Dark Hearts - Glorious Gospel
Jeriel Ontoy, Sophomore Communication Major
I could not see. I stumbled along the steep mountain path guided by a team member wielding a cheap flashlight about five feet away.
Dim city lights and dark silhouettes of rice paddies, which rested at the base of several mountains, scattered the landscape for miles on end. Every ounce of my energy had quickly faded away as I desperately struggled to reach the peak of the mountain.
Suddenly, a blaring chant hauntingly groaned in every direction. Its call, a startling shock to me, was a typical beckoning for the Javanese people to arise from their pre-dawn breakfast and perform the first of five prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. At that moment, I felt the physical darkness of early morning, but I also sensed the spiritual darkness of hundreds of thousands of people who were metaphorically fumbling up a mountain of rituals and regulations trying to appease Allah. My heart was burdened for these lost souls.
Who would give these seekers answers to their questions? Who would give them peace?
This summer I was privileged to be a member of the Southeast Asia team (SEA Team), which was led by Dr. Oberlin. Our team ministered in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia for six weeks. Our team was involved in a variety of ministries, ranging from cleaning a small church in Indonesia to teaching ESL classes as a bridge for the Gospel in Thailand.
Some highlights of the trip were preaching and teaching pastors and church leaders at a pastor’s conference in the Kachin state of Myanmar, counseling at a missionary kids’ camp in Dolphin Bay, distributing Gospel literature in Bangkok, running a children’s program at two different Singaporean church camps in Malaysia; lecturing at an evangelism conference in Singapore, and expanding my knowledge of the relationship between Islam and Christianity in Indonesia.
Looking back at the lives our team impacted, I am overjoyed to see how God was actively working through the SEA Team to see Christians all around the world discipled. I believe that too often, we as believers can become so narrow-minded and comfortable in our “American Christianity” that we forget that God is working to draw all “nations, tribes, and tongues” unto Himself. Being able to witness personally God orchestrating events expanded my view of the sovereignty and grace of God.
There are so many stories I wish I could tell you about how God’s name was magnified as people were directed to Christ. One amazing event occurred with Burmese pastors and church leaders.
Many of these pastors had no Christian resources, no proper training in hermeneutics, and no biblically-based view of discipleship. To try and remedy this situation, our team held a conference with the goal of equipping these leaders with tools that they needed to be effective in their various ministries. While the men on our team were busy preaching, teaching, and creating sermons with the Burmese pastors, the ladies on our team discussed the importance of biblical counseling, dependence on God’s Word, and prayer-saturated ministry. At first, this task was somewhat depressing because our team received very little feedback, and it seemed that the group was not comprehending the material. We spent every night preparing notes for the sessions and pleading with God to do a great work among the church leaders.
On the last day, something changed. The leaders finally began to understand the information. I was thrilled to see these servants of God have their eyes opened; they were equipped with Biblical truth that they, in turn, can bring back to their congregations and instruct in ways of righteousness.
Back to the question above, who will give the seekers the truth? Who will provide them with the answers?
As I reached the peak of the mountain, the sun began to rise. Its warmth and light were a comfort to a weary hiker. This is the Gospel: allowing the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus to shine brightly into darkened hearts and minds so that those who tread in the drudgery of darkness may be converted and transferred into the kingdom of light.
You and I must share the truth of the Gospel! I understand that you might not have the opportunity to preach in Singapore, but you can testify to your unsaved relative. You may not ever counsel teenagers in Thailand, but you can share the Gospel with those whom God has placed in your life right here in Greenville.
God’s Gospel is powerful, but if we allow our sin or unwillingness to hide the Gospel, we hide the Gospel from those who need it the most. We must remember that God is arranging all of history to bring Himself glory by pointing to Christ, the Savior of mankind. He has called you and me to be His ambassadors.
Reach beyond yourself. Proclaim this Gospel. Turn the world upside down.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.