Have you heard the expression “Boots on the Ground?” Well our Live Dead Missionaries are the boots on the Silk Road. Here we’d like to take a moment and allow one of them to share part of their life with you. Some names and details have been changed, but this is a true story from this colorful, vibrant, and sometimes surprising region and those who God has called to work here.
Have you ever seen a Giant Sequoia?
Recently my family travelled to one of my childhood dream destinations – Sequoia National Park. I had often dreamed of discovering these massive trees as a child, and it was so exciting to be able to experience it with my own son! Suffice it to say, he fell in love with the giant trees.
It was in that giant forest, staring up at these amazing trees, that God gave us a vision for life in Central Asia. My husband had visited the forest as a kid and, being rather science-y, remembered all these facts about the Sequoia trees. One of the most amazing is this: the seeds of the Sequoia are found inside these remarkably tiny pinecones, the size of a large marble and hard as a rock. And the only way for this pinecone to crack open and sprout a new Sequoia is for there to be a forest fire.
Unless a fire sweeps the forest floor, the pinecones remained closed and fruitless.
Jesus words in John 12:24 help us to understand this from a spiritual perspective. He said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
This is the guiding verse at the heart of LIVE DEAD. We must be willing to die so that others can live. We know that, in a very real sense, we must be willing to follow Jesus all the way to physical death and persecution, we also know that the day-to-day dying of self is much harder than a one-time sacrifice.
Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language just to shop, is a death to self. Living 7,000 miles away from the people we love the most; death to self. Divorcing ourselves from the American Dream and realizing that we may never own a home, have nice things, or a substantial retirement; death to self.
Last year we felt prompted by the Lord give our son a specific name. His name has a unique meaning: one who lives in unplanted or unseeded land.” In Central Asia, along the ancient Silk Road, the land is hard and largely unplanted with the seeds of the gospel. People have been fed the lies of Islam from birth until death, for generations on end. Weeds of deception have grown thick in the hearts of men and women who truly want to know God.
To see the gospel planted and new disciples begin to grow, sometimes we must willingly walk through what feels like a wildfire, burning away the underbrush in our hearts, clinging to Jesus alone. It is the only way the seed of our lives will bear fruit.
A line in one of our favorite songs, written by John Mark McMillan, says it so well: “So shall I plant Sequoias and revel in the soil / Of a crop I know I’ll never live to reap? / And sell my body to my Maker and my heart unto my Savior / And spread me on the road, the rocks and the weeds.”
It is so difficult to ask people to come with us to die. In America, the invitations we typically receive are to greater comfort, greater security and greater wealth. But this isn’t the invitation of Jesus. To his disciples, he said, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) And he continues to extend this remarkable invitation to us now.
Will you consider this mandate from Jesus and pray about joining us in planting Sequoias along the Ancient Silk Road?