who have continued to support the College with gladness despite the financial impact of the pandemic. The work of God in the hearts of his people is a beautiful thing to see, and it fills me with joy to know that God works through his people in these many and varied ways. Will you please pray that God continues to work in the hearts of people, to give generously? Especially with larger intakes in student numbers, will you prayerfully consider giving to the Scholarships Fund and the Student Support Fund? Our goal as a College is to steward the generosity of his people in providing sustainable support to help all our students to afford College and not let finances deter their equipping for Gospel ministries. In fact, you can watch what I said at the August Open Night about the affordability of College, when speaking with prospective students.
As we approach this Christmas season, would you also pray for Christian leaders around the world—that they will be bold in the proclamation of this life-giving gospel in a fragile world in need of the soothing balm that only Jesus can truly bring? And of course, will you pray that the Lord continues to stir up his people to serve him and his people—whether that be through more involvement in the ministries of their local church, or having the conversation about a ministry apprenticeship, or undertaking theological education?
If you have a prayer request in the holiday season, or if you have any questions about the work of the Foundation, please don’t hesitate to contact my team of wonderful workers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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