Our media buyer called me recently with an emphatic question: "Andrew, what in the world are you doing over there at AWM?" He then proceeded to tell me that most of the ministries he works with and others that he knows about are drastically cutting back or, at best, struggling just to meet their obligations. "Yet you guys are expanding and growing by leaps and bounds. What's the deal?" he asked.
I could have answered that question in a number of ways. For example, God has given us the right message at the right time in history. That's true. I believe the time has come when the world is longing for the message of God's grace and unconditional love, and He has prepared us to deliver that message.
Or perhaps I could have answered that it's our Television Department. We have some of the best and most creative people in America working in Television. Surely that could be the reason for our success. Maybe it's marketing, the way we present the ministry to the public, or our customer care and prayer ministry provided through the Phone Center. Or maybe it's just the result of good money management.
Business experts might tell us it's the combination of all these things that has made this ministry prosper. And although I have learned over the years how important it is to have great people and a well-run ministry, I don't believe that's the main reason we are so blessed.
Right before my mother's death in June 2009, she asked me to tell her all the things that were happening with the ministry. I talked about all our Bible colleges worldwide, how many letters and calls we were getting, and many of the miraculous testimonies of lives that were being changed.
And then, as only a mother can do, she said, "Andy, you know that's the Lord doing all of that." I said, "Yes, Mother, I know it's the Lord." Then she said, "You aren't smart enough to do that."
Wow! Now you know where I got my bluntness. But that's absolutely true. Although the Lord has given Jamie and me some of the best and most creative people in any ministry, it is not our great wisdom or talents that are causing these miraculous results. The only thing we can really take credit for is holding on to the Lord with all we have,and He is taking us for the ride of our lives.
Some of you may remember the letter I wrote in December of 2008. It was a letter of hope at a time when many people were beginning to panic about the economic downturn. All the news was predicting a depression that would mirror the Great Depression. And, as usual, the exaggerated predictions of those in the media never materialized.
Yet many of us are still buying into the lie that they can't prosper during these times. So, I think we all need to hear that message of hope once again during this Christmas season. THE SKY IS NOT FALLING, JESUS IS STILL ON THE THRONE, AND HIS WORD IS STILL TRUE.
In Genesis, we learn that Isaac went through hard times too. There was a famine in the land (Gen. 26:1), and remember that Isaac was a stranger in that land. He didn't own any property. But the Philistines around him panicked. They didn't work their fields. What was the use? There was a famine in the land, but Isaac saw it as an opportunity and took advantage of their idle fields.
Genesis 26:12 says, "Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him."
This happened during a drought! What was he doing sowing seed when they were in a drought? He was believing God! That's what we should do.
Since there was a drought, others hadn't planted, and food was in short supply. Isaac got premium prices for his crops. The next few verses go on to tell about how Isaac became so prosperous that Abimelech, the king of Gerar, came to him and asked him to leave because he was more prosperous than that whole nation.
"For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied himâ€¦. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we" (Gen. 26:14 and 16).
This is the news we as believers should be listening to. We have promises from the Lord that He will provide our needs according to His riches IN GLORY by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). We aren't limited to this world's economy! Let those who only trust in money panic. In God we trust (Ps. 91:2, 118:8-9; Is. 12:2, 26:4; and Nah. 1:7). We should be rejoicing.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't make adjustments. If you bought into this world's philosophy of "get all you can and get it by mortgaging your future," then come to your senses, and follow the principles of God's Word. Even if you've been burned, you've learned a valuable lesson, and now you can go forward with a new focus on the Lord as your source.
Let me point out the obvious: This is not a time to cut back on your sowing. You will only reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7). This is a time to believe God as never before. This is our greatest hour. We can demonstrate to the world, as Isaac did, that there is a God in heaven who blesses His people even in the worst times.
In December of 2008, I countered this negative mindset by making some very bold, God-inspired predictions of my own. I didn't know the details, the difficulties we would face, or the exact cost, but I went on record and said that we were going to build to accommodate growth. Instead of cutting back, we were going to expand, even during a time of "recession." We simply refused to participate in the recession.
I know many people thought I was crazy or foolish or both, but here are some stats that might make them think again:
Within a year, we had purchased the 157 acres in Woodland Park that we call The Sanctuary. The hard economic times worked to our advantage and allowed us to purchase this prime real estate for pennies on the dollar. We are now in the process of developing that property into our new Charis Bible College (CBC) campus that will allow our college to grow to at least 3,000 students.
We finally went on the Trinity Broadcasting Network with a daily program in February 2011. This has resulted in 60,000 new people contacting us for the first time this year. That's a 40 percent increase over the previous year. Our phone calls have nearly doubled to a monthly average of over 30,000. We now have over 1 million visits to our website each month. More people are being reached with this good-news Gospel than ever before. And our ministry income has doubled since December 2008. Thank You, Jesus!
I know someone is thinking, This is just because you are a big ministry. Well, I know plenty of ministries, large and small, that haven't had these results. And this hasn't been limited to our ministry. Jamie and I had some money in the stock market from Jamie's inheritance. When the stock market went down 50 percent in late 2008 to early 2009, our stocks increased 61 percent. Hallelujah! This was because of our faith in the Lord and our refusal to participate in the recession.
The Lord is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11). What He has done for Jamie and me and this ministry, He wants to do for you. But you have to cooperate. You have to reach out by faith to receive the grace God has for you.
Along with the predictions I made in December 2008, I taught a short, two-part series called In God We Trust. I believe what I taught in this series expresses the heart of what caused these miraculous results, and I encourage you to get a copy of this teaching.
Listen to it in light of the testimony I've given in this letter. Compare what I believed with what has happened. You can't help but come to the conclusion that faith in God's grace works, and it will work for you too. I know this perspective will challenge you, but remember - as you think in your heart, that's the way it's going to be (Prov. 23:7). So, if recession comes knocking, open your door, and with a loud, faith-filled voice, say this: "No thanks - my family and I aren't participating."