Never say “Never!” to God. This important principle has been clearly demonstrated in my life several times now over the past years. Once, while in unbearable traffic trying to get thru Delaware to the beaches with college friends, I sa
Wilmington, Delaware! There have been several other “never” experiences since then, so one would think I would have learned and given up on the “never” statement. However, over the last few years as many of my friends and co-workers returned to school for higher degrees I repeatedly made the comment “Never, NEVER, not me!”
So when I first heard about Perspectives, offered by the US Center for World Missions, I surely never thought this would be a big step God would use to get me where He wants me – and making my return to school an integral part of it! The first year I applied for the Perspectives course purely out of personal ‘spiritual’ interest. Then I heard that the course was actually for college credit and often required for those considering entering the mission field, so I became a bit hesitant, mainly questioning the theology that would be presented. During the next few years, God continued to increase my knowledge of and involvement in missions and prune my spirit. But somehow even though I continued to apply for the course the coordinator will end up calling to say “sorry, but we just don’t have enough people interested”. Then last year I met several people who had taken Perspectives and highly recommended it. So this year I was determined to take it even if I had to drive to the next closest location Columbia, MD, where it seems they always have more than enough people. Surprisingly, God finally opened the door to have an overflow class take place right where I live.
Now having taken this course I can only say that I truly believe this should be a requirement for each and every Christian disciple and offered/supported by each and every church in America! (and overseas, although many of our brothers and sisters outside America are already deeply rooted in missions work by the very fact of where they were born). The course provides insights on how God’s kingdom plan is being brought about using biblical, historical, cultural and strategic examples. After an overview of church history the class moves on to learn how God prompted many believers to step out in faith and start what we call today ‘the missions movement’. More important, this course opens and changes your mind if you never thought about or doubted the power of God working throughout the entire world, in every era of history and through the lives of even the most common everyday Christians.
Perspectives is highly recommended by over 60 mission agencies – and for good reason. By taking this course you develop a new attitude and perspective about the world and God’s role for you in it. Billy Graham is quoted on the brochure saying “there is no course of which I know that will inform, inspire, and motivate Christians for world evangelization like the Perspectives course. It will stretch your mind, warm your heart and stir your will”. But what makes the course most special is the students get to meet many persons who are in the forefront as missionaries, professors, heads of local agencies and churches that are involved in sending, church planting, etc etc are brought in as the speakers for the series of meetings that take place over 15 weeks. Two other great things happen as each week passes - 1) reading and studying the Bible takes on a whole new light; and 2) if it wasn’t before, your prayer life broadens to an international scope and your heart is broken to pray for worldwide needs as you meet people who have lived in many different countries and hear their stories from frustrations to miraculous salvations in some very unexpected places.
I thank God for Anne, our inspirational local coordinator who always had a perfect song even at some most unexpected times. I also thank God for each and every wonderful speaker overflowing with knowledge and ideas, but most especially I thank God and pray for the mission-minded, committed college students who took this course (a great boost for the church’s future!) And I thank Him further
for getting me to understand how important life-long learning (school) really is and as a result of taking this course I am now pursuing a theology certificate and (slow but sure) another degree.
All this has also made me now think of the many other “nevers” I said to God in the past, especially about places I said I never want to live or work/ministry I said I would never want to do. But perhaps the biggest regret I have is that I never said “never” about to going to Pakistan –one of the places I truly want to be able to do missions work because of all the wonderful Pakistani people (both Christian and Muslim) I have met over many years. So I ask you to pray that I will continue to grow and be a faithful witness day by day until I make it wherever God purposes me to be. And I hope you will also pray that God will allow me to go to Pakistan for short-term missions work or just to visit; for without God leading me to meet people from Pakistan I know I would never have matured in the faith, nor would I have developed as deep a heart for missions and evangelism or found out about the Perspectives course.
My final thought is to praise God for how He works in the life of each believer to help them fulfill their part of His kingdom plan – the more I see the more I am amazed at the ways of God! And if you find God is speaking to your heart about missions, or just about becoming a more faithful/powerful Christian, I urge you to find the nearest Perspectives course so that your heart, mind and life can be changed and expanded more and more each day - to see the world and every person in it with the heart and mind of God, who sent His only Son to die for each person’s sin and continues to call each believer to work through the Holy Spirit to seek and serve the lost until His kingdom finally rules forever.