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Looming Threats

Dear Friends,

How should we respond when surrounded by blinking red lights?

As I write this, the news channels of the world are flooded with reports of Russian troops amassing on the borders of Ukraine and threats of imminent invasion. I’m sure that by the time you receive my letter, there will be many more iterations of this rapidly unfolding crisis. Since we have 36 Josiah Venture missionaries, including Ukrainians, Czechs, and Americans, serving in this contested region, we are following the situation with much concern. What should be our personal response in the face of such looming threats?

This threat is not our only one. Across Europe, the Omicron virus is outsmarting all of the best efforts to keep it contained. The region is seeing previous records smashed, and some say that 50% of Europe will have succumbed to the virus by the end of February. Our team is no exception, as large numbers of them have become sick in recent weeks. After dodging the bullet for two years, I tested positive a week ago and am just now coming out of the fog. We hoped that vaccines would hold the pandemic at bay, but danger is still close at hand. How should we respond?

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Scripture is our best guide, since it takes us above the fog to God’s timeless perspective. Here are three important reminders for all of us when faced with blinking red lights. 

Don’t be surprised
Trouble seems to take us off guard, but Scripture reminds us, “don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12). Jesus himself reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). For a believer, troubles of all kinds should be considered the norm rather than an exception. Our security is in the unchanging sufficiency of Christ and the sovereign rule of our King, rather than in circumstances that are predictable or under our control.

Don’t be unprepared
Of all the threats that face us, the most serious ones are spiritual. “Stay alert!” Peter warns us. “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). In the midst of physical threats, we can expect our enemy to attack us spiritually—sowing discord, discouragement, temptation, and opposition. Our response should not be to run and hide, but rather “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”

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Don't get distracted
Every crisis brings great opportunity for the advancement of the gospel. There is great temptation to spend our energy buried in the constant flow of information, fixated on the blinking red lights. Our most productive response is to fix our eyes on Jesus and stay focused on the task of making disciples who make disciples. That calling never changes, in sickness and in health, in war and in peace.

In the midst of blinking red lights, we are continuing to equip young leaders in local churches and share the good news with the next generation. Thank you for making that possible through your gifts and prayers.

President, Josiah Venture



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