A frustrated director was once heard saying, “I wish we didn’t have to work so much so we could dedicate more time to discipleship and teaching our students about new life in Christ!” Can you already relate to this director? How many times have you thought that exact same thing? How often have you uttered that same sentence to God in prayer? Probably more than once. This is because God’s call to reach and save the lost from destruction is a call that every ATC staff member feels strongly about because to so many of us, it is personal. Many of our directors (and staff) know what it means to be rescued by Christ from impending death. It’s real. And when obstacles get in the way of fulfilling that calling to rescue others, we get frustrated. Speaking of obstacles… enter the pandemic!
Recently, ATC centers across the country experienced what may have been the first time in our 60-year history where work and fundraising activities came to a screeching halt for eight weeks (or more)! It would seem that for a moment, ATC was given an opportunity to focus primarily on the classroom and prayer, rather than other necessary, but sometimes distracting, elements like fundraising, awareness campaigns, banquets, etc.
Of course, we all have seen God move mountains and provide healing to those He’s touched through those events so there is a place for them in our work. It is, however, our reality that for a short while, our attention was turned inward and 100% of our time was dedicated toward ministering to one another. Some would even say that ATC had no other choice, but to rely on the Lord Himself to sustain us through very difficult times. Just the way He would prefer it.
Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, if anything, allowed us to see how true God remains in His promises to us. It even granted us the opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of what it means to rely solely on the Lord. It is a reminder that we never had control of the hearts of our faithful donors. God did! And in a time when many businesses lost revenue, testimonies of increase and faithful giving from our friends and supporters came flooding into the National Office. Calls, e-mails, and conversations surrounding the faithfulness of God, echoing genuine thanksgiving for the things He continued to do in the midst of dark times increased faith across the ATC family. He surely was good to us and continues to be.
Over the next few weeks and months surely life may begin to look more like the normal we might have missed. Restrictions on travel will lighten and little by little, we will venture back into a more familiar routine. But…what if you could retain some of the elements of your “new normal” even when it is no longer new? Think about ways in which you can continue to challenge your students and staff to grow and continue to have faith in a God that loves and cares for them like no other.
Maybe you’ve learned about new ways to raise funds and awareness about the work you are doing. Maybe your students gained a new sense of value about the curriculum and lessons learned in the classroom. Maybe for the first time, students faced uncertainty, but had real peace in the middle of it because of your program. Maybe the crisis, as tragic as it was in some places, actually saved some lives of those in our ATC families.
We believe that God is doing a new thing in ATC across the globe. We seem to have a renewed sense of mission and purpose. Above all, we have a renewed sense of this truth found in Psalm 127:1
“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
If the Lord remains at the center of everything we do, our ministries reflect His presence and, in that presence, there is no lacking anything good.