If you’ve ever had the experience of climbing a high mountain, you know the challenges — physical and mental fatigue, lack of oxygen and high winds. I remember the first time I climbed Mt. Rainier. We faced high winds on what is called “Disappointment Cleaver,” a large rock outcropping at about 12,000 feet. It seemed at times the summit would never appear. I remember that summit day, looking out over the clouds below. And then there was the descent. I remember hours of looking back up at the summit in wonder, realizing just how much ground we had covered.
I invite you to climb the summit of the greatest cause of all time — the cause of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom Cause
There is no greater cause. This is the cause that our Lord devoted Himself to. The cause He called his disciples to embrace, when He called them to pray, “The Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
The Kingdom, He said, was like a mustard seed, a small thing that would grow and flourish — like seeds a farmer plants in a field. He said it was like a treasure, a pearl of unsurpassed value.
Mother Teresa said we are like wires, some large, others small. God is the current.
The question is not whether the power of the Kingdom is adequate. It is. It is. It always will be for every purpose. The question is whether we will surrender ourselves to the cause of the Kingdom.
On the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains we have a river called the Icicle. It flows out of mountain lakes and streams with tremendous power to the Wenatchee Valley below. If you get into that river in a kayak, it will take hold of you — it will move you along its course. Around bends lined with tall Cedars and Doug Firs. If you joined that current, you would not need to do anything to create the current.
If you surrender yourself to the life-giving cause of the Kingdom, you will find God doing things in and through you that are beyond what you can imagine today.
Answering Yes to the Cause
In 2006, a friend invited me to Burundi, Africa. I had never been to Africa. I knew nothing of the Burundian genocide. After 12 years, 15% of the people had been killed. Thousands of widows and orphans were left behind, many living under trees with little or nothing to eat, alone and often abused.
But God had called two women, in answer to the prayers of the orphans and widows, Denise Patch in the U.S., and Joy Buconyori, who was living in Kenya at the time. Together these women began a movement that would reach thousands — Sister Connection.
As we met with groups of widows and orphans, I found myself breaking down throughout that trip.
We met Monique during that trip. Her weight was probably less than 80 pounds. She had lost everything in the war. She had wrecked her bike and was dying from an infection in her ankle. She needed surgery, but had no money. And the hospital would not admit her without cash payment. She was done. Sister Connection paid the bill.
My daughter Audra and I visited Monique in the hospital and told her that Sister Connection would purchase land for her and build her a home.
We have been to see Monique several times and have been to her home. Her ankle is healed. She no longer needs a crutch. The home she now owns is literally across the dirt road in the mountains from the Presidential Gardens and overlooks a beautiful mountain valley. Who, but God, could do that?
At the time of that trip, Sister Connection sponsored about 40 widows and a handful of people were involved. Today, Sister Connection sponsors hundreds of widows, has built hundreds of homes and trained hundreds of widows in small business with micro-enterprise loans, and has sponsored numerous young people on scholarships to Hope Africa University.
If you say YES to the cause of the Kingdom, you are engaging in something big, something worthy of utmost devotion. Even people who do not know the Lord are attracted to His Kingdom. They sense the current of something big and are drawn to it without knowing what it is.
Finding Your Cause
I had lunch several months ago with a colleague who left my firm, a gifted Harvard Law graduate. He said to me that he wanted a change from “Big Law” to something where he could have a greater impact for plaintiffs. Then he said, “You do these incredible things, like the widows of Burundi. I don’t have that in my life.”
If you put yourself into the current of God’s kingdom activity, He will give you His heart, His mind. Our Lord has a special place in His heart for the widow, orphan, leper and untouchable — the poorest of the poor.
In 2004, a friend invited me to go to India to see work among tribal church leaders. There are two million lepers in India today. A group of about 40 lepers were starving when they called an Indian pastor in Hyderabad to give them food. His wife answered the phone and called her husband. This poor pastor had almost nothing to give. But what he and his wife had, they gave. That mustard seed has flourished.
This community has now grown to over 120. They live and worship together. They have their own pastor and receive monthly deliveries of rice, lentils and oil, as well as a nurse who cares for their wounds.
Kingdom things flourish.
Over 123 people were murdered in a large-scale attack, and 60,000 people were driven from their homes. 55 Free Methodist Churches and the pastors homes were destroyed. This pastor’s knee was broken with a rice pounder when he came to the rescue of woman being gang raped.
He had been walking on a make-shift splint for months, when a group of 100 poor pastors at a Conference pitched in to pay for his surgery.
We arrived in January 2008 in Hyderabad at the very time that many of our pastors were fleeing the persecution in Orissa.
We had planned a pastor’s conference for that very time, to begin as they were arriving. We had the privilege to weep with them, to wash their feet during a three-day pastor’s conference. I washed the feet of a pastor named Prakash, and will never forget how we wept deeply together.
Let Christ Guide You
Yet the Kingdom is never defeated. When that conference ended, these men and women joined hands and raised their arms in praise to God with a shout. They went back to Orissa with genuine forgiveness toward those who had committed the atrocities. Some of those attackers have come to know the love of God. Nothing can stop the flow of God’s kingdom. Not persecution. Not even death.
I don’t know where the Kingdom current will take you if you say YES to the cause of the kingdom. It has me in a large law firm, with corporate clients like Amazon.com and GE, but also in India and Africa with the poorest of the poor, the persecuted, the leper.
I live out my Kingdom mission in the midst of that contrast, from the largest and wealthiest companies in the world, to the very heart of the slums in India.
One of my dearest friends, a brilliant and humble man of tremendous Kingdom vision and commitment, a kind of Reinhold Messner of Kingdom Summits, has never been to India. And yet his response to God’s calling has had a profound impact on hundreds of people here and in India. He founded and owns a software company in Seattle. In May of 2011 over dinner, he and his wife told us they felt called by the Lord Jesus to concentrate their giving on something significant.
They felt God wanted them to help fund a Christian University in India. They did not want to be known, no board position. They only wanted to pray and give. They only wanted to say YES to that divine call.
A year later, we had organized Immanuel University, a Christian graduate university for minorities (“untouchables”). The first graduate program is an MBA.
In January, we will have dedicated our second graduate school, the McKenna School of Education, pictured here under construction .
One hundred master’s-level teachers will be enrolled this coming year, virtually all from the untouchable caste.
Whether you are a pastor, the founder of a software company, a teacher, a wife and mother, a lawyer or physician — all that we are, all we possess, all we can do, is a gift from God to accomplish His Kingdom purposes.
The work is not ours. Our talents are not ours. They have been given for His use — for His glory; for His purposes.
God knows you. He knows your gifts and can use you in this great cause of the Kingdom in wonderful ways that are beyond what you can even imagine.
Spring Arbor University Connection
You may have noticed that every Kingdom cause I mentioned is connected to Spring Arbor University. Sister Connection was founded by Denise Patch, a Spring Arbor graduate. Hope Africa University, which now numbers over 5,000 students, has been profoundly impacted by many of your faculty and staff. Its library owes so much to SAU and Karen Parsons. A recent president of SAU, Gerald Bates, is serving as president of Hope Africa today. Faculty members have lectured there. Spring Arbor students were the first to go to Immanuel University, and will go again in January. Immanuel University’s first MOU was signed by Spring Arbor University, leading the way in the U.S., and two of Immanuel University’s board members, serve at SAU. The new McKenna School of Education is named in honor of David and Janet McKenna, a beloved president and first lady at Spring Arbor.
SAU is living out the Spring Arbor Concept in all these ways, both here and abroad!
One of the great Christian thinkers of the last century, E. Stanley Jones, had a stroke while on a speaking trip. He fell out of bed and was partially paralyzed. He was in his 80s at the time and was told he would never walk or talk again.
He fought to be able to speak again, and he did, well enough to dictate his final book to his daughter. He called it the “Divine YES”. When we live in the current of Christ’s presence, everything is YES. Say YES to God’s Kingdom initiative. You can trust the Lord completely. Live by faith in His leadership. Say YES to the call of Christ. Give yourself to the cause of the kingdom. Say YES to a life of transformation. Join the Global Kingdom community and see what God will do with you! If you do, you will climb the peak of His promise — to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. And you will also see that you are in for a tremendous adventure! May the Lord bless you so richly!