If you want to see the Lord actively at work in the hearts and lives of people created in His image, then look no further than South Asia. In preparation for what the Lord might do during our time in South Asia, our team, led by Larry and Carolyn Freshour, committed to praying that the Lord would prepare the hearts and minds of people that we would interact with there. In doing so, we were acknowledging that we cannot change peoples’ lives, but that we have to be fully dependent upon the Spirit. And this became the theme of our 10 days of travel from the very beginning, with a scheduling change causing us all the rush to the airport, hoping to make a flight that was taking off much sooner than we expected. Though our travel plans were virtually thrown out the window, everything happened according to the Lord’s schedule, as he was continuously reminding us of our dependence upon him.
Once we arrived in the city, we had two days of training with some of our missionaries who lived there. In the mornings, they walked us through certain tools for sharing the gospel and for discipleship, while in the afternoons, we went to some of the common religious sites that we might go to in the days ahead to start conversations with people. From day one, we were confronted with the overwhelming lostness in the city. It was a relatively small city for South Asia, with a population of 1 million people consisting of Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. One team member noted, “Lostness hit me hard the first day when we went to a Hindu temple. Surrounded by heavy darkness, almost like a wet blanket covering us. Beautiful people, created by God, but without any knowledge of Him, no hope.” As we were confronted with idolatry and helplessness, we were filled with a conviction that Jesus is indeed the only hope for these people who were lost, like sheep without a shepherd. And we saw Him work greatly amongst the lost in that city.
After our training, we went out with translators—co-laborers for the gospel—for the next three days and tried to talk with anyone and everyone that we could, sharing about the hope they can receive if they believe in Jesus. We had varying responses, and some even came to know Christ as their Lord. However, the one major response that so many of us heard was “I have never heard this story before.” One team member recalls a specific interaction: “My translator and I had a conversation with a Buddhist candle keeper on the topic of peace. We got to share with her about the peace that God offers in Jesus. She asked us why we should pray for her peace rather than our own family’s peace. We explained that we do pray for our families; however, we said that we will pray for her as well because we think the peace that Jesus offers is the most important thing anyone can ever know. She said that every day she sees hundreds of tourists and many Americans, but they just pass by her. No one had ever shared about this peace with her until now.”
The Lord worked mightily in the city during our time there, and He also worked mightily in our hearts as well. It was stories like these that left all of us with a profound sense of thankfulness to the Lord for giving us these opportunities but also reinforced the urgency of the gospel. There are thousands of people exactly like this woman who are passed by every day, never having heard of the peace that Jesus gives through the gospel. And this lostness is not only present in South Asia, but also in Greenville as well. As one team member said, “God revealed to me that idolatry may be more real in South Asia, but we in Greenville still have idols that we worship in our lives.” May we all be compelled by the Holy Spirit to be good neighbors to the community around us, freely giving the most important gift that anyone can ever receive. God’s arm is never too short to save (Isa. 59:1).