I’m sure many have wondered about the details of our transition from being with Word of Life in Hungary for 16 years to returning to the States to be involved with launching the new ministry of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity. Now that a year has passed since we first began thinking about the transition, I am now in a position to look back over the last several years and especially the last twelve months and give a fairly coherent summary of exactly what has happened and why we are so excited about this new phase in our lives.
For most of us, much of our lives is characterized by fairly predictable routine even when we are doing the Lord’s work and we are confident we are in His will. However, occasionally, and especially when the Lord begins to take us into a new phase of life and on a new path in our journey it’s not a lot different than riding a “mean” roller coaster in the dark. Things often get very unpredictable and about all you can do is hang on while making the wisest decisions you can at each unforeseen turn, drop and corkscrew. That is very much what the last year has been like for us.
To continue the analogy, looking back, I can see that we had been in line to get on the roller coaster for a couple of years. As early as August 2006, we had begun to sense that we had largely completed the task the Lord had given us when we went to Hungary. Although each year brought new challenges and tremendous ministry opportunities, the Bible School was well-established. The curriculum was in place. Week after week, some of the most well-known and gifted Bible teachers of this generation gave of their time, talent and resources to minister to our staff and students as guest lecturers. The resident faculty was stable and doing a great job. And most of the Bible school staff (as well as the entire WOL ministry staff) was comprised of Hungarian men and women who had been discipled and trained through the Bible School ministry. The Lord had truly given us the desires of our heart. But then there began to be an inexplicable restlessness (which often seems to be the first indication that something is about to change.)
Then last summer, in June, we were on furlough, when the results of a survey of over 30,000 church-goers in the United States was published. Of those, over 9,000 were self-identified evangelicals. The results of the survey included some alarming statistics: 57% had responded that they believed that “many religions can lead to eternal life;” 36% didn’t believe that the Bible is literally true, including 7% who believe the Bible is not the Word of God and written by men alone.
(To see these and other statistics from the study: http://religions.pewforum.org/portraits, then click on “Select a Tradition – Evangelical Churches” on the under “Beliefs and Practices.” You can also see that 83% of those in “mainline” churches believe that other religions can lead to eternal life – click on the “Portraits of” menu.)
These statistics seemed to reflect a major shift away from the evangelicalism that we knew when we left for the mission field in 1992. But, unfortunately they seemed consistent with what we had sensed as missionaries, especially over the last five years – that the worldview and theological perspective of the average church-goer was changing to such a degree that it was beginning to have a major impact on the interest and focus on world missions and the need to take the gospel to those who haven’t heard.
This prompted me to write a simple two-line email to Jimmy DeYoung (a long-time friend and Founding Director of Prophecy Today), asking the question: “Is there a need for an organization, something like the Pre-Trib Study Group, to help hold the line on historical, conservative evangelicalism?”
I could not have anticipated the chain of events that this simple question would trigger.
In a couple of days I will post Part II of “The Beginnings of ABI.” Please “stay tuned.”
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity