The words penned by Charles Dickens to begin his 1859 novel entitled, “A Tale of Two Cities” rightly encapsulates our life today:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
On the one hand, the current coronavirus pandemic is killing people and brought life as we know it to a screeching halt. I would not say that this is “the worst of times,” but it is leaning in that direction. Yet, we know from God’s Word and from 2,000 years plus of history that when it was “the worst of times,” many Christians rose to the occasion, acted in a manner that honored our Savior, and the church thrived; “the best of times.”
In Acts 8:1-3, we read that “a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea.” The utopia of the new community of Christ-followers seemingly was shattered as people had to run for their lives! To make matters worse, Saul began to “destroy the church.” He went house to house; “he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” It was the worst of times, to state it mildly!
Yet … praise the Lord for this conjunction … in these dire situations, the words of Joseph that were spoken maybe 1,600 years earlier came alive. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
The response of the believers to the persecution of their day and their forced diaspora was revealed succinctly in Acts 8:5, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Now, here is the flip side of our oxymoron; “it is the best of times.” The Gospel spread like wildfire… dare we say, like a virus? … into the known world as each believer shared the Good News wherever he or she visited.
Rather than being paralyzed by fear, believers turned what was meant for harm into an opportunity to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And this must be our response today!
It is with your partnership that we connect with individuals worldwide who are in their personal “worst of times,” share the love of Christ with them so they can thrive in a personal relationship with Jesus, and experience “the best of times.”
Here are some short testimonies of people whose lives were touched because you shared Jesus with them:
- A woman from Nigeria, “I really enjoyed this, May God bless you for putting up this for people like us I was just thinking that I don’t deserve to be loved or to be in any relationship. Thanks so much for this”.
- A man from Liberia, “I have decided to give my life to Jesus and worship him forever.”
- A woman from Ecuador, “I want God to come into my life and set me free.”
It is with your partnership that we have presented the Good News of Jesus Christ to 39.3 million individuals. Over 1.8 million of them made an evangelism response, and over 321,000 wrote to us to begin an online discipleship connection.
We already mentioned the “worst of times” in Acts 8 as Saul went “house to house.” What we are doing is the “best of times.” We are providing the hope of Christ one-by-one as we make Gospel presentations on computers and hand-held devices 24/7 and in every nation and territory that is allowed Internet access. What an opportunity!
So, despite our current times, may we be found faithful in spreading the Good News around the world! The work that we are doing is reaping a harvest! May we increase our prayers, our giving, and our sharing the love of Christ!
We must do our part to fulfill Matthew 24:14, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This will be “the best of times!”
Dr. Mark Flattery