Last night, Biblijski institut installed me as the second president/ravnatelj in the school’s history. What follows are the remarks I gave, outlining my foundational convictions regarding the work of the school, my “Declaration of Principles,” so to speak. (I pray that I will live them out and uphold them more consistently than did Charles Foster Kane, and with greater faithfulness and self-awareness.)
Dobra večer; velika mi je čast biti večeras ovdje. (Good evening; it is a great honor for me to be here tonight.)
I want to articulate three foundational convictions I have regarding the work of BIZG.
My FIRST conviction is that God is working in powerful ways here in Croatia and the former Yugoslavia. It’s easy to miss this; evangelical Christians in Croatia are outnumbered, our churches are small, our school is small. The culture around us is materialistic and sexualized and doesn’t appear to be much interested in what we do. About 1 in every 1,000 Croats is an active evangelical Christian.
It’s easy for us to look at the numbers and wonder why God isn’t making things bigger. Why aren’t we growing? Why aren’t our churches bigger and more influential?
But don’t miss things like:
- The movements of the Holy Spirit among Catholic young people, seeking renewal;
- Movements of the Holy Spirit in evangelical churches as well,
- Alignment of like-minded evangelical ministries in Zagreb and throughout our region; we are positioned for potential collaboration like never before.
It’s easy to have spiritual tunnel vision. We work for the churches, and the churches are small, we struggle to have impact. And we sometimes wonder why God isn’t doing more.
Perhaps we have our eyes so focused on what WE are doing that we miss what GOD is doing. One of the lessons I’ve learned in ministry is that God is ALWAYS at work somewhere. Instead of complaining about how God isn’t blessing what YOU’RE doing, find what God is doing & become part of it. Because there is no doubt: God is working in powerful ways here in Croatia & beyond.
My SECOND conviction is that the Church is God’s vehicle for changing the world, & BI exists to strengthen/partner. The scriptures printed on the inside of the program convey two different pictures of the church:
- Body of Christ: made up of many parts, all important. BIZG will teach, model, promote a vision for ministry that involves the people of God the work of ministry, because only then is the Body healthy; only then are the parts of the Body healthy (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4).
- Temple, Light of the World, Children of Light: the Church is God’s visible presence in the world. BIZG will promote a vision of ministry that involves being the light IN THE WORLD, not shut up in a closet somewhere. God calls us to shine light of his presence on all circumstances & issues (1 Corinthians 3; Matthew 5; Ephesians 5).
As we teach, train current and future ministry leaders, and work with churches and ministries, this is what BIZG will promote: ministry that involves the people of the church in the work of ministry, ministry that refuses to be contained within the walls of any church building, but instead takes the presence of God into the world, and presses on the gates of hell.
My THIRD conviction is that education, scholarship, networking, cooperating in use of resources, and so on are all all powerful tools for advancing the Kingdom of God. But greatest power is prayer.
The conflict around us is a spiritual conflict: “our enemy is not flesh and blood,” as Paul says in Eph 6. Our adversary, both within our own hearts and in the world around us, is a spiritual adversary.
How do you fight a spiritual adversary? FIRST, you pray. THEN, you pray more. THEN, you act.
Around the world, the month of May is designated as special time of prayer; US, Croatia, Global Day of Prayer.
Tonight, I ask that you join w- me in devoting remainder of this month to special times of prayer, not just for our world, churches, communities.
Please also join me in praying for BIZG. In your churches, please mention BIZG at your prayer times. In your private prayers and family prayers, also.
We have printed some prayer guides, and they are available in English and Croatian. They’re also available on BIZG’s Facebook page, and our webpage, www.BIZG.hr.
Samuel Chadwick wrote: “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
So won’t you join me in prayer for our region, our churches, and the ministry of BIZG?