Merry Christmas and greetings in Jesus’ precious name! Christ came into this world “in the fullness of time” to redeem mankind from sin and to reconcile us to the Heavenly Father (Galatians 4:4,5). And what a great salvation it was and is that God wrought for us in Christ (see Hebrews 2:3-18)! Denise and I and our family wish you a warm and wonderful Christmas season and the best new year of your life in 2022.
Today I want to talk to you about opportunities and adversaries, but first I want to say thank you for being such a faithful partner with our ministry. As I told you in my letter last month, our ministry is bursting at the seams, and I am so humbled that God would use Denise and me, our family, and our team to minister to the many people who are reaching out to us every day.
Every soul is precious, and it is our heartfelt desire to convey that truth to every person God brings to us — that they are precious to Him and to us. And your gifts are so vital to our ability to touch every one of these treasured souls! So today I want to say a special thank you for all you do with us to take the trusted teaching of the Word of God to people in Russia and all over the world. From the depths of our hearts, Denise and I THANK YOU!
This month is the last month of the year — and I know you are probably preparing for Christmas and many different kinds of gatherings. But in addition to Christmas, it’s also almost 2022. As we come to the end of this year and to the beginning of a brand-new year, the Holy Spirit keeps telling me to “stay on track” with the assignments He has given us. I hear Him saying that even if we hit bumps along the way, everything will be all right if we’ll just stay on track and maintain our God-assigned territory — the many opportunities and assignments He has given us to inspire, strengthen, and equip believers with the sound teaching of the Bible.
But I’ve learned over the years that opportunities and adversaries usually go together — and today I want to encourage you to undergird yourself so that you can stay on track with what God has asked you to do this month and in the coming year.
Over the course of our ministry, we’ve had many great, effectual doors open to us to do the work of the Gospel. I’ll never forget when I received an opportunity to minister on television in the former Soviet Union. It was as if a great door had suddenly swung open to an entire vast territory — a door that had never before been opened for anyone else — and I knew I was experiencing something miraculous. By faith, Denise and I stepped through that door and began to preach the Word of God on television in this spiritually starved corner of the world.
Given the former socialist-communist campaigns against the Gospel in this particular region, this opportunity was as miraculous as the Jordan River dividing for Joshua and the children of Israel. But with this great open door also came a slew of adversaries, specifically dispatched by Satan to instill fear and doubt into my heart. The devil desperately wanted to prevent me from touching the lives of spiritually oppressed people, so he positioned evil people with insidious plans to try to block my view of what God had in store for our ministry.
I’m telling you that it was like the children of Israel looking at the Promised Land from the far side of the Jordan River. From that perspective, they saw only the fruitful land of blessing that lay before them. But once they entered the Promised Land, they had to fight giants of every kind before they could possess that land and enjoy the blessing. In much the same way, if Denise and I had taken our eyes off the Lord during that tumultuous period — or if we had focused only on the problems and forgotten about the fruit we were pursuing for God’s Kingdom — I’m sure we would have backpedaled to get out of the situation!
But we knew this was a God-given opportunity and worth the fight, so we fixed our gaze squarely on the Lord. Girded with the armor of God and the power of the Spirit, we pushed through every obstacle and possessed the ground that God called us to take. As a result, millions of souls began to hear the Gospel for the first time. We knew that only God could have opened this door!
In First Corinthians 16:9, the apostle Paul wrote about the strategic doors of opportunity that open for the Gospel and the adversaries that usually accompany them. He said, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” Notice that Paul used the words “great,” “door,” “effectual,” and “is opened” to describe the opportunity that had been set before him.
The word “great” in this verse is translated from the Greek word megale, which means gigantic. The word “door” is the Greek word thura, which typically refers to a door, but in this context, denotes a rare opportunity. The word “effectual” is the Greek word energes, and it depicts something that is powerful and ready to be set into motion. Finally, the phrase “is opened” is the Greek word anoigo, which describes something standing wide open. In other words, the door in question couldn’t be any more open! Thus, an alternate translation of Paul’s words in First Corinthians 16:9 could be rendered, “A gigantic, powerful opportunity is already set in motion and standing wide open….”
Paul continued by saying, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me….” You see, Paul knew that the particular door he was referring to had never been opened to anyone else, and he stood in awe of the unprecedented opportunity. Walking through these kinds of doors is impossible without divine assistance, and Paul was fully aware of God’s role in the matter. That is why he specified that this door had been opened “unto me.”
Paul’s prayer request in First Corinthians 16:9 was not for a door to open because it had already opened. His prayer request was to receive God’s wisdom to deal with the numerous adversaries who were trying to come against him. Paul used the Greek word antikeimenoi to describe the vast number of “adversaries” that were sent to attack him. This Greek word describes something that was piled high and lying all around him. In other words, he was dealing with more than a few minor opponents. On the contrary, it felt like opposition was stacked high on every side!
I’ve learned that the enemy will try his best to keep you from stepping through the gigantic doors of opportunity God desires to open for you. Satan is afraid of what will happen when “his” territory is invaded by someone fully equipped with a full arsenal of spiritual weapons. So know this: God will open doors for you — but He needs you to make a determined decision that you will walk through them, no matter the opposition, with the help of His Spirit.
By opening the door, God has already done His part, which would have been impossible without His assistance. Now He beckons you to come, dressed in the whole armor of God and in the power of His Word — and proceed through that effectual door into new territory. It may look like enemies are everywhere, but it is simply a fact that the devil and his forces flee and collapse when they are subjected to a show of strong faith!
As I mentioned earlier, many great and effectual doors have been opened to us over the years to do the work of the Gospel. In each case, we knew these doors were unique to us and had never before been opened for anyone else. And just as Paul experienced opposition, there were plenty of enemies that came against us with each opportunity. But because we obeyed God, the devil was forced to move out of the way, and we walked right into the virgin territory that God had opened for our ministry.
Even if you think your situation looks threatening right now, I want to tell you that God is with you. He wants to supernaturally open new doors for you — doors that have never before been opened for you. He is not beckoning you to walk through these doors so you can fail. He is with you every step of the way, and He will empower you to defeat every foe and bring Him glory in that new territory that is yours to possess in Jesus’ name!
Your open door may be an opportunity to shine the light of God’s Word and God’s love to your family or friends during this holiday season. It may be a door that will open to you in the new year. Regardless of when it is or what it is, the same God who opens doors will empower you to walk through them — and then He’ll be right with you to give you the wisdom and strength needed to overcome any giant that tries to meet you on the other side.
I know this is not a typical December, “Christmas-style” letter, but this is what was on my heart to share with you today. I want you to always know that if we can join you in prayer, we would be delighted to do so. To be honest, we are praying for you anyway, but when we are alerted to know exactly “how” to pray, it increases our effectiveness as we pray for you. So if you have a special need, please either call or write to let us know how we can get in agreement with you for God to show Himself mighty to you according to Jeremiah 33:3, which says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
And please pray for us as we continue marching forward by faith to push back darkness, to shine the light of God’s Word, and to take territory for the Kingdom of God. Together — as partners — we can make a difference in the lives of throngs of people who are crying out to God for help. They are waiting for God to respond to their prayers, and God wants to use us — you and us together — to bring them the answers they desperately need.
But before I close, I want to say we are specifically asking God to do something special for you this month and before the end of the year. I don’t know what it is, but that is what we are praying. We are asking God to do something special that will bless your life! And please, please pray for us as we continue pushing ahead to build our studio in Moscow, to finalize the purchase of our new headquarters in Tulsa, and to continue to minister effectually to every precious soul Jesus brings to us!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families