From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a May 1993 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

Dear Friend,

As I sit down to write you, I am look­ing out my study win­dow at great thun­der clouds, rum­bling across the sky and dis­play­ing pow­er­ful light­en­ing flash­es. It is the tail end of one of those majes­tic thun­der storms that some­times roll across the great plains in the spring time. Through­out the night we have lis­tened to the tremen­dous thun­der claps that always sound loud­er in the dark and seen the daz­zling elec­tric dis­plays that lit­er­al­ly light up the night sky. I rather like these storms (Car­olynn def­i­nite­ly does not!) for they speak to me of tremen­dous pow­er, action, and activity. 

Action and Activity 

We have cer­tain­ly had plen­ty of action and activ­i­ty since I last wrote to you. We have had some splen­did REN­O­VARÉ Local Con­fer­ences around the coun­try. A woman from Oxnard, Cal­i­for­nia, writes, I recent­ly had the plea­sure of attend­ing a Local Spir­i­tu­al Renew­al Con­fer­ence led by Richard Fos­ter and Jim Smith. I thank you from my heart for your min­istry and efforts on behalf of Christ’s Church. The work of REN­O­VARÉ offers cups of cold water to a parched peo­ple. So many of our bar­ri­ers, self- con­struct­ed and main­tained, evap­o­rate under the gen­tle eye of small group account­abil­i­ty and encouragement.” 

Last March over 600 gath­ered at Calvin Col­lege in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan for a Local Con­fer­ence. One who attend­ed writes, Many hearts were touched at last week­end’s REN­O­VARÉ Con­fer­ence. My heart was touched by the Spir­it remind­ing me that God’s love and grace enables me to love the joy-filled life in the pow­er of the res­ur­rect­ed Christ.” 

Lov­ing, Nur­tur­ing Accountability 

Our hope is that many Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion groups will spring up as a result of these meet­ings, and we are receiv­ing good reports of this occur­ring. These groups bring lov­ing, nur­tur­ing, ongo­ing account­abil­i­ty and our best guessti­ma­tion is that around 300 of these groups are now established. 

One lady from Mead­ow Vista, Cal­i­for­nia, writes, This is our first expe­ri­ence with a REN­O­VARÉ group and it has proven to be even more than I antic­i­pat­ed. My hus­band is just start­ing anoth­er group with the hus­bands of my ladies.” One Pres­by­ter­ian church in Boul­der, Col­orado, now has 27 Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion Groups established. 

Gareth Icenogle, who teach­es in the D. Min. pro­gram at Fuller The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, says, In the five tra­di­tions we see the head, heart, rela­tion­ships, char­ac­ter, and out­ward action — the whole per­son. REN­O­VARÉ is where the small group move­ment is going.” 

Devo­tion­al Classics 

Anoth­er won­der­ful result of these efforts is the num­ber of peo­ple dis­cov­er­ing the great devo­tion­al trea­sures that God has giv­en for our nur­ture and encour­age­ment. A woman from Stroms­burg, Nebras­ka, writes, The Devo­tion­al Read­ings are a spring board into oth­er read­ings. Pen­ning­ton (leads me) to Bar­clay’s Apol­o­gy and Dou­glas Steere’s Quak­er Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, Jeanne Guy­on to Fénelon, C.S. Lewis to Screw­tape and Nar­nia. We look for­ward to more adventures.” 

A man in Fort Dix, New Jer­sey, writes, My spir­it has danced and soared in read­ing Richard Fos­ter’s Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline and PRAYER: Find­ing the Heart’s True Home. One of my great­est bless­ings, besides the obvi­ous meat of Scrip­ture and oth­er writ­ings that are includ­ed, has been my intro­duc­tion to some of the great devo­tion­al mas­ters. Their writ­ings have touched me deeply but sur­pris­ing­ly, for I have found lit­tle evi­dence of their works in my path of main­stream’ Christianity.” 

Most of all we are encour­aged by the new life spring­ing up in the hearts of peo­ple. A Luther­an pas­tor from Bloom­ing­ton, Illi­nois, writes, I had been strug­gling with my spir­i­tu­al growth, liv­ing in the desert, yet still pro­claim­ing the Gospel in my ser­mons. When I saw your PRAYER: Find­ing the Heart’s True Home, I thought maybe this would pro­vide the direc­tion I need­ed. After read­ing the first two chap­ters, I called my wife and told her, you won’t believe what I have dis­cov­ered.” The wis­dom and spir­i­tu­al matu­ri­ty of your words are not forced. It is as though the Holy Spir­it is pulling you, car­ry­ing you as you write rather than your pulling and car­ry­ing God’s mes­sage. What an uncan­ny expe­ri­ence.” All we can do is thank God for such encour­ag­ing words. 

Thanks­giv­ing

And thanks­giv­ing char­ac­ter­izes most every­thing we do these days. Ten months ago when I left my teach­ing post at Friends Uni­ver­si­ty with God and a laser print­er,” I could not have imag­ined we would have come this far this soon. Thanks to your gen­er­ous sup­port, vig­or­ous prod­uct sales, and care­ful man­age­ment we have paid our bills on time every month. We now have fur­nished offices with good equip­ment. We have even built up a three month oper­at­ing expense reserve fund — which is what our con­sul­tant urged us to do — and we have not had to touch it for nine months. 

We have received our per­ma­nent 501©(3) non-prof­it sta­tus from the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice for which we give thanks. (Non-prof­its begin with a five year pro­vi­sion­al sta­tus and only if they con­sis­tent­ly meet strict IRS guide­lines regard­ing giv­ing per­cent­ages and mon­ey man­age­ment are they grant­ed per­ma­nent status.) 

For all these things … and much, much more we thank God. And we thank you. Thank you for your warm let­ters that encour­age us so very much. 

Thank you for shar­ing with us your joys and your struggles.
Thank you for your gen­er­ous gifts which sus­tain and strength­en our efforts. 

Thank you for lov­ing us and pray­ing for us. 

Pos­si­ble Relocation 

When we first stepped out from under the umbrel­la of the Uni­ver­si­ty, we seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered relo­ca­tion. We decid­ed against it at that point because we want­ed to get out on our own and let things shake down a bit. We want­ed to see if this thing would real­ly fly before we upset the hous­ing and liv­ing pat­terns of sev­er­al families. 

Then when a won­der­ful cou­ple here in Wichi­ta, Reg and Nan­cy Boothe, offered us fif­teen hun­dred square feet of brand new office space rent free for two years, we felt this was the Lord’s direc­tion for us. (When they made the offer I fast­ed and prayed for about ten sec­onds and said, Yes!”) They did this to help us launch REN­O­VARÉ, and noth­ing could have been bet­ter than two years free from the need to lease office space in order to get this effort off the ground. 

While this arrange­ment may con­tin­ue, we do not want to pre­sume upon Reg and Nan­cy’s gra­cious­ness. There­fore we have been active­ly con­sid­er­ing options for a pos­si­ble relo­ca­tion in the sum­mer of 1994. We are hop­ing for a place that is acces­si­ble and near a good air­port. Also, if pos­si­ble, we would love to link up in some way with a good retreat cen­ter that tru­ly under­stands the min­istry of soli­tude — with­out need­ing to man­age, direct, or finance it! 

At this point we are con­sid­er­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties in Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, Ari­zona, Col­orado, and North Car­oli­na. At this junc­ture we real­ly do not know where the Lord will lead us, but we are hop­ing for clear­ness by fall. We do know that in order to take such a step we will need to sub­stan­tial­ly increase our finan­cial base, and so your faith­ful and gen­er­ous sup­port helps us dis­cern what God wants us to do. Do pray with us and for us as we process this sig­nif­i­cant decision. 

Radio Pos­si­bil­i­ties

Over the years I have had the priv­i­lege of being on var­i­ous radio and TV pro­grams. I have always been glad for these oppor­tu­ni­ties … and even more glad that I did not have to car­ry on the bur­den of those oper­a­tions week in and week out. More than once dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als have come to me with var­i­ous media pro­pos­als which I have always turned down. I know some­thing of the relent­less demands and con­stant finan­cial bur­den of these things, and I have nev­er felt drawn to them. Recent­ly, how­ev­er, a pro­pos­al has been made to us that we feel we should look at seri­ous­ly and not just turn down auto­mat­i­cal­ly. It involves good out­reach at small expense and lim­it­ed time involve­ment from me. It would place me on 47 radio sta­tions around the coun­try which would have a com­bined poten­tial lis­ten­ing audi­ence of 23 mil­lion. (These are sec­ond and third lev­el sta­tions rather than major mar­ket sta­tions — whose cost is pro­hib­i­tive.) It would involve brief, two minute spots aired from one to four times per day, sev­en days a week. It pro­vides a for­mat in which I could share a word of encour­age­ment and help to many pre­cious peo­ple. In addi­tion, it could pro­vide a means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing wide­ly the vision of REN­O­VARÉ. There would be no on-air finan­cial appeals but prod­uct sales would be offered, and it is hoped that in six months time the income from these sales would be cov­er­ing all expenses. 

The cost for such an effort is rough­ly $1,500.00 per month — $500.00 for radio time; $500.00 for stu­dio time; $500.00 for script writ­ing. If we do it, we would prob­a­bly start July 1 and make a begin­ning com­mit­ment of six months. This means an ini­tial out­lay of $9,000.00.

Again, we cov­et your prayers for wis­dom and dis­cern­ment. And again, your finan­cial sup­port helps to guide our dis­cern­ment process. Hav­ing said this, I do want to under­score the impor­tance of giv­ing first to your local church (or wher­ev­er you are being nur­tured spir­i­tu­al­ly) and to the poor. This helps to keep the fires of renew­al burn­ing with­in us.

To All Who Are Bowed Low 

I began this let­ter by describ­ing the pow­er and action of a recent thun­der­storm. It is now six hours lat­er and the excite­ment of thun­der and light­ning have turned into a dull gray sky with a steady down­pour. And so it is for many of you who read these words. You are bowed low by the sor­rows of your days and all of life feels gray to you. I know because I am out among you in my trav­els and I see it in your eyes and in the slump of your shoul­ders. I also read it in your heart-rend­ing let­ters. And I want to say to you who feel bro­ken and bruised by the pres­sures of life: God is with you and God hurts with you in your hurt. God suf­fers with you in your suf­fer­ing. See, if you can, the suf­fer­ing heart of the suf­fer­ing God so that you may be com­fort­ed and encouraged.” 

And Lord Jesus, Son of the liv­ing God, hear the heart cry of your chil­dren. Be with those who weep, and be with those who rejoice, so that both our weep­ing and our rejoic­ing may be wrapped up into your great love. —Amen.”

Peace and joy, 

Richard J. Foster 

Text First Published May 1993 · Last Featured on Renovare.org May 2022

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