I followed the line of four Muslim men into the back of the crowded restaurant. These were men of standing, of influence, so they seated us in a private room in the back of the gold-tiled, smoke-filled restaurant.
Waiters threw down a pan overflowing with skewers of mutton…and sheep kidney. “Kidney is good for your kidneys!” the men proclaimed and laughed hard, eating the whole time. I grinned and tried my best to put on a “happy face” that would make my mom proud.
I hadn’t expected this reception and hadn’t hoped for sheep kidney kabobs, but I came for an old friend.
One of the men at the table was my first language tutor when my family and I moved to East Asia in 2007. He comes from a very unreached Muslim people group and, though I shared the Gospel with him then, he seemed interested mainly in intellectual pursuits.
His educational passion took him around the world, but now at 34 years old he works in a rural university area outside our poor city. It’s bleak, arid and lonely – which is how he felt and why I came.
Timothy* walked close next to me, the cold, dry wind whipping between us. The rest of the men walked ten steps behind us. He looked me in the eye: “My mother died two months ago.”
Tears welled up in his eyes. “I spent almost all my money to pay for her hospital bills.” His mother and father are both dead; his siblings have their own families; he is unmarried.
He feels so very alone.
What can I say to someone like that? I have a few moments with him, and then I leave and return to my home, my wife, my kids…my Jesus! We’re separated by language, culture, economics, religion, and history. What can I say to show him love?
I’m praying in my head as we walk together, “Father! Help me! Help this man! Open His eyes and give Him hope in You Lord Jesus! What can I say, Lord? What can I say?”
I didn’t say much.
That night, he sent me a text thanking me for coming. But it felt so lifeless, so empty to be thanked for coming to eat kidney, for listening, and for aching so much for this hurting soul to find peace in Christ. I want Timothy to know Jesus and His resurrection power. A Living Hope – that’s what Timothy needs.
Doing this work is hard. Days like that just leave me aching for Jesus to come back, to rescue us, to bring us home. It’s a sacrifice on too many levels to list.
But at the end of the day, despite the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice, the helpless, the trial and on and on, I’m still convinced that this is one of the most privileged positions to be in on the planet – to proclaim to those who have never heard that indeed Jesus is risen! It’s among the highest honors given to men to proclaim the glory of King Jesus.
“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” – Romans 10:14-15
Have you thought about joining God’s great plan of taking His glory global? What if you gave one year of your life to preach the Gospel among the unreached? I want to invite you to consider it. Come join us for the Sowers Project – one year bringing the Gospel to people who haven’t heard.
* Name Changed for Security Reasons