International (MNN) — In the United States, the Liberty Bell on display in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania stands as a representation of independence. It’s an iconic symbol that has become synonymous with freedom.
For as much as its outline is recognized, few people remember what’s inscribed on it: “PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.”
Few may recognize where the origin of these world: the Old Testament. It’s based on Leviticus 25:10, which reads: “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.”
It’s a reminder to set apart the fiftieth year as holy.
David Shibley with Global Advance says this is both a return to roots and a time to sow seeds. “Just as the Ebenezer [means] To this point, the Lord has helped us from the past, that gives me the assurance that into the uncharted territory of the future, He will indeed be our strong Helper and our Defense.”
This year marks 50 years Shibley has been preaching the Gospel.
In 1966, when he first began sharing the hope of Christ from a pulpit, there was turmoil. In the U.S., the late 60s were years of social revolution and unrest. At the same time, Shibley also saw the greatest sweep of God’s Spirit in the “Jesus Movement.” Today, he says, there’s something of a parallel.
“The world is seething in turmoil. Hostility to the Gospel is far more pronounced than it was 50 years ago, in almost every nation.”
According to Open Doors USA, 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution.” And yet, Shibley notes, “The brilliant light of the Gospel juxtaposed against the ever greater darkness, it seems, is really brilliant.”
The way you get through change is by anchoring to something unchanging. It’s such an important concept that Shibley jotted down his thoughts in his newest book, Entrusted: Anchoring Your Life in the Gospel. Really, he says, he’s a lifelong student of the Gospel, and that gives him perspective when you look at the current events challenging the Church.
More and more, believers are asking for Global Advance to come train them. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. There are Frontline Shepherds conferences, Marketplace Missions, the Esther Initiative, Next Gen Engagement, and Alpha Relief.
These are answers to things like anti-conversion laws, blasphemy laws, the Islamic State, the refugee crisis, disaster, war, and more.
Shibley says the compassion approach doesn’t preclude the evangelism approach or vice versa. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. ”In the middle of that, we’re going to see massive human need everywhere. We represent Jesus in the midst of that need. We go in His name to meet those needs and to bring light and to bring life by the Gospel.”
After half a century of seeing that nothing is new under the sun, how do you keep the edge sharp?
Rather than becoming more calloused to need, Shibley believes he has more sensitivity to human need than ever before. He often considers the following: “‘Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.'” In addition, “It’s a painful prayer. The answer to that prayer will affect our lives….but it’s a great prayer.” In the end says Shibley, “This isn’t first a job. It isn’t first a task. It’s a response of love.”
A response, a decision to finish well, a willingness to weep with those who weep. These are all components of the way Global Advance will strategize what they’re doing in the next 50 years. “We’re going to equip leaders all over the world to take that message into a very dark situation: that Jesus Christ is still Lord, and the Great Commission is still in effect.”
Shibley has spent his life talking about freedom. Reflecting on that, he sums up the “what” behind Global Advance: “Same Jesus, same Gospel, same Great Commission.” It is only ever the “how” that is subject to change.