Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One More Day

Well, we have one more day before boarding the plane to come home. I miss my family, and I miss my church family, too.
As I am thinking about what all we've learned on this trip, I realize it is a lot. But there are three things I'd like to mention to all of you (between 350 and 700 people reading each day!):
A room full of women making bracelets...and disciples.

1. The church is the hope of the world. Why do we focus on planting churches? Because the absolute best way to help the poor, care for orphans and widows, feed the hungry, liberate the downtrodden, and change the harmful cultures of humanity is when Christ changes people--who then want to see their neighbors changed. The church is what makes a real, lasting difference. As I've seen all over the world, I see it here. Today we went to visit a micro-business started by a missionary, and run by a church. It is a bracelet-making business, called "Blessed Hope." Here needy women are given much needed jobs where they can bring their kids and make a living in a safe environment.
Want to buy some of these bracelets?
We'll provide information when we return.
More than this, the Christians teach the employees about Christ and disciple them. For example, women in this culture frequently hide the fact that they are pregnant. They are shunned--even when they are married! They are expected to keep their mouths shut and keep working the same grueling schedule to provide (many times in the place of a lazy husband). But the Christians tell the ladies that a baby is a gift from God! They help them see how God see's life--precious in his sight. They help them with how to take care of themselves when pregnant and how to care for their new babies. While we were there, one lady brought her fat little girl in to show us how she blew kisses and could shake hands. So beautiful. The same church also has a school for refugee children, some of whom are housed by the members. Here's the bottom line: put a healthy church in a community and you improve every aspect of that community.

2. The family of God is amazing in every culture. This was a big truth that God revealed to me on my first mission trip, and this one is no different. There are Christians I have met here who speak different languages and have a completely different culture...but they are family. Whether in India, Nepal, Tibet, or our target country, the believers have been so wonderful to us--people they have never met and, other than God's grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit, people with whom they have very little in common. We are filled with love.
This is Uncle, Sonam, and Batash. An incredible family. I
previously mentioned Uncle, who was attacked by a bear
as a teen. All of these dear people are testimonies of God's grace.
Tonight was a perfect example. Madison's Sherpa friend, Batash, his wife Sonam, and his uncle (they just call him "Uncle") invited us over to their two-room home to eat. It was a traditional meal of eggs, dalbot (lentil beans fixed like soup, and rice) with traditional vegetables. It was soo good. But even better was the fellowship we shared. Sonam is pregnant and very excited about having their first child. She just finished getting a degree. They are so pleasant and kind and considerate. Genuine Christian love is something you just can't describe. You must experience it.

3. God is on the move to save sinners and use them for his glory. Like Uncle. When Madison came here two years ago, Uncle was a hardened Buddhist. While Madison was living here, Uncle received Christ. Madison said that when it happened, Batash who had prayed many years for him, was beside himself with joy. However, Madison said that Uncle would hardly even look at him then. He was ashamed of the sinful life he had lived. He spoke very few words, and claimed that he had actually been possessed by a demon! What a radical change is evident in Uncle's life. We had sat in front of him at Lohmi church on Saturday. I noticed that he was there early and was still there when we left. He sang loudly and prayed fervently and just showed the joy of the Lord the whole time. A couple of other older men sat with him and also showed great joy. One of them afterward showed a group of young men how well he could walk. You see, after having a stroke, people in the church prayed for him and he was able to recover. He gives God all the glory. Back to Uncle: when we were at their home tonight, he began to tell us (in Nepali) that he was praying for our mission in [the target country]. He told of when he had once spent much time there, and told us of what cities were good to live in. He said, "I am very glad you are taking the Gospel to [the target country]. Most are Buddhists living in darkness. They need churches there. You go tell them about Jesus." He told Madison that he was going to pray for him and for our mission. This was no mere courteous gesture. Sonam said that Uncle is a man of great faith and is a prayer warrior. He will pray...and God will listen. When we were walking back across town after leaving their home, Madison said that Uncle had grown phenomenally. He said Uncle said more this night than he had ever heard him say in total before. And it was all good.
God redeems sinners. God grows and uses people who we would never expect him to use. Uncle's testimony makes me well up with tears. There are people all over the world like Uncle. Blind followers of a demonic religion, needing the Gospel and a church family.
They live around us too.

So we plant churches because this is God's method for changing people and cultures and bringing him glory. But we must BE the church in Knoxville. This is what I almost always come home with.

1 comment:

Judy Gamble said...

God is mighty and good. All praise to him.