A year ago as I moved my family into the cultural center of the Sungai tribe in southeast Asia, I remember looking around and feeling awed and overwhelmed at the dominance of Islam in this region. I saw huge mosques, little mosques, training centers, and devout Muslims all over. I wondered why God was sending this weak little Anabaptist Christian family into the middle of such a visibly powerful empire of Islamic tradition and presence. I formed these wonderings into a prayer and asked my Heavenly Father about it. I soon heard the gentle reply from the Holy Spirit of God. “That is what you can see. But I said, ‘The fields are white unto harvest.’” I was reminded that we walk by faith and not by sight.
So we moved in right across from a very loud mosque and concentrated on living: washing clothes, cooking food, practicing language, meeting neighbors. Using the unique gifts that God has given our family (namely a swing, some tools and toys, 5 children who play, a mama who keeps house, a daddy who likes to keep bees and chat about agricultural possibilities), we began to develop a handful of deep and meaningful friendships. It seems like all the important things that happen here happen in context of relationship, and all relationships for me happen in the context of real everyday life.
One of my best friends here is a young man we will call Hans. Soon after we moved here he would come over to watch me working on a beehive or to play with our children. Hans is fluent in three languages: the national language, the tribal language, and the international language English. We spent many hours together playing with bees, going on family outings, shopping, learning to drive, and just hanging out. I have enjoyed teaching Hans many practical life skills that his father never taught him. While we are together being friends, we talk. We talk about dating, working, family, language, religion, motorcycles, etc. I have had many many opportunities to speak the Word of God into Hans’s life. I and my team mates have spent many hours in prayer for Hans that God would open his heart to receive Jesus as his Lord.
Recently a local Christian friend of mine invited Hans to follow Jesus. This has been a huge and difficult decision for Hans. He knows that this could mean separation from his family. He has been searching diligently for the truth. He has been studying about the life of Mohammed and comparing it with the life of Jesus. He has finally concluded that Mohammed is not the example he wants to follow. He says Jesus is better. He says Jesus is worth following. As I watch God changing Hans from someone who fights and curses to someone loves his enemies, I realize God was right when he said, “the fields are white unto harvest.”
Please pray for our team as we continue to live and work among the Sungai people. A large people group like this doesn’t turn from darkness to light overnight. But they can and do turn slowly, as they see the light and hear the truth.
Meet the Sungai team Tuesday evening! Email [email protected] for information about watching this live update, Nov. 17, 7:00 pm EST.