We are certainly living in uncertain times.
Some would even say “we are living in unprecedented times.” How many times have we heard that in the past few months?
Little did we know in February that our state and much of the world would “shut down” for almost and that COVID-19 and Coronavirus would become commonplace words in our daily vocabulary. As I write this blog today, we have seen over 129,000 deaths from COVID in the US, and over 500,000 deaths world-wide. Over 2.6 million people have been infected with the Coronavirus in the US with over 10.3 millions people have been infected worldwide.
The economic impact of the Coronavirus is still unknown. The unemployment rate in Minnesota at the end of May was 9.9%, which is a record high for Minnesota. And in the US as a whole it was at 13.3%.
It is unprecedented in recent times. And how we move forward now is still uncertain.
And then in late May, Minneapolis became the epicenter of racial tensions, not just in the US, but around the world. The tragic and senseless death of George Floyd sparked chaos in our metro area for several nights. At the same time, it spawned outpourings of local support and many peaceful protests. It also incited protests around the world–on every continent except Antarctica. And while Mr Floyd’s tragic death was not unprecedented, I think we can agree that it has challenged us all in real and unprecedented ways and that we are still uncertain about the best way for us to move forward.
So, with all this going on, what is God possibly up to?
Does history repeat itself?
If you believe the adage that history repeats itself, you may find the following information interesting.
Spanish Flu: From 1918-1919, the Spanish Flu is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people worldwide and caused about 675,000 deaths in the US. About 500 million people worldwide were infected with the virus.
The Greenwood Race Riots: In just 14 hours (Monday night May 31 to Tuesday morning June 1, 1921), in Greenwood Oklahoma (a part of the Tulsa area), 25 black men and 12 white men were killed in a racially charged riot. Property damage was estimated at between $1.5M and $2.0M (when the price of a good house was about $1000). It was estimated that over 1200 homes were burned and more than 200 were looted.
The Great Depression: The Great Depression started with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday) when billions of dollars were lost and thousands of investors lost all they had. By 1933, unemployment neared 30% and almost half of the banks in the US had failed.
These moments seem strangely familiar to what we are facing. They were unprecedented and uncertain.
So I decided to ask this question: during times of global crisis, what in the world happens to global missions efforts?
It’s a hard question to answer broadly but we reached out to one of our missions partners, the Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM), which happens to be one of the largest missions agencies in the world, to see what happened during the Great Depression.
From the start to the end of the Great Depression (1929 to 1933), giving increased very modestly. But what is encouraging is that in the 12 years after the Great Depression ended (from 1934 to 1945) giving skyrocketed more than 5 times higher than it was before the Great Depression.
And in terms of missionaries being sent out, the number who had to come off the field did decrease slightly during Great but in the 12 years that followed the Great Depression, the number of missionaries on the field more than doubled.
Why would this happen?
In times of crisis, people reevaluate their lives and their investments and ask God what He is trying to show them or teach them. Many respond by offering their lives to go and share the Gospel with those who have never heard. Many others respond by offering what they have to help send others and invest in something that will never lose it’s return.
What could God be up to in your life?
If God is stirring your heart and you believe there is something more than just trying to achieve “the American Dream”, then perhaps you should consider asking God what His plans and purposes for your life are.
God has bigger plans, a bigger mission for all of us. All of the things we are dealing with are certainly unprecedented and uncertain for us, but they are not for God. One of my favorite phrases is, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds my future.”
God is up to something BIG even in the midst of these unprecedented and uncertain times.
One of our core values at River Valley Church is that Our Heart is Global. God has commissioned us to take the Gospel to places it has not been preached, to those who have not had a chance to hear. We have not given up on our vision to raise up and put 500 people on the mission field. Perhaps you are one of them. Do you find yourself asking:
- What am I doing here?
- Is the American Dream really the dream for my life?
- What is God asking of me in this season?
- With all of the uncertainty around me, what do I have to lose by being part of God’s great mission on the earth–to bring every tribe, nation, and tongue to heaven?
If anything like this is stirring in your heart, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you take your next step.