“If it’s OK with you, we’re going to pray to Jesus and give thanks for our food.” That was my Christian friend working in South East Asia. I’ll never forget our host’s reply: “Who is ‘Jesus’?”
Now, we all know people who don’t know Jesus. But this man we were enjoying dinner with in his home didn’t mean “tell me the full meaning of the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, he’s never meant much to me.” He meant, “Who are you talking about?!”
The beginning of the journey
This began what turned out to be the Lord’s journey for us as a family to the point we’re at now. We’re preparing to go to that same country in East Asia early next year to support the church in sharing the life changing message of Jesus Christ with those who otherwise might live and die never even hearing his name.
So, in many ways this has been a deeply personal journey God has been taking us on. But, to stretch the metaphor, it’s more like God has carted the whole church into the bus and brought us along together. The Globe Church has been with us in this, investing our hearts in prayer and interest for this place over the years. And together we’ve decided in prayer that now would be the right time for us to go and get involved on the ground in Asia.
What will we do?
You might be wondering why we’re keeping the country name vague! Well, it’s not an easy place to be a Christian. Authorities and communities can take real issue with people coming to Christ, churches forming, and outsiders coming in to help. Which is precisely why we want to go and get alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ, our church, and do what we can to encourage and support them in their God given mission to reach out to their own people. This may be in training preachers, aiding church planting, and discipling believers to live for Christ in their rapidly changing context. We don’t know exactly! But we trust the Spirit goes before us.
So long, farewell?
We mentioned that our journey has been both personal and communal, journeying with the church. And we’re so thankful that that doesn’t stop now as we leave, but only gets more important. Jonty has often used the image (from Andrew Fuller) of the church “holding the rope” for us as we go out. It’s as we step into a world that’s strange to us, far from home, and into a task Satan has a vested interest in stopping us in that we most desperately need you, our church, with us in prayer, through on going friendship and care, messages and visits. We’re in this together, for the long haul, and we praise God for that!