February 20, 2017
By Matt Morrison
Just over a week ago, e3 Partners had its first staff conference in three years. Over 300 people from around the United States and across the globe came in to rest, fellowship, and train together. For me, it was a special time to personally connect with so many of our staff who are serving all over world.
For the entire missions world, the past 5 years have been a critical inflection point. As the refugee crisis broadens and social networks transcend political borders, ministries like ours are developing entirely new strategies to reach people with the Gospel and address their most pressing needs.
In light of this, it only made sense that our conference theme this year would be For Such a Time As This. Some Christians are familiar with this phrase while many others are not. It comes from the almost forgotten book of Esther in the Old Testament.
Esther’s story is unique for a number of reasons. To most readers’ surprise, God is never mentioned at any point in the entire narrative. In fact, it’s the only book in the Bible that never mentions him. This is fitting when you consider the historical period in which it takes place.
Esther lived during the Babylonian captivity, easily one of the darkest periods in biblical history. After generations of worsening sins and progressive failures in the nation of Israel, God allowed his people to lose the Promised Land. As the people watched Jerusalem burn while soldiers marched them far away from home, they could only assume God was either too weak to defend them or had somehow abandoned them.
In this season of guilt and shame, God was rebuilding his people. But this didn’t mean they were living an easy life. Under Babylonian rule, they faced many threats and rarely enjoyed any power.
But in the midst of this period, the empire experienced a political crisis. In a drunken party thrown for the king to celebrate his first few years of power, the queen refused a direct order from her husband to strip for all of the men in the capitol. Upon her refusal, she is removed from power and potentially even executed.
This leads to a reality-show style contest to find the most beautiful woman in Babylon who would become the next queen. In their search, the palace officials find a simple, but beautiful and brilliant woman named Esther. Unlike the other women, she doesn’t adorn herself in lavish perfumes, expensive clothes, or thick make-up.
Instead, her natural beauty and calm presence steals the kings heart and she quickly finds herself on the throne. But there’s a twist. No one in the palace knows that she comes from a Jewish heritage, raised by her cousin, Mordecai.
It’s at this time when her and Mordecai learn of a plot to destroy the Jewish people – a plan that basically amounts to genocide, putting Esther in a difficult position.
A DIFFICULT DECISION
As the queen, she has immense power, influence, and favor from the king. But she also succeeds a woman who likely lost her life for standing in his way. She finds herself in the position to do something to save her people but it will require her to leverage everything she has ever gained to do it.
This is when Mordecai offers a sobering challenge.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
In other words, “Stand up or don’t stand up. Either way, God will protect his people. But what if you’re here, in the position, for this moment?”
At some point or another, we all reach that “for such a time as this” realization. We find ourselves strategically placed in a position to do something significant. Sometimes it’s simple. Other times it requires years of God positioning us before we’re ready.
For Esther, she realized this is the moment she was born to take. In the end, she executed a plan that resulted in their enemies being executed and the people of Israel in greater favor with the king.
As I look at the world today, I believe the Church is speeding towards this generation’s “for such a time as this” moment. Consider the statistics.
- 60 million refugees are displaced today, creating the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.
- 1 in 113 people living today are living as refugees.
- 20-30 million people remain enslaved for purposes of sex and forced labor.
- 600,000-800,000 are trafficked across international borders every year.
- Over 2 billion people remain untouched by the Gospel message, belonging to one of over 3,000 unreached or unengaged people groups.
As Christians here in America, we’re uniquely positioned with the influence, wealth, and political power to do something about each of these crises. We can pray, give to these causes, or personally go to the affected areas and make a difference. We follow the One who makes all things new and I can’t think of a time when it’s been more important for us to rise up.
The year is still young. God has you here for such a time as this. What is that reason?