Keeping Childlike Faith in Uncertain Times

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The other day my daughter asked me about what it means to have childlike faith. I responded by telling her that just as children trust their parents we, too, need to trust God. In other words, we must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. 

The very next day I was cleaning up after dinner thinking about all the decisions that my wife and I were facing and the challenges we had as a family. 

After four ankle surgeries, my oldest daughter was still having significant pain. What should we do? Should we consult another doctor and face the possibility of a fifth surgery?

My second oldest daughter was still dealing with post-concussion issues, even though a year had passed. Would she ever experience relief from her headaches? Would we have to go through another round of vision therapy? 

Then, the reality of all the medical bills with my daughters’ issues began to make me concerned. How would we pay for them?  

The difficulties in my personal life seemed to only intensify with the proliferating coronavirus and how it might impact our lives and nation. What if our community was put under mandatory quarantine? Did we have enough food and supplies? What would we do if one of us gets sick?   

While feeling completely overwhelmed with all these questions running through my mind, I looked out our kitchen window and saw my two youngest daughters on our trampoline playing with their Barbie dolls. In the midst of all that was going on in my life and the world, they were content and at peace. It was at that moment where God impressed on my heart what it means to have childlike faith. It did not mean I would go through life with no problems or challenges, but in the midst of them, like my children, I could still have peace and joy.  

Just as my children’s peace and joy rested in the fact that they knew my wife and I would take care of their needs, so too, we can have peace and joy knowing that our heavenly Father will also take care of our needs.

As our world continues to face the fear of the uncertainty of the coronavirus, and as we all face difficulties and challenges, may we live with a childlike faith in a God who is truly our refuge in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). 

Prayer Accomplishes Great Things

by Bill Rudge

Doors of opportunity open and victories are realized when you pray for us. Effective ministry happens through lives saturated with prayer. In fact, virtually every miracle we have seen through this ministry has occurred during or right after a time of prayer and often including fasting.

Obstacles have been overcome, the impossible made possible, victories won, strongholds broken, and lives changed as the Lord does amazing things through earnest and persistent prayer.

PRAYER is the privilege we have to enter boldly into the presence of the Master of the Universe. PRAYER is acknowledging our dependence on and surrendering our will to the King of kings and Lord of lords. PRAYER is crying out to our Creator for His help, protection and empowerment. PRAYER is entreating the only One who can meet all our needs and fulfill the pure desires of our hearts. PRAYER is sometimes saying, “Lord, I don’t know what You are doing, but I trust You.” PRAYER releases our faith in God, who has ultimate power and authority. PRAYER is a catalyst in deploying heaven’s resources to assist God’s saints. The PRAYERS of believers in Jesus Christ have tremendous power.

Purpose in the Midst of the Unknown

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the greatest questions that you will ask in life is, “Why am I here?” In other words, “What is the purpose of my life?” As Christians, we know that we have an eternal purpose. We have been given the task by Jesus to be His ambassadors here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) – a task that calls us to be His representatives in sharing with others the truth of who He is and why He came. Despite our acknowledgment of this divine purpose, we often find ourselves facing challenges and trials that cause us to question why God is allowing us to go through them. Surely an all-powerful and all-loving God could bring about His plan in a different way, so “why” would He allow this to happen?

This very question was at the center of a conversation that I recently had with my 14-year old daughter, Moriah. She was going through a difficult time in her life. Besides having to deal with a concussion that prevented her from completing her first year of soccer at her school, she was also about to undergo a third surgery on her left ankle. For the past three+ years she had struggled with chronic pain and lack of mobility in her left ankle, which not only limited her physical activity but also impacted daily activities. Now she was weeks away from another surgery where she would be receiving a full bone fusion that would bring with it a long recovery process. Not knowing the final outcome of this procedure is why she chose to play soccer. Since running caused excruciating pain, she decided to play goalie. After weeks of hard training she was ready to play in her first game. But in the process of making a diving save, she hit her head on the ground and not only missed the next game, but the rest of the season. Although my daughter is not one who complains, the emotions of all of this eventually came weighing down on her. In a moment of exhaustion, she asked “why would God let this happen?”

As her father, I tried to reiterate to her that sometimes we do not always know specifically why, but this does not mean there is not a purpose. I shared with her how God could use these challenges in her life to help her grow in her faith and allow her to encourage others going through similar situations. These were the same words that my dad shared with me when I faced a similar ankle surgery around the same age. Remembering how I responded, I figured these words would also make sense to her sometime in the future. However, God showed me that He was working much faster in my daughter’s life than He did in my life.

A few days after my daughter and I had talked, my wife was emptying our trash. In my daughter’s trashcan, my wife found the rough draft of a letter that Moriah had written to Ryan Shazier. For those who do not know him, Ryan plays football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and recently suffered a severe back injury. Below is just an excerpt of what my daughter wrote to Ryan:

Dear Ryan Shazier,

I wanted to let you know that I am praying for you every day and supporting you too. I know how it feels to go through a difficult time. I am going to be having a third ankle surgery because of a birth defect. It causes me to have a lot of pain when I do physical activity. So I have to pretty much rest and ice my ankle every night…  Sometimes we don’t know why God has us go through difficult times. My favorite singer, Tauren Wells, had helped me to understand more why God has me going through all of this. His song “God’s Not Done With You” reminds us though you might be going through something difficult God has a plan for us and he will use it to bless us and others…  Even though no one knows why you had to be the one to hurt your back, God knows and He will use it for the plans He has for you!  I will continue to pray for you and I hope you feel better soon!       

We will experience difficulties in our lives, but as we go through them, may we never forget that we serve a faithful God. A God who has a purpose in all that we face.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me (Psalm 57:1, 2).

Stepping Out In Faith

By BJ Rudge, Ph. D.

The greatest battles we often face will occur the moment we step out in faith. Consider Nehemiah who stepped out in faith when he asked the Persian King for permission to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. While being commissioned by the king to complete this task, we find that Nehemiah’s act of faith and trust in God came with challenges. For example, opposition quickly arose to discourage and prevent him from doing what God had called him to do,

“But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’” (Nehemiah 2:19; see chapters 4-6 for further examples of challenges and opposition that Nehemiah had to endure).

Just as it was in the life of Nehemiah, I recently saw how the act of stepping out in faith by one of my soccer players was preceded by a personal challenge. Prior to our season I had been praying for God to provide ministry opportunities. I was specifically praying for God to prepare the hearts of my athletes for whatever He wanted to accomplish. I wanted this season to be more than just about wins. I wanted to see the Holy Spirit change lives for eternity.

As we began the season, I continued to bring this request before the Lord, still wondering in my own mind how He would respond. While conducting my player evaluations, where I give my players feedback on their progress and talk about areas of improvement, one of my players asked me if she could start a team Bible study. While I knew this girl was a Christian, I was startled at first. She was quiet and kept to herself. I told her that she could present this to the players and whoever wanted to participate could do so before practice. While I still was unsure whether she would actually move forward on this, a few days later she fulfilled her word by going before the team and asking if they wanted to take part in a team Bible study.

About a week prior to this, she was injured in a game. After our trainers and a doctor assessed her, they all felt it was nothing major and anticipated she would be back on the field soon. The day after she spoke to the team about starting a team Bible study she had to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon. It was at this appointment where she found out she had torn her ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. At one moment this young girl chose to step out in faith and start a Bible study with her team, while at the very next moment she was facing season-ending knee surgery.

In the case of Nehemiah, God moved forward through the challenges he faced and brought a great victory. Not only was the wall built, but also those Jewish exiles that returned to their land made an agreement to obey the commands of God as they once again occupied His holy city Jerusalem.

While the story with my player still awaits a final chapter, I know that, just like Nehemiah, if she remains faithful to what God has called her to do she will see a great victory in the end.

We all need to remember that we serve a faithful God and when we place our faith and trust in Him, we can have the same confidence Nehemiah did that He will fulfill His plans through our lives,

“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15, 16).