Time to Quit?

(I wrote the following paragraphs in my journal while on a missions trip in the Philippines in April 2010. Only this evening decided to publish them.)

When is it time to realize you are defeated or you are needlessly fighting against an unbeatable foe? Is it not wise sometimes to stop hammering on a giant rock with a rubber mallet or move a mountain with only a teaspoon? Clearly there are times when this is the prudent course to take. On the other hand, how many times have enormous efforts been brought to a halt only inches or hours from a total victory.

Throughout history armies and organizations wisely saw that they were impossibly overwhelmed and retreated or surrendered in order to save lives and fight another day. Macarthur fled the Philippines in WWII with the famous “I shall return” and returned three years later as a conquering hero. Conversely, Churchill rallied the citizens of Great Britain with his stirring words; “…we’ll fight them on the beaches…on the streets…etc. and was known by his attitude of “never, never, never give up.”

While I think there is a time to retreat and regroup, I am more inclined to side with the sentiments of Churchill than I am with those expressed by Macarthur. More often than not those who win big are those who stay longest at the battle—even if they face seemingly impossible odds.

I was reminded of one of those occasions occurring not far from here. The ministries of the Clarkview Christian Center and their sister church, the Humphrey Center are doing a phenomenal job serving folks in Angeles City. Today I witnessed them serve over 500 indigent children a lot of love, a hot, nutritious meal AND the Gospel. Together they monthly serve over 2000 people in English and Tagalog—and they do it with passion and excellence. From the ranks of their membership have been hundreds of folks who not only found Christ but went on to productive lives in Christian ministry, education and public service.

In the decade after the devastation of Mt. Pinotubo we almost closed or abandoned this ministry several times. Fortunately God always had someone who would not give up on these people and on this ministry. Early on it was Dr. John Ray. He had been after me for 2 years telling me that God wanted him to go the Philippines and he was willing to go under the MTTM “flag.” When I relented he retired from his DODDs career as a teacher & administrator and shipped all of his personal goods in preparation for his life in the P.I. Before he arrived Clark airbase was evacuated, Pinutobo exploded and Clark with the surrounding areas were devasted. When I asked John if he still wanted to go to the P.I. he told me: “…it scares me to think about it but when I pray in the Spirit I KNOW I still must go.” He went and did much of our earliest relief work.

After my initial post-Pinatubo visit I was deeply touched by the suffering there but was convinced that the involvement of the MTTM was to be a short-lived one. We were to help with immediate humanitarian needs but then turn things over to the local national Church of God leadership that I reasoned would be better equipped to serve these people. Roy Humphrey, normally a military focused missionary, confronted me with a different perspective. Roy felt deeply that God had planted us in the P.I. and that we must stay there until God released us. He pointed out the plight of the thousands of Amerasian and street children that had no advocate. He also made clear that many of the people who were in our feeding lines were pastors and church members of the national church. How could they be expected to take over our humanitarian work-they needed help themselves? He became the tireless champion of the ministry to this area and still is to this day.

While in the midst of trying to extricate ourselves from this non-military ministry God used some retired military men who approached me after an MTTM retreat in NC. They had just heard the story of what was happening around the former Clarkview AFB and the Clark Center. They approached me with tears in their eyes and pleaded. “we can’t turn this ministry over to anyone else…this is our responsibility. We (the MTTM) must lead the effort to fund and restore this work until it can stand on it’s own.”

When I reflect on the fabulous ministry here today in Angeles City, I shudder to think what would have happened if we gave up. Can you make it just one more day?

About Robert A. Moore, Jr.

It's all about relationships and relationships depend upon effective communication. I'm not a real smart guy but I've tried to be a continual learner. God is my judge, his Son is my model, His Word is my roadmap and His Holy Spirit is my companion and guide. I have taken the time to earn a B.A. in C.E. & Psychology from Lee University then much later an MA in Org. Leadership from Azusa Pacific Univ. and more recently h a Doctor of Strategic Leadership(DSL) via Regent University. My biggest teachers however have been my 89 year old dad--what a man of courage and integrity. My little 100 pound Italian momma who we lost in 2005; my 4 siblings; my three sons Jeremy, Jonny & Rob III; my daughters-in-law Erika Beth Tiedemann Moore and Sheila Skelf Moore; more recently my grandsons Alex and Ben. The person who has taught me the most and keeps me between the ditches is my wife and love of more than 38 years, Patty. This blog helps me to keep learning ongoing and in focus with others.
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4 Responses to Time to Quit?

  1. Ray Waldo says:

    Hey Bob:
    You are correct that any decision to retreat must be made after a lot of prayer and mediation. For a true “hero” it is probably easier to send the troops back than it is to retreat personally. Concern for the welfare of others is a distinct “pastoral” viewpoint.

    However, there are times that we may have made a decision to “go” based upon our own “urgency” and not as a result of God’s direction. In that case, it would be fool-hardy to continue fighting a battle that is NOT “the Lord’s.”

    Even when we have truly been sent by God, it is not always to “win” (as most people define winning.) Paul’s very calling was not to “overcome” as much as it was to “suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). And, indeed in verse 25 of that same chapter we read, “But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.” It is hard not to describe that event as a “retreat.”

    Here are some interesting definitions of the word “retreat”:
    Definitions of retreat on the Web:

    • (military) withdrawal of troops to a more favorable position to escape the enemy’s superior forces or after a defeat; “the disorderly retreat of French troops”
    • a place of privacy; a place affording peace and quiet
    • move away, as for privacy; “The Pope retreats to Castelgondolfo every summer”
    • hideaway: an area where you can be alone
    • retirement: withdrawal for prayer and study and meditation; “the religious retreat is a form of vacation activity”

    There are MANY times in my ministry when I absolutely REQUIRED a retreat to a place for prayer and study and mediation. It is the plan that our Lord followed on many occasions. Although some might argue that the two definitions of the word “retreat” are not the same, they are more accurately separated by “grey” rather than a “line.”

    • Robert A. Moore, Jr. says:

      Those are interesting and worthwhile comments Ray. I think however, you are dealing with a different but equally important matter. I whole-heartedly agree that we all MUST take regular seasons for sabbath and personal recreation and reflection. Without this we are in danger of rapidly becoming stale, irelevent, irreverent and possbily buring out.

      What I’m talking about is has more to do with courage, fortitude, guts, gonads, huevos and plain old just ‘staying by the stuff’ until you get the job done. I’m weary of 90 day “vision plans” and 1 year ‘transformational processes.’ I’m especially tired of folks who want you to beleive they are sent here by God but when things get a bit tough they take the first opporotunity to bale out. Oh they don’t call it quitting, they’ll have some spiritual-sounding justification for it. Nuff said. Thanks for sharing though Ray. You are qualified to speak to this issue. You are one man I know that did not ‘run from the battlefield’ but stayed put til you truely heard from God. You will always have my respect.

  2. jeremy says:

    I was reading 1 Samuel today before I read this post, I highlighted chapter 14 verse 6. Jonathan is trying to convince his armor bearer to go out and meet the enemy and his big sell is… “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf” I love the PERHAPS… we pray, we go, we pray, and Perhaps, but whatever happens, God wins.

  3. Bruce Kuhlman says:

    At the risk of sounding like ‘spiritual Joe’…I still ask the Lord about the “Going and Staying”. We fleeced the Lord moving from Karlsruhe to Vicenzia and He said go. We were well intrenched in ministry (5 congregations) in Vicenzia when He said go to Bamberg. I questioned my length of stay at Vicenzia and the Lord answered “I called you to start the work not to finish it !” We went to Bamberg. Regarding length of stay at an assignment I really like the statement from the Lord to Isaiah in Chapter 6:11..How long? Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate. Jeremy, I have to side with Moses when he replied to the Lord “Don’t send us if you are not going to be with us!”….Win, loose, or draw, Lord your being with us amounts to you getting done what you want done and we are all taken care of..to Your desire.

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