A blog. I have wanted to do a blog for a long time and here is my opportunity. The country I serve is a forgotten place. That may come as a surprise. As you read this, you may say, “I hear about that place all the time. Don’t they just about own America and aren’t they next in line to rule the world?” That’s the rumor spread by the media. They’ve got to sell space and that’s a sure fire way to do it. “If it bleeds, it leads!” It’s a lot easier to sell stories that proclaim the sky is falling. Things are certainly rosier for most of the population here but “rosier” is a long way from rainbow stew and free Bubble Up! This country has overcome massive hurdles since WW II. Even now, everywhere I turn, they are in the midst of major development. Yet, like any developing nation, there are many more hurdles that must be cleared. Among those is the problem of religion. For three generations, religion of any persuasion has been forced into a single bin marked “Untenable Superstition.” Pursuing any religion has been difficult. Certainly, there has been very little value in doing so. If fact, not so long ago, the pursuit of faith could end very abruptly and finally.
In the decade that I have been here and the two decades that I have been associated with this country, much has changed politically, economically and spiritually. My first trip across the border in 1991 was to a major city. Of that city, very little remains today. Great districts of what amounted to turn of the century colonial architecture are gone and replaced by sky scrapers of concrete and gleaming glass. The two lanes of bicycle traffic so heavy they required traffic control officers have been replaced by multilaned roads and modern auto gridlock. When I visit today, it’s almost impossible to believe that it is the same place. Only the area around the railroad station, a few scattered blocks and the familiar form of what had been a tumble down temple (now preserved and made pristine for the tourists)is left to confirm that it is indeed the same city. Even as the focus of the nation has turned toward economic development, there has also been a loosing of the restraints on religion. The result? A spiritual awakening is taking place.
I said at the outset that this nation is a forgotten place. Though it occupies the news and may even sit as a threat in the back of our minds, what is forgotten is the body of would be believers that every day grows by leaps and bounds. No one knows the number of people that have made professions of faith but the percentage the government bandies about puts the number at more than 130 million that would be our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a body of confessors that long ago outstripped its trained leadership. Why not say a body of believers? It is difficult to say what the people believe about who is Christ and who they are in Christ. They are so poorly prepared with the word of God that many have simply pulled Buddha off the shelf and replaced him with Jesus. “Well, if Jesus will make me prosperous and happy then we’ll stick with Jesus.” After a while, when it’s clear that the promises of prosperity and happiness are hollow, many people simply replace their Jesus idol with one more familiar and acceptable to the community.
In addition to Buddhism, there are ancestral religions and Christian cults that pull the undiscipled from their profession of faith. Every whacky cult from the West is here. We have met Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness and prosperity preachers of every ilk from a half dozen different nations. As dangerous and nasty as anything are the domestic cults. “Jesus is back! She was born here in 1981 and she’s coming to your town soon. Throw away your Bibles. You don’t need them. She has a new gospel!” Since Jesus is back, there is no more sin. This may be why kidnapping and mind control are perfectly acceptable evangelism tools for this group. With so much wackiness in the mix, is it any wonder that publications can find new stories and pictures of “Christian” churches being bulldozed and leaders arrested? A lot of those places need to be closed. They are dangerous to the community and everyone involved.
What is forgotten about this church of 130 million? We have forgotten to make disciples. We have forgotten the commandment of Christ to go and make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey the commandments that Jesus taught His disciples. In short, we have forgotten to send disciples to make disciples. The door is opening, has been open, for the disciples of Christ to be in this place. We ought to be standing 10 deep to get into this country. We ought to be occupying every teaching position and every student berth available in this country. We ought to be here, living as disciples and making disciples. The field is white for the harvest but the workers are few.
What do I want you to glean from this blog? What result to I want to see? I want every man, woman and child that reads this to pray. I want them to encourage others to pray. That’s it. Just pray. Go boldly before the throne of God and ask Him what you should do about the more than hundreds of millions that have professed a desire to know Christ. Most of them find themselves as lost as the Ethiopian eunuch with no one to explain the one he is reading about. Are you sent? Are you a sender? Only God can reveal to you what season of life you occupy. No matter what season of life it is, please remember the people of this nation. Lift up those that have made professions of faith. Lift up those that have not. Lift up those that serve in this place and those yet to come. You may be sending or sent someplace else but please don’t forget to carry this nation to the throne of God. Keep your eye on this blog. I’ll try and keep you informed about how we are seeking to carry out the great commandment in this place.
In the vine, Tim and the crew