One Million Arrows. The title is captivating. The testimonies and questions, thought-provoking. Author, Julie Ferwerda, invited me to be a part of her blog tour several weeks ago. What an honor and a privilege.
In the first chapter of her book, One Million Arrows, Ferwerda recounts her trip to India where she meets a man named, Mullanakuzhiyil Abraham Thomas (M.A. Thomas). He’s known by the endearing title, ‘Papa’ to many throughout the country. Over the course of a month, Julie discovers that decades earlier, Papa had begun rescuing orphaned and abandoned children and raising them in what he called, ‘Hope Homes’ (p. 12). “Since then, Papa’s “father of the fatherless” ministry has become one of the largest Christian ministries in India, with over 21,000 pastors and missionaries trained and sent to the mission field, a majority of them once abandoned children” (p. 12).
Many of us would quit while we were ahead. Not Papa. Papa’s vision is to see the dream of “one million arrows for God reached before he takes his last breath” (p. 20). But what does someone else’s vision in a foreign country have to do with us? Ferwerda encourages her readers to think of themselves as arrows. Yes, you read that correctly! Don’t miss the connection. She gives a beautiful description of the purpose of each arrow, “Once a branch is gathered, it is honed, shaped, and then skillfully prepared to inflict a deadly wound against an enemy. Once launched, an arrow aims high and heads straight for a target, without getting off course. The ultimate goal for all arrows of God is that wherever they land, they produce mortal wounds against the Enemy of darkness – wounds of light, love, truth, and life” (p. 27).
Whether we realize it or not, the children God has entrusted to us, in addition to those individuals He’s given us to disciple, are being honed and shaped. The question becomes, are we modeling godly characteristics and instilling Christ-like qualities in those we’re shaping? Are they prepared to carry on Christ’s mission? The mission is described succinctly in the gospel of Matthew, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (24:14; KJV).
A vital question begs an answer: “Do you want the world to change your children, or are you willing to do what it takes for your children to change the world? You can’t have it both ways” (p. 148). My answer echoes that of the author, “My biggest dream for my kids has become for them to always have at the core of everything they do – every motivation and thought – the desire to search for God’s dreams for their lives, asking questions like: How can I make a difference in this world? What did God create me to do on this planet to help accomplish His purposes? How can my life be truly fulfilling? How can I become an arrow for God?” (p. 21).
Ferwerda's book is replete with examples of parents and children who have committed to living out the mission. When parents invest in their children's spiritual upbringing, anything is possible. Julie is convinced that our children can "overcome the moral and ethical decline of their cultural environment. They can fight off the constant in-your-face temptations of their generation. But what can never be overcome are continued and deliberate shortcuts taken by those entrusted to bring them safely home" (p. 45).
We must be proactive in our parenting. In order to be successful, training must include teaching, modeling, and accountability. Ferwerda is careful to remind us that "we parents are in partnership with God as temple builders" (p.71). God explains what parents are to do with His Word, "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deut. 11:19). Our lives are to be filled with Him and His principles. Self-focus is shed for God-focus. We become tuned in to the needs of others.
In order to launch an arrow, a bow is needed. The bows represent the finances necessary to shoot the arrow to its God-ordained destiny. Julie challenges us, "God did not provide abundantly for us so that we can use our resources selfishly. He did it so that we would be His money managers, using what He's given us faithfully for the mission of temple building and arrow production worldwide" (p. 88). Are you feeling the sting yet? Many of us have been so disillusioned with giving, that we've put our 'bows' away. Ferwerda encourages us to get our bows back out and realize that regardless of the amount we give, our contribution DOES make a difference! Remember the little boy with the five loaves and two fishes? When given to the Savior, it was more than enough to feed the five thousand plus, who were in attendance.
Our treasures are to be laid up in heaven. We're reminded of our responsibility in the book of Matthew, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through or steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (6:19-21). Julie capitalizes on Christ's directive, "Hold it all loosely. Use it all for His glory. He wants everything" (p. 123).
In the final chapter of One Million Arrows, Ferwerda lets us in on how to land a bull's-eye and change the world. "The desire of every believer should be this: to see our relatives, neighbors, countrymen, and everyone we can think of enter into a saving relationship with Jesus. And to raise up children - our own and others - who will one day be a part of finishing the work of the Great Commission" (pp. 147-148).
Will you embrace the mission and continue to shape and hone the 'arrows' in your sphere of influence? Will you give everything: your time, talent and treasure, to the Lord to use for His kingdom purposes? In the words of Julie Ferwerda, "...if you want your family to go down in His-Story, accept the mission...and leave a mark for eternity." Begin leaving your mark today!
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