Uproot in Order to Plant
Of all the beautiful things that come in life, one of the greatest is the moment of illumination. It may come in a conversation, a book, someone's sentence, or a thought. Suddenly pieces of information that seemed unrelated or even antithetical to one another fall into a pattern and you see a picture instead of meaningless data. Recently this happened to me. It was in a conversation with Vasily Talos, a Baptist pastor from Romania.
Last fall an alliance of five denominational groups in his country united in a common effort to reach Romania with the Gospel. They aired, in cooperation with CBN, a series of children's programs on Romanian TV. The response was overwhelming. One million two hundred thousand letters came in. (There are only twenty-four million people in the whole country.) Those were requests for Bibles, for more information about Christ, and just expressions of thanks.
An analysis of these letters indicated that the children's programs had reached some 700,000 families. In early January 1994, in an effort to respond to this great interest, the alliance mailed 600,000 packets of six Bible lessons per packet. On 15 January the responses to this effort began. Each day since, the mail has averaged 3,000 letters per day. All indications are that in most cases the lessons are being used, not individually, but by whole families.
My response to this was almost one of incredulity. Where in human history has one seen such a hunger for knowledge about the Gospel? What made all of this so moving was the knowledge of what Romania has experienced in recent years. Ten years ago it was a brutal dictatorship ruled by a government totally hostile to Christianity. That government collapsed. The church found itself free but in a society in great trauma.
Then I remembered the commission which the Lord gave to Jeremiah. It contained four crushing negatives before any word of promise. "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10, NIV).
Could it be that when a culture or a society permits itself to be built without its Maker at the center, it must come apart before it can be put together the way God wants it? That may not be pleasant to think about, but it is surely the case in many individual lives. Is this why in Scripture judgment and salvation are so intimately associated?
As I listened to Pastor Talos, a hope arose within me. If it is in the shambles that Christ has His best opportunity to get our attention, this is a good day. In fact, it may be the best day that we have had. As the false crumbles, the true has a chance to be seen. It is a great moment to live. Let us seize it.
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw served for 18 years as president of Asbury College, Wilmore, KY. He currently is president of the Francis Asbury Society, Wilmore, KY. Edited excerpt reprinted with permission from The High Calling 5 (Spring 1994), 2.
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© 1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies