Many years ago, while in Bible college preparing for ministry, I memorized this verse:
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace
At that time, a flood for me was a midterm exam or a flat tire on my car. Not so this year. From a small trickle in February, the coronavirus pandemic has grown into a global tsunami that swept all of us up in its path. When Europe headed into its first lockdown in early March, I gathered the JV team together over Zoom to prepare for what was ahead. God brought Psalm 29:10-11 to my mind as the theme of what he wanted to teach us.
God is sovereign, enthroned as king over the flood. He is always accomplishing his purposes, even using forces that seem out of control. The events of this year were a total surprise to us, but his rule is eternal, meaning that he is in charge of their timing and duration.
As the King, he is capable of accomplishing his purposes in ways that are new and surprising. When Stojce in Serbia began posting five-minute daily Bible studies on his Facebook page, he had no idea they would soon be followed by over 20,000 people—in a country with just 11,000 evangelical believers. From a small village, he is now reaching Serbians across his nation and around the world.
When Ema in Croatia began a study of the spiritual needs of unbelieving students, she never expected that over 40 young people would sign up through an online advertisement for three-hour, one-on-one conversations about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Since many other activities were canceled, young people now had the time and space for deep conversations about spiritual things.
Josh and Kristi in Slovenia never expected that the pressures of the pandemic would bring their neighbor, for whom they had been praying for 10 years, to faith in Christ. Juraj never imagined he would be able to train 200 small group leaders from local churches across Slovakia through a training conference that was both highly interactive and totally online.
“The Lord gives strength to his people.” Normally the Josiah Venture team leads over 100 evangelistic summer camps that are staffed by 1000+ short term workers from the US, UK, and Canada. This year all of them were prevented from joining us by travel restrictions.
In spite of this loss, God strengthened the team with ingenuity and perseverance. In the midst of coronavirus restrictions and no extra summer staff, they were able to lead 35 evangelistic camps with 680 nonbelievers and 800 believers. In addition to these camps, the JV team led another 42 evangelistic events in 16 countries. These included festivals in Slovenia and the Amazing Race in Ukraine, as well as single-day events, which together reached 850 nonbelievers.
“The Lord blesses his people with peace.” As God is working to accomplish his purposes around us, he never fails to work in us. This “flood” is being used by God to purify us as his servants, deepen us, and increase our reliance on him as our only hope. Although these outcomes cannot be measured in activities and numbers, they are tremendously significant. As we look back on this year, we are grateful for the work of our King to bring about sanctification and spiritual growth in us for his glory and praise.
The flood is still here. Our King is still on the throne. Thank you for standing with us as we continue to serve our sovereign Lord.
Dave Patty, President