Awayo

I think you could say there is a general consensus among the world outside of Christianity that Christian missions is nothing more than a form of colonialism.  The argument falls somewhere along the lines of 1) they are individuals with human rights and are happy as they are, and therefore 2) who are you to impose your culture on them?

I’m no scholar, and I can’t speak for any tribal people, but last week I was shown a short video from New Tribes called Awayo: Fear to Faith, which I believe does a fair job of illustrating the Moi worldview before and after receiving the gospel.  At the very least, I will let Awayo tell me what is best for him over the opinion of a guy in a classroom.

(Parents: I’d encourage you to watch this first before showing it to your children.)

Check out a higher quality version at http://ntm.org/video/, or if you’d like to hear Awayo tell his story in his own language (with subtitles), go to http://vimeo.com/7087303.

The Time Has Come

It really wasn’t until I was riding home from work yesterday that the thought occurred to me: there’s no turning back now. If yesterday morning we wanted to change our mind about this whole thing, we could. But that’s the difference a minute makes. At 3:59 Rachel and I still had our jobs; at 4:00 we had clocked out of work and into unemployment.

Looks like a mitten
Looks like a mitten

That’s the funny thing about faith. What else would cause a family to quit their jobs, move from Texas to Michigan, and pay tuition to train for a career in which they will rely on the financial support of others – what, besides the belief that they serve the God who is sovereign over all things.  If we did not believe that God’s plan was to call people from all nations to himself, we would not be packing right now.

But we do believe it.  The Bible says that not only is God worthy of all praise, but that he will be praised by people from all people groups.  And He has decided to use broken people like us to proclaim that glory to the ends of the earth.

It is with joy that we can say our time has finally come.  I will pick up the rental truck on Friday (8-7-09) at 4pm, and we’ll leave as soon as we’re loaded up (and you’re welcome to come see us off).  We will miss you!!

How can they hear?

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

I want to share a quote with you. This was said by Ekapitaa, who lives in an unreached tribe (meaning they do not yet have any of the Gospel in their language) in Indonesia:

“We want to hear this Creator’s Talk [Gospel message]. We want it so much that we are waiting for the time that you, along with the Bible teachers, will bring it to us. When the time comes that you are ready to tell us of the Creator’s message just send us word and we will come. We will gather everybody from our area. We will all hike the trails all the way down to where you are and we will live in your area for as long as two moons [months]. We will do this all just so that we can hear the Creator’s message. If you would rather hike to our territory and tell us in our own houses, we will wait for you here. When you come we will provide everything you need, including food, so
that you can live among us. We will provide for you so that you can stay and we can finally hear this message and we even now wait for the day you can teach it to us.”

There are 6,500 language groups in the world. 2,500 of them do not yet have any of the Gospel in their language. Yes, you read that correctly. 2,500 people groups are completely unreached, and what that means is that even if they wanted to hear “The Creator’s Talk,” they can not. That is hard for us to imagine here in the United States, where on every street corner there is a church, and a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. But try for a moment to imagine how many people, just like Ekapitaa, would give everything they own to hear the good news of God’s Grace, and yet until somebody brings it to them in their own language, they continue to die and go to Hell.

As you may know, this August, Jim and I will begin training with New Tribes Mission (NTM). NTM helps local churches send missionaries to unreached people groups around the world so that every tribe, tongue, and
nation can hear the Gospel and will be able to praise Jesus Christ as Lord.

Read more about New Tribes Mission here.

Read about the first part of our training here.

Or ask Jim and I about it the next time you see us – we would love to
share with you more about NTM and about our passion for every tribe tongue and
nation to be reached in our generation!

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where
Christ was not known.” Romans 15:20

Some things are convicting

Not long ago Rachel and I received a letter from our Gospel for Asia missionary in India (if you haven’t heard of GFA, go here and get your free book). As a native missionary, he has taken his family into the darkness of his region and faithfully followed Christ in his calling to preach the gospel among his people. But that’s (mostly) not the convicting part.

He talked about the last six months, how his daughter-in-law became very sick, but with much burden and prayer and fasting they brought her home and watched the Lord heal her. At present he is working in an area with a large Hindu majority. Already six famlies have shown interest in the Gospel and are attending prayer meetings.

“One day during outreach I met a man named Alberth. He was going through some mental tensions due to the sickness of his family members. He had no money for their medical treatment also. By faith he called me to pray for their healing. With some believers I went there and prayed for them. The Lord was so faithful, that He healed them completely. Now the whole family received Jesus Christ as their God and are attending our worship service. Praise the Lord.

Though it could be, that’s not the convicting part, either. That part, the part that convicts me, is the part that I easily passed over the first time I read his letter. I didn’t notice the depth of his words as they practically weighed the page down.

There are two statements:

“In the last six months we as a church have distributed a good number of Gospel tracts and booklets. By our ministry many people are believing in Jesus, but due to the oppositions from the society, they are not able to receive Jesus as their Savior.”

And elsewhere

“Some people are believing in Jesus, but due to the oppositions from their family and relatives they are not able to profess their faith in Jesus.”

That is tough for me to swallow. They believe, but because they are not able to profess that belief (possibly because of fear…a profession like that would likely lead to being kicked out of their families, losing their property, or even death) they are not able to receive Christ’s gracious salvation. This is not a works thing – whereby the act of profession results in salvation – but a trust thing. Romans 10:9-11 says “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'” Trusting that God is worthy of your trials is important to God, who happens to be worthy of so much more than anything this world can throw at you. This is hard stuff.

Hard and convicting, because I can see how many people in the west might let something like that slide. I fear we might forget the part about counting the cost. Even with far less persecution (though persecution of a different type), people in the church (or who just go to church, or who just say they go to church) are willing to talk all day about how great God is and how he blessed them with many blessings, and helped them get a good parking spot at the mall; but at work, or anywhere else, they are silent. No one but thier church friends have ever heard them talk about God, because talking about God might make you lose your street cred. People might make fun of you, or call you ignorant. They might believe in science or something like it, and question your scientific method. So we try to make our faith out to be a purely internal thing, where we can believe that God is worthy so long as we don’t have to prove it. Even when God corners us and sets before us a person who really wants to know God and wants us to tell them how, we focus in on the good (that is indeed good) but forget to mention the part about us being aliens in this world, that we are promised persecution, that we must endure in the face of it.

The worst part of our omission is that it keeps us from the best part of God’s promise to us. Sure, trials are hard. Persecution is tough. But God IS WORTHY of them! Until we are able to see God’s true worth, trials will continue to be trials. But the promise is so much better: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”