Written by a Cafe 1040 Student
Two weeks ago we spent time in a Muslim village hundreds of miles away from where we are living. We have taken a few excursions thus far, but this was the first one to the countryside. There was a small city nearby that provided some of the needs of the villages in the remote mountains. For instance, if a family needed something specific, they could make the long trek to the city. But for the most part, these villages lived and operated on their own. They owned their own sheep, goats, cows and chickens. They grew their own fruits, vegetables, and spices. Quite honestly, they had little need for anything; they were completely content with the basic necessities of life and not much more.
One of the main reasons for going was to experience missions in a completely different sense. If you were to divide the world into people groups (groups of people sharing common linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious attributes), then the majority of people groups in North Africa are UPGs, meaning they do not have adequate resources (churches, pastors, Bibles, Bible schools, etc.) to evangelize their own people.
In other words, outside work is required to see Christians multiply. This people group we visited was an unengaged UPG or UUPG, meaning that not only were they not reached by the gospel, but no one is currently working towards reaching these people. There is no worker or plan in place to introduce them to a relationship with the Jesus.
With all of that in mind, living there took on a whole new meaning. Walking through the mountains and hiking to our home for the week had much more weight to it. I remember the surrealism of laying my head down to sleep the second night. We had hiked 12 miles that day with our packs to get to the family that was so gracious to welcome us into their home. They fed us and took care of us for the next two days. My teammate and I decided that we wanted to sleep on the roof that night under the stars. We were exhausted from a long day of hiking and had just laid our sleeping bags down on the concrete roof when we saw the beauty of God’s creation twinkling before us. Yet even with all of that, we struggled to fall asleep with the idea that hundreds of families all throughout that same valley had no access to a Bible in their language, a church in their community, or a local Christian who could share this good news with them.
We struggled with the idea of how a missionary might even find his or her way to this place. What would they bring to the table of a practically self-sufficient village that would give them validity to stay in a place where it is illegal to be a missionary, “to shake the faith of a Muslim”? So many questions raced through our heads over the next hour as we shared our thoughts with one another.
It’s one thing to read online thousands of statistics about people across the world. It’s another thing to look that person in the eye as they hand you a meal they have been slaving over for the past three hours. It’s heartbreaking. It’s overwhelming. It’s unbearable. What am I to do in a situation like that? How can I make an eternal difference in three days?
All the while we simply had to bring ourselves back to the simple truths of the gospel. We are not the ones doing the work; the Holy Spirit within us is. We are not in charge of changing hearts; Jesus is. As we looked up into the enormous night sky full of brilliant stars, we were assured that our big, big Father had not bit off more than he could chew. The task was great, no doubt. But we serve a God who is more than capable. Plain and simple. We have hope because of who He is. That’s all I need.