Monday, September 12, 2011

The Advance

We spent the weekend at Visiting Orphans leadership training titled: The Advance. Sarah and I were able to meet many incredible leaders who are sold out to reaching orphans and widows around the world. They are living out James 1:27 and we are humble to be a small part of it!

One of the VO staff members recommended calling it The Advance rather than Leadership Retreat because nothing about VO is retreating. I thought that was a great way of describing the mission. As we drove home today I was thinking about the meaning of the word Advance.

Advance often means moving forward towards a goal in the face of opposition. That opposition takes many forms. Friends and family question why you are wasting money on a short term trip and if it is really wise or safe to travel to another country. Raising funds and attracting team members can be a daunting task. Moving outside of your comfortable surroundings and into sometimes shocking situations causes doubts. Even people you thought supported you can turn their backs.

Many other things can thwart our Advance than what is listed above. How can we, by ourselves, advance in the face of these obstacles? If this were a military campaign the answer would be easy. You can not. A soldier is never meant to work as an individual. There are no victorious battle plans that read PFC Smith will advance to the enemy line and decisively engage the enemy division.

We were not meant to Advance by ourselves either. We have the mightiest force ever known at our disposal. The Creator himself!

Don't be afraid, for I am with you.
   Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
   I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
                                 -Isaiah 41:10 NLT

The Lord is my light and salvation
   so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
   so why should I tremble?
                                 -Psalm 27:1 NLT

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.
Instead you recieved God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.
Now we call him, "Abba, Father."
                                 -Romans 8:15 NLT

(That last verse really hits home with me. I am adopted and my Dad loved me and protected me without ever thinking that I was not his biological child. How much more powerful is God's perfect love for his children?) 

The other meaning of Advance I thought about was the term used financially. An advance of funds with the expectation of being repaid. Now this might sound like I am about to advocate works based salvation. Not the case at all.

What I was thinking was Visiting Orphans teams go pour out love on orphans and widows. Why? Speaking for myself, it was not because I am an unselfish person who puts others before me. I went because I love the God who sent his Son to earth to die for me! Jesus was The Advance. He who was perfect died so that a broken world could be reconciled with God. Payment was made in full!

So when my Savior says to go and care for orphans and widows how else can I respond?


  1. Great post Bill! I enjoyed meeting you and Sarah this weekend.