What Makes My Country and My Church Strong

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

In my almost 50 years, I have seen leaders of my country come and go. Some were called good, some were called bad. There have been some fierce debates over whether or not certain leaders were good or bad.

Still my country remains strong. You know why I think that is? While some leaders are good and others not so good, I believe it is the common citizen who keeps my country strong.

Leaders may compromise their integrity for greed or political favor, but my country stays strong because of teachers like my second-grade teacher, Miss Tubbs, who stayed after school to help me finish my math assignment even though she really wanted to go home and was under no obligation to stay. I did not thank her for her extra effort. It made me resent her. She didn’t care that her extra effort was not endearing her to me. She wasn’t doing it for me to thank her. There was really nothing in it for her. Yet by going the extra mile she made each of her students a stronger link in the fabric of our country.

Then you have fathers like my dad, who, while working a full-time job and a couple part time jobs, volunteered at the city library to teach adults how to read. One of his pupils needed help moving, so Dad, who was already going the extra mile in just teaching him how to read, went another mile more, and helped him move. I never heard Dad complain about all he was doing and he still made time to take me to the baseball games. (He should have had me help his student move instead!)

This country has mothers like my mom, who kept the home in order, worked at various jobs off and on, and still volunteered to lead the Parent-Teacher Association, and was always there to give rides on our field trips. My mother taught me integrity with time, money and hard work. Growing up, Wednesday was the day we got to eat out, because that was the day the enchilada dinner was $1.00 off at the Monterey House Mexican Restaurant. Mom knew the value of saving a dollar, but she still had no problem waiting for the waitress to redo the ticket, after reminding her of something she forgot to charge us for.

This country is full of pastors like Pastor Kelly of the Highland Park Christian Church in Tulsa, where my family worked in the nursery for years. Since we were Seventh-day Adventists, we were Christians who were available to babysit while everyone else was in church on Sundays. During my teen years I sometimes needed a mentor to talk to who was not necessarily in the picture of my routine life at school, home or even my own church. While I was not a member of Pastor Kelly’s flock or even his denomination, and he knew good and well there was no chance I ever would be, he still made time for me and always returned my phone calls if I missed him. Just like my second-grade teacher, he went the extra mile even though there was nothing to gain for himself. He cared.

Then there is Eneida, who is now 20 and serving in the military getting ready to go to Afghanistan. She was 13 when I met her and her family. We all started studying the Bible together. I have watched Eneida give up things which were rightfully hers, so her younger siblings could have them instead. Being Hispanic, when it came time for her Quince, while her other friends were throwing big parties, she told her parents not to waste any money on her, and she enjoyed a quiet celebration with family instead. I have watched her caring for her younger siblings like a mother hen. Now she is in the military. At 20 years of age, the only life she knows is looking out for her family and country even at the expense of her own welfare. Her life has been full of sacrifices, none of which anyone else has ever asked her to make.

Just like Paul could go on and on in the “Hall of Faith” chapter of Hebrews 11, I could go on and on about the rest of my wonderful family and community.

I think you get the picture: As long as my country has people like Miss Tubbs, Mom and Dad, Pastor Kelly and Eneida, I don’t think any political leader can destroy the strength of the common people who make our country strong. It’s not any one leader who is holding this country together and making it strong. The strength of this country is found in the millions and millions of everyday people, like the ones I have just mentioned.

So in my church, it is not any one leader who keeps it strong, even with all its challenges. Elijah was once tempted to think he was holding things together during a time of great spiritual crisis in Israel, when God reminded him of the 7,000 everyday people who had never bowed the knee to another any other god besides the true God. (See Romans 11:4 NLT) So while the king and queen of Israel worshiped Baal, Israel survived because of 7,000 everyday people whose names we don’t even know!

In Hezekiah’s day God’s people experienced a revival. The priests or leaders were not necessarily prepared for the revival the laity was experiencing.

But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 2 Chronicles 29:34 NLT

So it is today, often the revivals are led by the lay members. Sometimes it is the lay members who lead the paid gospel workers back to God. I may be a paid full-time Bible Worker, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been educated, mentored, and, yes, even corrected by the most humble of lay members. During times of spiritual crisis it has been the common lay members who have held our church together. The grandmother praying through the night, the small child who quietly slips the money given to him for his birthday into the offering plate, fearing embarrassment if anyone was watching, the mother and father who were just cursed out after a board meeting, right in front of their children, who never retaliated, but went home and prayed in the family circle for the ones who cursed them. Yes, these are the people who revive and reform our church in times of crisis. These are the people who make our church strong.

When I look to myself and then look at the challenges ahead I want to faint! Then my Savior comes and takes me by the hand. He tells me not to look to myself for revival and reformation but to look to Him. Then He tells me not to worry. Not because He will make me a great leader, but because He is a great leader.

The church will survive. It will be revived and reformed, not by any one leader. No. It will be revived and reformed by the 144,000. Literal number or symbolic, it’s all the same. God will not save, revive or reform his church through any one person. Like the days of Elijah, God will raise up a multitude of everyday common individuals who will reflect the character of God instead of themselves. And it’s because of my God, and His loyal, selfless, unpaid, unrecognized and un-thanked followers that my church is strong!



What Makes My Country and My Church Strong — 15 Comments

  1. Yes William, and in scripture those 144,000 are called "servants of God" and follow Jesus everywhere He leads them.

    Quietly, day by day...unnoticed and unnamed.

    My favorite revival story is 1 Sam 14:1-23. Two unnoticed servants of God, quietly and unnoticed, following where He led them. Look what their faith in action led to! No "pep talk" or lecture could have had the same results. It would seem that faith begets faith, and can be seen by others.(Mark 2:5)

      • Exactly Tyler...it's a beautiful prophecy of revival, and another favorite of mine as well.

      • That there is one of the most Powerful revival prophecies of the Bible! If our God can cause those dry bones to live again, He most certainly can revive a people who are seeking earnestly to be revived!

  2. [Moderator Note: Please provide your full name when commenting on our site. Thank you.] Sir William, thank.you for this beautiful and truthful reminder. I will keep this in mind when I want to complain about the leadership of our churches(conferences/unions);while leadership is not perfect, we the lay people must earnestly and continually seek God for guidance and the perfect leadership we seek. Here is where the heart revival and reformation behind.

  3. William, your post reminds me of a statement a godly woman made more than 100 years ago:

    The time has come for a thorough reformation to take place. When this reformation begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer and will banish from the church the spirit of discord and strife. Those who have not been living in Christian fellowship will draw close to one another. One member working in right lines will lead other members to unite with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit. There will be no confusion, because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers separating believer from believer will be broken down, and God’s servants will speak the same things. The Lord will co-operate with His servants. All will pray understandingly the prayer that Christ taught His servants: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. (Ellen White in 8 Testimonies for the Church, p. 251)

    Although the reference is to "reformation," it is clear that it is more than outward reformation. It is a matter of the heart that is based on a living connection to the Holy Spirit, which is the essence of revival.

    This makes me think that we cannot safely wait for the leadership to begin a work of revival and reform. Each one of us must seek God for ourselves right where we are so that God can work such a change in us that others might see and be led to seek the same connection with God.

    The question for us and our readers is this:
    Will you and I be the "one" in each of our congregations?

    • This is so true. I have only been in the church thirteen years and my first 7 years were spent 'doing' God's work on earth to the point of getting lost. I didn't leave the church but I was spiritually void and then I started praying and thinking if I do the right things I will be closer to God. I read this week that it is to get to 'know' Jesus and have him be the one to lean on and seek comfort, guidance, and friendship from. If he is my all in one then the changes will come without much help from me. I only need to be willing and the Holy Spirit will make the changes I can't seem to make on my own. Thank you all at SSNET and thank you Father for being so kind and patient.

  4. Thank you all for your comments, and Inge that is a beautiful picture of a revival and reformation. I pray we all humble ourselves and Seek God's face do this can be fulfilled in our day.

  5. As a children's doctor working in ICU I know what it takes to revive a child who is dying. All of that child's own effort cannot save him or her. It takes effort of the team looking after him to provide the needed environment for healing to take place. That environment includes often drastic measures taken to support life, but a caring team will do what is needed ... We are desperately ill and spiritually dying. God wants to resuscitate us from this state. He uses His matchless love and grace to call us into a saving, healing relationship with Him. In His ICU, the church, He desires that His followers provide a healing place of compassion and love and grace that is not afraid to call sin sin, but also one which can point each penitent to the Source of life and cleansing... Our Creator and Redeemer and Lord Jesus.

    • Dr. Solomon, Thank you for:
      1. Clearly identifying that God our Father, through the Holy Spirit, is the one who resuscitates us with His Breath of Life. It is not the work of man, but of Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, buried and resurrected Who saves us. However, He uses His servants to be bearers of good news, to save the lost.
      2. God's team is comprised of people who are prepared - filled with the Holy Spirit, skilled in the Word and work of God. It takes the Doctor, the Nurse, etc. to understand and work with the principles of Life, to save the sick person. So also God's selected servants are taken from the broad spectrum of life - the Child, the Doctor, the Priest, the Farmer, the Laborer - and blessed with the skills/Light/Salt that represent the Way/Truth/Life to save the lost.
      As Bill pointed out, God always has representation among His people, even if the vast majority are worshiping/partying around the golden calf.
      Nations and even Churches do rise or fall on account of good or bad leaders, respectively; but, unlike the national, as the quote shared by Inge taught, God will use the faithful few, powerful in prayer, to accomplish a mighty work in His name. Blessed be our Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ.

  6. While the notion is true that our work must begin on an individual basis in our country and in our church it should not negate our responsibility to leadership. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 urges us to pray for our leaders. Another biblical example is Davids relationship with Saul when Saul was trying to kill him. Even while Saul was trying to kill David he respected him as the Lords anointed 1 Samuel 24:6-7.

  7. Thank you for reminding me that I do matter and I do make a difference. I am just one person asking Christ to be in me daily so that I can show Him to others. Sometimes it feels like I get lost and watered down by the rest of the church and I begin think that I make no difference at all - so thank you for reminding me that I do.

  8. I also like to look back, William, on the many people who have been mentors and beneficial in my life. The list goes on and on when I get started remembering them! I pray that I can be a blessing to others in ways small and large just as others have have been for me! Then comes the truth you have also added, that it is my connection with and focus on God that enables me to carry on that grace and blessing to others.

  9. Great article. Thank you. If the mere thinking itself of the work and mission ahead of us makes us faint and fearful, rest assured the mission is from God. I once heard a preacher say, "God doesn't call those who are equipped; He equips those whom He calls."


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