Foreign Lands: Day 1
As you know, we have considered blessed those who have persevered.
Many years ago now, our young family was newly transplanted to a large Texas city, and looking to put down roots. As anybody who has ever gone through this experience knows, finding a church home as well as the right doctor, dentist, hairdresser, auto mechanic (so on and so on) is a process that can’t be rushed.
One day I received a call from a woman who lived in our new neighborhood, asking if I would like to join a carpool to the pre-school our kids would be attending. During our visit, she asked if we had found a church; then, inviting us to the church her family had recently begun attending she said, “It is called a Bible church; and I know what you are thinking. But they don’t run up and down the aisles or handle snakes. Just come one Sunday. We really like it.”
Almost from our very first visit, we knew we had found what we were looking for. The pastor was an extraordinarily gifted Bible teacher and his sermons were real, relevant and riveting. He was also a man of integrity who wanted not only to teach us Truth, but to enlarge our worldview. High on the enlargement list was his desire to impart to us his deep love for foreign missions and missionaries.
We learned all about the missionaries our new church supported and the countries in which they served. Missionary families on furlough were welcomed as an integral part of our community, staying in spare bedrooms, being included in family mealtimes and, in turn, sharing their experiences with us. Almost without exception, they were intelligent and warm, easily conversant in multiple languages and perfectly at-ease in new situations. Yet, at the same time, they were practical people, helpful and quick to put others at ease. As our pastor was fond of saying, “God sends His best to the mission field.”
But all their gifts and experiences were ever and only in service to the gospel. They lived and served, often in difficult circumstances, to build relational bridges so they might share the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ, then to make disciples of those who came to faith. And if, after a lifetime, they had a small core of believers who would pass on the message to others—they thanked God and rejoiced in a life well-lived.