DIFFERENCE MAKERS ARE RISK TAKERS
By Phil Delsaut, EMCC President
The theme for this edition of EMCC Newslink is “DIFFERENCE MAKERS ARE RISK
TAKERS.” Christians are by definition risk taking difference makers! As disciple-
making disciples we make a difference in the most important way - today and forever!
There are five important lessons on risk taking in Ecclesiastes 11. The articles in this
edition of EMCC Newslink will illustrate the five points. The well known refrain,
“vanity, vanity” in Ecclesiastes, has often clouded our reading of this book of the Bible. It
will be important to comment on the refrain, because it appears in verses 8 and 11 of
chapter 11. The “vanity, vanity” of the KJV or the “meaningless, meaningless” of the
NIV leaves us either mystified or discouraged. We need to take a fresh look! The Hebrew
word does not mean “vanity” and it does not mean “meaningless” – neither English word
is sufficient. The Hebrew word, hebel, in its most basic sense means “a breath.”
Ecclesiastes plays on the nuances of life as “a breath.” How is life “under the sun” like a
breath? 1) A breath is hard to catch – life is sometimes hard to get hold of, that is, hard to
understand, mysterious, sometimes perplexingly so! 2) A breath is transitory – life, too, is
transitory or fleeting. 3) A breath is insubstantial – some aspects of life don’t matter
much; in the light of eternity some things are inconsequential or even pointless. This is
life “under the sun” – this life understood in its own terms. But...
Ecclesiastes sets out a radical contrast. On the one hand life lived with this-worldly-focus
“under the sun” is “a breath.” But on the other hand this life lived in the light of eternity
is beautiful (and often an unfathomable mystery) and this life, with a proper frame of
reference, matters so much that God holds us accountable for what we do in it! “He has
made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet
they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Eccl 3:11).” This brief
life lived in the light of eternity makes the “now” beautiful, and even the mystery of life
is embraced in the light of eternity in the hearts of men. Let’s jump into Ecclesiastes 11
and see how this passage brings insight about risk taking.
1. Difference makers are risk takers who invest in the future.
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again (v. 1).
If you want your “ship to come in” you must send it out. Seaborne trade was dangerous
in ancient times and any ship that made it back made a huge profit. Playing it safe won’t
cut it! Invest in the future and hang in for the long haul!
Partnering to Reach Lofty Goal
A compilation from writings of Greg Godard and Bob Bartell
Hillcrest Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta has embarked on a partnership with the Evangelical
Missionary Church in Cuba. On August 19, Keith Elliott, EMCC World Partners Canada
Director, serving as translator; Pastor Bob McGougan, Greg Godard (Missions Committee
Member) and Pastor Bob Bartell flew to Cuba for a week long exploratory trip.
It was our desire to go to Cuba to develop relationships with the EMC Cuba leaders and to
develop a sense of partnership with the church in Cuba. We attended numerous church services,
visited with pastors, leaders and church members. We pretty well covered Cuba from one end to
the other, visiting 13 of 14 provinces. We were deeply blessed to be able to enter the lives, the
homes and the daily narratives of the Cubans, particularly those in the Evangelical Missionary
home churches. One of the most intense realizations was that these people, although physically
poor, are rich beyond compare – the wealth of their enthusiasm, their fervent worship and
communal joy in Christ was an inspiration. It was an atmosphere similar to an extended family.
We experienced genuine welcome in every home we entered and had a feeling of oneness with
our brothers and sisters there. We were privileged to share communion with them, using for the
first time, the communion set we took as a gift. Over and over the verse found in II Cor. 8:2 came
to mind, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich
The EMC in Cuba is a church planting movement. They currently have about 25 churches and
many of them are starting additional churches from these existing ones. Some of them have an
additional 2 or 3 works just getting under way. They are having excellent success with a
significant number of new believers rather than transfer growth. They have a vision for
networking and growth by multiplication. As an example, the Vedado church in Havana had 12
or 15 attending when Keith attended in January 2005; now they are a group of 30. Eight were
baptized last month with another 12 preparing to take this step.
Rodolofo, the EMC Cuba President’s son-in-law, has planted the Vedado church and 4 others in
Havana since he came there less than a year and a half ago. When someone expresses a calling to
church planting, they are challenged to go ahead and start a church. No financial support is
offered at all so that the motives are clearly not financial. Later, if they prove themselves they
may receive financial support. A denominational leadership team is in place to give overall
guidance and screening to pastors and churches that affiliate with our church. Not all of the
pastors have theological training, but God is richly blessing with amazing church growth and the
leading of the Holy Spirit is clearly evident.
The EMC of Cuba is not without problems and issues but policies are in place to deal with them
as they arise. I sensed an attitude of cooperation with other believers and churches. I was very
impressed with the pastors we met, who are men and women of God with a clear commitment to
serve Him first and foremost, many of them simply living by faith with no financial support at all.
Support for church planters continues only for a term of 3 years. After 3 years the local church is
expected to have developed other systems of support for their pastor and local church. We saw
evidence of this in Baire, where the local church is developing a pig project to provide other
The Cuban church leaders requested first and foremost our prayers for the church in Cuba. There
is a sense of urgency for the work. A list of projects was developed and prioritized which would
help the church in Cuba and we at Hillcrest will be reviewing this further. The Cuban believers
expressed sincere gratitude and appreciation for our visit and we look forward to an ongoing
relationship. We need to learn from them, just as much as we might be able to help them with a
few resources. In terms of developing relationship and partnership I feel this trip was a huge
Here are some lessons learned:
- Possessions have nothing to do with our joy in Christ.
- They were rich and blessed my poor heart so much.
- Worship is from the heart, not dependant on the things we possess. Actually, things
often seem to get in the way of our worship.
A small wooden carving that one man gave bears the slogan “Cuba Para Cristo” – Cuba for Christ
– and it is toward this lofty goal that the home churches across this mighty little island strive. It is
a tremendous privilege to help share the load. From the Cuban church to ours: Dios les Vendiga –
God bless you.