1991 - 25 Years - 2016

Romans 8:9-31

The theme of our January 1991 newsletter was "IF or HE." We wrote, What a difference a two-letter word can make! Take that little word "IF" for example. Locate the "letters "I" and "F" in the alphabet. Now, move from the "I" one position to the left and you have an "H". Next, move from the "F" one position to the left and you get "E". There is little difference between "IF" and "HE", is there not?

"IF only that person was not so impossible!
"HE delights in doing the impossible! (Luke 1:37)

"IF only the Dollar exchange would go up instead of down all the time!"
"HE shall supply all our needs." (Phil 4:19)

"IF we could only… "
"We can do all things through Christ; HE strengthens us!" (Phil. 4:13)

"IF we just had..."
"HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10);
"All things are ours; we are Christ's; Christ is God's." (I Corinthians 3:21-23)

IF we had known back in 1964, what we would be facing as missionaries, would we have made the same decision?

IF we had known of all the difficulties, heartaches, separations, trials and Problems?

But turning that situation around, what IF we had known about all the blessings, fruit, answered prayers, joyful experiences and victories that awaited us before we entered those times of difficulties and problems?

Hebrews 12:1-4 says: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Our decision to follow the Lord's leading to Austria was not a step in the dark, but a walk in the light. It is not OUR light, but HIS. Many times it appears dark to us, but the Lord sees very well and tells us to walk in faith. Like the infrared light that helps cameras focus, we don't need to see it to know it works. We knew and still know the LORD in whom all power , knowledge, grace and comfort subsists. IF we know HIM, we also know that everything will turn out right!

Scripture reading (10x "IF")
Romans 8:9-31 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now IF any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And IF Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But IF the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For IF ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but IF ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And IF children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; IF so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But IF we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? IF God be for us, who can be against us?

IF is our problem and not God's
IF is a conditional word, but there is no IF on God's part. Some of God's promises are conditional while others are unconditional, but his promises are always sure. We are the ones who need to deal with the IF. It is we humans who are always worrying, "What IF?" It is a form of doubt and an enemy of faith. With God, there are no "IFs, ands, maybes or buts." God is the great I AM and when he says I WILL, we don't need to add an "IF".

Still, it bothers us sometimes that the Lord sheds his light so "sparingly" upon our path! IF only we could see what lies at the end of the road, or at least a few steps ahead! But there are times when only HE sees the path on which we trod. Because we are human and cannot see things through God's eyes, we are prone to doubt. Time and again, we catch that little word "IF" trying to sneak into our thinking and vocabulary. "IF" would gladly usurp the position of authority in our hearts that only HE should occupy. "IF" is a child of doubt; HE is author and finisher of the faith! "IF" tries to seduce us into questioning God's love, his wisdom, his knowledge, his authority, his very existence! What a world of difference there is between these two small words!

The little word "IF" appears over 1500 times in the Bible, 600 times in the NT, and 75 times in Matthew. Satan used that word several times to tempt Jesus. IF thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. IF thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down. All these things will I give thee, IF thou wilt fall down and worship me. IF Satan could have gotten Jesus to doubt his deity, he would have won.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used IF 15 times. IF the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? IF thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. IF thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.

Often, after going through times of discouragement, stress, financial difficulty, poor health or spiritual adversity; we thanked the Lord that all these problems didn't hit us all at once! Certainly, IF that happened, we would be overwhelmed! But during 1990, the Lord allowed just that to happen!

Our January newsletter was basically a review of the year 1990, perhaps the most difficult year in our four decades of missionary work. When we founded the Austrian Bible Institute in 1984, the exchange rate was 20 Schillings for a Dollar. By 1990, the Dollar had lost over half its value and was being traded for only 10 Schillings to a Dollar! I was Field Director for six couples in Austria and Germany, and had some difficult problems to deal with. After the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, GMU decided to start sending missionaries into Eastern Europe -- under my supervision. That involved a lot of extra work. In addition to this, I was Chairman of the Austrian association of evangelical pastors and missionaries, I served on the Board of Black Forest Academy and still operated our print shop. My fulltime job was with the Bible Institute, for which I was business manager, teacher and Board member. Verna was full time cook for the Bible Institute and in summer, she cooked for camps and conferences. In July, 1990 she unexpectedly had a full hysterectomy and 3 days later, a family of six Canadians came to live with us for six weeks!

The entire year went like that, yet looking back, it was not so bad after all. God just gave us an extra portion of his grace! The great I AM kept all of his promises. Jesus never failed us.

The following year was not much different, but we had learned a valuable lesson. With God there are no IFs. His grace is sufficient. We can truly say with Paul,

Ralph V Harvey