Blowing on the embers.

February 22, 2008

This past week, some things I’ve read have fanned a renewed desire for the gospel-less, Bible-less places of the world to be reached.

I pray these excerpts serve to blow on the embers in your heart (random aside: if you keep looking at the word embers long enough, it starts to look a little funny :] ) to again pray that those from “every nation, tribe, people, & language” would come to hear, know, & worship the only true God who saves them from their sins . . . & perhaps even pray that you might be the one to go tell them . . .

An email from a friend in Papua New Guinea regarding difficult decisions in Bible translation (I’ve edited some parts to keep it anonymous):

The [K people] have been having very “heavy” discussions on the current topic: what word or name to use for God [in their vernacular language]? They have come up with the name of a traditional spirit, who created the world, who knows all things, who even does good/kind things to people, but there is also a taboo on speaking the name out loud. It’s part of the secret knowledge that men who have been initiated can know, but others should not, or that an old man on his deathbed might whisper to a younger man. Therefore, out of this group of I think six men, there are varying and conflicting opinions. Some are afraid to speak the name, and think that this is a spirit from their traditional culture and not the true God of the universe, while some think that it would be good to call the one true God by this traditional name, and it’s just that the sense of taboo (in speaking it) needs to change. They hope that using this name will help the people to understand that He is their God and the Creator of everything, not just the white man’s god, bringing in an outside religion.

From Noel Piper’s Faithful Women & their Extraordinary God (from the brief biography about Lilias Trotter, missionary to the Arabs — particularly the Arab women — in Algeria):

Is it impossible that I [Noel Piper], or my daughter, or my granddaugther should do such a thing? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t depend on me. Who is my God? Is He not the same God who called Lilias Trotter, prepared her, moved her, & sustained her in Algeria for forty years? Is He not the same yesterday & today & forever?

But how can I know what lies in the future? How will I know how to get ready? I can’t really know. Lilias must have been mulling such thoughts when she wrote:

How many of us have said & sung with all our hearts “Anywhere with Jesus,” but at the same time we did not realize all that it meant for us. Indeed at home, & surrounded by all that home means, we could not know. When the test comes we must not forget that “anywhere” means for missionaries something different from life in England, & let us take very good care not to make a misery of anything that “anywhere” brings us.

To us in Algeria it must mean sometime or other, Arab food. Do we object to it? & mice, do we mind them? & mosquitoes, do we think them dreadful? In some parts it means close contact with dirt & repulsive disease. Yet if Jesus is there, what have we possibly to complain of? It means living among a stiff-necked & untrue people & struggling with a strange & difficult language. & yet let us evermore write over all our miseries, big, & for the most part very little, these transforming words “With Jesus.” & then the very breath of Heaven will breathe upon our whole being & we shall be glad.

Today from Desiring God Blog, Bill Walsh shares a letter written by Michelle, a missionary wife in South Africa. Here are excerpts from her letter, “Why I Would Die for South Africa”:

I could faithfully serve Christ & the gospel in another country. But I wouldn’t expect to reap the same amount of fruit as in a desperate place like Africa: “But God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith & heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him.” (James 2:5). People here see their need for the Great Physician. People are suffering. We have the cure that they are asking for. The gospel (a biblical worldview) is the ultimate cure for AIDS & poverty & crime. In more western countries, people are deceptively self-sufficient & hardened to the gospel. Why not stay where the harvest is ripe & the workers are few?

. . . We stay because we are called to South Africa. When you are called, no promise of greater security or comfort can lure you away. You are free to enjoy all the beauties of South Africa without constantly wondering if it is time to abandon ship. How do we know that we are called to South Africa? Because this is the place where we can be most useful in God’s harvest field. This is the place where our talents can best be multiplied for the Master until He returns (Matt. 25). This is the place where we find the greater blessing of giving rather than receiving (Acts 20:35). This is the place where we can raise our children to be true self-denying Christ-followers. Unless He calls us somewhere more difficult, this is where we will stay — to live & even die for South Africa. Where are you called to die?

“Unless He calls us somewhere more difficult, this is where we will stay — to live & even die . . . Where are you called to die?” It sounds like something we’d accuse a “glory-missions”-minded person of saying. But she’s living in the realities of South Africa with her husband & children right now; her question has more thrust because she’s not saying it flippantly or naively.

For some of us (& by no means is it a lesser task or lesser harvest), that may mean staying home & faithfully ministering to our families. For others of us, that may mean eventually leaving our families & faithfully ministering somewhere else.

Let’s pray for the nations. Let’s pray for our missionary friends. Let’s pray & tell God we’re willing to go or stay . . . to be faithful to Him & faithful to proclaim the gospel (in truth, in love) wherever we are.

But let’s not immediately discard the possibility that He may call us to leave & labor in another field less harvested.

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3 Responses to “Blowing on the embers.”

  1. courtney Says:

    Such good thoughts and things to ponder. Your posts are really refreshing.

  2. jennifer lee Says:

    omigosh. alisa looks so cute

  3. jennifer lee Says:

    ok. so the above comment was for the “Happy Birthday, dad” entry

    and for this entry…
    it was really good to read =) i must say. i still don’t feel my embers stoked to go, but definitely to pray more. for the nations, for the unreached peoples, for my place in all of this~


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