ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
September 16, 2020
This is a letter to our friends –
This will be the longest blog post in a long time. I believe you will be reassured, encouraged, and blessed if you choose to read it through.
In the late 1960’s, I was a new Christian. Fran and I were involved with leaders of “Youth With A Mission” (YWAM). It was (then) a relatively unknown organization. John Dawson is now one of its leaders.
For those who believe the hand of God is being overwhelmed, I offer John’s recent report.
Subject: Global Drama Unfolding – John Dawson
You might be interested in the global drama unfolding, so here is a brief synopsis of some of it as I am experiencing it. Some of us have convened a global prayer event that coincides with YWAM’s 60th year, which of course also allows us to respond to the backdrop of the global pandemic, the destruction of economies and social unrest.
At times there are as many as 4,000 leaders and event locations connected face-to-face through online platforms such as Zoom. There are other prayer initiatives taking place this month, but they tend to be national. YWAM is truly global. The missionaries themselves hold around 220 types of passports. For three days we convened in regions and time zones around four themes: Remember, Repent, Realign and Release. On the fourth day we celebrated 60 years and now we move into a solemn assembly with fasting and prayer. Waiting on God becomes the focus of September. Let’s look at the four themes.
This first includes lifting our eyes to Jesus, looking away from the turbulence and uncertainty that frightens us and fixing our eyes on God’s attributes, remembering His faithfulness in our journey.
For us this involved listening to some of the pioneering missionary couples who birthed regional movements such as Tom and Dianna Hallas in Asia, Wedge and Shirley Alman in Spanish-speaking nations, Jim and Pam Stier in Brazil and of course Loren and Darlene Cunningham, our founders. As such couples reflected on their journeys, they rejoiced in the over five million people who have worked with them. YWAM operates in 190+ countries, having pioneered over 2000 live/learn communities and campuses.
Just before the lockdowns, unprecedented numbers of people had been flooding into the training courses and locations. What now? Most operations have been severely restricted. We need the voice of those who have faced crisis in their own generation and seen the faithfulness of God. Thousands of young leaders paid close attention as these spiritual grandparents recounted their own faith journeys and the stories of some of the thousands who have joined them as unsalaried volunteers, young people who were inspired by historic movements, from the first century believers to the Moravians of Herrnhut and the Salvation Army.
Loren spoke of the first training base in Lausanne, Switzerland and the influence of Duncan Campbell, Brother Andrew, Corrie ten Boom and Joy Dawson, and how the Mission spread into nearly all the nations of Europe in just five years, followed by rapid multiplication into a global network operating from Africa to Asia. Together we stood in thanksgiving and awe at the works of Jesus in that generation. Works of evangelism, training and mercy ministry from North Korea to Micronesia, including the birth of a global university and the work of the teams using medical ships deployed since 1978 to very isolated populations.
Darlene reminded us of the founding generation’s stories of failure and restoration, particularly the still-birth of our first ship-equipped ministry. She spoke of the temptation to a kind of idolatry when we become more focused on the momentum of the vision than our vision of Jesus Himself. She described the days of conviction and repentance over personal issues that occurred among us during a leadership gathering in an austere youth hostel in Japan.
While she was speaking, my eyes fell on a passage which seemed to summarize our experience.
Psalm 81:13-16 (NKJV):
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”
She also referred to the story of Gideon and when I turned to it in an old Bible that I once traveled with, I found these notes from a teaching I had not given in many years.
1. Israel is oppressed by Midian and Amalek for seven years because they had departed from God.
2. Israel cried out to the Lord.
3. The Lord sent a prophet with instructions.
4. The Lord found an unlikely unqualified servant and began to work with him.
5. Gideon transcends his fear and acts with reckless faith by destroying the altar of Baal that belonged to his father. His fearful but obedient step results in a gift of faith that is released to others. 6. The fleece. Life is a classroom, God is speaking through everything around you, including the most ordinary things right in front of you. *7. Inventory your strengths responsibly but don’t be surprised if the first thing that happens is that God diminishes what you have. (Victory with the 300, shattering the empty clay vessels, revealing the light and unifying the sound of faith.)
8. Rejecting the big temptations (kingship) but falling for the little ones (he memorialized his victory and took to himself too much privilege). 9. 40 years of peace but no real foundation for a God-centered future.
Without going into this passage further (Judges, chapters 6, 7, 8), I think you can see in this brief outline, the relevance of Gideon’s story. May the Lord interpret it to you for your own unique encouragement as He did to me. I found that point 7 in particular fits the circumstance of many of the people I am praying for.
To repent literally means to turn around. In this case to return to intimacy with Jesus, but also to return to any journey that we began to walk with Him, to return to the unfinished busines implied by our particular calling, the vision, values and covenants imparted to us, the statements of agreement that we have come to call “legacy words”. I’ll remind you of just one of these, the goals set out in the brief document we call The Christian Magna Carta:
Everyone on earth has the right to:
o Hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
o Have a Bible available in their own language.
o Have a Christian fellowship available nearby, to be able to meet for fellowship regularly each week, and to have Biblical teaching and worship with others in the Body of Christ.
o Have a Christian education available for their children. o Have the basic necessities of life: food, water, clothing, shelter and health care.
o Lead a productive life of fulfillment spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically.
We commit ourselves, by God’s grace, to fulfill this covenant and to live for His glory.
Perhaps the most surprising development that has occurred since YWAM’s staff aligned their activities with this covenant, has been the extensive involvement of our missionaries with Bible translation and distribution. It has become a breathtaking story of synergy with other agencies in ending Bible poverty which has quickly moved toward becoming a completed task; a time is rapidly approaching when every people group on earth will have access to the Word of God in their heart language.
What is happening now? As we look around, we see new generations of godly dreamers operating in fresh levels of childlike apostolic faith. These are leaders bent on transforming a terrified troubled generation, young people from every culture advocating a revolution of love, animated by the Spirit of God revealing Jesus.
The week before last I was part of a Malachi 4 gathering online. This was organized by a group of younger missionaries who used this passage as their banner because of its reference to generations working together. Many of them lead large projects. They are confident in their abilities, but they always want us older ones present when they meet. My most recent personal attendance was at a large campus in Battambang, Cambodia but now I see the same faces on my screen projected from countries around the world. They often ask some of us to tell our stories, particularly the stories of missionaries sent out by the poorest economies and the smallest people groups.
When Darlene told the painful story of the first YWAM ship vision, several young leaders said that the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be the defining moment of their generation. They explained that they had gone into 2020 expecting an unprecedented year of breakthrough but now see breakthrough in a totally different light.
Many of them led communities and ministries that approached 2020 with tremendous momentum. Large numbers of students or vocational volunteers, large budgets and in some cases, favor with governments and a free hand to build God’s kingdom in the spheres of society like never before. Instead of expansion they encountered the closing of global transport systems and the shutting down of enterprises, leaving them to face enormous challenges in staffing and finances for the programs established in isolated communities. They identified with the story of the conference in Japan. They pictured our description of laying on the floor for hours grieving over our pride, ambition and petty selfishness in 1973. They expressed a desire to identify with us, to vicariously take a position on the floor beside us as the far greater calamities of their generation overshadow them.
I love this new generation. This could indeed be their defining moment. I am reminded of something. We held a preliminary 60th anniversary celebration event in Mexico just before the global shutdown restricted all travel. God gave me Psalm 60 for YWAM at 60. Now I see why.
1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry-now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.
5 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
6 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (Psalm 60 NIV)
Indeed “human help is worthless”. YWAM is more dependent on global transportation systems than any Christian community I know of. We were born in 1960 when commercial aviation had just become accessible to ordinary people. We are far more impacted than local churches who cannot assemble or a myriad of other expressions of Christian ministry, yet the pruning of our institutional strength may produce humility. Fresh dependence on God may bring the breakthrough that we hoped for. The Spirit of God is speaking to the peoples of the earth in the common vernacular. The voice of the clergy is muted but the voice of God to millions of human hearts is not. This is a temporary break from normal levels of ministry activity but great advances are just ahead. “Go, my people, into your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until His wrath has passed by.” (Isaiah 26;20) As our spiritual ancestor said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NASV)
Personally. Like you, I’m affected by the lockdown. The schedule had me in Asia during September, but I can’t get back there. Three families are camped out together, homeschooling four grandchildren. I only travel to events in the Los Angeles area but I am sometimes engaged for six or seven hours a day on Zoom, Starleaf and Skype with business and government leaders, web-based seminars, leadership conferences, appointments with key individuals and consultations with leadership teams. I am not light-hearted. Worshipping yes, but in travail for many people, many causes. We have faced intense difficulties and setbacks as we stand in intercession. We are engaged with many global ministries far beyond the network of YWAM. There is intense groaning in the earth. In this season I am reminded that our real calling is deeper than the healing of the nations. It is healing the heart of God. As the first wave of Moravian missionaries once cried out to their relatives, giving permanent farewell as they left for the mission field, “that the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering”.
So let us begin. A great online event has inspired us. Let’s spend the rest of September receiving grace for united intercession. Two weeks ago, I was reminded of the remarkable picture of the heavenly realm revealed in Daniel chapter 9. Never underestimate the power released by the simplest prayer.
“‘We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.’ While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for His holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.'”
Grace to you all. Holy Spirit come.
These columns are archived since 12/10/09