To lose vision is to put to death any forward progress.
What’s the quickest way to destroy a movement? All you must do is cause disbelief and disunity amongst the visionaries.
The Haystack Revival
The Student Volunteer Movement was a force that arose whose comparison is yet to be seen by the church in the United States. It started with students in a field on their knees in prayer, taking shelter under a hay bail in the midst of a storm. These students believed that God had created them for a purpose unmatched by anything this world could ever entertain their imaginations with.
Samuel John Mills, James Richards, Robert C. Robbins, Harvey Loomis, Byram Green; five dudes who (unless you have previously studied the Haystack Revival) you have probably never heard of before. They were normal young men that believed in something more than the typical college student.
The result of that stormy, cloudy day was something more than precipitation on a hay field; what happened there resulted in thousands of lives missionally launched to water and reap a harvest of souls for eternity. Over their lives, these men formed what is known to us now as the Student Volunteer Movement. They started traveling from college campus to college campus, mobilizing students around the country to cross-cultural missions. From this movement came over 200,000 cross-cultural missionaries from the United States. Before this movement started, our country had only launched a few thousand cross-cultural missionaries since its inception.
This is the multiplication factor of discipleship that saturates the pages of the book of Acts. Five men believed that God had a plan and they were not going to allow anything stop them from reaching this. They lived what was later put into words by Oswald J. Smith, “The mission of the church is missions.”
A Vision Lost
Over the course of time, and after many fruitful growing years there arose a new generation of leadership. Our country was coming out of the Great Depression and a World War, and the vision of Student Volunteer Movement was traded with disbelief and loss of conviction. Instead of believing they could reach all the nations they began to doubt if the job would ever be completed. They allowed the lies that plague all who are inept to complacency to immobilize them.
The Student Volunteer Movement ended.
Did God stop working? NO! God is always on the move. C.S. Lewis nailed it his famous “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” when Mr. Beaver says of Aslan (the representation of Christ), “Aslan is on the move!” God has always been working in lives, is currently working in lives, and will continue to work in lives. The question is not “Did God stop working” but rather, “Why did God’s people stop working?” Answer: Loss of vision!
So where do we go now?
Dream. Dream big. Pray. Pray big audacious prayers that God will gladly answer with big mind-blowing answers.
Let us be the generation that regains the vision that was once believed. Let us believe that God wants the nations to be filled with the glory of Himself (Hab. 2:14).
The first step to restored vision is found on our knees before the Author and Finisher of our faith.
We can be that generation. The generation that can take the Gospel to every corner of the earth and declare His glory among all nations. We can be the generation that delivers the Bible to every people group in their own language. The generation that sees a launching out of cross-cultural and national missionaries like the world has never seen before. This will not happen overnight. It will not be a battle won with ease. We are up against the prince and power of the air who wants nothing more than our destruction, but we serve a God who has already sealed the victory. Nothing worth your time will ever come easy.
Let the passion and cry of our hearts be for the salvation of souls and the disciple-making of nations. Let us be the generation that pulls free from the blinders of doubt, and let us run with vision for the glory of God.