Today, mission is from everywhere to everywhere.
My name is Safari, and this is how I learned the way of peace.
Several years ago, in a remote mountain valley in North India, a man from South India gave a Gospel tract to a young man named Jamal.
She always sat at the back of the room during our church services, looking very smug and put together. She rarely spoke up.
People were streaming in, late-comers running to find a place in the sea of people, men at the front and women at the back.
As a teenager in Myanmar, Maw Maw was known for stealing, drinking, smoking drugs, getting into fights, and running around with women. He was not interested in loving or caring for others at all. He was never willing to apologize or back down.
“As a kid, my family was a mess,” Mario Trujillo recalled his childhood in Pueblo, Colorado. “A lot of my birthday parties ended up in drinking and fighting.
The uphill call of Christ
I recently received a phone call from a dad who was struggling with the cost of sending his young daughter on a short-term mission trip to Central Asia.
Her name means, the one who is always smiling.
She rolled over on her cot and looked at me with huge eyes. I repeated my simple question, “What do you think about Jesus? Who do you think he is?”
In an email, Karen Hubert-Sanchez, long-term worker in Thailand, pleaded with her prayer supporters: “Would you commit to pray and fast with us for the life of our friend, Aram? She is having surgery on her liver, and the doctors are saying that she may not survive due to the high risk of hemorrhaging.”
I wish you could have been there. Forty people packed into our living room, and eight courageous young believers ready to take the step of baptism.
“We are treated like pigs,” Jean Marie says of his people group, the Batwa in Burundi. “Often I feel like I don’t even exist in the eyes of others, like I’m not even human.”
“I had never before met anyone like them,” Yaar said about a group of fourteen people from Kansas who were visiting Paris and staying at the hotel where he worked. “I used to watch them through the glass walls of the meeting room at the hotel during their devotions and prayer.”
They were watching.
From the sides, from the back, near the triple-locked gates, hugging the walls where barbed wire jabbed the inaccessible blue of a midday sky, mocking their lack of freedom. Watching us.
I recently heard the amazing story of Sean, one of our newest mission candidates. He was born in Laos during the Vietnam War and both of his parents died tragically when he was a child.
We had just arrived on the property, and we knew that the local Buddhist monks had already communicated that they were opposed to the building project.
Sonam grew up in the mountains of Tibet. Like most others in the area, his family eked out a living on a small farm, terraced on a steep hillside. In addition to looking after the few acres of land that belonged to his family, Sonam also worked odd jobs in construction. Their religion was Tibetan Buddhism, which pervaded every aspect of their lives.
As we walked up to the house, I quickly asked the Holy Spirit, “Do you have something for me about this person?” Right away, I saw a boat. Hmm. As we rang the doorbell, I wondered if there was any significance about the boat or whether I had just made it up.
Ali grew up in Iraq where eventually he became a translator for the United States military. When life became too dangerous for him to remain in his native country, he was graciously offered asylum by the US government and found himself living in a large city on the west coast.
I met Hiromi when I first arrived in Amagasaki in May 2009. She was a member of the Amagasaki MB Church where I was teaching English. About a month after I arrived, she got married.
Among the Khmu, a tribal people of Southeast Asia, where the church is growing rapidly, the question is not so much, “Is Christianity true?” For the Khmu, the real question is, “Is Jesus powerful?”
What happens when Jesus invites you to walk on water?
In the midst of the storm, you feel afraid and anxious. You’re facing something that seems impossible, maybe sickness or even death. But Jesus calls out to you and invites you to trust in him. Why?
Will the Church be the Church?
The pictures of refugee families carrying their few bags and streaming across borders and over treacherous seas have filled our screens over the past year.
“I used to be a typical housewife,” Rama explains as though it is an unbelievable statement. She speaks of her former self, and of her country, as something of a sad memory. “I never wanted to leave my life in Syria, but that day the bombs went off next door, I thought my children were dead. I ran through the village screaming. When I found them, I made the decision to get out. I told myself, ‘This is not a place to live.’ ’’
It’s one thing to sit on my comfortable couch at home, reading Facebook stories about Syrian refugees. It’s a whole different thing to come face to face with the refugees themselves.
Our Burmese brother shook his head and smiled, perching gingerly on the filthy, tattered hospital mattress as he told his story.
On the way to Germany, on each of my three flights, the seat beside me was empty. I wondered why. I wanted to talk to someone. I felt exhausted after saying goodbye to family and friends in Paraguay, and the closer I got to Germany the more I struggled with a nagging uncertainty and fear of the unknown.
“I came to the conference depressed,” one woman told me, “but during the very first session, I felt a heavy burden being lifted from my soul and I began to walk in freedom.”
Sioux Falls, South Dakota is growing more and more ethnically diverse through immigration. Today, there are 130 different languages represented in the city’s school system. Local churches are learning to see this challenge as an opportunity, which is illustrated well in these two short stories.
It was time to disengage. God invited us to take some time off from ministry, but my husband and I knew that if this time was to be productive, we would need to learn how to be unproductive. So we determined to step away from the urgent, the important and the necessary, and to adopt a new unhurried rhythm.