Ordinary Christians are called to do extraordinary things--within a generation after Jesus' return to His Father, his followers had spread from Britain to India with the Good News . There are still Christians in both of those places--our own Pastor Paul spent several weeks in India recently demonstrating his JumpStart discipleship series, invited by Indian pastors. The other day, I was visiting with a cousin who had been born in China to a missionary family, and she told me about a book written by a British missionary in Tibet in 1950 who had been taken prisoner by the invading Communist Chinese, at the same time that her father, then in West China, was also imprisoned in China. I said I think I had read it; a niece had sent me a similar book several years ago. I discovered that the two books were by different Britons who had been in Tibet at the same time and both spent several years in Chinese prisons, and at least one of them had been in the same prison as my uncle for a time. Right now I'm reading both books at the same time, in some sort of chronological order. The missionary, who had gone to Tibet in response to a felt calling there without any backing or support, found God giving him the strength to endure and be blessed in extremely difficult circumstances. The other man had gone to Tibet as a radio operator hired by the Tibetan government. He did stand up for his faith as a Christian, but did not actively preach. He did, however, recognize in the attempted "education" sessions in the prison, my uncle's stubborn faith and his acceptance of beatings for his faithful prayers. It is also amazing that after 40+ years of attempts to eradicate religion, when China opened up a few years ago, there emerged millions of Christians that had been growing underground.
We've been blessed in the past few weeks to have visits from two families, both of whom had been active at NCF when they were in the local area with Mission Aviation Fellowship and Campus Crusade. The MAF family had spent time in Africa responding to needs for transport and supplies by local Christians and missionaries, and the Crusade family has been in Asia, teaching and befriending people who had no knowledge of the Gospel. In both cases, God has done amazing things through them, and our support has been a part of that. These are ordinary people who were called and empowered to do amazing things through faith.
At a cell church conference in Waco in 2009, there were pastors from Asia, Africa, Latin America as well as the US. Most of the pastors from areas that had been significantly impacted by Christian missionaries from the US and Europe expressed their gratitude for these missionaries, and recognize the good that this witness is still having in their home countries. I occasionally read comments by people who criticize missionaries for messing with other cultures, but hearing firsthand of the traditions of idolatry and fear that they are still facing, it has been worth the effort. There are also stories of elements in some farflung cultures that are steppingstones to the Good News.
Most of us have been called to San Bernardino, or places closer to home. I certainly did not plan to move here; God transplanted me here and has been growing me here. God has a place for each of us; our challenge is to recognize it and see what He is calling us to do where He has put us.