By Robert J. Tamasy

When I arrived at CBMC in 1981 to begin my work as editor, then director of publications, I had a sharp learning curve. Being unfamiliar with the ministry before accepting the job, one of my first assignments was to read the book, “Men Aflame,” an historic account of CBMC from its founding in 1930 until the late 1960s. Little did I know that I would one day write a sequel of sorts, “Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Disciplemaking,” that captured stories from the ministry’s first 90 years. 

As I’ve said in earlier posts, sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. That was the case for me several decades ago, but I learned a lot since then. Here are some more of those things. 

You’re Leaving a Legacy, So Make It a Good One. When we’re young, it’s easy to focus on building a career, achieving success, becoming “somebody.” We don’t realize until much later that throughout this process, we’re also building a legacy. Unlike a reputation, which can be gained or lost over time, a legacy is what remains after we’re gone – whether it’s leaving one job for another one, or ultimately, or leaving this life for the next. 

Dick Fenstermacher was a Ford Motor Company executive when I met him. He could attest to the life-changing impact in his life, as well as on his family and his work. Late in his career, Dick wrote a booklet called “Living in the Dash.” In it he referred to the dash that appears on a tombstone, separating the date of birth from the date of death. 

That tiny dash, he pointed out, symbolizes the life lived in between those two dates. The question he asked in the booklet was, “What will your dash represent?” It’s a question worth considering – recognizing that each day, we’re filling in the dash just a bit more. 

Reading “Men Aflame,” and then writing “Marketplace Ambassadors,” I had the opportunity to write about some of the countless men – along with their wives – who left a rich, eternal legacy not only through their direct service to the Lord, but also in helping to lay a solid foundation for future generations of CBMCers. 

Know Who You are in Christ. October 1984 became a major turning point for me, not only for my tenure with CBMC but also for my walk with the Lord overall. At the time I was enjoying my job and receiving great encouragement, but was having “struggles in the flesh.” These included an unresolved family conflict, as well as failures in coping with anger and anxiety. Despite working full-time in a Christian ministry, at times I questioned the genuineness of my faith. 

Then I traveled to Minneapolis, Minn. to attend and report on a CBMC event there. Over that weekend I stayed in the home of a man named Loren and his wife. Loren had developed a Bible study called “The Real You From God’s Perspective,” and his mission in life was to help people to understand their true identity in Christ. 

I spent nearly 10 hours with him, discussing various Bible passages. These included some I had been trying to memorize, like 2 Corinthians 5:17, which declares we are “new creations in Christ,” and Galatians 2:20, which teaches we have been “crucified with Christ” and we “no longer live, but Christ lives in [us].” 

God brought this man into my life to enable me to understand I had been trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, rather than trusting in His abiding presence within me. I truly believe that if it were not for that time, I might have lost heart at some point and abandoned my calling out of frustration. However, because the Lord injected Loren into my life at that moment, I came to fully grasp what Jesus was saying in John 15:5, “apart from Me, you can do nothing.” 

Maintain an Eternal Perspective. As believers, we wrestle with a great danger of becoming so ensnared by the realities of our tangible world that we lose sight of eternity and the life yet to come. That’s why Jesus said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). 

To single out just one person in CBMC who best exemplified this view is virtually impossible, but one individual deserving of mention was Joe Coggeshall, one of the men God used to introduced the discipling/disciplemaking emphasis to CBMC. 

Having been trained by The Navigators while serving in the Navy, Joe brought their discipling expertise to CBMC in the mid-1970s. Prior to that, the ministry had a strong evangelistic emphasis but lacked a follow-up strategy for new believers. He and others adapted materials developed by “the Navs” for following up on people that had responded at CBMC outreach events. Through these efforts, Operation Timothy was born. 

Jesus’ last command – His Great Commission – was to “go therefore and make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Just as the birth of a baby is just the beginning of its life adventure, praying a prayer or marking a card is just the start of one’s spiritual journey with Christ. 

Operation Timothy has gone through many revisions over the years; today it’s available in both printed and digital formats. But its intent has never wavered – to prepare a person for a lifetime of dedicated service to the Lord and His people, so that one day they will hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). 

Before closing, I’d like you to consider the following: 

1)    When you hear the word “legacy,” what comes to mind? What would you like your legacy to look like one day? What steps are you taking – or can you take – to make that happen? 

2)    The New Testament scripture passages speak a lot about being “in Christ.” What does that mean to you? How would you respond to someone who declared, “The Christian life isn’t difficult – it’s impossible”? 

3)    Why do you think it is so challenging to maintain an eternal perspective on life? What can a person do to keep that focus more consistently?