“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20
I remember the first time I went to East Asia on a mission trip. As I walked the bustling streets, I could feel the weight of lostness. I remember the excitement I felt as I bridged a conversation from casual small talk with a stranger to deeper spiritual issues that led into a gospel presentation. I felt great purpose in those moments as I shined the light of Christ in a place of darkness. It was on that trip where I first felt God tugging me to spend a season of my life in an unreached context.
Almost five years later, God led my husband and I to the Middle East. We counted up the cost and trusted God as we pressed forward. Our heart’s desire was to make Christ known to the nations.
We began studying a new language and dove into a brand new culture. We prayed and fasted and read through church planting strategies. We shared our faith with our teachers, Uber drivers, and a handful of neighbors. We felt hopeful and excited. We were ready to move from our language and culture-learning city into a new area where we could focus on a particular unreached people group.
I remember one of my first conversations with a woman who invited me over to her house. Unsure how to bring up my faith, I figured I might start by asking her about her own beliefs. This was a big mistake. Her eyes began to sparkle as she leaned in and attempted to persuade me that Islam was the truth. Her monologue went on and on as she recited paragraphs of the Quran to me. That night, I received a phone call from a local mosque inviting me to come and learn more about the prophet Mohammed.
Later on, the woman left a pile of religious books at my house that denounced Jesus and tried, ruthlessly, to tear apart the Christian faith. I was so disheartened. I began to realize that the people we were among, though unreached by the true gospel, had been very reached with a strategically anti-Christ version of religion. They had been taught as children by their families, schools, and entire society not to trust Jesus. It felt like living in a spiritual battlefield. Like a soldier in a foxhole, we were constantly pelted by the ridiculous, illogical lies of Islam.
It can be spiritually and emotionally heart-wrenching to live in such a place as this.
Now that we are back in the states and processing our time overseas, there is one truth that has given us hope. As He promised, Christ was with us before we left, while we were there, and now that we are back.
My encouragement, as we seek to make Christ known among the nations, is this: Missions will let you down. Church planting strategies may work miracles, or they may be nothing more than ink on paper. People may flock to Christ in droves or seek to stone you until you leave the town limping. Your expectations may be greatly surpassed, or they may be relentlessly let down. You may see light shining, fruit bearing, and blessings flowing, or you may not see a single soul come to Christ. Don’t set your hope on these things. At the end of the day, all you have is Christ.
Missions will let you down, but Christ never will.
Our hope is not set on a call to missions, but on the call to follow Jesus.
M.K. and her husband have been married for five years and have a one-year-old daughter. The couple met at Brook Hills and were sent out as part of our Middle East Church Planting Team, where they have been serving for the last two and a half years.