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.
“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!