Pastor's Pastor

The feasibility study

Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD,is an associate director of the General Conference Health Ministries department, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

I am a member of many committees. We frequently consider new projects and often are urged to do a feasibility study before moving forward.

A feasibility study, as the term implies, is defined as “an analysis and evaluation of a proposed project to determine if it (1) is technically feasible, (2) is feasible within the esti- mated cost, and (3) will be profitable.”1

Throughout history wise planning has always included an analysis of the probable outcome of any desired undertaking. The Bible clearly urges us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28).2 “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Prov. 15:22).

However, if t he work to be undertaken has been specifically commissioned by God, should the person or organization do a feasibility study before venturing in the direction of His expressed will? Where does faith begin and practicality end, or vice versa? Failure to understand the differences often results in tempers, personal stress, and burnout.

Would Noah have built the ark had he hired the primeval world’s most reputable minds to do a feasibility study of what God had ordered him to do? Would they have found the capacity of the proposed ark entirely inadequate to accommodate the people and animals expected to go on board, together with the enormous amount of food that would be required for the necessary time? Would they have pointed out that under no circumstances could sufficient water come from somewhere to cover the entire earth? Where would Noah find the skilled craftsmen to build such a vessel?

Noah had a clear command from God, and he went to work without delay. For 120 years he endured extreme mockery and scoffing. The Bible tells us the ark was built, the flood came, and Noah and his family with all the animals remained safe within the ark.

Israel endured slavery in Egypt approximately 400 years. The Egyptian armies were feared by all nations. God commissioned Moses to go to Egypt and deliver His people. Moses was frightened and saw no way to succeed in such an undertaking. With no more than a shepherd’s rod, Moses began his seemingly impossible mission.

Had Moses called for a feasibility study, would the result have encouraged him to believe the enslaved, downtrodden people would cooperate? Would it have instilled confidence they could overcome Egypt’s forces? Would it have assured him of the necessary resources and food to take for the great multitude? Would it have revealed that the sea would roll back and the vast Egyptian army with all of Pharaoh’s chariots would be buried in the water?

Israel did arrive at the borders of Canaan. A feasibility study was under- taken. Twelve of their ablest men were chosen to do a detailed survey and analysis of the Promised Land (Num. 13). After weeks of searching the land, the majority rendered their report, and it consisted of one word: “impossible.”

Why was it impossible if God had ordered the occupation? The reply, “ ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants’ ” (v. 32). The minority spoke up “ ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it’ ” (v. 30).

Following the majority report, in this case, resulted in wandering in the wilderness for 40 years—along with much stress and suffering.

When we analyze God’s commands, they usually do not seem feasible. It is not feasible to return one-tenth of our income plus freewill offerings to the Lord. It is not feasible for an organiza- tion like the Seventh-day Adventist Church to operate a global system of education from grade school to graduate and professional levels. It is not feasible for the church to own and operate hospitals, clinics, publishing houses, and health-food factories. It is certainly not feasible to support an army of international workers scattered around this globe. If our pioneers had done feasibility studies, we would have no universities, no hospitals, and no publishing work. We would probably have no church organization. The best- performed feasibility study might say “impossible.” The fact remains, God is doing all of this through us and more!

God’s instructions are usually clear and precise with an eye to our physical and spiritual well-being. John says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, NASB). When we are certain that God has spoken, we must advance with the plans He supplies and trust Him to lead and provide as we move forward in faith. This is the best way to remain calm and prevent the stress and burnout that comes from wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. '

1 Business Dictionary, s.v. “feasibility study,” www .html#ixzz4J0siYLEz.

2 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the New King James version.

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Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD,is an associate director of the General Conference Health Ministries department, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

November 2016

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