Starving

I belong to a local Baptist church and attend regularly. Last year my church made a commitment to send congregation members as missionaries to the Yalunka tribe located in Mali a country in western Africa. This tribe is what the Southern Baptist International Mission Board terms an “unreached people group”, meaning they have never had any contact with Christianity. We have sent several different church members on trips throughout the past year. Today in church, one of the members of the most recent trip gave us a report of how things went . At first, I wasn’t paying too much attention. He was saying all the usual things. About the differences between here and there. Things like the infrastructure (mostly dirt roads) and the houses (huts made from grass, mud and dung). Then he said something that really caught my attention. They were on their way to the main village that our volunteer missionaries always visit when a representative from another village approached them. He said that it was know that the group from my church was there teaching about the “Jesus Road” and he asked them to come to his village and teach them. The group explained to him that they had a very tight itinerary and weren’t sure if they would be able to come to the man’s village. The church member said that it broke his heart to turn the man down since the people in that area of Mali were obviously “…starving to hear the Gospel of Christ.” But he said that once the group got to their destination village they had found a way to manipulate their schedule enough to spend around a day and a half in the man’s village. After a few days a messenger came to them with a piece of paper. It was a petition, signed by all of the people in the village of the man they had met on the road, begging them to come to their village and teach them about Jesus. That story struck me in a visceral and emotional way. I guess it was the juxtaposition of the two societies. Here in America we have people bringing lawsuits against school districts and cities because they feel offended that they have to look at a Nativity scene at Christmastime. In Mali, these people were begging someone to come and talk to them about Christ. It made me think that, regardless of our differences, we are all searching for the truth. I don’t really know what lesson I should take out of what I heard today. Maybe I’ll write more about it once I have time to ponder it. It just made me stop and think.

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