This year marks our 20th anniversary of serving with World MAP. How is it possible that 20 years have gone by since this amazing journey began?!
As we pause to review the “heavenly track record” of God’s incredible faithfulness, we are humbled, amazed and overwhelmingly grateful. The Lord has met and sustained us through every hurdle, sprint, victory, stumble and “challenge of endurance” throughout this race – all of which served to only ignite our hearts with faith-filled anticipation for the miles still ahead!
But before we press on, we want to take a brief look at what our amazing God, by His amazing grace, has done – and share with you just a few of the important milestones.
The day is still clear in our minds when, shortly after coming to World MAP in 1998, we began to realize the monumental task we were being asked to fulfill in directing this ministry. We felt keenly our lack of qualifications and skill, as we asked each other whether we should even continue to try.
In that moment, we did the only thing we knew to do: we prayed. We opened our hands before the Lord and, through the tears, raised to Him the meager “five loaves and two fish” representing our lives. We prayed and asked the Lord that, if He had truly called us to this task, He would please take the little we had to offer and somehow use it for His sake and glory.
BROKEN AND MULTIPLIED
Thankfully, God does not measure us as man does. He does not always call the qualified, but He does qualify those He calls as they follow and obey Him, and yield to His ongoing transforming work.
In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus reveals what He will do with our insufficient offerings. First, He says “bring them to Me.” Everything we have and are must be brought to Him, surrendered into His hands, and submitted to His will, power and life.
Then we see that Jesus “blessed,” “broke,” and “gave.” Somehow, what is given into the Lord’s hands for His use, once broken, becomes uniquely useful and fruitful – as also seen in the bread and the cup, symbolizing Jesus’ own body given for us at the Cross.
We have had numerous opportunities in the past 20 years to experience both God’s blessing, and His breaking – resulting in the multiplication of what God was able to do, beyond what we could have ever dreamed. We simply stand in humble gratitude and amazement.
Milestone #1: Give God what you have. Give Him everything you are. Give it without conditions, and in complete surrender. You will find that this is not a one-time offering, but likely a daily one. Then watch and be amazed at what God will do with what is fully offered to Him for His use!
Early on, World MAP’s vast programs and mounting expenses had put the ministry on the verge of shutting down; but was closing World MAP the Lord’s desire?
In another time of prayer, Wendy received a vivid picture in her mind. It was a huge vine with branches growing wildly in many directions, full of leaves and some with fruit. Then the Lord clearly spoke a single word: Prune.
This principle is found in John 15:2, “every branch that bears fruit, He prunes that it may bear more fruit.” And this is what He directed us to do.
Seeing what we could not, the Lord knew that the survival of the vine and the health of future fruit necessitated major pruning. So we did as He asked, and in counsel with our Board and advisors, began to prune. And we pruned. And then we pruned some more!
It required faith in God to take such steps. But what a thrill it was to grow in dependence upon the Vinedresser, yielding our uncertainties and inexperience to His tender yet bold directives.
The result of His years of pruning enabled World MAP to streamline, economize and refocus with even greater intensity on our primary mission in ways we could have never anticipated.
We continue to this day to offer our plans to the Lord, and ask that He direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). When we now consider what would have been lost of God’s Kingdom purposes had we not obeyed – and instead what has been gained in the last 20 years because we have – we are so very grateful for His wisdom and grace.
Milestone #2: Always do what the Lord says, when He says it, and the way He says to do it; and do nothing apart from Him and His clear Word of direction. Seek to obey the Lord in everything and depend upon Him for everything – every single day!
There are many principles in Scripture that, when applied, result in fruitful ministry. But there is one that is particularly meaningful for us. “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1Cor 4:12).
There are a lot of things we may not do well; there are gifts and talents that we do not possess. But one thing we have done consistently: we have sought to remain faithful to God and His call.
There is much to be said for simply showing up every day and being diligent to do your best. Through the challenges and opposition; in the trials and heartaches; in the joys and victories; in spite of weakness or inability – just keep showing up, available to God for His purposes. And do you know what? He can do great things with that!
HE IS FAITHFUL
Whether the responsibility or opportunity is large or small, the Christ-follower is to strive to be found faithful (Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 3:3-6) – faithful to God and His Word, and faithful to do what He asks.
Of course, our faithfulness simply aligns us with the Faithful One, Who then shows Himself strong and does great exploits through those who are loyal, present and available (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Truly, our faithfulness is but the smallest reflection of the One Who is eternally faithful to us, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24). We can be faithful, because our God is Faithful!
It is God Who calls us, graces us, leads us, provides for us and Who makes possible absolutely everything good that we do – to God be all the glory for the great things He has done!
Milestone #3: Be faithful. Keep showing up. Do not give up, and do not quit. Be encouraged when you are not wise, noble, mighty or strong, because all of the glory then goes to the One Who is all of those things, and for the great things He has done! (See 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.)
Of course, it is only because of the wonderful faithfulness of our World MAP donors – expressed in their sacrificial prayers and offerings – that we have the resources needed to fulfill God’s call and purposes for World MAP.
We also want to acknowledge the many great people God has given to serve with us in our USA and Canada offices, and our diligent networking partners around the world.
To each one of you who has prayed, given and served, we are so grateful to partner with you in advancing the Gospel. On behalf of the millions of pastors helped, thank you! May the Lord multiply His blessings to you and expand His purposes through you.
As we conclude 20 years of service at World MAP, we can say with joy, confidence and faith that God’s call for us to serve Him at World MAP is not finished!
All that has gone before has served to strategically position us for a lengthy season of fruitful service in the years to come, should the Lord tarry.
Of course, World MAP will continue to print and distribute The Shepherd’s Staff and conduct World MAP pastors’ seminars in the nations of greatest need as the Lord directs.
Global needs are still much the same, but great changes have taken place in the world that affect the Body of Christ. Our God is a Creator God who delights in doing His work in fresh ways (Isaiah 43:16-21), so we always remain open to His new means or methods for effective ministry.
AUDIO/ VIDEO TEACHINGS
One current strategy is to video-record the key, foundational teachings that we present in our pastor’s seminars – allowing even broader distribution, and the ability to send the teachings to places we could never physically go.
These Bible teachings help pastors not only form a sound biblical worldview, but also help them avoid some common ministry pitfalls and the errors of human (and even demonic) “wisdom” prevalent today.
Among the subjects now being recorded are the Kingdom of God, Making Disciples, the Nature and Purpose of the Church, the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, and Spiritual Authority; with many more to come.
World MAP has decades’ worth of teaching and equipping articles that formed the content of ACTS magazines. These ACTS issues are currently being digitized, to make them readily accessible to the 2 billion people in the world with smartphones – many of whom are pastors without other means of ministry training.
The first of these digitized teachings are already on the World MAP website and APP, with more to come each month. The audio/video teachings will soon be available as well.
The need for World MAP seminars for pastors is growing worldwide, so we are also developing methods of multiplying, “faithful men (and women) who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). And in process are some major writing projects that will help serve the above objectives.
The time is short and the need great, so our desire is to enlist and equip even more church leaders to be about our Heavenly Father’s business!
TO GAIN FOR THE LAMB
Twenty years have passed as quickly as the wink of an eye, and much has been accomplished. And for that we praise the Lord!
Yet, we believe there is much more to fulfill as we stand at the starting line of this third decade of ministry with World MAP. We have great anticipation and joy in our hearts, as our eyes are firmly fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1,2).
Thank you in advance for your prayers and for your financial partnership – and your “cheers from the stands” – that are sure to make this next race a fruitful one, for Jesus’ sake and glory!
by Dr. Frank and Wendy Parrish