It is easy to get focused on all the bad things happening in our world, how our nation has turned its back on God, how the Middle East is a powder keg just waiting for some nation like Iran to light the fuse in an attempt to annihilate the nation of Israel and to eliminate all Jews and Christians from the face of the earth. It is easy to observe the moral depravity and anti-Christian bias of our leaders and the media, to watch the compromising church lose its power and influence and to become very discouraged and depressed, thinking “God, why are you allowing this to happen?” Well, in the first place we—the church—just as Israel did—have brought this judgment upon ourselves for becoming apathetic and complacent and have ceased to be the salt and light as intended in our society. But, amidst all the negative things taking place and the moral and spiritual decline all around us, there are still those, who, like the 7,000 believers of Elijah’s time, “have not bowed their knees to Baal” (I Kg. 19:18)—during a time when Elijah thought he was the only one living for God (v. 10). It is always such an encouragement to hear missionaries come and report on the exciting things happening throughout the world where many are coming to Christ and are standing firm in the face of severe persecution or even death. But sometimes we wonder if any good things are happening here at home in the “good old U.S. of A.” that has been so blessed by God in its history.
Well, yesterday we had the privilege of attending the baptism and rededication of one of the young people who lived here with her grandparents and who grew up in our church. Alanah True-Silva attended Troy High School and there maintained her testimony for the Lord, not being swayed to “join the crowd” that was not going in the direction she wanted her life to go. She is now attending Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, a solid Christian college, where she is very involved in the Young Life program that reaches out to high schools in the area—a very challenging ministry among some very troubled young people. Alanah left today for her junior year at GCU. Her summer consisted of counseling at a Bible camp in Colorado and then flying back to Montana to again counsel at Elohim Bible Camp for the month of July as she has done for the past several years. At the baptismal service, Alanah shared how she has fully dedicated her life to serving the Lord in all that she does and wants to be. She challenged us to pray for her, encourage her, and hold her accountable. There were six of us there who were pastors or youth leaders or camp directors who have had a part in her life. It was a very blessed, and moving time—and an encouraging one, knowing that there are those young people out there who are truly “followers of Jesus” and are not content to “follow from a distance” as it seems so many believers today are content to do.
I am reminded of something Paul wrote to his disciple, Timothy: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (I Tim. 4:12). Alanah has definitely heeded Paul’s admonition.
In attendance at the rededication and baptismal service were a couple young men from our church, William and Robert McAbee. William recently attended Wilderness School of the Bible in Montana and is leaving in a week for the Philippines to help out missionary Annette Fosgate, from Libby, Montana. On her own she, as just a single young lady, went several years ago to the Philippines and started a ministry of feeding children and sharing Christ with them. It expanded to a ministry to teen agers as well. She too has dedicated her life to serving the Lord with the talents God has given her. Robert McAbee is returning soon to continue his schooling at Montana Bible College and is available to whatever the Lord directs him to do.
As a pastor it is such an encouragement to see young people growing up and dedicating their lives to serve the Lord in whatever area He would call them. May their tribe increase!! With all the discouraging things around us, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that Christ is doing just what He promised to do, build His church, and is not allowing the powers of darkness to overpower it (Mt. 16:18). The darker our culture gets, the more those who are holding forth the light will stand out and shine forth.
The Psalmist gives us a great word of encouragement too, along these same lines, in Psalm 37: “”Do not fret because of evil does, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD. Trust also in Him and He will do it” (vv. 1-5).