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.
You know that moment your best friend tells you she’s pregnant and you must keep it a secret until all the grandparents know, or that moment when someone lets you hold the camera when he gets down on one knee and declares everlasting love for his lady? These are the surprises we share with the world, they are not ours, we don’t create these moments, but we celebrate the joy in them with our whole hearts.
I got up early one day to clean the house and prepare for a very special event. Every tile was scrubbed, and every surface of the washroom was sanitized. In my bedroom clothes were laid out and bags sat by the door filled with towels and blankets. The dining table was laid out with a clean cloth with pretty plates and napkins decorating it. A special cake had been ordered. Today was a day to celebrate.
The first guests arrived- my teammates. They brought camera equipment, boots, coats, hats, and extra clothes. All of us bursting with excitement from anticipation of what was to come. Next the rest of our little group started to arrive, two young women and a young man. The cold air coming in with them reminded us that we were about to have to be brave. Nervous, happy laughter filled the rooms. After welcoming hugs and coats were taken off, a prayer and songs of praise were sang in each language. We all started to settle down, the Book of all books was opened, and we read about the first people who had ever done what we were about to do.
First it was read in English, then the two local languages. Our group does not all speak one language, so this is how we do things. Then each person in their own turn started to share a story. Each one shared the story of how his or her life had been forever changed. We decided to record it for them so that they would have the memory.
We then blessed and prayed for each one of these children of the Lord. The Holy Spirit met us in that moment. Each one of these people declaring the goodness of God in their life as they each were about to make a huge step in proclaiming their new-found faith in Jesus Christ. These new believers in our group wanted to take the step of water baptism.
The first to go was our brother. Nervous about getting too cold, he opted for the bathtub which was full of warm water. “Do I need to say anything special?”, “No, friend, nothing special.” “Okay. Lord, I’m coming!!” The room filled with laughter, the water symbolized the old life washing away and the new life coming out fresh, one of the team blessed him as his head went under the water,” Be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!”
The old life left behind and another chapter of his new story began as he came up from the water. That little washroom had never known so much joy as we shouted and cheered, our hearts overflowing.
The girls, more concerned about wanting a place they would be able to revisit opted for the sea despite the dropping temperatures that had been freezing our breath for a few weeks. Before leaving the house we wrapped ourselves and them up as much as possible, hoping to curb the bite of the sea. The excitement and momentum built as we felt the bitter cold water hit our feet, and we ran out into the sea together. In a moment of beautiful submission, the two girls went to their knees in the water.
“Are you ready?”, “Yes!!” they both said. “Be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” A sudden push into the water and a rush to pull them up, screams from the shock of the water and laughs and giggles of joy followed. Despite the movement of us trying to run out of the water and our limbs becoming slow from the cold and causing us to trip and fall as we rushed to shore, there was a solemn, sacred moment that happened in our hearts as we did this “God’s Family thing” together.
You see, this is not my good news. I was just able to participate. Just like you get the privilege of going to a wedding and celebrating the new couple or visiting the hospital after a new little one has come into the world, this is what Jesus invites us to do as we embrace the call of missions whether through going or sending. He lets us participate in these celebrations and, despite the moments that humble us, it is so full of joy.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. ” Revelation 3.20