(The following blog is the outcome from a conversation I had while having lunch with some of our Faith Promise partners. They live in a distant land sharing Christ in a culture that has become increasingly hostile to Christians and Christianity. I am sharing a story with you. My prayer is that you are inspired to pray a bold prayer and ask God to reveal to you how you may be called to respond. Maybe it's time for you to say ‘yes’ to God.)
Lunch with a Missionary
Our Faith Promise partner was completely captivating as she recalled her story. “We stopped at the traffic light at 75th & Naper Boulevard when a woman drove up next to us and rolled down her window. She motioned for me to do the same, so I did.”
The motorist shouted, "You must be special people. I heard you talk at our church this morning!"
"No.” Our Faith Promise partner responded, “We are ordinary--reeeeally ordinary people."
"You are very SPECIAL people!" The woman insistently proclaimed. More vehicles started to accumulate. People waited anxiously for the light to change.
The missionary smiled but equally insisted. "No! Honestly! We are really ordinary people being obedient to God!"
"Exactly!" The woman proclaimed as her car was absorbed into the long stream of suburban vehicles headed East in her lane, "Most people are not obedient to God!”
What I learned about Christianity in East Asia.
There are an estimated 100 million Christian missionaries serving this East Asian country of 1.6 billion people. Most live in communities where there is an environment of suspicion. This atmosphere was left behind like wreckage from an abandoned airplane crash by the former
communist regime. It's perpetuated by the current concern for cultural or what is commonly described as traditional family values.
The young are not allowed to have 'ideas.' They are expected to finish school, attend college, get a job and fulfill their duty to their family. The young must sacrifice their dreams when necessary. All income is pooled into a family fund. They must support and serve the family as
their first priority. Problems occur when someone becomes a Christian. Christian beliefs threaten family traditions when young converts will not honor family tradition but choose to serve and honor Jesus Christ.
Public shaming is part of life. It is a disgraceful and painful weapon. Christians are singled out by family members and community people not necessarily from the government. Families identify Christians and publicly humiliate them in hopes of shaming them back into the family
fold. Christians are often ostracized by community leaders who publicly identify them as people who are trying to destroy long-held cultural family values and traditions. Sometimes the persecution is so intense, teacher contracts and students visas are cancelled because they are evangelizing too successfully.
Stability is cloaked in fulfilling undefined legalism and opaque cultural traditions. Riot police are part of life. Many riots erupt but are never reported or talked about publicly. Unemployment, underemployment, land grabs, government crack downs and merchant class corruption toward the poor create daily disturbances. Minority segregation is a reality dividing ethnicities with unique languages, cultural traditions and of course religion. There are 400 Ethnic minorities in this East Asian country.
Jesus is still Lord!
The local church is thriving in spite of the persecution. Evangelism is expanding to include the Muslim population where mosques have been built in every community. Our mission partner shared she was blessed to witness young women starting house churches. “It's as if they have
no fear and many are only 21-25 years old! They've accomplished college. They've professed to follow Jesus Christ wherever he leads.” She said.
These young leaders work closely with our Faith Promise partner on a daily basis. They learn what it means to read the Bible together, sing praise songs and love, care and support each other. These zealous young disciples relocate with a vibrant faith which was fostered while
making gingerbread cut-out cookies. The simple act of decorating cookies became a way to tell the Jesus story. The college Students who help with the extraordinary ministry start house churches in the communities where they relocate. To this date, eight house churches have been
planted in other communities. There is one house church thriving in their local town led by college-aged volunteers working with our Faith Promise partner.
What can we do?
When I asked our partners what more we could do, she said, “Pray for the house churches that are an outcome of our ministry. We never expected this. Pray for faithfulness to God’s Word. Their translation is difficult to understand. Most translations use a classical language which
makes it difficult to read and use.”
This vibrant champion of Jesus continued, “Isolation is a problem for Christians and the house churches. They take an enormous risk when they share their faith. As for financial resources, we do not make long-term financial commitments. We are training them to become self-sufficient
and trust God to provide. People are very, very poor.”
Our Faith Promise partners support all the house churches in varied ways. Sometimes they financially support the pastors, pay for their rent, buy food for the congregation, pay salaries, or pay the electricity bill. All the money is pooled together for the benefit of the house churches and for reaching the community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
People who attend the local house church that meets in our Faith Promise partner’s home are mostly people who teach English or attend college. Many Christian missionaries are from Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia are represented. Other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Russia, Inner Mongolia, Singapore, Britain, The Netherlands, and New Zealand are represented.
What does Wheatland actually do?
We support ‘reeeeeally ordinary’ people who are obedient to God. We agreed to be part of what God called these Faith Promise partners to do years ago. We actively engaged with what they were doing in the field. It’s certainly a God-thing that Wheatland help plant churches when we committed to save infants! This particular Faith Promise partner was obedient to God by moving to a foreign country and accepting abandoned babies. Some babies were abandoned because of circumstances we don’t understand. Some were abandoned after a doctor proclaimed the infant as blind or deaf.
Our mission partner passionately explained, “We do what Jesus called his disciples to do: reach the ‘lost.’ These babies are loved, nourished and taught Christian values. They are given a second chance at life. A Christian foundation of love provides a safe place for these special
children to thrive. They are accepted into our temporary mission home until they are fitted into homes belonging to their forever family.”
“We pray that each child is eternally saved. We pray the families that adopt them are God's choice. Not every adoption attempt is successful. A family may not accept one of these children. Some inquisitive parents that come to adopt leave empty handed. We know it’s not right. Not right for them nor for the child. Not all adoptions are successful on the first try. These children know what it means to believe. We can see Jesus in them. There is a significant difference in their disposition.”
Wheatland is an awesome church! We believe the best witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ is a transformed life. There is so much more to do. We can have even greater impact in the world for Jesus Christ. What would it be like if we took becoming a world changer seriously ? Imagine the greater things God has called us to do. What is God calling you to do? Where is God leading you? What wrong in the world keeps tugging on your soul? Is there an issue that ignites your passion to actually get involved and do something significant with your life? Are you searching for or running from God?
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is". Colossians 3:1-2 The Message