Y2K Survey ResultsFirst of all, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond. Reading your comments has been a learning experience for me. I have passed along your responses to Pastor Bob Boerman and the Y2K Task Force.
I make the following observations:
1) I received over 100 responses to the Y2K survey. The greatest number came from the Chicago area but I received many from around the nation and several responses from other countries.
2) The ratio of men to women respondents is about 3:2.
3) The survey revealed a fairly even split between those who think Y2K will cause little or no disruption and those who believe the potential problem will be greater than that. I heard from many people who work in the computer field and from a sizable number who are currently addressing the Y2K problem in their own companies.
4) How serious will the problem be? There is no uniform answer to that question from the survey. Some people used the word “minimal” while others spoke of serious disruptions in communication, utilities, and the food supply.
5) There was a general consensus on the following points:
A) Most people plan to stockpile some cash money near the end of year.
B) Many spoke of making hard copies of key financial documents.
C) Many people are thinking about stockpiling food and water—though few have started to do so yet.
D) Most people won’t be traveling over the New Year’s holiday.
E) Several people suggested getting out of debt this year—which is always a good idea.
6) The following point was made by almost everyone: There is no need to panic or to give way to fear. As Christians, we know the future is in God’s hands. Since he has promised to give us what we need, we can trust him with tomorrow. Many noted that the fear of Y2K may cause as many problems as the event itself.
7) Some expressed a concern about Christians using Y2K as a sign of the Second Coming of Christ, the end of the world, the last days, etc. There is a general fear of being lumped with the perceived “lunatic fringe” or the “extremists” who are predicting the virtual collapse of civilization.
8) Respondents made many suggestions about good resources—some of which I will pass along later in this summary.
9) There is a wide divergence of opinion regarding possible ministry opportunities. Those who see Y2K as a “speed bump” tend to doubt the wisdom of focusing in this area. Those who believe the potential problems could be serious see opportunities for the church to minister to many distraught people. This includes preaching the gospel of Christ to those gripped with fear. It might also include providing food and shelter to those in need in case there are major problems next January and February.
MY OWN PERSPECTIVE
1) Anything I say must be tempered by the fact that I am a pastor, not a computer specialist. I am utterly incapable of making a judgment regarding whether or not a particular company (or industry) will be “Y2K compliant” by January 1, 2000. Since I know nothing about embedded chips, I will offer no opinion in that area.
2) I do believe we are living in inherently unstable times—both nationally and internationally. There is a political crisis in Washington, a moral/spiritual crisis that grips the nation, a looming economic crisis in Asia, and potential hotspots all over the globe. The very volatility of the world situation makes it very difficult to offer any predictions about the future. The truth is, no one can say with certainty what will or won’t happen early in the year 2000. In a theological sense, that’s always true since only God knows the future, but in these turbulent times anyone who claims to know the future should check his prophecies twice before uttering them publicly. In the Old Testament false prophets were stoned; today they show up on television talk shows.
3) I personally thought the truest response to the question—Which sources of Y2K information have you found most reliable?—was a person who replied, We won’t know until January 2, 2000. In the absolute sense, he’s right. I would caution everyone—myself included—to be careful about what you say about the future. God jealousy guards his prerogative to declare what will happen tomorrow. A little humility goes a long way in times like these.
4) Clearly there is room for legitimate disagreement about the potential effects of the Y2K problem. A cursory reading of the available material shows the experts are not agreed among themselves. And since no one knows the future with certainty, it is not surprising that Christians come to differing conclusions. This is a Romans 14 issue. By that I mean it is an issue about which the Scripture does not directly speak, which means that believers are free to draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. Romans 14 teaches us that you can be a vegetarian or a meat-eater and it’s all the same to God. The key principle is found in Romans 14:5, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”
5) My application of that principle is this: If you are convinced that Y2K may be a serious problem, well and good. Do what you think you should do. If you want to stockpile food, go ahead. If you want to buy a generator, do it. By the same token, if you aren’t worried and the whole thing seems blown out of proportion, then feel free not to make any special preparations. You have not sinned no matter what conclusion you come to. And above all, don’t criticize your brother or sister in Christ who sees the matter differently. This may be hard to follow as we get closer to the end of the year, but it must be done. The unity of the body of Christ matters more than what you do or don’t do about Y2K.
6) That leads me to one other piece of advice. Do what you think is right in this area, but don’t waste time “evangelizing” about Y2K pro or con. The only evangelism we are called to do relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your concerns in this area, but don’t let them dominate your life. The gospel comes first. Keep that in mind as we move toward the year 2000.
A FEW FINAL WORDS
1) What if you think all the Y2K talk is just much ado about nothing? Don’t worry about it then. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Y2K before the year is over.
2) What first steps should you take if you have an interest in this area? Get informed. Check out the web sites I have mentioned. Talk this over with Christian friends. Read a variety of articles and books about Y2K. As you do all that, pray for God’s guidance.
3) Should Christians worry about this? No. The future rests in God’s hands. However, there is ample biblical precedent for looking to the future and making wise plans with godly counsel and much prayer.
4) What role does Y2K play in Bible prophecy? None as far as I know. I caution everyone to stay away from useless speculation regarding the Second Coming. This isn’t to say that Y2K doesn’t play a part in the end times, only that there is no way to be certain in advance. We’ll all be a lot smarter regarding Bible prophecy one week after Jesus actually returns to the earth.
5) Should you stockpile food, water, and other necessities of life? That depends on how serious you think the problem will be. One friend in Dallas says that she plans to stockpile items that she can give away later should the crisis not materialize.
6) How bad will it be? I’ve already pointed out that no one can answer this question with total certainty—a fact the survey bears out since our respondents don’t agree. It may be that the worst effects will be in countries outside the US—which could impact many missionaries. Newsweek magazine reports that there are certain to be “nasty surprises” in some part of the country. But it could be worse than that. Or less than that. And some regions/cities may be mostly unaffected. Perhaps the answer to this question will become clearer as we move closer to the end of the year.
7) Pastor Ray, what do you personally plan to do about Y2K? Thanks for asking. I’m still thinking about this myself and still very much in the early stages of personal research. My wife and I have discussed this several times lately but haven’t made any decisions about what we will or won’t do in terms of personal preparation. But this much is certain. With God’s help, I plan to be right here in Oak Park, Illinois when the new year rolls around, living exactly where I live right now, and pastoring Calvary Memorial Church, ministering the Word of God to everyone who comes my way. I definitely have no fear about the future no matter what happens when the new millennium finally arrives.
8) What if you think your fellow Christians are either too lackadaisical or too obsessed with the Y2K issue? Gently express your opinion to the appropriate people. Then take it to the Lord. Then let it go and forget about it. Focus on doing God’s will for your life.
9) What is our greatest danger in this area? It’s not preparation versus no preparation. Our greatest danger lies in Christians criticizing other Christians who take a different view of Y2K. I repeat again what I said above. This is an area of Christian liberty where charity must be the rule of the day. Do what you think is right—and let God deal with other believers who may see things differently.
COMMENTS FROM THE SURVEYS
I was very impressed with the comments made in response to the final two questions—What is a balanced Christian response to Y2K? And how might we use this as an opportunity to minister to others? Here are a few of the things you had to say (Each paragraph comes from a different person—except for the final two):
“I think we are seeing our need for ultimate dependence on God. We are learning that technology often represents another fallen idol to those who are so dependent on it. We are living in consequence of our increasing dependence on this technology. We should focus on reading God’s word, increasing prayer, and then make some simple preparations for the possibility of problems. What is God teaching us? Again, this is a great opportunity to witness to others that our ultimate dependence will be on the unfailing, perfect Authority. Our calm assurance in the authority and sovereignty of God should be an example for everyone.”
“God has not necessarily promised us a nice, safe, comfortable life, but He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. We are to do the work He calls each of us to for the advancement of His kingdom and His church, which may mean living a godly life through hard times. It has crossed my mind that a major disruption of society caused by the Y2K problem may be the Lord’s answer to our prayers for revival. The church for the most part seems to be quite complacent in the face of the moral melt-down that is going on. This may be our wake-up call.”
“As wise Christian stewards of the resources God has given us, we should always be prepared for emergencies, in terms of a reasonable supply of food, blankets, and other necessities. We should be prepared to share our resources with others in need as well. We should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have in the Lord.”
“I think churches and Christians can minister most effectively by demonstrating integrity and loving concern consistent with our calling: by continuing to be who we are and do what we do, regardless of circumstances and in spite of personal sacrifices; in other words, by talking and acting as children of the living God.”
“If the Millennium Bug brings a catastrophe upon us, I have little trouble seeing the hand of God in it as a judgment upon a culture that has turned its back on Him. And the very thought that God could visit His wrath upon the world reminds me that I am a sinner in desperate need of salvation and daily repentance. I am reminded of my own unworthiness and hence need of God’s immense mercy. So a time of purposeful humbling of self before God is called for.”
“I think that the whole issue of Y2K is going to be a platform from which we as Christians can witness to those who don’t know the Lord. My dad is very interested in discussing this and is listening to audiotapes on the subject, so I want to educate myself to be able to discuss it intelligently with him, and then be able to bring the Lord into the discussion. Whenever uncertain times come upon us, there is an opportunity for the Lord to work–only He knows for sure what this is all about, and I believe He will give believers discernment on this issue and how to plan for it.”
“Thinking through the possible scenarios that could happen over the next year or so has caused me to get serious about truly being a disciple of Christ. I have been convicted to make wise use of my time, to study the Scriptures, to hide God’s Word in my heart, to share the Gospel with the lost, and to examine the activities I engage in to be sure there is some eternal value.”
Keep your eyes focused on Christ. Pray in the spirit and ask how you should prepare. No amount of food will keep you well fed if you are not secure in your faith in the Lord. A. Be ready spiritually, B. Then be emotionally ready and C. Act on what the Lord has given you to do.”
“What a great opportunity this is to share the gospel and show by example how we are not afraid of what could happen and that we are trusting in the Lord to get through a possible trying time.”
The final two paragraphs (written by a friend preparing for missionary service) contain vital spiritual truth we all need to consider………
“We are preparing to serve overseas as missionaries, and have many international friends (some of whom think basically the Americans are crazy about this. A poor farmer in Mexico, India, or Africa is not as concerned with the Y2K bug as the American businessmen!) We have been poor already, and are probably still living below the “poverty level” of American society. I know what it’s like to have nothing in the bank, to miss meals, to have the electricity shut off in the middle of the winter.
My husband and I are intelligent, educated, and hard-working employees. However, God saw fit to make us incredibly poor for several months, and, as I said, we are still relatively poor financially. We have learned a few things. First, to be smart, resourceful, even frugal, perhaps. Second, I have developed a deeper compassion for those in need. More importantly, we have learned to trust God! When we had no food, some would show up on our doorstep. When we had no money, God would send some. When we were without, we began to look ahead to a miracle. God’s people around the world and throughout history have been in similar situations, and God has always provided. Why should we worry? There came a point when we needed to realize that whether we worked or not or whatever, all our money came from God. We may “earn” it, but we don’t really own it. We have learned to live life with an open hand. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the Name of the Lord! I don’t think it is a coincidence that when Luke writes in Luke 12 (verses 35-59) of being ready for Christ’s second coming, it immediately follows (verses 11-34) instructions about trusting God! There is a wisdom in being prepared, as long as we realize that GOD is our ONLY Source of strength and refuge and deliverance. What good will it do to stockpile wheat and yeast and barley if it burns up in a fire, blows away in a tornado, or is infested with weevils on Dec. 31st? What good will it do to spend so much time worrying about the future, if we don’t wisely use the present? What good will it do to stand with a shotgun over your goods, turning away starving neighbors, if we get to heaven and God tells us we blew an opportunity to give of His love and HIS provisions? Is a hard time coming? Possibly. And we should be reasonably prepared. However, fear, selfishness, greed and discouragement are not of God. God sent manna and quail to the Israelites in the desert. He made sure they had clothes and shoes that did not wear out. He got water from a rock. He sent ravens with food for Elijah. He sent rain from heaven numerous times. He turned water to wine at a wedding in Cana. He is a God who provides for the physical needs of His people. He has shown it to be true over and over again. He loved us enough to DIE for us. How could we NOT trust Him with this?