Search and Rescue


This past September the search for one man dominated the headlines and newscasts. Adventurer Steve Fossett was missing after taking off in his private airplane from a small airstrip in western Nevada.

The 63-year-old had circled the earth solo in a balloon, swam the English Channel, completed the Iditarod sled-dog race and climbed some of the world’s highest peaks—yet he disappeared on a routine flight.

The search employed resources from the Civil Air Patrol, radar data, satellite images and the Nevada National Guard. For more than two weeks details of the search were updated every hour. However, even with help from the United States Air Force, the efforts were unsuccessful, and the search was concluded. Fossett has never been found.

The striking thing about the search for Fossett is that the effort expended to locate him is not unusual for us in the United States. We frequently read of lost hikers, campers, Boy Scouts or others, and we spare no expense to find one lost soul. In fact, we use every resource available to save one individual.

It is easy to apply such tenacity for finding lost people to the Church and The Alliance in particular. When I think of the resources necessary to reach those who are spiritually lost, I often reflect on the one value that has driven and united this vast company of saints to take on the task of world evangelization and has guided our denomination for more than 120 years. It rings as clear in my mind as it surely did in A. B. Simpson’s: Lost people matter to God. He wants them found.

In my role as president, I am privileged to see the breadth of Alliance work. I’m impressed that more than 400,000 Christians have chosen to serve God through Alliance churches in the United States, and their service impacts millions of people throughout the world. By investing our lives, time and money in finding those who are lost, wherever they are, we are walking closely with our Heavenly Father and sharing His heart to reach those who are far from Him.

I thank God that I mattered to Him even before I came to know Him. While I was walking in darkness, He spared no effort to find me. Godly men shared His Word with me as they demonstrated His love. It was a search and rescue mission that originated in heaven. My heart was softened by the kindness that Christians in our community had for me and my family. Their words and deeds showed me that lost people matter to God.

It is fitting to see Christmas in light of this core value. The priority of reaching lost people was on God’s mind since the Fall in Genesis 3. The Father planned, prophesied and prepared the world for His single greatest gift—the Savior. I imagine the angels of heaven must have watched with anticipation as God’s plan to redeem mankind unfolded. The familiar words of John 3:16 demonstrate how far our Heavenly Father is willing to go to reach lost humanity.

God’s Son entered our world as a baby in Bethlehem, but grew to manhood with a single focus. When Jesus was questioned, He made it clear that His mission was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Everything He taught, lived for and died for pointed to the same truth, that lost people need to be found. Jesus spared nothing to fulfill the desires of His Father’s heart in making a way for lost people to have an eternal relationship with God.

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus restated this value in yet another way: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Having commanded all who would follow Him to reach lost people with the message of salvation, He sent the Holy Spirit to supply and direct as the search for the lost expanded to every nation and nationality.

Lost people are an even higher priority for God than Steve Fossett was for those who were searching for him. Will you join me in using all of our resources to search for and rescue those who don’t know Jesus in our neighborhoods and the nations? Your partnership is vital in our commitment to a core value that has characterized our movement from its beginning: Lost people matter to God. He wants them found.

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