“It was the best of times and the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens as he began his famous novel on revolutionary France. So it is today for evangelicals facing the eighties in our troubled world. As I write this note, 50 Americans still sit in despair of their lives from threats of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the mob action of Iranian students. Yet, in memory, the United States has never had such solid support from nations all around the world.

Evangelicals have no cause for either abject pessimism or undue optimism. On the mission fields of the world some doors are closing: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, most countries where Islam is in the ascendency, and in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and certain parts of Southeast Asia; but other doors remain wide open: most of South and Central America, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, other areas of Southeast Asia and Oceana, most of sub-Saharan Africa, southern Europe—and now, although only a crack in the door, eastern Europe and even China.

On the home front, likewise, we see no cause for either despair or triumphalism. The confusion of American values with values that are truly biblical and, therefore, genuinely Christian, the hypocrisy of the church, the woeful ignorance among professing Christians of the most elementary doctrines of the orthodox faith, the crass materialism of lip-serving evangelicals, and the careless disobedience of the “born-again” all remind us sadly that we do not live in the church glorious but rather trudge along wearily, albeit joyfully, under the shadow of the Cross. But there is hope—as well as joy—in spite of the resurgence of Islam, militant Communism, and the increasing nationalism of the Third World. I believe the cause of Christ and his church is on ...

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