Wow, what a winter we are experiencing! While large parts of our nation have endured a historically cold and wet winter, other parts, including the southwest, have been unusually dry and warm. The snow, ice, and rain continue to fall in some places while a streak of 70 days with no precipitation was just ended this weekend in Phoenix. In our travels, we have experienced some of both extremes. Some like it hot, others like it cold, but we have all been reminded that we cannot control the weather.
Nature reminds us that we encounter seasons in our lives. And, they are mostly out of our control. But each season prepares us for the next. The winter snow provides the moisture needed by the summer crops. In turn, we are sustained through the winter and spring by the fall harvest. In the same way, each season of our lives prepares us for the next opportunity that God has in store for us.
Our sense of anticipation grows stronger every day. Windows of opportunity continue to open around the world and in the U.S.A., and we are eager to get to work at the International Offices of Global University. But, we have embraced the deputation season of our ministry. A strong network of prayer support and financial provision will sustain us as we equip a new generation of Spirit-filled leaders in the years ahead. What a joy it has been to meet so many pastors and visit incredible churches that are engaging the harvest in their communities and around the world.
We thank the Lord that our financial support is growing, and we hope to be fully in place soon. The unique training ministry of Global University has been raised up for this time. Thank you for praying for us and for your faithful and generous financial support.
I grew up under Soviet rule. I was told that the whole world spoke Russian. I thought I would live and die under Soviet rule. Then one day the wall fell, and we saw the truth. I believe just as in a day the Soviet rule ended, that in a day Islam too will fall.Armenia, largely regarded as the first Christian nation
-An Armenian church leader
Armenia, largely regarded as the first Christian nation in the world (301 A.D.), finds itself surrounded by nations that are 98% Muslim (Click here to view a map). Among the Christians in Armenia are two Pentecostal Unions and a strategic Pentecostal church (Word of Life), from which a coalition of leaders have requested the assistance of Global University to train leaders to reach the Muslim world.
Currently, there are no Bible colleges in Armenia. In 2014, Armenia Bible College: a School of Global University will launch. The Graduate School of Theology has already begun, with a goal of establishing a largely Armenian faculty. Next, will be translating Global University's undergraduate curriculum into Armenian. Then, the Unions will engage in training leaders to reach Armenia and beyond. Their goal is to train 250 people in the next five years to serve as missionaries to the Muslim world.
Please pray for these efforts. Most importantly, pray that the Lord of the harvest will call those 250 men and women to go as missionaries.
We have the opportunity of all time, to fill heaven. Wow! We start to seize it by seeing what Jesus saw, but there is something that we can do, and we can start today.
Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:38, ESV)
The job gets done by people. With this instruction, Jesus identifies the workforce as the most important component of the harvest. Before he sent the disciples out as laborers in their own right, Jesus instructed them to ask God to send the workforce. They would need plenty of help to reach the world. The Lord of the Harvest chooses who to send into the fields. God builds the workforce that builds the Church.
If it were left up to me, I would certainly choose the wrong people, like Israel when they desired a king. Tall and handsome Saul pleased the people, but disappointed God. When God chose the leader of His people, he found a ruddy shepherd named David, whose own father didn't see as qualified.
Through prayer, God engages in a wonderful, mysterious partnership with God’s people that gets the job done. Our job is to pray for laborers, including leaders. God, then, will call and send the right people to do the work. As a missionary-educator, my call is to go train leaders who will lead their churches to represent Christ in their communities and countries. We are call called to pray. In missions, praying is as important as going.
Do you hear the urgency in the voice of Jesus when he says to "pray earnestly"? Opportunities are often described as windows; they can pass as quickly as they appear. Unharvested crops spoil in the field. Unfortunately, the harvest doesn't come in by evenly spaced segments, it all ripens in the field at once, creating at the same time, an opportunity and a crisis.
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35b, NIV)
We have an opportunity to seize. When a window of opportunity opens, the wrong response is hesitation. Indeed, hesitation can be downright dangerous. Some time ago, a gunman arrived at an airport security checkpoint and immediately began firing his weapon. Tragically, a federal agent was killed. But, it could have been much worse. Just weeks before the incident, the agents had received training on that exact scenario. When it occurred, with training fresh in their minds, the agents knew exactly what action to take and proceeded without hesitation.
The time is now. The harvest is ready. We dare not hesitate.
Start today by praying for God to send laborers into the harvest. During 2014, the Lord has asked Ruth and I to pray this simple, but powerful prayer and to ask others to join us. If you will commit to praying at least once per week, please visit our website for a weekly reminder to pray.
(Coming Up: The conclusion of The Opportunity of All Time)
Jesus' instructions to his disciples is a well-known text to all of us involved in missions, whether we are missionaries, pastors, or passionate supporters of the Great Commission.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:35-38, ESV)
Included in these instructions are three non-negotiables for missions.
1) The heart of Jesus.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them. (Matthew 9:36)
Jesus loves the lost person. Sure, he recognizes the sin and brokenness, but his shepherd's heart compels him to act on their behalf and minister to them, not to recoil in disgust. His critics often accused Jesus of hanging out with the wrong crowd. Jesus was mission-focused. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10 ESV)
2) The ministry of Jesus
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 9:35 ESV)
In a later blog, I will break down this three-fold ministry of Jesus in greater detail. For now, let's note that Jesus engaged in a balanced approach to evangelism-discipleship. He 1) prophetically declared arrival of the kingdom of God, 2) accurately taught the scriptures, and 3) compassionately cared for the physical needs of the lost.
3) The prayer of Jesus
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38 ESV)
Do you find it surprising that Jesus did not instruct his disciples to pray for the harvest, or to pray for the lost? The same mandate is ours. There is no harvest problem, but there is a workforce problem. The need for compassionate, dedicated, empowered workers continues. With a sense of urgency, let's pray for those workers.
Let's engage in the mission that the Lord has given to us, by doing what Jesus did.
Missionary itineration brings us, for a couple of weeks, to the state of Illinois, where I was raised and where Ruth and I spent many happy years in ministry. It has been wonderful to renew friendships and make new acquaintances across the state.
In two weeks we have traveled approximately 2,500 miles across the state. We have seen a lot of corn. And that corn is nearer to harvest with each passing day. I can't help but think repeatedly of the words of Jesus: "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." (John 4:35, ESV)
The harvest has not caught a single farmer by surprise. For an entire year they have worked for this opportunity. They are ready and waiting for the harvest to become ready.
For followers of Jesus, harvest also speaks salvation, the wonder of God's grace that forgives, restores, and brings the lost into the family of God. Harvest is what we long for, live for, and work for. There has never been a greater opportunity to fill heaven with harvest than we have today.
But one over-arching need remains. The workforce. "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few," Jesus said. "Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." How important is it that we pray for laborers? Jesus issued this instruction to his disciples before he sent them out themselves.
As we have been driving by miles and miles of unharvested corn, I cannot help but think of the urgency of the hour. The harvest is ready. Are we?
Will you join us in praying for the Lord to send laborers?
Rev. Leon C. De Garmo
For several months, we have been looking forward to paying tribute to my father, Leon C. De Garmo. On this day we gather in southwest Florida to honor a man who began his life eighty years ago on the western slope of Colorado. I have noticed in our family, that we are willing to give appreciation, but we normally deliver it in a plain brown wrapper. When a De Garmo says, “You did a good job,” do not receive it as a lukewarm, polite acknowledgement. We mean it. You did a good job! We want to tell Dad a little more than that this weekend. This is a milestone birthday that serves as a good excuse for us to say some things to Dad, and to others about him that just need saying.
As the oldest son, I observe that Dad's parenting style is not geared toward the verbal, even though he is a very verbal person. We learn from him, what Dad models. He and I never had a talk about being a husband, but I learned from him, by example, how to love my wife. Likewise, I do not recall receiving any parenting advice from him, nor have I sought it from him; instead I think I just absorbed it. A couple of weeks ago Bill Murray tweeted, “As you get older you realize that the ‘cool’ parents were actually just bad parents.” I am reasonably certain that neither my siblings nor I would put our parents in the “cool” category. I am equally sure that we agree that our parents were good parents, even though our family values at times put us at odds with fashion and mores of the time. Now that my own nest begins to empty, I more fully understand the goal of parenting is to pour godly values into our children, setting them free in the right direction. Dad aimed us true, and then set us free, with full confidence in the Lord to whom he dedicated each of us.
Industry is a word from another era, but it definitely applies to Dad. He is not a workaholic, but he is a hard worker. I remember the leisurely times around the fireplace while watching Star Trek, a bowl of popcorn during The Waltons, or a picnic at Lake Geneva. But just as vivid a memory is Dad working on a project well into the night. He didn't hire a handyman for anything that I can recall, he is the handyman. Only after I moved out of the house did Dad gain full-time employment from the ministry. Always, there was a second job; there were others, but I remember U.S. Plywood in Milan, Illinois, then the Swiss Maid Bakery in Harvard, Illinois. The Cassens, Grandma and Grandpa De Garmo, and our family shared a garden so we grew much of our own food. I searched my memory in vain to recall ever buying a bookshelf or a storage cabinet; no sir, such things are handmade in the De Garmo tradition. Wal-Mart would have gone out of business if they had depended on us in the 1960's and 70's.
As I entered the ministry, I learned the terminology for something I witnessed firsthand for my entire life: servant leadership. More than any minister that I have known, Dad led his churches by loving them and serving them. The same industry that we saw at home applied to the church. Dad, in those years, didn't use words like "a ministry philosophy," but here is what it is: Preach the Word. Be authentic. Work hard. Love the community.
Dad is a man with an extremely active and curious mind. I suspect that curiosity inspired a desire to travel, to see grand sights, to be where great things happened. Somehow we grew up believing that museums were the coolest places. Without doubt, we learned more on summer vacations than we ever did in the classroom, with the possible exception of spelling.
Dad loves people—to talk to them, work with them, and laugh with them. And you don't need to wonder, he will do what he promised, and do the right thing, no matter what.
We are all grateful to the Lord for the remarkable health that Dad has enjoyed. But he has carried his share of grief. I admire how Dad has gracefully moved from one stage of life to the next. His wife—and my mother—Lillian died much too soon in 1983. Five years later my father became a grandfather for the first time when our daughter, Kristin, was born. Over the years, the distance prevented our children from growing up with Grandpa, but our visits to Florida have been wonderful memories for us and our children. More than once we recalled the invisible insects that drove us from a picnic site, and the pontoon boat ride that was highlighted by the motor getting caught in a crab trap.
In 1990, Dad married Fern after they reconnected as Bible college classmates. I am proud of Dad’s love and obvious devotion to Fern and to her family for the past twenty three years. And, I am thrilled that my father continues to serve his Lord Jesus Christ as an ordained minister in the Cape Coral and North Fort Myers area of Florida. He is now the patriarch of our extended family and carries that mantle well, a genuine man of God.
Gregory David De Garmo
Today, we remember our youngest child, Gregory, who went to be with the Lord one year ago. In the past year, we have experienced the grace of God in large doses. There is no other way to express it: Losing a child hurts—a lot. But the presence of God has sustained us, the Word of God has encouraged us, and the people of God have embraced us.
Gregory was born with lissencephaly, a congenital malformation of the brain. This condition left him profoundly developmentally delayed. He was twenty years old. After his passing, we received scores of wonderful expressions, one from a missionary friend who recalled how much that a young man who never spoke taught the people that he touched.
God shaped our family to care for Gregory. Our daughters are amazing. Truly precious was the relationship that Kristin and Stacey shared with their “little brother.” People have said nice things about us. But we deserve no praise; we are not perfect people. We did not manage every difficulty with aplomb. I confess to more than one pity party and an occasional grumble. If anyone deserves praise, it is Ruth. Her unflagging devotion and apparently endless energy that she extended to her son are difficult to describe. She served him endlessly without one word of complaint. That is love.
God shaped me through Gregory. The shape of his mold is love, and I aim to live the rest of my life with a Gregory-shaped heart. Today, I remember Gregory. I miss him sitting beside me in his wheelchair, but I am glad to know that he is with the Lord.
One year later, my reflections are quite simple. God asked us to love a very special boy, to care for him until his room in the Father’s house was ready. It was our joy.
Ruth and I are pleased beyond words, with our new missions assignment, to join the team at Global University. Here’s why...
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We are pleased to announce that David has accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Global University as Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Theology. For many years, Global University has been a major factor in global evangelism and discipleship. Thousands of people, around the world, have been won to Christ through an evangelism course, or discipled through outstanding courses that enable one to grow in their faith. In addition, Global University offers training for church leaders at the institute, undergraduate, or graduate level. We are absolutely thrilled to continue our ministry as missionary-educators as a part of this outstanding distance education University, based in Springfield, Missouri.
Before we can report for duty, we need to refresh our ministry support. We are grateful beyond words for those who have partnered with us through the years. Please, continue to support us with your finances and your prayers as we begin this chapter of the great adventure of our lives and ministry.
Stay tuned... Visit this website and follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter. Over the next weeks and months we will continue to fill you in on what our role is, what wonderful opportunities lie before us, and how God is using Global University today.
Dear Faithful Friend and Ministry Partner,
The DeGarmo family so appreciates the faithful support that you continue to supply. Your prayers, financial contributions, and notes of encouragement mean more than we can describe.
This note updates you on an important decision that we have made. David has submitted his resignation as President to the American Indian College Board of Regents, effective May 31, 2013. To serve in this capacity has truly been an honor.
However, please know that we continue to serve as nationally appointed U.S. Missionaries to Native Americans. Our passion to reach America, the nation’s third largest mission field, remains strong. Currently, we are prayerfully considering our next assignment. We hope to make an announcement within the next two to three months.
Please pray with us and for us. We anticipate taking several weeks for a mini-sabbatical. With the loss of our beloved son, Gregory, and heavy ministry pressures this year, our emotional and physical resources require some time to rest in the Lord.
Thanks, again, for your continued generosity. When we are released to share the direction of our new ministry, we sincerely believe that you will want to partner with us.
In the Lord’s Service,
David and Ruth DeGarmo
David L. DeGarmo (D. Min.) serves Global University as Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Theology. Along with his wife Ruth, he is also a U.S. Missionary. He has extensive experience as an educator, missionary, and pastor.
David writes an additional blog on a variety of topics. Check it out...