January 24, 2014
God's Got It Covered
By Brittany Tedesco
When I was in my early 20s, some years ago, my circle of friends included a guy around my age who was the pastor of a church youth group consisting of inner city kids the church bussed in each week.
I'll never forget the youth retreat he talked me and a friend into chaperoning one weekend. Far from civilization, we stayed in cabins deep within a wooded area. Unbeknownst to my friend and me until we arrived, food hadn't been packed...other than gallon-sized jugs of milk and multiple cans of sardines for the “games” which were to ensue later that evening.
Upon our arrival, my friend was sent on an urgent mission to find the nearest store selling food. After driving many miles, she stumbled on a gas station and bought out their entire stock of hot dogs, buns, and soda. At least the kids won't starve tonight, I thought. Little did I know that hours later they'd actually be barfing up the dinner my friend had secured for them...and we'd be stuck mopping up the mess.
You see, the “games” included a contest to see which kid could stuff the most sardines into his or her mouth at one time, followed by a game guaranteed to induce vomiting. Apparently, it's physically impossible to drink an entire gallon of milk in under an hour without upchucking. But that was the challenge put forth...and many kids accepted it. You can imagine the scene.
The scene continued into the wee hours of the morning, the girls in our cabin violently ill. Frantically searching for cleaning supplies, my friend and I were relieved to discover the doors to the cafeteria were unlocked. We nabbed sponges, mops, and family-sized cans of disinfectant.
Scrubbing toilets and floors until the break of dawn I could handle, if it meant sometime during that retreat those kids would hear the message of salvation. But that message never came. Instead, the youth pastor spoke vaguely of God's love. Nothing about sin, separation from God, and need for a Savior.
A few weeks after the retreat, I gained some insight into the young youth pastor's theology. You see, he struggled with the concept that a loving God would actually send people to hell…especially people who may never have heard the gospel. “What about those primitive tribal people living on remote islands?” he asked me. “How will they hear about Jesus if no one ever visits them?”
I understood his struggle—reaching every person with the gospel seems logistically impossible.
But because I worked for Christian Aid, my mind immediately jumped to Matthew 24:14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
See? The end won't come until all nations have heard!
But...what about in the meantime? The end might still be a long way off. What about secluded tribes of people that no one even knows about?
Part of what I've learned while working at Christian Aid is that God has some very creative ways of reaching people. And He's not limited like we humans are. In fact, a movie was made a few years ago in response to the many reports of Muslims being introduced to Jesus when He visited them in their dreams.
Last week, a visiting native missionary from India told us a story about the Malto tribe—a completely unreached, mostly Hindu, group of people living in a remote region near the border of Bangladesh.
One night, their chief had a rather unusual dream. A man in a white robe held out his hands, revealing nail scars, while repeating the phrase “come to me.”
The chief was confused. Who was that man?
Weeks later, a group of believers happened to be passing through the area. The projector and gospel film they carried was intended for a different people group. Yet they decided to stop that evening and play it for the Malto people. Everyone gathered to watch it, even though it wasn’t in their language.
Toward the end of the film, during the resurrection scene, Jesus is depicted in a white robe holding out his hands.
The chief stood up. The man from his dream!
What an odd series of events…which has led to the baptism of 40,000 Malto people.
More people than we know may have heard the gospel.
The visiting Indian missionary told us a little bit about anti-conversion laws. Though freedom of religion is written into India's constitution, state governments have the power to implement anti-conversion laws that require a pastor to report a conversion to the officials. “We've learned, however, that these officials typically notify a group of Hindu radicals who will take care of [read: beat up] a new convert,” he told us. Hence, many conversions to Christianity are not reported.
So our statistics might be wrong...in a good way. There's no way to know for sure who's been or is being reached even this very second.
Those remote people groups tucked away in the jungles? I think God's got it covered.
And in the end, we'll join the others around His throne to proclaim “Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!...For all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3-4