Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) once wrote: “God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”
I profoundly identify with Newman’s thinking on this point. I believe every human life has a God-given meaning. The Creator’s ways are good and right. Each of us seeks to know God’s meaning in our lives, in one manner or another, as best we can discern it. Many waste their lives and destroy themselves never finding the purpose for which God made them. For the Christian real meaning and purpose are discovered in God’s son, Jesus Christ. But sometimes a Christian will discover a deep sense of personal call and meaning before they are fully mature adults. I’ve heard this type of story for decades from my friends. In fact, as much as I can tell from reading church history, many of those whom God has called to unique service sensed his call upon their life long before they were twenty-one years old. So far as I can tell I was only thirteen. I knew the apostle’s words, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” The Spirit put my name into an internal call that said, quite clearly in my case, “John, follow me and I will use you to disciple many with my good news.” By the time I was a freshman at the University of Alabama, in the fall of 1967, I knew beyond any remaining doubt that this call was for real. I began to make serious plans to prepare myself to follow Christ wherever he led me. By January of 1969 I was a transfer student at Wheaton College but had no clear idea how this part of my own story unfolded until decades later. But there I was and, come to think of it, here I still am. Forty-four years later I’m connected to Wheaton and from Wheaton to the world.
Within a few years of founding ACT3, in 1991, I discovered that this mission was going to be directly related to the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21. Since then I have followed this distinct calling. By 2000 I was totally convinced that my entire earthy life was about “a definite service” – to empower leaders for unity in Christ’s mission. Like Cardinal Newman, whom I quoted earlier, “God created me for some definite service.” This particular work is mine in a singular way. Others have a similar calling but mine is unique because of my background, my training and personal experience. I am, as my blog header says, a missional-ecumenist. I believe God purposes to bring all of his people into oneness with each other in every way and I believe that Christ has called the church to be the church in mission. When these two ideas are linked you have what I call missional-ecumenism.
Because my calling is to a faith mission I must live, almost entirely, by the gifts of others. I sometimes do work for a mission or ministry that pays ACT3 for the service given but the majority of our income is still from donors, people like you who read my work online or who’ve met me in person or via the social media. Twice each year I make a personal appeal to my friends, both old and new, to help me in this mission. Some of you are already donors but most of you have never given a financial gift to help this mission. I am humbly, but boldly, asking you to help me during the month of July.
Last week we launched a President’s Capital Campaign by mail. Today we sent 1,800 emails to our ACT3 Weekly list. (The majority do not open these emails, a reality we are well aware and one that plagues all of modern electrocommunication.) Beyond these names there are hundreds of you who do not get our mail, or our weekly email, who can help us with a one-time gift. Would you consider helping me in this unique venture of faith?
- Read the Capital Campaign Letter online.
- Make an online contribution this month. Or send a check to ACT3, P.O. Box 88216, Carol Stream, IL 60188. You can give here at the special President’s Capital Campaign site online.
During this month I will be sharing news with you about this effort so that many who are praying and giving can see what the Lord is actively doing for us this summer.
Our last print letters were mailed on Friday, June 28. As of yesterday we had already received nearly $2,400 from only six donors! My summer goal is to expand our number of donors not simply to get larger gifts. (We have no wealthy donors who give big gifts, at least at this point, so every single gift truly matters.)
Please pray for me this summer. Ask the Lord to provide for us so that we can continue empowering churches and leaders for missional-ecumenism. This is a unique calling that God has entrusted to me and those who work with me. If you are drawn to this vision, and have personally benefited from my work, please give a financial gift that reflects your worship of God, the kind of worship that glorifies God freely and generously. I need your help.