December 06, 2013

Winning the World to Christ - in America

By Joan Hutter

Have you noticed? The whole world is coming to America.

I stand poolside as my son races; a man wearing a turban keeps time right beside me. I have seen the way his boy wraps his head before he pulls on a swim cap.

The nations gather right here in America. Right here within a few feet in one room.

“Where are you from?” I ask as the whistle blows. We click our stopwatches and breathe the dense, chlorine air.

With a heavy accent he says, “Northern India.” He is named after the “god of rain.”

On the bleachers a mother-of-two cheers for her son as he swims freestyle in the next heat. He presses ahead of his competitors and wins this. I had talked with her earlier and asked, “Where are you from?” because her accent is similar to my friend from Turkey and I tell her so.

“Republic of Georgia,” she says. “We are neighbors, bordering Turkey.”

My son stops by his favorite coach. “How did I do?” he asks the Olympic medalist from Russia, whose name I still have trouble pronouncing, what with its three consonants at the beginning. In her thick, rolling accent she tells him what he could do better and pats him on the head.

The nations gather right here in America. Right here within a few feet in one room.

I pray and ponder. Are their “tribes” reached? How about their hearts?

And notice the city. Any city.

A woman veiled in a hijab pushes her shopping cart. Where is she from? An African tucks the hem of her multi-colored kaftan and dashes across an intersection. A woman robed in a golden Indian sari steps out of her car. A Nicaraguan girl diligently clears the table at the restaurant we visit. A beautiful Tibetan lady cuts my son´s hair.

What is her faith?

Dozens of Asian students fill my children´s classes. My friends adopt Ethiopians and Ugandans. Nine Mexicans climb out of a long van to buy onions, peppers, beans, tortillas, cheese and beef at Food Lion. Some wear shimmering crosses around their necks.

And here I am at a mission base which helps indigenous ministries in foreign lands. Rosa from Peru walks down the hall and waves. Sarla from Nepal beams across the room at staff meeting after we close our hymnals. Dorothy from China heats her dumplings at the microwave. Ivy from the Philippines asks for prayer for her family and homeland following a massive storm. Raul from Argentina describes what it felt like to receive a computer when he was ministering among his own people. Now he raises support for them. His wife, Monica, translates.

These are just the staff. Visitors from Albania, Burma, Nigeria, Syria, Singapore, and Ukraine stop in and report God´s work among the nations, specifically the unreached.

Christian Aid was founded on the vision of winning international students to the Lord so that, when they returned to their own nations, they would bring a witness for Christ. Many international students have done just that, and Overseas Student Ministry (OSM), a companion ministry, is going strong ministering to those who may take the gospel to unreached tribes in their homelands.

But look around us right now. The world is all around us, daily drawing closer. Who knows which ones are marked for taking the gospel message back to their nations? Who knows how many tribes and tongues are here?

The Lord knows. And He can reach them through us while they are here.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

I heard a Nigerian missionary once say, “People should know you are a Christian within five minutes.” We carry the aroma of Christ. It is different from every other religious belief and non-belief.

If God is bringing so many to this land, may we be filled with the fragrance of praise – that the nations may know Him. Surely some will return to their native soil to reach unreached souls.

It is the fragrance of life. And I like to think of Mary, who broke open her alabaster jar and poured out precious, costly perfume onto the feet of our Lord Jesus. She wasted it all for love and thanksgiving. I like to think that after that moment of adoration she came away smelling like her Lord. The scripture says the “house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3)

Are we spreading everywhere the aroma of Christ? Will the Hindu man in lane five at the swim meet, or the veiled Muslim woman checking out at Whole Foods, or the Korean student pushing the grocery carts back inside . . . notice the difference of this one life?

We don´t have to go so far, do we? The Lord told his disciples, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35)

Indigenous missionaries across the globe do this where they live. They fix their eyes on the Lord and His harvest. They sow in tears and reap with joy. (Psalm 126:5)

If God is bringing so many to this land, may we be filled with the fragrance of praise – that the nations may know Him. Surely some will return to their native soil to reach unreached souls.

Souls like those in the former communist areas who never heard of God because their government blotted out the thought of Him. Like those living on the mountains of Peru who would never hear if it weren´t for an indigenous missionary willing to climb a mountain and tell them. Like those young girls being rescued from brothels because they were sold to put bread on the table—but ended up losing much, much more—to suit the pleasures of men.

Souls like the children coming in from their dirt-street beds and finding a pillow and blanket in the home of a believer in India. Like Syrian refugees turning to the Lord Jesus because a Christian gave them food, water and kindness in their desperation. Like prisoners hearing the gospel in a closed land—because a man sold out for Christ would not deny his Lord when the moment came to choose. Now jailed with criminals, he preaches the Word, and many, upon their release, will take the gospel to their villages.

These scenes happen daily across the earth. When we look into the faces of the nations—those standing and shopping and driving beside us—we can see their people groups abroad. We can pray for them and serve them in love, not knowing the moment the Lord will open their eyes to His mercy, salvation and Lordship.

We can be that heavenly fragrance.

Barbara - posted March 07, 2014
WRITE ON Joan! :)
Dottie- posted December 09, 2013
Beautifully written. Thank you!