by Bob Gerow
Twenty-three years after first meeting "Doctor Z," and now eight months into my second stint with AMG, it's time for a reflection or two. I have found that over the years, some things have changed tremendously, while other things haven't changed at all. Among the unchanged things are these:
The great changes in "before" and "after" pictures of children touched by AMG ministries. At first, the children's faces reflect a profound hunger—for food, for hope, for attention. The "after" pictures show smiles, improved complexions, and a growing awareness of God's love for them.
The plight of the suffering seems to never change. Whether suffering with leprosy, left homeless by disaster, or orphaned, the need is ever present. From its earliest days after World War II, God has directed AMG around the world to address the needs of the dispossessed.
The effectiveness of AMG's Newspaper Evangelism ministry remains a marvel. A gospel message printed as paid advertisement virtually guarantees circulation and wide readership. The anonymity of "reading the newspaper" provides a safe setting for reflecting on the claims of Christ. Investments in paid advertising around the world continue to provide open doors—where a missionary or national worker might never be permitted entry.
Most significantly, AMG's mission remains clear and central in everything this ministry does. AMG is all about providing each one to whom God sends us an opportunity to respond to a clear presentation of the gospel. Whatever else we do, providing an entrance for the gospel is the REASON for doing it.
Over the years, there have been changes in the way we do things. Technology and efficiencies make it possible to accomplish more but to do so with a smaller staff. We are learning to more effectively use our Website—www.amginternational.org—for the sake of the gospel. In the face of rapid cultural and political changes, leadership is reviewing every program and endeavor, with a view to optimum effectiveness for the cause of Christ.
The world in which we live is also becoming "smaller" as cultures mix, and more and more people travel, and as communication and information fly about at Internet speed. Nations and cultures we viewed thirty years ago as "mission fields" are now training and sending missionaries of their own—some to our own shores! Issues that were the stuff of science fiction a generation ago are now frightening realities.
Change reminds us of our frailty. Altering "horizons" remind us that we are not here for long. Our "threescore years and ten" pass by much too quickly. It's easy to wonder out loud how we will deal with sweeping and rapid change and still remain effective.
My good friend and early mentor, Dr. Zodiates, is now chairman emeritus. For the last decade he has intentionally and thoughtfully anticipated the future for a ministry God entrusted to him. He "owned" it with a passion, but always with an open hand. He always knew his own days were numbered but he knew he served an unchanging God.
In the face of change, our unchanging God is our only hope. Confidence in this unchanging God is Dr. Zodhiates' legacy. Everyone who visits with "The Doctor" these days gets some variation on the same theme—God does not change; God's Word is the only place to find what really matters.
If we remember that, we can face the new challenges of a new year with confidence and grace.