Your father hires a hitman to kill you, someone close to you laces your dinner with poison, and then your family is kidnapped and held captive for more than two years. All this transpired because you left your family’s religion to follow Jesus.
This is a true story. This brother in Christ is one of our missionaries whom we call Abbaad.
We had no idea whether Aiba* would actually show up. We have not known her long so we were unsure whether she would come through and meet us. She is an international student from the Middle East and very busy with her studies. She lives here in East Asia, a place where the vast majority of Muslim expats are rarely engaged with he Gospel. In fact, most local and foreign Christian workers rarely even try to engage them in Gospel conversations. But thankfully, she showed up and even brought us a cake for a gift, which spoke volumes.
We spent 2 wonderful hours over coffee. We talked about life, our countries, raising children, her family’s recent loss of her brother-in-law, and her funny relationship with one of the elderly guards who lets her back into her university dorm after midnight, unlike the other guards.
She shared about her mother’s health that it failing so she will be traveling back to her home country to visit her (she had to get permission to do so). My wife and I both were in tears as she shared. We expressed our condolences and shared that we are praying for her family. At one point, she said she wanted to share something embarrassing. She then proceeded to tell us about the moment when she first saw us on the bus.
Aiba thought bad thoughts of us. She said to herself, “Americans! They only care about themselves. They would never try to communicate with someone like me because I am from the Middle East. Americans always look down on Middle Eastern peoples”. Yet, we met and God used our encounter to change her heart. She said we deeply surprised her by our kindness and friendship toward her, something she was obviously not expecting, but welcomed with open arms.
Sensory Overload. That was the best way to describe my initial reaction in South Asia. I was quite the tenderfoot on this adventure. I was exposed to a lot of new experiences through our trip. I had never flown in an airplane. I had never left the country. I was quickly immersed in a completely different world.
In the first 48 hours I saw, heard, smelled, and tasted things I had never before and all at once. Nothing breaks you in like riding an Auto-Rickshaw at midnight in a city that never sleeps with 20 million people living in it. I have no doubt that the traffic was a factor that strongly encouraged an elevation of prayer practice in our entire group!
One of the communities where the Lord has called us to serve is a densely populated slum on the outskirts of a major city in South Asia. It is home to close to 100 million people within 2 square miles. They reside in small sheet metal style huts, no bigger than 12 by 6 feet, with a thatched roof, no ventilation and no bathroom inside their homes.
The average household income for these people ranges from $4-$6 a day. Their mindset is that the more children they have the more money they can make by using them as laborers so there is usually 5 - 9 people living under one roof. The children roam around unsupervised playing with stray dogs and pigs.
People who have never been to this place will have a hard time imagining the extremely poor hygienic conditions under which the people live, with open drains and areas near homes used as their restroom.
If you know me, you know I love short term mission trips. I go anywhere from 2 weeks to 5 months to teach English and share the Gospel of our Jesus. I am ALWAYS blessed by the brothers and sisters I meet and uplifted by sharing the Gospel with people who have NEVER HEARD and have very little opportunity to hear.
When I was asked to go to India, I was NOT thrilled. I heard it was dirty. I heard it was extremely dark. I heard the slums were horrific and that’s where they wanted me to teach. I might have said no, but something urged me forward.
Whatever cultural distance exists from America to India, I had to admit it was far less than the distance Jesus traveled from heaven to earth. And, I am sure earth, in its own fallen state, is far dirtier than heaven!
Sister S.G. regularly shares the Gospel seeking out people of peace in place called ‘’Canning''. During one particular moment while sharing the Gospel, she felt hungry so she decided to ask for food at the next house she visited. Upon arriving, a young Hindu girl named Monika opened the door.
Instead of food, Sister S.G. asked for a glass of water instead. Monika thought, “She is hungry”. Instead of water, Monika brought S.G. a big glass of milk. S.G. slowly drank it, and then asked, “How much do I owe you for this?”. Yet, Monika was taught by her mother to never accept payment in return for doing kindness to others. In return, Sister S.G said, “Thank you and please thank your mother on my behalf!”.
Some people go on short-term mission trips thinking they are going to share the Gospel with a lot of people. Sometimes that happens. Other times, it does not. When you add a cross-cultural dimension to the trip, the further cross-cultural you go the more challenging it becomes to share the Gospel, unless of course you are already familiar with the language and culture you are serving in.
James B. served with Silk Road Catalyst this past June. He did receive opportunities to share the Gospel but learned that it was just as important for the students he was seeking to share with to believe that he cared about them. Why? If they did not believe he cared, they likely would not have listened to him. While not everyone we show care for will listen to the Gospel, nor do we wait months or years to open our mouths to proclaim the Gospel for the first time, showing we care about them is important in Gospel sharing.
As you read James' experience below, I hope it will encourage you to stay the course as you seek to be salt and light among the lost around you.
President, Silk Road Catalyst
This month was my first time to visit Sweden, and it was an incredible experience. I was invited by Pastor Paul Wang at McKinney Chinese Baptist Church in McKinney, TX. I was invited to serve as one of the teachers at the Nordic Chinese Discipleship Retreat.
I had no idea what I was walking into. I had no idea who the 74 people attending were, where they came from or what they expected from the retreat. The only two people I knew were Pastor Paul and his wife. Yet after just a few days, I felt like I was with family I had known my whole life. And, after my 2nd teaching session, I was blessed to hear how God was moving in the hearts of so many at the retreat.
While being in East Asia, I had known that God would use me to work in other people. But, I had no idea of how much he would work in me. This was my second time being in East Asia. The first time I went was only for a week and I knew I wanted to go back as soon as possible.
As soon as I got there, I was immediately thrown into meeting a group of college students. It was so exciting to talk with them. They are so different from Americans. They wanted to know everything about us right away and were all very welcoming. I met many people, but I got extremely close with a group of girls.
"And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap." Joshua 3:13
This story in Joshua is a true picture of faith. Joshua instructed the Israelites that as soon as the priests carrying the Ark stepped into the water, the waters would part and allow them to walk across dry land. It wasn't going to part until they stepped out FIRST. It goes on to say that the waters of the Jordan were flooded, but as soon as the men stepped a foot in the water, the water became still and stood straight up and the people crossed over on dry land. This allowed them passage into the Promised Land. But the important thing to note here is that God's provision came with the condition of obedience. The Israelites had to trust God by faith that the way would be provided.
Praise reports, updates and just about anything important written by someone within our global Silk Road Catalyst family.