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Mission: Possible 3

Trip Report: Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

“Give us each day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3)

Imagine traveling halfway around the world, unclear about exactly where you were going, unable to speak the language of the place you were visiting, and having to make arrangements for the trip as it unfolded.

People would think you were crazy. Or, as Proverbs 3:5 declares, trusting in the Lord with all your heart and leaning not on your own understanding.

One man’s crazy is another man’s faith.

A new friend mending a prayer flag in the mountain valley our team called home.

Mission: Possible 3 was a Proverbs 3:5 type of Evangelic Expedition. A team of five (three Canadians and two Americans) left North America bound for Asia with an idea about what God had in store (a goal of delivering “gifts” that would introduce an unreached people to Jesus Christ), but not sure at all how this would happen.

By the grace of God great things were done for the kingdom of heaven. At least 200 people heard the name of Jesus in mountain valleys (elevation 13,000 to 15,000 feet) where His name had never been uttered. Seeds were planted on fertile soil with the prayer that it will come up, grow and produce a crop, multiplying 30, 60, or even 100 times (Mark 4:8).

God provided everything to make this happen. He placed people in the path of this team to help when it was needed most.

‘I have no religion’

Call her Catherine. She was the daughter of the hotel owners where the team was dropped after a 14-hour drive across a province devastated by a natural disaster. The team, jet-lagged from 32 hours of air travel, had slept fitfully for a few hours before packing like sardines into an SUV with all of its gear. Then the team members unloaded in a town of 30,000 non-English-speaking people.

And God sent Catherine into the hotel lobby, able to speak enough English to communicate with the team. Not only did she help them get into their rooms, she offered to serve as a guide the next day (a day of rest, acclimatization, and education). She also helped the team arrange a driver to get to the end of the road, where the trek and the real mission would begin.

To thank her, team members were able to share with her their faith. She told them, “I have no religion.” But she listened to them talk about Jesus and heard their prayers.

Vulture wranglers (three men standing at center) hold back vultures as a monk (far left) finishes disassembling a body for the birds' feeding.

The education of this team included a rare (for Westerners) opportunity to witness a sky burial, where Buddhist monks dismember the bodies of the dead and feed them to an enormous flock of vultures. The desecration, known as “jhator” (“giving alms to the birds”), is considered an act of generosity in which the dead (whom Buddhists believe will be reborn in another form and don’t need that body any more) provide food to sustain other living beings (vultures).

It was a disturbing ceremony to watch. Especially when the body of a child and then the body of a baby were among those disassembled and fed to the birds.

Some team members had nightmares for several nights after the sky burial. But it also served as inspiration to deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Parable of the Growing Seed

In the Book of Mark, Jesus tells us, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

The ministry that the team was partnering with on this Evangelic Expedition asked for prayer — before, during, and after. The goal of this and future missions was and is to plant churches in the mountain valleys where our team was sent.

Two solid candidates were identified: a crippled monk and a man of peace. The two men live in different valleys, and both were clearly interested in learning more about Jesus. They were labeled “seekers.”

The first meeting with 'the crippled monk,' who came — prayer wheel in hand — to our team's camp from his tent across the river to ask for healing.

The crippled monk was the first person to come to our team. He showed up in camp while tents were still being put up, asking immediately for healing for his lame right side. It started a six-day relationship that was, at first, a spiritual battle — as evident as the thin air the team members were breathing — and later became a friendship. Team members were welcomed into the monk’s tent to drink tea and eat dinner with his family. There was an affection felt for one another, a closeness that made leaving all the more difficult.

The man of peace also befriended team members and invited them to visit his valley. He took them from tent to tent, introducing them as his friends and allowing them to play an MP3 player that told — in 45 minutes in the peoples’ native tongue — the Bible from creation to end times (Genesis to Revelation).

These and several other people were moved by the Holy Spirit to seek out our team and try to find out what it was that the visitors had to offer. The team brought more than physical “gifts”; it offered The Gift.

God was here

“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:15b)

One team member didn’t realize until arriving in-country that they would be working without a translator. This did not deter anyone from sharing Jesus.

When asked what God taught them through this trip, a team member said: “How to communicate to those from a different culture.” That team member added that he “saw God’s presence more than ever before.”

Without the Lord’s presence nothing would have been accomplished. The team would have wandered aimlessly in a remote wilderness, if it even reached its destination in the first place. Too many things had to fall into place for this mission to be accomplished.

“With man this is impossible,” Jesus told us in Mark 10:27, “but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

God took our team where other missionaries had not gone, and He made it clear that we must go again. There will be more people to reach with the message of salvation and, as the Spirit works, new believers to disciple. The team returned halfway around the world confident that the Word has been received and will be accepted. They trust in the Lord with all their hearts.

Posted July 27, 2009

The Word

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
– Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)


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