From time to time I read some of my previous letters. It reminds me of what God has done in the past, helps me realize what God was showing me at that time, and propels me to trust Him more fully in the future. God led me to this letter from 2013. I trust it will encourage you as it has me.
Let me refresh you of the events mentioned in this letter on May 1, 2013. We had just had a banquet in March with J.C. Watts, Congressman from Oklahoma. It was the 50th anniversary of the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing. We wanted to bring together as many people as we could for restoration, to hear the gospel and for YBL to accelerate change in our city.
April 15, 2013 was the bombing at the end of the Boston Marathon by two brothers. My daughter and son-in-law had just left the place where the bombs went off. The perpetrators were tracked down and caught on April 19, 2013. One died, the other was imprisoned.
May 1, 2013… Thank you for your prayers as we labor in God’s harvest field. We pray, we work and we trust God for the results. But it is a long-term process. Just as you wait many months for the harvest, often it is many years before we see the fruit of our efforts. Yet we know that God is working beyond what we see, similar to the seed in the ground. Let me give you a few examples of God at work.
Over the years God has given us favor in two areas: the black community and our desire to make YBL younger again. I am very grateful. But our J.C. Watts Banquet and Reception was the culmination of a lot of small victories we have seen over the years. God gave us inroads to more key leaders in our city. We are becoming more of an agent of reconciliation. God is giving us diversity in our new studies. In fact, a comment from many people at the banquet was, “This is the most diverse crowd I have ever seen.”
We are not alone. Where do you think the Body of Christ is growing at a greater rate than any other country, according to Operation World? I doubt you picked Iran. It is illegal to have a satellite dish in Iran but 80% of the population has access to satellite TV and, as a result, Christian ministry programs are flowing into homes all over that country. But you know there has been tremendous persecution, sacrifice and decades of work in achieving these results.
Closer to home, we all know the tragic events that took place in Boston. The head of the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) was involved in YBL Cincinnati. Listen to this e-mail from my director there. This week I was deeply encouraged by our ministry to men. If you recall two years ago at our YBL Cincy “Thank You” dinner our friend Kevin Cornelius shared with us how his faith has molded him and empowered him and his marriage as he serves our country through the FBI. You may recall a few short weeks after sharing with us, Kevin was assigned to serve as the commander of the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team.) On Tuesday I called and left a message for Kevin to let him know I was praying for him as he serves and leads – I knew he was in Boston. NPR reported the HRT was the final piece in capturing the perpetrator #2 last night. I want to encourage you with this thought – we never know who we will influence, encourage and support through YBL (and simply through our lives.) I am honored to know Kevin, and humbled that the Lord used YBL to encourage him for a season. I hope you will be encouraged to pray for the men you serve, lead, mentor and co-labor with in this ministry.
Scripture over and over says: In due time we shall reap … Nothing given in His name, even a cup of water, will lose its reward … Always abound in the work of the Lord knowing that our toil is not in vain in the Lord. There are people we meet with or influence every day that can have a powerful impact for God’s kingdom, and our life on Earth. What you are doing is significant. Don’t let Satan lie to you. He says it’s not worth it, or you’re just too busy, or you are too broken or flawed for God to use you. God rejoices in using us to accomplish His purposes for His glory.
I am always grateful for what God continues to do through this ministry. Don’t lose heart! Look for God in every circumstance. Remember: Mark 9:41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.