Evangel-vision Archives, April 2013

Through our ministries, God allows us to see him work in so many wonderful ways around the world. Here, you get a glimpse of it all through our eyes. Each week, one of our staff shares what inspired, stretched, or encouraged him or her.

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Diane GarvinDiane Swierenga is manager of the Billy Graham Center Scholarship Program.

I Never Thought That….

You may think it very strange, but I never thought much about being a grandmother. Having only one son, I am entirely content and pleased. He is more than I could have wished for. But now… he has had his son and I AM A GRANDMA! Perhaps deep down inside I could not visualize how I would “wear” that title. After all, God has already blessed me beyond what I could ever imagine.

A month ago, little Aiden John was born. Weighing in at 8 pounds and 5 ounces, he seemed pretty normal appearing from his photos, but what’s all the fuss? Here is another little baby born into the world to keep humankind going. Until….last Wednesday when we were personally introduced and I held that little bundle of joy. OH MY! I had five days of holding, feeding, changing, playing, soothing, singing, and talking with my grandson. I told him we would go to the park and play on the swings. And the sandbox, Aiden, you would really enjoy that. Of course, we would go to the zoo and have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on our picnic. 

You may ask, “Diane, how did it feel to realize that your son now has a son, your grandson?” My first thought was that I never thought it would happen. My first impression was this was my son’s child, and yes, my grandson. However, my second impression, the greater impact, was when I saw my little boy (who is now 6’3” tall) tenderly caring in every way for this little miniature man with wide feet just like his dad’s. Oh my! It was love at second glance for this little bundle of possibility, just like it was when I first met my son. He was adopted and came into our home when he was 20 days old. Does God delight over me as I delight over my son and my grandson?

It was then that the “I never thought that…” it would happen was replaced with “I’m a grandma! Would you like to see some photos?” I never thought that….but now? I have returned to Illinois, leaving my precious little “AJ” in Florida with his mom and dad. Now my thoughts turn to “When is the soonest I can return to FL to see my grandson?”

If I have so much love for this little being, how much more love must God have for me and you? It is indeed an astonishing thought that we are his beloved children.  

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days…May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” [and grandchildren] - Psalm 90:14, 16

How have you experienced the power of love? We'd love to hear about it! Let's continue the conversation on our facebook page!

Posted April 24, 2013

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Lonna DickersonLonna Dickerson is director of the Institute for Cross-cultural Training at the Billy Graham Center.

Embracing Change

A few days ago I installed some updated versions of a couple computer programs that I’ve used for some time. I found myself excited about taking advantage of a number of new bells and whistles. These were not features that would make me more productive or that I might actually need in any way, but they just seemed like fun to try out. Then perhaps I could figure out where to make use of them.

After “playing” with these computer programs for most of an evening, I began thinking about how I welcome change on many fronts. Every time I teach a course on language acquisition, it’s at least somewhat different from the time before. When driving, I like to try out different routes to the same destination. When doing a routine task like mowing grass, I like to do it differently from the way I did it the last time.

But as I thought about how much I enjoy some changes and am energized by them, I realized that I often find other changes to be scary. For example, when we decided to move one of our on-campus Institute for Cross-cultural Training (ICCT) courses to a fully online course, that was more than a little scary. Why? Well, that was a significant change and the outcome was uncertain. Hmm. Maybe I like change a whole lot better when the end result is more predictable.

So, I wonder, when it comes to our Christian lives and to Christian ministry, how do we regard change? Are we willing to embrace change—or do we naturally drift toward things remaining the way they have always been?

We can know that change is needed for our personal growth and that it can draw us closer to God, but it is seldom easy, and significant changes are probably never easy.

Even so, may we recognize that God does bring changes—sometimes big changes—into our lives and ministries. May we welcome them with hearts open to the new possibilities that he has planned for us. May we also keep in mind that there is one constant:

God does not change.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is faithful, He is trustworthy, and he is with us in all the changes that are going on in and around us.

How have you found God to be faithful this year? We'd love to hear about it! Let's continue the conversation on our facebook page!

Posted April 8, 2013

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Jerry RootJerry Root is associate director of the Institute of Strategic Evangelism at the Billy Graham Center.

John 19:30 “It is Finished!”

We will never get to the bottom of any of Christ’s words on the cross, and this is certainly so with “It is finished!”  

Years ago, I was invited to preach an Evensong at one of the Oxford University colleges and to eat at the high table after the service. Huge paintings of famous graduates looked down from the walls, reminding those who ate that they sat in a place of privilege. Long student tables ran the length of the hall and perpendicular to these, elevated three steps, was the high table for the faculty. The students ate roast beef while the faculty ate prime rib. Everyone was dressed in academic gowns. A Latin prayer began the meal and you could cut the pretense with a knife. None of this was a problem provided one did not take himself too seriously; unfortunately, in that environment, the temptation to self-importance is strong.

I was introduced as one who preached the Evensong service. The historian sitting across from me asked, “So, Jerry, why are you a Christian?” I thought she was inquiring for personal reasons.

After the meal, someone who knew this woman told me he thought she asked because she wanted to make me the source of entertainment at that dinner. I responded to her inquiry, answering out of a sense of my own brokenness and need of the finished work of Christ:

I am a Christian because I am aware of my own failures and shortcomings. I am aware of incongruities in my life.     I believe in the high ideal of love, yet there have been times when I’ve spoken sharp words with those I say I love most in this world. I am aware of hypocrisy and injustice in my life—not all of it, but enough to be ashamed. It was out of the deep recognition that things are broken in me and need fixing that I have found the message of God’s love and forgiveness compelling.

The historian was taken aback by what I said.

She replied, “Well, I can appreciate what you are saying, but that’s just not my issue!” I was surprised by her response, believing that anyone who looks honestly at his or her life must be aware of its many shortcomings and deficiencies.

I responded, “I think I understand what you are saying. In fact, when I became a Christian in college I didn’t become perfect overnight—that took two or three weeks to happen.” As I said this the whole table burst into laughter. When things settled down I said to this woman, “Your laughter just betrayed you.”

She asked, “What do you mean?”

I answered, “We just met, so you couldn’t possibly know specifics in my life making that statement laughable. Your response indicated that either your read of history or your read of your own life provided awareness it was nonsense.”

She responded, “You got me.”

I asked, “Then knowing of your own struggles in life, what gets you by when you make an honest inventory of your life?”

She answered, “I have faith in humanity!”

I inquired, “May I ask you a couple of questions about your faith in humanity?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever been wounded by another human being?”

“Of course!”

Then I asked, “Have you ever wounded another human being?”

She said, “I suppose so.” She was softer on herself than she was toward those who had wounded her.

I asked, “How does this faith in humanity work when we live in a world where we have been wounded and we have wounded?”

At that moment, one of the other Dons at the table asked, “How does it work for Christians?” And we spent the rest of that evening at high table talking about the love and grace of God. These are the riches to be found, and re-found anew each day, in the work of Christ which was finished on Calvary long ago.

It is the place where we acknowledge our brokenness that we discover the treasures held in store for us in Jesus’ words, “It is finished!”

What experiences can you share where God has opened a door to conversation about his goodness? We'd love to hear about it! Let's continue the conversation on our facebook page!

Posted April 1, 2013

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