“Many of us have stopped going to the temple. The gods weren’t answering.”
Not what my husband and Aakash expected to hear on this particular trek into the mountains. Nor did they expect to be in a new village. The norm for these trips was to visit pastors working in geographically isolated and spiritually unreached areas. Providing personal discipleship, fellowship, resources, and training for believers who lived among the unreached in their own country was part of our calling. Almost like being a Barnabas for capable people who could teach others. Challenging, lengthy treks were part of this. So was spending days on buses getting to where the road literally ended. Then the walking began. Sometimes it lasted for days. Often going uphill for hours at a time, they wore out hiking shoes on “roads” of dust, jagged rocks, deep mud, and rope bridges woven over rivers.
Daniel and Aakash had been on this particular trek several times and knew the roads like the back of their hands, but there had been an issue with the normal bus stop and they had to begin at a new starting point. The lodge they normally stayed in was closed so that meant hiking a few more hours to find another. We were learning after almost a year in South Asia that sometimes “inconveniences” could very well be the Lord directing our steps. That’s exactly what was going on. And the opportunity began with Daniel sleeping next to some rotten potatoes.
After a few extra unplanned hours of hiking Daniel and Aakash were exhausted and very grateful to happen upon another lodge. Sometimes words lose a lot in translation so it might be helpful to explain that “lodge” meant a tiny shack in the middle of nowhere. It was also a restaurant. After a carbohydrate rich dinner to replace all the energy they’d used during the day, the owner said they could sleep in the kitchen.
Unrolling subzero sleeping bags on ropes stretched over two tiny wooden bed frames, they settled in for the night, breathing in smells of clay walls, dirt floors, and some rotten potatoes next to Daniel’s head. Except for the rotten potatoes, these smells and unexpected adventures were characteristic of the life we’d come to love. The life we’d always wanted so people could hear about Jesus in culturally relevant ways.
Sunrise meant bread, hot tea, noodles, and vegetables prepared over an open fire. It also meant news about two men staying in the local lodge had traveled fast, and there was a small crowd of people waiting to meet them.
Visitors from a city usually meant someone was carrying medicine; thus the crowds. Some had walked over two hours hoping to get Tylenol. A small girl with an open gash across her hand came. The deep cut was covered in an herb and turmeric paste until she could get to the lodge. Thankfully Aakash and Daniel had carried some medical supples for the pastor they were planning to meet and were able to help everyone after breakfast. It took most of the day.
A teacher who lived near the lodge was making his daily hike back from the primary school where he worked. He offered to get the men started on the right path to their pastor friend’s village. They enjoyed each other’s company until an unusual man began to follow, screaming names of different political parties and specialized agricultural terms in both the local language and English.
It was a new level of strange… not hiking through one of the most remote corners of the world. That was the cool part. But being there and suddenly having a stranger, who otherwise knew no English, screaming things like, “Soil erosion! Sediment runoff!” Very unusual. And he kept it up until they stopped at a river to filter water and refill their bottles. He wandered off, but rejoined them after a few days when they were on the way out.
Exhausted, they took a brief rest and continued talking with the teacher. He had been curious about why they were trekking through his area and the long walk together provided time for him to hear the oral storying of God’s Word. He invited Daniel and Aakash back to his village to tell everyone about Jesus.
Sometimes disrupted plans are simply that: but sometimes they are so much more. Aakash and my husband praised God because in their heart they had planned their way for this trek, but the Lord directed their steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Everyone in the village assembled. For several hours Aakash shared the story of God’s Word, from creation to the cross and beyond; the story of God’s plan to bring humanity back to Himself. They heard how from the beginning we have broken God’s law, the consequences of this, and the only solution that is found in Jesus.
Several hours of teaching. Several hours of an entire village learning of humanity’s only hope for the first time. And a few minutes of thoughtful silence after Aakash asked if everyone understood and said he would answer questions.
One man broke the silence first, shaking his head:
“That’s just like a woman. Messed it up for all of us!”
Thankfully the village leader had something to say as well.
“I’ve heard of Jesus once before, but now I know the whole story. No one else in my village had heard before. Now we know. I’m glad to know about Jesus because some of us have stopped going to the temple. The gods weren’t answering.”
This village had been searching for the Truth. God brought Aakash and Daniel to tell them and to connect them with a believing village a few hours walk away.
After listening and answering questions, they left some resources with the village leader and started toward their original destination. When their pastor friend heard about the village, he was afraid of persecution, but eventually warmed to the idea of helping them on their journey to knowing Christ. Persecution is a reality for believers in that area of the world so it was an understandable concern.
Their interest in knowing more about Jesus was genuine and now there would be a believing village to continue investing in them. God is so faithful to accomplish the work He calls us to. He planned more than we could have ever guessed on this particular trek. It was only a surprise to us. Because of bus stops changing and the normal lodge being closed, Aakash and Daniel met a teacher who would lead them to a village ready to hear the story of God’s Word.
Over and over during seven years in South Asia God never ceased to demonstrate His sovereignty and faithfulness. This is only one story.
The next will tell of a village woman making her way to the capital city. She met a pregnant foreigner happy to be carrying her first child, but missing her husband who was on a trek to a remote mountain village. And feeling a little disappointed not to be helping in the work. God would soon remind her of what the work truly was and then bring it right into her living
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
God’s Word is a true story!
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