MISSIONARY SURVIVAL GUIDE #16: GO DEEPER

deep_calls_to_deep_by_lillian1208-d2zyd0y“Come near to God and he will come near to you….”                                                  – James, brother of Jesus.  James 4:8

After only six years overseas engaging others with the word of God, I’ve noticed something peculiar.  A great many souls in the mission fields seem to be more interested in scriptures that some of us Christians back home tend to overlook.  Whether in the bible study or out chatting in the markets, the curiosity often fails to hide itself and deep questions come spilling out.  They want to understand Genesis, to uncover the chronicles of Israel’s genealogies, to mine the depths of the Apostles’ letters for some gleaming nugget of Christ’s nature.  This can be equal parts refreshing and intimidating, as we may not be as well versed in these areas of the bible.  My mind drifts back to the early days, at home in the states, where scriptures abound on car bumpers and billboards but of a different theme.  Hurt, poverty, fear; these wise words address more domestic needs, and thank the Lord for them because they are definitely a blessing.

"The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer" by Jean-Leon Gerome.  1883

“The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer” by Jean-Leon Gerome. 1883

Yet, the yearnings of our brothers and sisters abroad cannot be ignored either.  Yes, as fellow human beings they have the same needs as us, but perhaps they realize that if they are going to accept Christ, the Son of the Living God, as their answer, their shield for life’s struggles, then they’d best be certain He is all that we say He is.  In short, these people are interested in the reality, the factual existence of our God.  If you grew up in a primarily Christian influenced country, this may not be an issue, many of us even take it for granted, which can lead to a lukewarm attitude towards our Creator.  However, here in Japan, for example, accepting Christ can cost you not only your family but your racial identity.  Those in the mission fields sometimes live in cultures that maintain a strong link between race and religion, and so new Christians understandably want to be sure that this God you’re preaching is really the One who sits above the entire earth, over every nation, tribe and tongue.

Noah and his family offering a sacrifice to God after exiting the Ark.   "Noah's Sacrifice"- James Tissot, 1896-1902

Noah and his family offering a sacrifice to God after exiting the Ark.
“Noah’s Sacrifice”- James Tissot, 1896-1902

So, let’s get to know the parts of the bible that we may have glanced over back home on Christian street.  Lets study Genesis and realize that foreign bible students want to know how every human being is actually related, the children of Adam and Eve, the nations themselves descendants of Noah’s sons; Ham, Shem and Japheth.  Others may want to delve into Acts, Luke the physician’s sequel to his gospel about Jesus, written in great detail with the stated purpose of being autobiographical.  Colossians, one of my favorites, delves into the metaphysical nature of Jesus Christ as the face of the unseen God, a book that may come in handy when discussing what exactly His death and resurrection means for sin’s defeat.  Take the plunge and go deeper, because that is where we ultimately started paddling when we became missionaries.  The deep is indeed the unknown but it doesn’t have to be scary.  We may just find that the Lord is waiting there with a great harvest.

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