myMISSION Missionary Blog

Reaching the Unreached with Prayer

In the United States, the beginning of fall signals a season of bonfires, football, and cooler weather. In South Asia, fall is the beginning of festival season. Hindus across the region celebrate some of their major festivals, including the Ganesh festival and Diwali.

It has been quite the culture shock to see idols of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, being displayed everywhere in my city and celebrated by many as the god of new beginnings.

According to the Joshua Project, 3,322 unreached people groups are in South Asia. These are people who haven’t heard the gospel yet—people who, as you read this blog, will be born, will live, and will die without knowing Jesus or the grace He offers them.

The amount of lost people can be overwhelming. Knowing where to begin to reach so many can seem like a lost cause. Not doing anything is not the answer though when the opportunity for people to hear and respond to the gospel and avoid eternal separation from God is at stake.

Using God’s Good Gifts

Several of us were crammed in a small room. Two cameras, a backdrop, and some lights took up what space was left.

In front of the cameras was an older South Asian man, a former Hindu turned follower of Jesus, sharing his testimony.

I sat behind the cameras watching the whole interview take place, listening to this man talk about how he was a believer despite his wife and 2 sons still being Hindu and how he followed Jesus because he knew Jesus answered his prayers.

After 4 weeks of being in South Asia on my first-ever missions trip, this was the moment that changed everything for me. Here was this man, following Jesus with everything he had, and our team, working to capture his story to show others across the world how God is working in South Asia.\

Tears streamed down my face as the man continued his story, and I knew this story was the kind I was called to tell—the story of a God Who loves all people and wants them to personally know His love.

Divine Flavor in an Ordinary World

I looked over and saw her, sitting at the table, eyes glued to her computer screen and focused on what she was working on.

I felt that nudge inside to talk to her, but I was doing my best to talk myself out of it. “She looks busy,” I thought. “And how would I start a conversation?”

I sat in that coffee shop, knowing that I wanted to share the gospel with this girl and take an ordinary conversation and make it a divine one. Then I remembered what I had talked with a friend about a few days earlier. She had suggested interviewing people as a way to start conversations.

I grabbed my pen and notebook, wrote down a few questions, walked over to the table, and began talking to the girl, who introduced herself as Leela*.

The conversation felt so natural, and it brought me joy being able to get to know her story. As it turns out, Leela became a believer in college.

One conversation led to another and another, and now I’d consider Leela one of my best friends in South Asia.

Mary-like Hospitality in a Martha World

“Have you had dinner yet?” our neighbor asked.

“No,” we replied.

The next thing I knew, my roommate and I were eating a dinner of fried egg and a South Asian sweet in the home of our Muslim neighbors.

We had talked with them only as we passed by on the street, but a simple dinner invitation got us into their home and gave us a chance to get to know them better.

The hospitality in South Asia rivals that of the southern United States, any day, anytime. Whenever I’m invited into a home, I can expect to enjoy a cup of hot tea and warm cookies or even a full meal.

My roommate and I have been able to return the hospitality, having friends over for holiday parties and having curious neighbors over to see our apartment. Regardless of the why, we take these opportunities to share our faith with whoever enters our home.

Hosting someone in your home is a big deal to South Asians, and they show their appreciation for the person visiting them by being gracious hosts and serving lots of food.

Telling the Story That Matters

“Who is Jesus? I thought He was a corporation or a company.”

I had been interviewing a team of students serving in South Asia for the summer, and the students were telling me how, after sharing in a village, one man came up and asked them this question.

My Sunday School-going, Bible Belt-living self couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought that there were people who hadn’t heard of Jesus. But God had plucked me out of the United States that summer 3 years ago to show me the need of telling His story across the world.

Before I set foot on South Asian soil for my first experience overseas, I was a junior in college with a major I loved but unsure of what I’d do with it after graduation.

I loved telling stories. Sitting across from anyone with a pen in hand and open notebook full of questions brought me satisfaction. Journalism was my thing. It seemed as if it was the one thing in the world I was good at doing.

My Favorite Thing

Imagine you’ve been friends with someone for several years. You know each other’s birthday, favorite color, and how you like your drinks at Starbucks.

Imagine your friend doesn’t know Jesus, and one day, after telling her all your other favorite and not-so-favorite things, you bring Jesus into the conversation. You invite her to church or tell her something you learned in your Bible study that morning.

And then your friend looks at you and says, “You follow Jesus? I didn’t know after all these years that you followed Jesus!”

This is not the response we as believers should hear from those who know us best or from those we want to share Jesus with. As we go out into the world and share with our friends, co-workers, and families that we like our coffee with no cream or that our favorite color is blue, we must also tell them that our favorite thing above all things is Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that every time you meet a new person the first words out of your mouth are “My favorite person ever is Jesus!” However, what I am saying is that the first time you meet someone who is not a believer, you must be up front with him or her that you are.

If I Will, You Will

One minute I had my perfect post-college plans set, and the next I was convinced they would never come to fruition.

The plan (or so I had hoped) was to move overseas in 2015, a few months after graduation. I saw no need to look for a full-time job or move back in with my parents, because I was going to start my life as a cross-cultural worker when I wanted.

It quickly became apparent that my timeline and God’s timeline weren’t matching up, despite my best attempts to get my way. I went to my university pastor for advice, and he told me to pray and listen to what God was telling me about it.

I prayed and very clearly God told me, “If the Lord wills, you will do this, but wait.”

While that wasn’t the answer I wanted, I listened, and it paid off. I’m only a few months into my term, but I can see that if I hadn’t waited and listened, delaying my plans by a year, so much would be different.

Even as I try to stay focused on my work in South Asia, I find myself wondering about what’s next, and He continues to remind me, “If the Lord wills.”

Time Well Spent

Investing time in a relationship is messy. It means letting go of your best-laid plans in exchange for someone else. It means sacrificing your time for the sake of another.

But, what if that sacrifice means the other person had a better idea of who Jesus is because of spending time with you?

As believers, that’s the opportunity we have. Whether you find yourself in the suburbs, a college dorm, or like me, across the ocean in a new country, we’re called to invest time in those God has placed around us for the gospel.

Investing time means putting all we have into a relationship with a friend, family member, or co-worker. So if that person hasn’t heard of the grace Jesus offers, they will know it as a result of being around us.

What does that look like? Well, thankfully, God hasn’t left us without an example.

In Luke 19:1­–10, we see Jesus invest time in Zacchaeus. Here Jesus was, just passing through Jericho when, in verse five, Jesus tells the tax collector, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5 NIV).

Obedience over Familiarity

As I write this, it is Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in my room listening to Christmas music and have just finished wrapping my last presents. This sounds quite normal, right? It is…almost.

Four years ago, I left my home and all things familiar and moved literally halfway around the world to live in a place I had never been before. I spent two years living and working in a somewhat difficult place to live for the sake of the gospel.

More recently, I have done this on a more permanent basis, for I am here to stay for the foreseeable future, Lord willing. It’s a new place and almost just as different from my previous country as it is from my home country. But this is where the Lord has sent me, and I want to be obedient. So here I am.

Many others have gone before me and have had to endure much harder circumstances than me. And, Lord willing, many others will continue to leave their homes, families, and all things familiar for the sake of Christ our Savior, the One Who left heaven—the best of everything—for our sakes.

A City on a Hill

So I just moved to a new city and it is vastly different from the place I came from. Along with its special climate (hot and hotter), this new city has various types of buildings that are unfamiliar to me; a different style of dress—for the women in particular; working hours that are not the same as the ones I am accustomed to; and a different language I do not understand (yet).

But out of all these new-to-me observations, I think the one that hits me the hardest is that two distinct kinds of people live here. Now, I’m not talking ethnicities or culture because this place is probably more akin to a melting pot than anywhere in the United States really. No, the two kinds of people I recognize here are those who are living in deception and those who are living in the truth. This difference is much more evident here than where I came from, though the same thing can be said about both places, or any place for that matter.

The simplest way I can think of putting it is this: There are those on this earth who are perishing without Christ Jesus and those who are being saved by God’s grace through faith in Him.

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