The Ends of the Earth

Our missionary friend was telling all of us sitting there on Sunday morning about a survey trip he took to a border area that was rather treacherous. They were on motorbikes looking for some hidden people, some people who didn’t yet have the Word in their dialect, some people that were hard to get to, even in 2013, even for two single guys on motorbikes.

Then he told us they found some of these people…and they were NOT welcoming. They certainly did not look happy in the photo he flashed up for us. But then, he told us,  they saw it.


All of us in the congregation laughed at that. I mean here are these missionaries, who had to CARRY their motorbikes to get to this village, doing their best to mark out the GPS coordinates for future missionaries to this location, and the people they encounter recognize the iphone. That is too funny. An incident sure to get laughs on a Missions Month Sunday.

Later that afternoon, however, as I recalled my laughter and the laughter of those around me, I had another thought.

That isn’t funny.

These young me know what an iphone is, but they don’t know who Jesus is.

And I asked myself, “Why?”

Why has the knowledge of this piece of technology reached that place but the knowledge of the true God has not?

This isn’t the first time that some gadget brought into a remote area by a missionary has attracted the attention of the people living there. Nor is it the first time that such a gadget has softened the response of otherwise hostile people. But they recognised this gadget, they knew its name, and I daresay they had some idea of its use.

I will not launch into a comparison of the Apple corporation vs the global Church. People have looked at this concept before–how Coca Cola managed to ‘reach the world’ or how the Golden Arches went global.

And I do not think we necessarily need to adopt a large corporation mentality in Christian missions. Our goals are simply not the same.

Yet the question remains, “Why?” Is it a lack of funding? Lack of leadership? Lack of concern for the unreached?

Not half an hour before the missionary told us this story, the pastor had exhorted us, ever so gently, not to fix our eyes on the ‘difficulties’ of going out as missionaries. And perhaps behind this exhortation lay part of the reason why world evangelism is not complete yet.

He reminded us that missions is not just an intellectual understanding, a matter of study  or even sending off short-term teams and then ticking “missions” off our list of things a Christian is supposed to do.

We sang,
“In Your Presence all our fears are washed away… hosanna..You are the God who saves us…come have your way among us…”

I can only pray now that He WILL have his way among us–even if He sends us to the ends of the earth!


Timor Stories: Of Things Undone

Tonight I leave many things undone around the house to go and share with the others about how I was undone. Before that week away from all the usual comforts, there had been many things undone and even more that need undoing. There had been too much of the wrong trinity ruling my soul–namely: me, myself and I–that the lover of my soul came to undo.

It was a time for Him to do more of the deep faith work. Dismantling and undoing the trust in self, the trust in others, the trust in doctors and medicine. It was time for him to break me (and us, as a family) so that He could rebuild us.

I shared with a few young parents about how #2 son fell sick the moment we arrived in East Timor…about how the supposed allergy problems were really a virulent virus… about how the fever went up and up… about the trip to see the doctor that we couldn’t communicate with… about the limitations at the hospital we visited…about how the sickness in him went on for five of the seven days of this very short term mission trip.

They were stunned, shocked, stressed on my behalf. I could see it was hard to hear. But I had to go on. I had shared how hard it was to go through it; I had to go on. I had to share what God was doing while bodies and spirits languished under the weight of sickness and the added weight of being far from home and our usual ways of coping.

It became a time for prayer work. Every time the fever went up, #2 son asked for us to pray for him.  “Daddy, please pray for me AGAIN.” He was learning, too. He didn’t ask for more medicine, he asked for more prayer.

It became a time for faith work. In tears we offered ourselves again and again to Him. We offered our son to Him. We are yours. He is yours. It’s all yours. In our helplessness we came back to that place again–we knew were nothing ;we had nothing. We couldn’t cure our son, we couldn’t get him to the best doctors or hospital, we couldn’t even get him the best medicine.

And all the while the Enemy was whispering–“See? See what happens when you bring kids on a mission trip? See how much trouble and worry you’ve caused yourselves and your team and the missionary you are supposed to be helping? I bet you won’t do this again.”  The enemy is betting on us coming undone. But we know better than to fall for his lies. We need faith. And with faith (which is a gift from the Father) we will obey Him if He calls us to go again. We said it in tears that night, after giving the midnight dose of medicine to the boy burning with fever. We said we would obey; we said we would not listen to the Enemy’s whispers, we would not be undone by temptation. If we were to be undone, it would be at the hands of our Maker. Our undoing would be for our transformation, for our remoulding into the vessels ready for deeper faith work.

And then I ask:

Can this go deeper?

It can. It will. I am undone and I will submit. I am His.