May 12, 2015
Five "Every Day" Things That Could Build God's Kingdom
Post by Brittany Tedesco
While reading through some of the letters of thanks from native missionaries helped by supporters of Christian Aid Mission, my eye landed on a photo of smiling gospel workers in India holding what they described as "utility bags." We in the U.S. would call them backpacks. They were so encouraged, the letter explained. They now had an easy way to carry supplies, Bibles, and other stuff to their destinations.
It never dawned on me that these missionaries struggle to haul items from one place to another because they lacked something as simple as a bag.
As I continued reading through the letters, however, I realized how many of the items mentioned (for which native missionaries were so grateful) were items I use every day without a second thought.
Almost 11 years ago, I started working for Christian Aid Mission as a summer intern. During those months, I stayed at the guesthouse where multiple native missionaries from all over the world came to visit for a few days at a time. What a surreal experience. I was incredulous that I had the opportunity to meet such amazing servants of God. I still remember sitting on the couch, sipping a cup of Chai tea prepared for me by an elderly Nepalese couple who'd spent their lives sharing the gospel in their country. The man had been put into prison 25 times for sharing his faith in Nepal. In his poorest days, he walked barefoot through the Himalayas, bringing the gospel to mountain villagers who'd never heard the name of Jesus. Barefoot.
I couldn't imagine leaving the house to go to the grocery store barefoot, let alone wandering through rocky terrain without shoes. I don't think about shoes. I just put them on every day.
Later on, I met a native missionary from the Philippines who preaches Christ to primitive, unreached people living on remote islands. In fact, most of the students at his Bible college are men he's led to Jesus from these tribes. Most of them are illiterate, and many don't even know how old they are.
The only clothing owned by most of them is T-shirts plastered with the faces of political leaders, which are given to the public for free during election time. Because many have never worn a pair of shoes, their toes are spread out in different directions. The ministry leader described their feet as resembling a "ginger root." They walked many miles through the jungles to preach the gospel to their fellow tribesmen. One of the students would walk 22 miles several times a week to reach the church he planted in his village.
You can probably imagine the joy felt by poor native missionaries when handed a pair of shoes—sometimes, their first pair ever.
"Shoes and socks were provided for 18 gospel workers," one report from Paraguay read. "These men, whose feet are their only means of transport, walk many miles every day, visiting homes, sharing the gospel, and encouraging believers in their faith. They are among the many workers being equipped to meet the spiritual and physical needs of poor people in Paraguay."
My daily routine not only involves shoes, but also a bag that I carry to work. It contains my lunch, an umbrella, random papers, and who knows what else. It needs to be cleaned out. I don't think about it. I just grab it before making my brave, daring journey to the office via air-conditioned car on smooth, paved roads.
Last year, the leader of a Christian Aid Mission-assisted ministry in India made a request for "utility bags" for all of his workers. "This will facilitate the Lord's servants to undertake overnight journeys with Bible, literature, and necessary clothes."
With help from our supporters, we were able to supply the leader with 350 backpacks. "All the missionaries who received the bags have been greatly touched by the generosity of Christian Aid Mission," the leader wrote to us. "I have seen the joy in the face of the workers as they received the bags. This ministry tool will go a long way in facilitating the pioneering and frontline evangelism and church planting efforts of our co-workers."
After grabbing my bag, I hop in my car. I don't think about it. It just takes me where I want to go.
Consider this request we received several months ago from a ministry leader in India: "Many tribal women meet the Lord through indigenous missionary women who spend time with them in prayer. The missionaries trek long distances to minister to these beautiful people in remote villages who never have heard the name of Jesus Christ. The gospel women need 10 bicycles ($100 each)."
Thanks to our supporters, ten bikes were supplied to young women in India who are actively sharing Christ. The leader reported that the women are now able to visit those whom they are evangelizing and discipling on a weekly basis instead of a monthly basis, and they're also able to transport literature and New Testaments.
"This helps them to save their time which is precious for them as they have to look after their household works also," wrote the leader. "All are thankful to Christian Aid Mission for this wonderful gift."
After returning home from work, I walk into my house and turn on the lights. I don't think about it. I just flip a switch and my dark house lights up.
In Burma, nearly 99 percent of all remote villages are without electricity. Candles and kerosene lamps are occasionally used after dark, but only under special circumstances as their cost is very high to poor villagers, not to mention the danger of using multiple candles in bamboo structures. Most activity stops in the evenings.
But the evenings are the only time villagers are available for something like Bible study since they're laboring during daylight hours. A difficult situation for native missionaries.
Christian Aid Mission received a request from a ministry leader in Burma for solar panels that would provide enough light for an average-sized house church. The price of a complete solar set with parts is $100.
Through help from our supporters, we were able to provide church planters in Burma with more than 45 solar sets.
One native missionary wrote, "Since receiving the solar panels, we have been able to stay up until as late as 11 p.m. having devotions or studying the Word. Because other villagers see the light on in our home, families will just drop in for conversation that often ends with a discussion about Jesus Christ. We are now able to hold midweek evening services for those unable to attend on Sundays."
At the end of my day, I don't think about where I'm going to lay my head. My bed is there, in the same spot it was the day before.
A ministry leader from Nepal requested sleeping bags for native missionaries who were sleeping on the ground during their journeys to reach remote villages for the Lord.
After Christian Aid Mission donors provided for this need, the leader wrote, "I have given six sleeping bags to church's workers in different villages. It is really helpful for them. Pastors in different villages have to walk for long time just to visit a family and do follow-up work in order to help them to grow. Every day they walk many kilometers for the ministry and some time they have to stay overnight and sleeping bag helped them to have good sound sleep at night."
Beyond being grateful, be mindful
I didn't write this post to finger-wag anyone for taking things for granted. This post isn't about being grateful for the things you have. It's not an eat-your-dinner-because-there-are-starving-kids-in-China message. It's a call to be mindful, to recognize that the simple things we use for our comfort and convenience can also be used to further the gospel in poor countries overseas.
So when we slip on our shoes, throw our stuff in our bags, jump in our cars, turn on the lights, and climb into bed, let it prompt us to pray for—and perhaps even give to—native missionaries who could do so much to build God's kingdom with any one of these basic items.