Usually, parents do not like to hear “Why?” from their children. When I asked “Why?” my mother gave the standard parental response: “Because I told you so!” Children should obey their parents.
Everyone should obey God. Sometimes He gives reasons for His commands; sometimes He does not. When we know God’s will, whether or not we understand why, His authority is final. Obey—“Because God told you so!”
If one does not have a rebellious attitude toward authority, it is appropriate to ask, “Why?” Earlier today I reflected on the question.
WHY? 20 YEARS AGO
This year, 2018, it will be twenty years since Cindy and I left the comfort of Deerfield Baptist Church in Deerfield, VA. We did not want to leave. The church did not want us to leave. Indeed, to this day, Deerfield is near and dear to our hearts. We left only because we knew God had called us to plant Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Londonderry, NH. When I first heard His call, however, I asked, “Why?”
WHY ME? 8 YEARS AGO
May 31, 2018 will mark the eighth anniversary of my last day as pastor of Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Londonderry, NH. Again, we did not want to leave. The church did not want us to leave. We left only because we were certain God had called us to step out in faith and launch Northeastern Baptist College. When I first heard the call, I knew the need, so I did not ask “Why?” but “Why me?”
We knew this mission would be difficult in the beginning, become hard very soon, progress to being extremely hard, and finally become impossible. Yet, we knew we served the God of the impossible. We needed to obey His call, no matter what came our way.
Over the last eight years, our initial expectations have been realized. We have experienced multiple examples of the difficult, hard, extremely hard, and impossible. At the same time, it has been our privilege to live on the front lines, walk by faith, and see our Amazing Lord do the impossible!
WHY THE SACRIFICE?
Why would the Father lead us to leave a church family and community we loved to move to New England? Why would He lead us to step out in faith to launch NEBC? Why would our faculty and staff leave comfortable lifestyles, the security of a regular paycheck and good benefits to join Cindy, Ben, and me on this journey? Why would thousands of people decide to become our prayer partners? Why would hundreds determine to give? Why would some donors make astounding sacrifices to be a part of what God is doing here? Why would others take hard-earned vacation time, spend their own money, and come to work with us for a day, a week, a month, or more? Why would some tell their family, friends, churches, and acquaintances about NEBC? Why would students choose to attend NEBC in these early years? I see the answer in Jesus’ life.
One day, our Lord went to a place his disciples did not want to go and did something they did not want to do. They wondered, “Why?” He answered, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35) Another time, Jesus added, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
WHY BENNINGTON, VT?
NEBC is located in the geographic center of the Northeast, where 20% of the US population resides. All of the Northeastern states are among the most unchurched in the nation, but Vermont and New Hampshire are the least-churched states. We consistently meet people who know nothing about the cross’s significance, much less that Jesus loves them so much that He died in their place taking the penalty for their sin, and rising again so they can have a real, personal relationship with the Father and the assurance of eternal life.
Many are clueless, but “the harvest is white”; it is ripe and ready. In the twenty years I have worked in New England, never have I seen people more open to the gospel than today. People are hurting; they need someone to share. “The harvest is great!” The harvest is not the problem; the problem is, “the laborers are few!”
That is WHY NEBC is so important! That is WHY Cindy and I left the comfort we enjoyed in Virginia, then later left the comfort of serving Christian Fellowship Baptist Church soon after Ben entered our family. That is WHY we need more prayer partners! That is WHY we need an increase in sacrificial giving! That is WHY we need more mission teams to come labor alongside us! That is WHY we need you to tell others what God is doing at NEBC!
On Wednesday I met a new friend, Nick. Michael, one of our graduates, brought Nick to meet me. Michael now serves as a pastor about twenty minutes from NEBC. Since Christmas Eve, he has led four people to faith in Jesus. Nick was one of those new believers. I learned that Nick, like most young adults in our region, had never heard the gospel until he met Michael. When he heard the Gospel, and was invited to trust Jesus, he immediately said, “Yes.” The problem is not the harvest. The problem is a lack of laborers. At NEBC we are privileged to be a part of the
solution—developing laborers like Michael. That is WHY NEBC!
Imagine what would happen if we could expand NEBC’s reach! Imagine what would happen if we could see more church planters raised up! Imagine what would happen if we could see more Bible believing gospel preaching pastors filling empty pulpits throughout the Northeast! Imagine what would happen if we had more Christian counselors ministering to the hurting! Imagine what would happen if the Northeast was filled with Christian businessmen and women whose light was shining throughout the Northeast! Imagine what would happen if 20% of the US population experienced a Great Awakening! Imagine being a part of what God is doing to make that a reality!
That is why I ask you to prayerfully join us in this effort in 2018!
Dr. Mark H. Ballard