The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire) might be the poorest country in the world. It’s a place of both abundant natural resources and abject misery. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC is surrounded by ten other nations, including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Africa’s second-largest country (by land area), it’s home to 80 million people.
The DRC should be a prosperous nation, with its flowing rivers (and their ability to generate hydroelectric power), fertile soil, and rich mineral resources. It is not.
Read this: Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, by Kimberly L. Smith.
For perhaps most Americans, their faith consists of going to church on Sunday, sending up an occasional prayer, and being nice. Some volunteer at church, or for a local ministry. Some read their Bible on a regular basis. A few go on short-term mission trips. But for Kimberly Smith, none of that was enough. She and her husband sensed God calling them away from their comfortable lives and onto the mission field.
Are you wearing green? Eating green food, drinking green beer? Stores are selling shamrocks, leprechauns adorn decorations, and we’re all hoping for a pot of gold. What is St. Patrick’s Day about, really? Just as Frosty and mistletoe have little to do with the true purpose of Christmas, and Easter holds far more significance than a bunny bringing baskets of jelly beans, St. Patrick’s Day has a rich heritage far beyond our cultural celebration.
Patrick was born in Scotland 385 AD. He was abducted at age 16 and taken to Ireland, where he lived in bondage as a shepherd. During that time, his Christian faith became real to him, sustaining him for six long year. God then rescued him and he returned home, where he became a priest—only to be called as a missionary back to the very country where he had been enslaved.
What if you had never heard of Christmas?
Here in the U.S. almost every house in our neighborhood has some sort of decorations up. Santa is at the mall, and the stores have been pushing gifts for months. At least one radio station has been playing Christmas music nonstop since Thanksgiving. Our tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the calendar is full of invitations.
Have you heard of Yearbook Christianity? I recently heard a speaker describe it, and I admit it really hit home.
What was the first thing you did when you got your high school yearbook? What’s the first thing any of us did? We flipped to the index, if there was one, and located every page where our picture appeared. Then we checked out each photo to see what we looked like. Sound familiar?
Our church just announced our short term mission opportunities for 2015. With an attendance of over 10,000 people, the booklet is quite thick. Is God calling you to Wales or India, Honduras or Macedonia? South Africa, Uganda, Haiti… the list goes on and on.
As I leafed through the pages, I asked God—are any of these trips for me? What do You want me to do this year? “Just moving will be enough for you for this year,” came the quiet reply. I admit I breathed a sigh of relief. Moving has been all-consuming for the past month, and there’s much more to do still. It’s amazing how much work it takes to simplify one’s life!
Still, I vividly remember reading a similar booklet two years ago, asking God the same question, and getting a much different answer. Much to my astonishment, the type on the page for Swaziland leapt off the page at me. It was so pronounced that at first I thought the page had been printed in bold.
I didn’t know why God wanted me to go to Swaziland. I’m not much of a “kid person” and this trip was all about kids. I signed up in pure obedience; it wasn’t until later that we realized we needed a person on the team dedicated to taking photos.
Are you interested in missions? Do you enjoy reading biographies? Reading about the lives of famous and not-so-famous people who gave their lives to reaching the unreached can be educational, inspiring, and entertaining. Here are some suggestions to get you (and your kids) started.
Torches of Joy, by John Dekker. Pete and I know John Dekker—he served with Pete at a local mission ministry here in Colorado. It’s hard to believe this quiet, unassuming man and his family spent years living in the jungles of Irian Jaya. The Dani tribe was still living at a stone-age level when the Dekkers arrived to bring them the gospel. Today, they’re full of joy, and eagerly send missionaries to the other tribes around them. This book is a page turner! And in case you’re wondering, yes, noted novelist Ted Dekker is John and Helen’s son.