Starting where you are

Start where you are,
With what you have,
And do what you can.
(Lorne Sanny)

Most of us have felt at some time that our spiritual ministry was hindered because of our location. We see God doing great things in other cities, states or countries and we might wish to be a part of that work. We also hear of other ministries or churches which seem to be more productive than ours. We are tempted to say, “If only I were a part of that neighborhood/ministry/church/culture, then my life would make a greater difference for Christ.”

We also may feel limited because of what we think is a lack of training. Few of us have had any formal Bible school or theological training. Our resources for ministry may be less than what we feel we need. We may lack the books, study materials, CD’s, DVD’s that others find to be useful.

The above description fits most of us at some time during our spiritual journey. Lorne’s statement as printed above is taken from a message given by him on Judges 3:31 NASB “And after him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He also saved Israel.” Shamgar was a man just like us. His background was not noteworthy. His town is not even recorded. Most likely he lived in a rural part of Israel, not near any major town of influence. By occupation, he was a farmer. He had no training in battle, no weapons, and no mentors. All he had was an oxgoad, a long pole sharpened on one end to direct the oxen into going where Shamgar wanted them to go. By faith, Shamgar started where he was, with what he had (an oxgoad), and did what he could. Undoubtedly there were Philistine garrisons nearby. It is unlikely that he called them to battle and attacked all of them at once. It is most probable that he sharpened the goad and waited until they were isolated before striking the fatal blow. One by one, day after day, Shamgar kept at his task until 600 of the Philistines were slain. At this point, the Philistines withdrew and ceased their oppression of the Israelites.

Shamgar is a model of what we are to be. Our location is established by God. (Acts 17:26) Our resources are adequate. (II Timothy 3:16,17). Lorne summarizes some of his thoughts on Judges 3:31 with this statement: “We need to start where we are (because we can’t start where we are not) with what we have ( because we can’t use what we don’t have) and do what we can.

In the early 1950’s, Lorne was sent by Dawson Trotman to a naval base near Seattle, Washington. Not only was the weather depressing with cold, rainy days, but the ministry was floundering. After repeated attempts to attract sailors to look at the Bible together, only one man showed any interest. Lorne called Dawson and related the problem to him. Dawson’s response to Lorne was to “pour your life into him.” This naval recruit, an oil field worker prior to enlisting, became faithful, available and teachable as Lorne spent hours with him weekly.

A few years later, this man (Charlie Riggs, later to become director of follow-up for the Billy Graham Crusades) moved to the Midwest. He had heard of a man in Oklahoma City who wanted some spiritual direction in his life. (Gene Warr) Month after month, he would go miles out of his way as he traveled to share with Gene what he had learned from Lorne.

In the early sixties Gene Warr met a man from Kansas who had recently been at Glen Eyrie and was challenged by the message of discipleship. He began to meet with him, providing ideas, resources and encouragement as this man (Jim Morris) began a ministry of discipleship in the state of Kansas. The rest of the history of the Kansas Navigators is well known to most of us. If we were able to enumerate the lives that have been changed by this ministry, it would probably number into the thousands.

It is important for us to remember that our Kansas ministry began as a result of one man, Lorne Sanny, who started where he was (Naval Base in Washington) with what he had (one navy recruit) and did what he could. Each of us has been given the resources we need to accomplish the tasks that God has for us. Ephesians 2:10 states that God has prepared both of these in advance. He has designed and equipped us, and matches us perfectly with the work he has for us. May God by His grace bring His fruit into your lives as you, also, start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.

In Christ, Richard Spann

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