Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him" —Hudson Taylor

To live to bring the Word to those who have never heard it, to live the Word to those who have never seen it lived, to love as Christ loved to people who have never known such love, that is the life of the missionary.  Many see our lives as lives of great sacrifice since we live where malaria and AIDS kill millions, where medical facilities are poor and many, many medicines not even available, but we see our lives as lives of joy, of adventure, of pure delight for the changes we have seen in the lives of those around us and around the country.  It is really not hard to do without McDonald's and KFC—nearly four billion people around the world do without them.  It's not hard to live without Starbucks and 911 at your beck and call if no one around you has access to them either.  
We have learned to treasure the things that really are treasures.  One Sunday morning a few years ago we drove out into the bush to begin a new church in the village of Kabainja.  I remember it like it was yesterday which is pretty good for a guy on the plus side of 72 years.  It was a two-hour drive that involved driving in many places where there were no roads and where we had to use GPS to find the spot, but there it was: a tree surrounded by desolate land.  The tree had two tarps tied to it and about one hundred adults and children gathered in the shade the tree and the tarps provided.  We prayed, we praised, we preached, and we baptized 82 new Christians that morning.  After I baptized them (had to sit down to baptize after the first forty or so), they would go around to Karen, and she would lay hands on them and bless them.  There is no concert, famous restaurant, or wonder of the world that had greater meaning and joy than that few hours in the bush in Tanzania.  That church still has no building but has over 200 faithful and weekly worshippers (not counting the almost 100 children).  We have watched and helped as nine more churches have been begun since then.  We have celebrated Holy Communion with hundreds who had never experienced the celebration of Christ's life, death, and resurrection as demonstrated by the Eucharist.  We have watched as new Christians formed bricks from mud and built their own church building while we still have many others "praying under a tree" or using a schoolroom as a temporary church.  
When Christ spoke of laying up treasures in heaven, we never really knew what he meant till we came here and found what true treasure is.  We are happy here in spite of our bouts with malaria and with what we do without because we have been given the keys to the Kingdom by simply obeying God's call and coming where no human had invited us.  We are among the truly blessed and are thankful for all those who support us with their prayers and gifts, and by supporting us, they are obeying the Great Commission from wherever they are.  We love God, we love the people we serve, and we love those who support us--as well as those who hate us and try to drive us away.  If God is for us, who can be against us?
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