Earlier this year, I visited friends who are serving the Lord in very difficult, Muslim contexts in Turkey and Bosnia. As I heard their stories, I was not only in awe of how God changed the trajectory of their lives as college students, but how they continue to hold on to convictions they gained even 20 years later.
One friend shared how God “lifted my eyes up to the nations,” something which he hoped this student generation would also do. While not to minimize our local challenges, he shared, “The world has bigger problems than the first-world problems I typically hear from my American friends. The Church has issues in America, but we don’t even have a single church here, nor even a group of Christians to gather!”
The Church here in our local neighborhood and local city certainly has its set of challenges. We hear stories of mismanagement, moral failure, and lack of missional zeal. We need bigger buildings and better worship experiences. We need greater generosity and reconciliation in our church communities.
We do have serious issues in our local churches and our local context, but my friend’s words are still ringing in my ear… “We don’t even have a single church here, nor even a group of Christians to gather.”
What does it look like to lift our eyes up from the everyday, to lift them up to see the nations?
While in Turkey and Bosnia, I met with another missionary couple serving under constant threat. Their car was recently vandalized by Islamic extremists, who graffitied on their windshield, “We know you have children, and we know where you live.” But this couple continued to persevere in following God’s call and serving in a part of the world which is often forgotten and unknown to many of us.
I asked her a question as our time concluded, “If there’s one thing you could tell this generation of students and young adults, what would you say?” She didn’t hesitate. “I want them to know that we need people to come here and die for Christ.”
I continue to ponder those words from these dear friends. How can we lift our eyes up to the nations? What does it mean to challenge this generation to literally give their lives for Christ?