By Edward Elliott, Oasis International Board Vice Chair and Co-founder

It’s not unusual for people like us to look for the key to a meaningful life. 

There was an old man who, after a long, eventful life, had earned enough respect from the people he led to tell them, “This is the key to your life.” The key was simple and straightforward, and it is the focus of this reflection.

I woke our son, Matthew, at 1:00 AM. He was one year and four months old, and Ginny thought that I was a little silly. But it was 20 July 1969 and I was determined that Matthew saw the first man step on the moon. He wouldn’t remember the particulars, but it is something he can tell you he actually saw. It was 1:17 AM in Detroit.

In 1961, when President John Kennedy proposed going to the moon, no one, not even the most sophisticated scientists in the world, knew how to take us there. 

To put things into perspective, Kennedy was born when automobiles were few, telephones were rare, commercial radio was nonexistent, and scheduled air flights were a dream. A lot changed in the first six decades of the 20th century, but no technology existed to get us to the moon.

A moonshot was impossible without the help of a computer. In those days, computers needed constant service. They were gigantic, often taking up complete rooms, but only one cubic foot was available for a computer in the space capsule. It had to be invented, and it had to be perfect: It could not fail.

That and many other overwhelming issues were confronted and argued, solutions evaluated, some rejected, better ones accepted, and the last ones standing were used. It takes books to spell out the details, but as we all know, the impossible program succeeded.

Fifty years have passed. What has happened in our industry? Western missionaries were more active in the book trade at the time of the moon landing. 

– Books were imported from the West.  

– There were fewer titles in francophone countries. 

– There needed to be more publishing on the African continent.

You know the details as well as I do, but it feels like a lot has stayed the same. 

We have yet to land on the publishing moon. 

As you might assume, I’m attempting to use the challenge of landing a man on the moon to inspire us. Interestingly, the moon is often mentioned in the Psalms. 

Psalm 8:3-9 is a text we all know.

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

  the moon and stars you set in place—

what are mere mortals that you should think about them, 

  human beings that you should care for them? 

Yet you made them only a little lower than God 

  and crowned them with glory and honor. 

You gave them charge of everything you made, 

  putting all things under their authority— 

Oh LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!”

The one who made the moon has commissioned us. We do our work at his bidding. The Psalmist said God gave us charge of everything he made, putting everything under our authority. 

In his wisdom, God gave us responsibility for Oasis International. We do what we do with that in mind. He gave us a charge! These things are under our authority. 

I don’t worry about our being successful. If we have genuinely been commissioned by the one who made the moon, the stars — all the things we know and see — our success can be assured. I’ll talk about that in a moment.

First, I’d like to share what we will feel like over the next few years as we see Oasis grow healthier and healthier. Listen to a brief excerpt from the book One Giant Leap, written by Charles Fishman, and imagine how we will feel as our task is accomplished.

“When you talk to the people who took (us) to the moon, then you read what they said at the time and how they reflected on it decades later, these people will tell you that by working on (the moon landing), they did something extraordinary—that it was the most incredible experience of their lives, whether they were 24 when they worked on it or 54.

“Those folks never diminish the accomplishment or the commitment it required.

“But they always say two other things: they didn’t do it alone and do not consider themselves extraordinary. The task inspired, motivated, and brought out the work they might not have been able to do in other circumstances.

“This is . . . the essence of the . . . dream: to imagine something that is out of reach, and then to do what’s necessary to make it happen, to prove that it wasn’t out of reach after all.”

That’s the end of the quote.

I’ve titled this talk, “This is the key to your life.” It’s not uncommon for people to look for the key to a meaningful life. As followers of Christ, we seek to know what he will bless. We seek to live in such a way that we know and do what he wishes and that we experience his blessing.

“This is the key to your life.” 

There is only one place I’ve found that quote in the Bible. It was spoken by the old man I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, the one who, after a long, eventful life, had earned enough respect from the people he led to tell them, “This is the key to your life.” 

Moses is the one who proclaims it in Deuteronomy 30:20. You and I all already know what is required of us for God to enable us to do the overwhelming task that is bigger than we are. Our work, our work as individuals, and our work together need God’s enablement.

In this passage, Moses is very straightforward.

        “Love your God, obey him, and commit yourself firmly to him.”

This is the kind of person we choose to be on the Board of Oasis International. We wholeheartedly decide to live out Moses’ words:

“You can make this choice by  

-loving the Lord your God, 

-obeying him, and 

-committing yourself firmly to him. 

This is the key to your life.”

Learn more about how you can give to support Oasis mission here.