So often, when we think about fellowship and community, we think about those in our immediate vicinity—and that’s a good thing. It’s living, visible evidence of the presence of God in our lives. It’s an opportunity for those around us to see Christian love in action.
We are, however, part of a much larger community that we sometimes aren’t even aware of. There are unseen connections that sometimes play a significant role in advancing the Kingdom of God.
Christians in the West, sometimes think (consciously or subconsciously) that influences for the Gospel begin here and spread to the rest of the world. But that’s not always the way it works. One of our staff members works with international students at a university in the Midwest. Most of the students with whom he’s engaged come from parts of the world where openly discussing spiritual ideas carries serious consequences. He recently related a conversation he had with one of his international friends.
The first time my friend and I met, we discussed his interest in reading the Bible during his stay here as a visiting scholar. I asked him if any individual had influenced his interest. “My Ph.D. advisor,” he replied without hesitation.
Muffling my surprise, I asked him if he meant his advisor in his home country. “Yes,” he replied, “my advisor was a Christian, part of a house church and eager to speak discreetly about his faith.”
Fascinated, I asked him, “What attracted you to him?”
My friend replied, “He was kind, humble [not common traits for such advisors], and concerned about me. He started me thinking of Christianity as a real possibility.”
The words of Ephesians 4:32 immediately came to my mind: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
As I considered the intelligent, well-educated, accomplished man sitting before me— thinking in a second language that Jesus Christ might be real because a humble believer in a closed country was willing to obey God—I smiled to myself, thinking, “It really works!”
“How little it takes,” I thought initially. Then considering what the advisor risked to obey God, I refocused my conclusion: “God, give me the strength to do what it takes!”
Please pray for the many believers in closed countries who have a quiet but significant spiritual impact. They are an integral part of our community!