In two days we will be flying to the other side of the country to visit the village where we will eventually live. We’ll stay for 3 weeks over the holidays and hope to gain a real sense of what life is like there, meet many of our neighbors, and join in with what everyone else is doing on the team. The trek out is no little deal. We fly 30 minutes to east Narnia, followed by a 4 hour very winding-road drive with a friend in his truck. We will stay the night at a friend’s place and leave out early the next morning. We will again drive another 4 hours, get out of the truck and walk 6 hours up the trail to reach our destination. Ralph Winter described our neighbor as hidden peoples and that sure has a certain ring to it as we set out this weekend.

The idea that we are on a team and need a team to do what the Lord has asked, live how the Lord has asked is something fresh on my heart. All along the trail we will have people taking very good care of us, using all the safety precautions imaginable, (perhaps most exciting) creating a new, fresh bond with one another as we see each other at their best and worst. Villagers will be going back and forth up the trail to meet us, helping us carry our bags, and giving the most amazing Narnian welcome you’ve ever seen. This too has a certain ring to it when I think of Jesus coming to this earth and embodying what it means to live among us and show hospitality like no other.

The sort of work we are engaged in is labeled “pioneer, frontier missions” in most books and we certainly have identified this area as a zero zone. No believers, no churches, no missionaries. Part of this can get thrown into a category that is so other, so different from traditional mission work or ministry in general. (All of which is hard to believe when understanding this is the very nature of the mission of Jesus, but it could seem like such to some). However, we still have a very vivid image of the teams hand in a pile cheering us on and our hearts are screaming for each other to make Jesus known in this small village of Narnia. That sort of team is one anyone would want to be a part of. I’m thankful that we can take the language we’ve been learning and be thrown into the jungle where all of our hard work really matters.

I see so much coming to a head with this trip and our eventual move out. Our desire to have children is now merged with our equally strong desire to raise such a child in a place where the light of Jesus can be seen the brightest. In God’s great grace and sovereignty, He delayed child-raising plan so it would be perfectly merged with raising a villager with villager friends, speaking another language, and learning to live quite differently than he or she would have if giving us a child 10 years ago. Another aspect coming to a head is my increasing comfort and acceptance of blindness and all the training that has gone along with it. Most of you know I attended a 7 month long training program in the US where I learned to navigate anywhere under a blindfold, learned braille, and how to operate a talking computer. Though I was in that program for 7 months, the acceptance and other skills have been going on for years. That too has come to a head. Overcoming adversity is such a load of garbage. We don’t really overcome it. In fact, adversity probably is the reason Janessa and I am walking up the mountain in a couple days, looking to make it our home for a long time. All that to say, God really does order our steps and that ain’t church foyer talk.

We’ll be off the grid for the next several weeks and we would appreciate all the prayers we could get over the next several weeks. All the language lessons, walks under the blindfold, emotional rollercoaster rides, the joy of raising our kid in the village. .. This is it. We aren’t naïve. Life in the village will be just as difficult, if not more difficult than the journey that got us to this place. Adversity doesn’t go away. We thrive in the midst of it as God’s power becomes perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9) How beautiful is the upside-down nature of this glorious Kingdom?

Our team has a blind guy, another guy who has serious vision loss and an extremely difficult time walking up the mountain due to balance issues, some white folks that don’t do too well speaking Narnianese. . . . Thrown in with a whole lot of other natural limitations. There is no way the kingdom of this world would have selected this motley crew . In God’s Kingdom though, down is up and we charge ahead.

And it is that Kingdom that was inaugurated in the most humble, unimaginable way 2000 years ago. An angel comes to Mary, a savior is born. The God of this universe becomes a baby emptying himself of power and riches. A poor family gathered in a barn and eventually ran away as refugees for years to follow. But the story didn’t end with defeat or human frailty. Interestingly, servanthood and vulnerability drove God’s Kingdom and continues to do so. . . .But that Kingdom was climaxed in this baby now a man defeating sin and death, giving all new life. Again, it is with this authority and Kingdom-ness that we go up the mountain this weekend. Our weakness is His strength. Death and gloom in east Narnia continues to be introduced to the light of God. Merry Christmas ya’ll.

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