JANUARY - MARCH 2012
When we think of ambition we don’t normally think of it as being holy. Most of the time it is anything but holy. To be holy means to be set apart for God’s glory. We get our word “saint” from this idea of being set apart. And ambitious people are rarely saintly. Ambition is usually associated with popularity, power and wealth. Therein lies the desire to build one’s reputation, to gain authority and power and wealth. The problem with this kind of ambition is that it is all based on selfish motives and personal gain. In one of William Shakespeare’s plays the character Cardinal Wolsey said to Lord Cromwell, “I charge thee, fling away ambition. By that sin fell the angels. How can man then, the image of his Maker, hope to profit by it.”
But I believe when ambition is placed in the hands of God it can become holy and set apart for His glory. And the highest of all ambition is to live a life well pleasing to the One who desires to receive glory from all that we do in word and deed. In one translation of 2Corinthians 5:9 it says, “It is my constant ambition to please Him (God).” Another translation translates that same verse as “So we make it a point of honor to please Him (God).”
When the Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy, his son in the ministry, he told him that to aspire to the role of leadership was an honorable thing (1Tim. 3:1). A holy ambition was the determining factor–motivation. We are told in Jeremiah 45:5 that we are not to seek great things for ourselves. To be great is not a sinful desire. But to be great with selfish motives is unacceptable to God. To be successful and prosperous for the glory of God is never a wrong ambition. Joshua 1:8 tells us that if we meditate on God’s Word day and night and observe to do according to what is written in His book then our way will become prosperous and we will have good success. But let me hasten to say that prosperity is having every need adequately supplied and the capacity to enjoy it. Too many followers of Christ have little or no holy ambition to be the best that they can be for the glory of God. Not to be the best so they are better than everyone else. But to be the best that they can be for the glory of God. We must recognize the difference.
Some of the men called to be followers of Christ were very ambitious men. Two in particular wanted to sit on His right and left hand when He came to set up His earthly kingdom (Mark 10:37). They wanted the best and highest seats of authority. But their request was self-centered. So the Lord had to rebuke them because of their wrong motivation. The Kingdom of God is not built on self-centeredness but rather on self-sacrifice. The cross always comes before the crown. The Lord Jesus was calling them to serve, not to rule. This is the lesson that all those who follow Christ must learn if they are to be great in His Kingdom. The motto of the Moravian Church in Europe founded by Count Nickolaus Zinzendorf centuries ago was, “I have but one passion: it is Christ and Christ alone.” This is holy ambition. The test of the quality of our ambition is always—If my ambition is fulfilled, will it ultimately bring glory to God? Will it be pleasing to God? Will it cause me to become a better tool in His hands to bring souls out of darkness and into His marvelous light?
David Brainerd, missionary to the Indians in the1700’s, died while still in his twenties. He was consumed with bringing these souls into God’s Kingdom. His cry was, “I care not how or where I live, or what hardship I may endure. I care only about gaining souls for Christ.”
The Apostle Paul was one of great ambition both before and after his conversion to Christ. He was as zealous after he met the Master as he was before he met Him. But after his conversion he had a holy ambition. He was exceedingly zealous for the glory of God. His old ambition to destroy the Church of Christ was transformed into a holy ambition to see it spread throughout the whole world. He said to the Saints at Rome that his ambition was to preach where the gospel had never been preached before (Romans 15:20-21). Paul’s ambition was fueled by two forces: 1) The love of Christ that compelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14) and 2) The great debt that he thought he owed to all mankind (Romans 1:14). Therefore he concluded, “This one thing I do”. Not a lot of other things but just one thing. This is what drove him. This holy ambition allowed him to overcome every obstacle that came against him and to thrive on the adversities that God allowed to come to his life.
Where did Paul get such a holy ambition? From only one source. And that source was the Lord Jesus Himself: From the One who transformed his life and called him to be His ambassador. Listen to the holy ambition of the Son of God. “I have come to do your will, O God” (Hebrews10:7). Did He fulfill His ambition? Listen again as He prays to His Father in John 17:4 “I have brought you glory on earth and have finished the work you sent me to do.” He said all things that He did, He did for one reason and one reason alone. And
that was to glorify His Heavenly Father. May this be the ambition of every follower of Christ reading these words. To finish the work the Father has given each of us in this life to do and bring Him glory in it all.
WHERE I’VE BEEN AND WHERE I’M GOING
February 5 North Longview Baptist Church, Longview, Texas
March 5-April 4 Eastern Europe Mission Project 20--Slovakia and Czech Republic
April 22-25 Alpine FBC, Pineville, Louisiana
May 3-June 5 Eastern Europe Mission Project 21--Poland and Slovakia
June 14-24 Eastern Europe Mission Project 22-- Latvia
July 6-August 7 Eastern Europe Mission Project 23--Poland and Slovakia
Aug. 30-Sept. 25 Eastern Europe Mission Project 24--Romania
Oct. 25-Nov. 20 Eastern Europe Mission Project 25--Serbia
A SPECIAL AWARD
In 2011 Allen was awarded the Unsung Hero Award from his alma mater East Texas Baptist University for his ministry in Eastern Europe. This award is given to one who has focused on making others successful and touching lives for the glory of God.
A SUMMARY OF 2011
What a year 2011 was! It was probably one, if not the busiest, of my nearly 50 years in the Lord’s Ministry. I had the privilege to preach God’s wonderful words of life over 170 times in over 50 churches, in eight countries and three states in America to over 10,000 people. We saw hundreds come to Christ, even more strengthened and encouraged and built up in the Body of Christ and many young people surrender their lives to Christ-centered ministry. The venues were as wide as the oceans. I flew over six times during 2011. I preached in churches, conferences of all kinds, National Youth Camps and family camps, marriage seminars, shelters for battered women and rescue missions, international meetings with three translators translating at one time (that was very interesting), small group meetings and Bible classes, revival meeting and supplying for local churches in the States. Several radio interviews were done as well. I had the privilege to pray personally with hundreds of people with all kinds of needs and lead many of them to Jesus. We ministered in five different denominations in 2011. The countries God allowed me to take His message of love and grace into were Slovakia (three times), Poland (two times), Czech Republic (two times), Hungary, Sweden, Serbia and Romania. I traveled 100,000 miles taking the Good News of the Savior throughout America and Eastern Europe in an amazingly wonderful and glorious year.
It is hard to believe that all of that took place in a matter of just 12 months. It makes me tired just thinking about it. People often ask me two things: 1) “What do you do?” To which I reply, “I help people find forgiveness for their sins.” and 2) “How do you do what you do? You will be 70 years old on your next birthday and you’ve traveled all those miles, across two oceans, into nine countries.” My standard answer is I tell them that first of all God has to call you to do what I do. I would be fearful to even attempt this kind of ministry if I was not convinced that God called me to do it. But I know that I am indestructible as long as He has work for me to do and I am doing His work. Secondly, it is by the sheer grace of God that I can do what I do and carry out this ministry. It is God who supplies the energy, the strength, the protection, wisdom and most of all the finances to travel to all of these far away places. But where God guides He provides. And thirdly, I have a powerful International Prayer Team in seven countries that keeps my name and ministry before the Lord at all times. They are young and old alike. Many of my saintly prayer warriors pray for me by name every single day of my life. I would be powerless with out them. That is how I do what I do. And I could not do what I do without all my faithful coordinators and translators in the 10 different countries in Eastern Europe where I preach. Thank God for each of you.
To Those Who help Me Go
To everyone who made a financial contribution to this ministry in 2011, I thank you on behalf of every soul touched and impacted by the Word of God. On behalf of every changed life, I thank you. On behalf of every soul saved, I thank you. On behalf of every captive set free, I thank you. On behalf of every victory won, I thank you. On behalf of every marriage salvaged, I thank you. On behalf of every pastor encouraged, I thank you. On behalf of every child of God strengthened, I thank you. And on behalf of every young person who found God’s Plan for their life, I thank you. Your faithful prayer and financial support along with the grace of our Sovereign God made all these things happen in 2011. Just think, each of you will have a huge return on your investment when the great King rewards His People for their faithfulness. You don’t get to see what I see, but one day you will. It will be a glorious day. And 2012 can be, and I believe will be, as fruitful if not more so than 2011. Please continue to join me in making it so. You won’t regret it.
MINISTRY IN 2012
I believe the end of the age is drawing to a close more rapidly than we could possibly imagine. 2012 will be a critical year in the history of mankind. We must be about the Father’s Business. This is why we continue to pour thousands of dollars into our Berea Center in Slovakia. It continues to be a safe haven for hundreds of young people. Our Conference Center holds conferences of all kinds year round for all ages and are attended by young and old alike from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and of course Slovakia. Our Berea Bible School continues to teach soldiers of the cross how to equip themselves for the work God is calling them to do. Our retreat and rally ministry held monthly at Berea draws hundreds of young people of all ages of whom many are saved and called into Christ-centered ministry. It is a dream on the verge of being completely fulfilled. We have invested nearly one million dollars in this project and need about $300 thousand more to bring it to completion. If God leads you to make a generous investment to this project it will be greatly appreciated.
Last year I returned to Romania for the second time. Romania, as you know, was under one of the worst of all the communist dictators. He was eventually executed when communism fell. But certain parts of this country are under great economic stress. In the area of Sighisoara, which happens to be the home of Count Dracula, there are about 200,000 Gipsy people called Roma. They are the outcasts of Romania. The Gipsies are all throughout Eastern Europe and treated as the modern day lepers. They are the outcasts of society. The poorest of the poor. Twelve year old girls line up along side the highways and sell their bodies as prostitutes just to survive. The unemployment rate is nearly 100% in the wintertime. The fields in the summer are their only source of income. And that is pathetically little. So they face the hard Romanian winters with no food, no heat, and no place to go. Many of the houses I was in were literally falling down on their heads, with as many as eight people living in a one room shack. With no food in the house, little starving children, many of whom have been abandoned by their real parents who couldn’t care for them, look at you with empty eyes and empty stomachs. To say the least my heart broke for these precious souls. But miracles take place when these dear people hear the Love Story of Jesus. Never have I been around anyone who was as joyful as these people were when they received the Savior into their lives. They literally have nothing of this world’s good but their joy is in Jesus and their joy is full. Hopelessness transformed into hope. It thrilled my heart to be among them.
As I was invited into one home I began to share the gospel with a young couple. The young man ran out of the house and in a few minutes returned with several other men. My translator said that the young man wanted his neighbors to hear the Gospel. When I finished I asked them if they would give their lives to Jesus. I prayed with them and then one of the older men began to weep. He said, “I have been waiting all my life to hear this story. All my life I have been waiting for someone to tell me of a Savior who could save me from my sins. And now I know His Name-Jesus.” And he couldn’t thank me enough for coming to his village to give his people the Gospel. I wanted to stay there and be a part of their lives. And will most certainly return there this year. Five Gipsy churches have been planted there among the 200,000 Roma people. Only about 300 of that number have come to Jesus.
In the winter, we have a Bread Project that helps keep them alive through the cold bitter months. We have two big ovens where we bake the big loafs of bread. We give two loafs of bread to the Christian families as the funds are made available. One for them and one to give to an unsaved family in the Name of Jesus. Many are brought to Jesus through our Bread of Life Ministry. The government gives them no assistance at all. They won’t even allow them to go into the forests and cut fire wood. And they have no money to buy the wood so many of them freeze to death or starve to death. And no one but two Romanian brothers–Florin and Sabin- are ministering to them. But the funds are very very limited. No one there has any money. God put it in my heart to be a part of this much needed ministry. We want to get them wood for their stoves so they won’t freeze to death, food for their stomachs so they wont starve to death and the Gospel for their souls so they won’t die in their sins. Jesus said, “if you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto Me.”
The Berea Center in Slovakia and the Gipsies of Romania will be two of my major focuses in 2012. What a great opportunity to take the Gospel to so many who are just waiting to hear God’s wonderful words of life. Thank you for being my partners in the Father’s business. Each of you are greatly loved and prayed for. It is an honor to be co-laborers in God’s Vineyard with each of you. May His very best blessings be on you all.
Because He Cares –We care
Because He Gave–We give
Because He Loves–We love
Because He Came–We go
His Forever Grateful Servant,