My dear friends… I am home, awake, and giving glory to the One and Only for the privilege of heading overseas to serve our sisters, for YOUR part in this, and for every detail that was obviously mapped out by the Lord! My fingers are aching to describe to you right where I was and to show you pictures of it all… but since that wouldn’t be prudent, I’ll do the best I can with what I can.
First of all, let me tell you how God got us over and back. Between airport and airplane delays, we wondered if we would make our connecting flights. After weeks of unsucessfully trying to go through various channels to change an important connection flight (the 13 hour long one) to a flight with a later departure time, just two days before we left, the flight was miraculously approved to be changed. As it turned out, we needed every minute of that extra time because the incoming flight was delayed and we just made our connection with 10 minutes to spare. God was working all things together! The flights over and back took around 28 hours each, and we felt the Lord’s presence every minute of those long days and nights!
We had a few days to let our body clocks adjust and to soak in the culture before the retreats began and I just fell in love with the people! Gena had been there before and knew how precious and gracious they were, but I had no idea. I see their faces in my mind and can’t help but smile. But almost immediately, I remember that there are literally 14 million people just in the city we were in and most all of them are lost and going to Hell. Worse than that, the majority of them don’t even know how lost they are. Precious, precious lives of young and old… walking the streets… shopping in stores… eating at Burger King and KFC over there… and most of them don’t have a clue about Jesus. They have been kept from world-wide communication that could teach them. It’s by word of mouth explaining the Light of Jesus that they notice in others that will spread the Gospel in this country. In fact, time for foreigners to make an impact over there may be running out shortly, as visas are harder and harder to get and keep and missional budgets are cut. Within a few years, the number of Christian witnesses sent in for that purpose may be drastically reduced. There is a pressing urgency to to do as much as can be done while the doors remain open.
One thing that was especially convicting to me was how most every conversation turned into an opportunity to share the gospel. This wasn’t by accident or happenstance. Open doors were created then walked through. Most of the M wives’ main jobs are the same thing they would be if they lived here in the states… taking care of their families, being a wife to their husbands, a mom to their kids, a homeschooler or school-mom, a cook, a laundress, a house cleaner, a neighbor, a friend… And they are using their positions in these very “jobs” to spread the Gospel. For example, on each cab ride, Gena and I sat in the back and listened and prayed as our M-friend sat in front and shared Jesus in the cab driver’s heart language. Really, the M’s were a beautiful example of how we are to be living here… Going about our regular routines of life, while making and taking every opportunity to share Jesus with those we encounter. What would happen in this country if you and I lived intentionally as M’s in our own towns?
Because, in reality, this is what we are. Jesus issued what we call “The Great Commission” to all of us in Matthew 28:18-20
“God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20, MSG
I’ve lived a sheltered life. My grandmother used to call it “a silver pot.” Not that I’ve lived such a privileged life (when compared to the wealthy among us)… but in many ways I have. I’ve not been forced to know first hand poverty or depravation, or life apart from the saving Grace and ever present Help of God. I’ve been steeped in the Truths of Scripture and the knowledge of God’s love toward me. This was my first time to come face to face with so many who have absolutely no idea of God’s desire toward them. And my first time to come face to face with those who DO know this and who have sacrificed greatly to allow God to be a reality in their lives.
As the local HC ladies gathered, I couldn’t help but be challenged by the humble strength of their faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that they are gathering and evangelizing inspite of their government’s discouragement not to do so is a true testimony to what they’ve found through Jesus. These ladies radiated with the Love of Christ, and it was obvious that Jesus had changed their lives. Even what would be their normal cultural barriers had been broken and bridged through Jesus. To watch these ladies worship with abandon and to listen to them sing in their native tongue, to kneel with them as they poured out their hearts on the altar… this was one of the highlights of my trip. I wish you could have heard their beautiful voices lifted in song and prayer! It was a pleasing aroma to the Lord, for sure!
God provided a precious young translator who had lived in America and chose to go back to her people for the sake of the Gospel. She was as cute as she could be and I wished more than once that I could put her in my pocket and bring her back home with me. She not only translated, but also led the worship for the HC retreat. They sang lots of the same worship songs we sing… just in their own language… which when I sang along in my language, it made me think that we got a tiny taste of how Heaven might sound. It was beautiful!
This is a blurred picture of some of these HC ladies. Though you can’t see their faces, I just couldn’t not show them to you!
And this is a blurred picture of some of the M-workers.
Would you pray for these ladies today?
They actually sent back some messages to YOU… so in my next post (part 2), you’ll hear from them.
I have been blessed beyond measure to have been a part of God’s work in these incredible sisters’ lives. Thank you for your prayers, support, and all you provided to send with me. God used every bit of it… and I’ll tell you more about that next time.