At the end of each year, I always take time to think and pray about the year that has just passed and ask God for a word for the year ahead.
In November, in preparation for 2019, I was studying the story of the widow and the jars of oil (found in 2 Kings 4) and I found so much in the story that encouraged me. I would like to share some of these thoughts, but I want to first give you an overview of UCB’s ministry from 2018.
It is fair to say that 2018 was an unprecedented year and although we do not publicise everything that happens, it followed a very difficult financial year in 2017. As we moved into 2018, I felt God was saying that if we were willing to make a choice and trust him, God would lead us into unexpected favour. After a year of great uncertainty, in 2018, we began to see the outpouring of unexpected favour and blessing. I see ‘unprecedented favour’ as something we could not have achieved by ourselves, but something that must surely have only come from God. We saw this favour in several areas, but there were 3 specific areas that we want to give thanks and praise for.
In 2018, we unexpectedly had a phone call from our DAB providers, letting us know it would be possible to increase the reach of UCB 2 up to 4 million more people. This was something that had never been discussed before and in human terms, certainly did not seem possible, and yet we were being offered the opportunity to reach so many more people. I saw this very much as a ‘tick from God’. It was not something we could have done ourselves…it was the favour of God.
Secondly we saw God move in a very complex legal situation we have been involved in, for over 10 years. Again, although we had sought to deal with the situation with integrity and honesty, fixing it was beyond our control. And yet, somehow, God moved and the whole situation was resolved.
And then in 2018, we also began to see a change in our finances. 2017 was a very tough financial year but in 2018, our heart was to see this dramatically change.
Here is what happened! In 30 years of UCB’s history, there has only been 1 year where the organisation has been totally debt free and our heart was that this would happen again. We not only had a positive financial year, but we were able to pay off a long-standing debt.
God turned up in a miraculous way to lead us into 2019, in a way we could absolutely never have imagined.
So, as UCB moves ahead into 2019, what does the year ahead look for us?
Well, as I studied the story of the widow and the miracle of the jars in oil, I felt God highlight some specific areas, which I believe are to be UCB’s focus for 2019. Perhaps you can draw something from this, for your own life too?
2 Kings 4 tells us that a widow went to the prophet Elisha, as she had lost everything and now the creditors were threatening to take her sons away. She was nearly destitute and so she turned in anguish to the prophet, looking for help. Elisha first asked her what she had at home. Was there something she could sell? But the widow had nothing. As I read this, I was struck by the widow’s perspective. She was focused completely on what she had lost and what she was about to lose. Oh how the enemy wants us to focus on the negative, so that we cannot see or recognise the breakthrough that God wants us to experience.
This for me, is one of the reasons why Christian media is so important. We live in a world where national media often focuses on the negative, on the depressing news that is around us. But Christian media, such as ourselves, Premier and the many others who are engaged in this work around the world, exists to provide a powerful and positive influence in people’s lives.
My prayer for us as an organisation (and for you too) is that in 2019, we will learn to focus fully on what we HAVE and not on what we have not.
Also in this story, is the idea of capacity. Elisha instructs the widow to ask her neighbours and to gather up as many empty vessels as they could find. God wants to give us more than what we believe is possible, but all too often our capacity for receiving is diminished. We do not have enough empty vessels! But I believe our capacity will determine the flow and it is important to think big. No, we don’t want to think unwisely or ask God for blessing so that we can use it selfishly, but we DO want to be ready to have all that he is willing and able to give.
So, let’s think bigger…let’s not be unwise but at the same time, let’s think BIG about what God could do.
You have within you, the fullness of the godhead, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, lives in US. So, as we get 2019 off to a fresh start, let us be expectant, focus on what we have (not on what we don’t) and be ready and expectant for God to do something bigger than we could have ever imagined!
From myself and the UCB team….have a blessed 2019!