As a church, there is an easy trap to fall into when talking about the ones that are serving overseas. Our church and even our larger denomination holds banners up for those that “go” to serve. For those of us who are far from the smells and sounds of sizzling bacon, the rush of excitement for Saturdays in the Fall, and most of all the ability to sit together and be encouraged in fellowship with our brothers and sisters, it helps when we know that our people have our back—even from a distance. We are thankful, but we also experience the challenge of being seen as doing something “super-spiritual” because we are here and when we realize that we are not any more spiritual or holy than anyone else, we find it important to stop and reflect on Who is really doing the work. Who is really behind it all.
I want to share a story that I pray will encourage and motivate us as the body of Christ to not only go but also to be reminded Who this is about.
Every Monday through Thursday, we host library hours at our school. These library hours consist of helping students with their English, playing games to help them practice their speaking, and having personal conversations in a casual setting. This past week a girl came into the library whose English name is Susan. Susan approached “A” (my spouse) and said, “I am searching for belief. I have spent a long time looking at each of the different major beliefs in the world, and I have decided on either Catholicism or Christianity (in our country they distinguish it that way when they are talking about Protestantism). Can you tell me about what you believe, and why so that it can help me with my decision?”
Needless to say, “A” scheduled a time to meet outside of class. They got dinner where she told “A” that a woman in her hometown had invited her mother to church a couple years ago, and her mother has continued to go regularly. Susan and her mother now regularly have conversations about the Gospel, and what they are learning.
”A” shared with her about the hope that comes from faith in Christ. She shared that we have direct contact with God because of what Christ did. She told her about the trust that He will always love you and will never leave you alone. Tears filled Susan’s eyes as she confessed that was exactly what she was hoping for. “A” is now walking with her through the Gospel of John as she begins to turn a corner in her quest for Truth.
I share this story because it points to something all of us need to be aware of: The Father is doing the work. We did not come here knowing how to dispute and win intellectual arguments for the validity of the Gospel. We did not approach Susan and appeal to reason and the Romans Road or any other tool to draw her to Him. No, she came to us and said essentially, “This is what I am looking for, this is why, now please fill in the blanks so that I can follow through with what I already knew I wanted.” The Father does the drawing to Himself and He is doing and has been doing it all over the world from the very beginning. The only thing I had to do was be present, willing, and intentional.
I was reminded that it is so difficult to see the micro of a country that is not our own. We watch the news, and we follow politics about what is happening around the world, but that way of learning and interacting with our global brothers and sisters keeps them at a distance from our thoughts and our hearts. I know this is true with where we live now. For all of you that know where we live, I bet thoughts about this country tend to be about the government, economic tug-of-wars, and a sense of rivalry. I bring this up because I think we need to be aware of our own thoughts. The people here do the same thing with Americans, thinking it’s all gold chains, clubs, sexual escapades, and selfishness. The people here do not know that you have a father dying of cancer, a friend whose marriage is crumbling, a fear of job loss, a rebellious child, or any other host of challenges you face. They don’t know you need a Savior. They cannot see your face or know your name. But the same can be true in the reverse. This is a story to remind us as a body that all around the world people are asking the same question, “Who can save me?” Look past the politics and remember there are people here who are dealing with things like cancer, divorce, job loss, rebellion, and a host of other ￼problems and they are looking for a peace and a salvation from it all. And give praise to the One who is answering those cries! He was here before any of us came and He will be here after we leave. We do nothing but obey, He does EVERYTHING else
As you remember us in your prayers, I want to thank you for the encouragement your support has been to us. I also ask that you pray for the nameless millions that live in this country that are like Susan. People who have real-world problems that political positions and allegiances and all other such things cannot solve, and they know it. Pray for there to be a surge of brothers and sisters out of the depths of darkness that so many of these people live in. And pray for your own heart as a disciple of Christ. Pray that we may never lose sight of what our entire lives are ultimately about now as believers. No matter if you fall far right, far left, or somewhere in the middle, these passions do not bring salvation. Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.”
Let Christ be the substance we seek daily.