(The Bible describes one of the tribes, Issachar, as people who”understood the times”. Loren Cunningham is a man who understands our times. I wrote this after a conversation with him; he has read it and is happy for it to be posted as an accurate account of the thoughts he expressed in that conversation.)
I was on a Zoom call with Loren Cunningham and several others recently. When it was over Marti, who could hear part of it, remarked, “I have rarely heard Loren speak so forcefully; did you get what he was saying? I think it is VERY important.” I agreed that there was an unusual sense of urgency and significance to what he said, so in the next session, I asked if he could write up what he said, or work with someone else to do that. His rejoinder was to say I should write up what he said from the notes being taken. Here it is:
THE TIME OF OPPORTUNITY IS GETTING SHORTER
We must be more diligent and work faster because the time of opportunity is being shortened. Many of the nations, known for their freedoms, are seeing those freedoms limited in ways we could not have imagined, even just a year ago.
The eroding of freedom of speech and freedom of movement over recent years has been obvious and have been written about and broadcast extensively, but the trend continues. Soon, it will enter a new phase.
There will be a worldwide vocal attack on the Bible. This will be an effort to stop our God-given mandate to make the Bible available to everyone in their mother tongue.
OUR BELIEFS, OUR CULTURE, AND OUR HISTORY – UNDER ATTACK
The Bible is being targeted because it gives us our beliefs and from our beliefs, we get our culture. Those who are determined to change our culture are working hard to banish any record of Biblical influence from our history. (I, Lynn, might add that, on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011, the renowned broadcaster, author and Parliamentarian, Melvyn Bragg, produced and presented “The Legacy of the King James Bible”. He said, “It was in fact the King James Bible that had the greatest impact on everything from English language and literature to Western democracy.” Then, it was broadcast by the BBC, but I am certain they would not allow it today.)
With the Bible guiding our beliefs and lying at the centre of Western democracy, as Bragg stated, we have had a standard by which we could say what was good and what was evil in our history. There was, of course, a lot of both because those are always the results of human activity. But with extensive Biblical influence, the United States of America became a nation with a common culture in which people gained more freedom and prosperity than had ever been known on earth. Many other western nations also had extensive influence from the Bible, and the “American experiment” was an inspiration to other nations and cultures. (If You Can Keep It, by Eric Metaxas, is a spell-binding account of Biblical Christian influence on the American Constitution.)
If anyone sets out to change a nation, they must first rewrite the history. The more extreme left-wing movement in America and much of Europe has been determined to do exactly that. First, they write their own version of history and then they teach it in our schools and colleges, with no other versions permitted. They know that no one will work hard to overthrow the current social order unless they believe it is irredeemably bad. One well known socialist Ivy League professor stated that socialism cannot work until everyone thinks the same. The extreme left has set out to get everyone to think alike. The New York Times 1619 Project is an example of how young people are being taught that the history of the USA and Western Culture is predominantly evil.
WE MUST “WORK WHILE IT IS DAYTIME”
What once seemed impossible, or at least very unlikely, is now a strong probability. The Bible could be labelled hate-speech and then be banned. We must redouble our efforts to get it out more and more widely. That is clearly the will of God and when we do exactly what he wants, he will work with us and we will be able to do more than we ever thought possible.
WE HAVE A PANDEMIC, BUT NOT THE ONE YOU THINK
There is a pandemic among missionaries. Over 5% of them have recently had to leave the place of their calling. This is the beginning of a revolution, a dramatic change in the strength of missions sent out from America and other Western democracies. Because of the other pandemic, Covid-19, millions of people have become more and more dependent on government to tell them what they can and cannot do. Millions have also become dependent on the money governments are printing. These factors and others have led to a drop in money given to missions.
Some mission boards have looked at the drop in income and have let the accounts tell them what to do. For many boards, the decision was just a sad, but necessary, business decision: when the revenue drops, cut your costs! 20% loss in income means 20% of our missionaries must be fired.
This is not the way the economy of the Kingdom of God works. He will always provide sufficiently for His people to go where he calls them and live there. May the Lord grant a new measure of faith to those whose support has been cut!
As you probably know, this is not the whole picture. About the time YWAM began, the mission force also began to change dramatically. It is no longer comprised of missionaries from Western nations going to the rest of the world. Now the mission force comes from all over the world and goes all over the world. It is so much more resilient than it was. Thank God for that!
WILL THE VACCINE SAVE US?
At the time of this conversation, three potentially effective vaccinations have been announced, but none has been made widely available yet. But the CEO of Qantas Airlines has already announced that a certificate of vaccination will be “a necessity for every passenger who wishes to travel internationally”.
That’s another level of control and we are expected to get used to it, just as most of us have adjusted to churches being closed or so heavily restricted that we cannot worship in song or host full congregations. When governmental authorities can decide who can or cannot travel, it would be a small step to prevent missionaries from reaching the place of their calling.
A NEW WORLD ORDER
Meanwhile many world leaders are calling for more global control to address this pandemic and the crises of climate change and the world economy. In his September 2020 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said the Covid-19 pandemic was our “wakeup call”. He pointed out that the UN was based upon multinational cooperation, but that is not working. He said we need a new way of thinking, that “we must work together regardless of how the lines are drawn on our maps.”
Admittedly, Trudeau is one of the more extreme liberal voices and there is little chance that the squabbling member nations of the UN will suddenly start to work together in harmony. But the call for a “new global authority” with teeth is now widespread.
THE MOST THREATENING PANDEMIC
During 1918 and 1919, the Spanish Flu resulted in up to 50 million deaths. The 1968 and 69 Hong Kong Flu, originating in China like Covid-19, killed up to 4 million people globally. Covid-19 has, thus far, resulted in 1.4 million deaths. That is about 2% of the total global deaths in the past 12 months. The average age of deaths due to Covid in the United Kingdom is 82 and the median age across all nations is 79.5. Those younger people who die of Covid-19 almost always have other serious diseases. These historical facts should lead us to stop and think. Why is this pandemic being presented to us by governments and the media as if it is killing, or will kill, more people than anything in living memory? Why is there so much panic when a flu pandemic killed two or three times as many people when I was a young adult?
The most threatening pandemic is the pandemic of fear and the consequences we are reaping. Because of fear, we are giving up our civil liberties at a rate we could not have imagined just one year ago. Who would have thought that the government could close down churches, forbid congregational singing in any circumstances, prevent us from seeing family members, stop us eating in restaurants—as you know, the list goes on and on!
WE HAVE AN UNCONDITIONAL MANDATE—LET’S GET ON WITH IT!
Jesus gave us a commandment to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority in heaven and on earth, he said, “has been given to me! So you must go and make all the nations into disciples. Baptize them in the name of the father and of the son, and of the holy spirit. Teach them to observe everything I have commanded you. And look: I am with you, every single day, to the very end of the age.”
We are not yet at the end of the age, so he is still with us! And his command was not conditional. The first few generations of disciples who followed Jesus had many more disadvantages than we have. Their lives were much more difficult, and opposition greeted them everywhere they turned. But they changed their world! With Jesus working in us and through us, we can make all the nations into disciples. Just don’t be afraid to obey him!