Day 4, Addis Ababa Ethiopia. October 20 2015
This is a late letter to tell you about day 4, as I am almost ready to write about day 5!
Yesterday left me at a loss for words last night and I only now able to describe how I feel about yesterday.
We spent the day meeting various groups who are working to engage and reach the unreached people groups in Ethiopia. These people are not only international missionaries from around the world, but also Ethiopians who have a passion for Christ, and they will not stop until all people have been reached with the truth of the gospel.
Have you taken the time to think about God’s unreached people? Your first thought may be that of a remote tribe of African villagers living in tents and huts in a remote part of subsaharan Africa. You may envision the people you have seen on the covers of National Geographic magazine over the years. You may picture the starving children in Ethiopia which became the faces of infomercials raising money through the eighties and nineties for all of the victims of famine in the developing world.
God tells us through the gospel to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15), and ” …therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18).
As I sat in these meetings, listing to the stories of these nationals risking everything to spread the good news of the gospel, I felt like I was truly in the presence of greatness. I am witnessing the beginning of a movement of historic proportions, and I find myself wondering, what have I been doing all this time while so many people in the world around me remain lost? There are truthfully people living on this earth who do not know the truth of Christ and have never had a single living soul bring the gospel to them. Even worse, there are people living in my own country who do not know the gospel. There are people living in my own community who do not know. How can this be?
The more astonishing epiphany is this: there are people living in the world, in America, in our communities, who own a Bible, who go to church, and have never truly known the gospel. They may have never opened their Bible to dig deep and study it, to hear what God tells us through these precious pages. Do you know someone like this? I am deeply convicted when I sit in a room full of people on the other side of the globe, who are dedicating their lives to reach people in the most remote and dangerous places on earth to share the Word, risking their lives in the process, and yet I am living in the free land of America, free to read and study the Bible openly and out loud, and there are so many around me who never do it.
Simply owning a Bible and attending a Sunday service or even a Bible study is just not enough if we are to follow God’s instruction to us in the gospel. Unless we hear the word of God, take it into our heart, and bring it to the unreached – either across the globe or in our own community – we are not enough. We are failing at the great commission. We are a severely distracted nation, with so many idols to worship, sitting in the place where God should be. Failing the great commission leaves a wide open door for our whole life to be spent in a comfortable prison of lies, and even worse, steals our inheritance of God’s eternal kingdom.
You could once say “I didn’t know,” but once you know the love of Christ, the truth of His gospel, and the peace of the Holy Spirit, you can not hold that to yourself. The greatness of it is just too large to restrain the joy that will shine from your face like heavenly love. You will be a believer in Christ, a lover of all nations, a messenger of God’s love.
This is hard stuff – hard for me to write without sounding judgmental or condemning. On the other hand, I am frustrated with myself most of all. I look back at so many missed opportunities and the most important word God has given me so far on this journey is this: I cannot sit back and let my life with God be a passive one. My passion for God has been a burning ember that this week has become a fire, and I am excited to watch how this movement will change lives in the world.
I love you, Heather