By: Long-term candidate raising deputation
As we prepare to serve long-term, a question that often comes to mind but few are bold enough to ask is “why travel half way around the world to share the love of Christ when there are people right next door that need Jesus”. It is a good question to ask and one that deserves an answer.
Once we finally stopped asking God “What is your plan for MY life?” and started asking God “Where are YOU working and how can we join YOU?” the answer became obvious. The more we prayed to see things from God’s perspective, the more we became aware of how self-centered our initial question was. We are being sent to a part of the world known as the 10:40 window (between 10 and 40 degrees latitude) where less than 2% of the population have ever even heard of the name of Jesus. It is hard to imagine a society where anyone could go through their entire life without having met another Christian or at least having heard the name of Jesus. Most homes in the USA have half a dozen bibles lying around collecting dust and yet it is a rare book in much of SE Asia. We really have no idea what persecution feels like and often take our religious freedoms for granted.
I will never forget that clear summer evening many years ago while sitting under the stars in northern Cambodia with a dear friend. Without the distraction of television and other modern conveniences we just sat quietly on the ground looking up in awe at God’s amazing creation. (Actually, I also had one eye on the ground watching for cobras!) The stars were so bright they seemed to jump right out of the sky. My friend gave me some wise words of advice that night that I will never forget. He told me to “never let the comforts of home anesthetize you”. Being a Vet, I could relate to the “anesthesia” analogy but yet it is so easy to fall back into “what is comfortable”.
It is uncomfortable moving to a different culture where something as simple as buying a tube of toothpaste requires knowing the language and currency. You can’t read the writing on the tube so you just hope and pray the guy at the counter did not sell you anti-fungal cream instead. Then when he hands you a wad of Baht for change you just trust the cashier is honest and cram the change in your pocket. It is uncomfortable sitting on a plane for what seems like an eternity and struggling to stay conscious in the middle of the day when you are used to being sound asleep because of the 12 hour time change. Even before we get on the plane, it is uncomfortable pulling up roots and moving! But Jesus never promised us comfort. He has shown us where He is working and it is there we must follow. We have been blessed to be a blessing to the nations. God is working in SE Asia like never before and it is there we must go.