I am finally back in the States! It was such an awesome journey to East Asia and I wanted to take some time to tell you a couple of stories. There are so many I could tell, but I’m going to stick with the ones that impacted me the most.
Going to East Asia was like going home again. When I went to Japan last year I fell in love with Asia and going back just gave me tons of experience to fall back on when things got tough. Seeing all of the familiar sights and experiencing a similar culture was amazing. The city we stayed in was beautiful although very different from Japan. We spent a few days in the city getting adjusted before the real work in the village would begin. Our primary task for being in this rural village was prayer. We would be going to the houses and farms of many different villagers to help our fieldworker establish his business. The business will someday soon provide our fieldworker with unlimited access to the village and more opportunities to share the love of Jesus. Since almost all of the farmers in the Village in the Sky have walnut trees, we went around to a few different farms and tagged their trees with metal tags and attached GPS coordinates to them in order to usher in new ways of producing high-quality walnuts. While a big group of our team of 10 went to the farms to tag trees, there was a smaller media team that would talk to the farmers and take pictures. I had the opportunity to lead the media team, and our purpose was to produce media packages that would serve to populate our fieldworker’s business website with information. It was such a cool opportunity and an incredible way to get to know the people! But even more than that, it was something God used to open my eyes, giving more ways to pray for people who have never had ANYONE pray for them before.
Two stories stand out more than the rest so I will tell those…
Going into this trip I had one very specific request: that God would break His silence and talk to me, give me some kind of direction. I was hopeful and confident He would answer. I did the same thing when I went to Japan last year and He delivered in the clearest way. Well after about a week in East Asia I got tired of waiting. After praying and praying for everything and everyone I saw, God was still silent. I didn’t understand it. But my team’s leader came to me and reminded me that God will speak when we earnestly seek Him. She recommended I take some time the next morning to wholeheartedly petition God and read Proverbs 1-8. So that’s what I did. I was completely expecting for the anxiety over His silence to go away, I was desperately hoping He would break His silence. But I realized I didn’t have to hear His voice right then and there with my Bible open on my lap. I just needed to be willing to listen and look for Him in the things going on around me. So I didn’t feel great and restored after I read Proverbs and prayed for a while, but I did have the reminder that God speaks through His word so I kept thinking about all of the verses I read. All of this happened on Saturday morning.
By the time Monday rolled around, we were back in the village after spending the weekend in the city—with running water and regular bathrooms! When we got back to the village, our fieldworker had a meeting with us. He reminded us of just how powerful prayer really is. Think about it this way: In the United States, where we have everything we need—family, friends, jobs, church, etc.—we don’t spend all that much time asking for THE IMPOSSIBLE to happen. But in the village, and in all of East Asia, they don’t have the one thing that matters most—a relationship with Jesus. Our fieldworker then informed us that the uncle of the man whose house we were staying in was demon possessed, bed-ridden and near the end of his life. He has no way of hearing the Gospel shared with him, but he still needs people praying for him, believing that God will miraculously save him.
After we found out about this man, we broke away from the group and we each went off to find a place of solitude to pray for a little while. The village was over 6,000 feet in the air and mountains were surrounding us. If things were quiet enough you could actually hear the wind coming down the mountain and going through the canyon. Up high on that mountain, by myself, God reminded me of something. Here’s a little background: when I was a young teenager, my favorite thing to do in the world was stand on my parents’ balcony to watch the sunset. It was always the most peaceful thing and you would think that I always took advantage of the peace and quiet to pray. That was rarely the case. I always viewed the balcony as a place I could go to just breathe and reflect on who God is; I never focused on talking to Him, we simply watched the sunset together. As I got older, I lost the ability to stay silent while sitting with God.
Sitting up on the mountain, completely alone with nothing but the wind blowing around me, reminded me that God never leaves. SERIOUSLY! God never once left me even when He was silent! I just forgot what it was like to make an effort to look for Him. He made it so easy, though. His Spirit was everywhere I looked—the wind, the beautiful mountains, the blue sky, the clouds that blocked the sun, the sunrise and sunset. It was a reminder that sustained me for the rest of the trip.
The other story I want to tell you is one of heartbreak for other people. One thing I’ve learned in the last year is that traveling overseas to share the love of Jesus and immersing yourself in someone else’s culture makes you realize how broken the world is, how needy everyone is for the love of Jesus. But when you realize the amount of roadblocks the enemy puts up to keep people in darkness, it breaks your heart. Suddenly even the most innocent children are guilty in the eyes of God. I thought that after I got back from Japan last year that my heart couldn’t possibly break anymore for lost people than it already had. But it broke more in East Asia.
During our first week in the village, we got to walk up the hill to visit the school. It was a boarding school that housed hundreds of students. It was a huge blessing to play with them and learn from them! To see the smiles on their faces despite what we perceived to be really tough living conditions was an uplifting experience because they honestly had no clue what was going on in the bigger world outside of their village. How crazy to think! We each had groups of children that would flock around us, wanting to get closer to the people who looked nothing like them. Some of the guys on my team came away with ripped and stretched shirts because the younger boys were literally hanging on them and playing! But later the next day we all realized something: these children don’t know who Jesus is. In the eyes of God, anyone who doesn’t believe in Him is guilty and needs forgiveness. These children have no way of knowing Jesus because no one can share His love in their language! But this is where the power of prayer comes in. We all prayed over the school and the children multiple times, and some even went ahead and shared the story of creation with a group of children even though the children had NO IDEA what was being said! We had no choice but to act on faith and put all of our confidence in God to answer the impossible prayers we were laying before Him—prayers that the children would be saved! For the rest of the trip, even when we were sad at realizing just how dark the land around us was, we prayed with confidence!
Every time we get outside of ourselves and outside of our comfort zones, God opens eyes. The biggest thing that happened to me is that I learned how to ask for the IMPOSSIBLE and BELIEVE that God would DELIVER. It takes faith to step off of a plane in an unknown land and commit to pray for a people who can’t even communicate—their language is only oral! But when we step out and put all of our faith in Him, God never lets us down! And the biggest reminder of this can come on a simple gust of wind traveling through a vast canyon!
God is so faithful, even when we continually mess things up for ourselves and others. The greatest gift is His forgiveness and God reminded me of this so many times by reminding me that I was once a sinner yet He still listens to me when I call out to Him! Never has He ever turned His back on me! I went into East Asia with a prayer: to receive direction and hear His voice. I came away with the knowledge that He has always been there even in silence, and I already have the direction for my next steps! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I pray you will be encouraged and know that your gift of support was used in a big way in my life! THANK YOU!