So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35, ESV)
We started our first full day in SE Asia with breakfast at a local eatery where we enjoyed South Indian food. After breakfast we attended an international church and enjoyed worshipping God with several other nationalities, yet another reminder that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not exclusive to any ethnicity or nation. But as much as we enjoyed the experience, the fact that no one from the people we are trying to reach was there reminded us of why we are here—to reach the main people group of this country “and to testify that Jesus is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42, NIV).
After church we went to a popular market in the city for lunch where we sampled more local cuisine. We were able to experience a SE Asian fruit called durian that is a bit “unusual”. We sampled a type of ice cream, and one of our team members decided to step out of his culinary comfort zone and try some durian ice cream. It was not very pleasant, as Jackson’s expression can attest, and many members of our team described it as “onion ice cream.”
We spent the rest of our time downtown strolling through the bustling market area. When our ministry partner picked us from the airport he told us some of the many challenges involved in reaching the main people group of this country. To be born into this people group is to be Muslim. It would be like telling someone who is Caucasian, African American, or Hispanic that they can no longer be called that if they decided to follow Jesus Christ. Our people’s national identity is so tied up in their identity as Muslims that conversions to Christianity very rarely occur. We were reminded of this conversation as we walked through the market area, praying for the people we made eye contact with, or spoke to as they hawked their merchandise. Our ministry partner told us that this was likely the first time anyone had prayed for them in the name of Jesus Christ.
We had our daily devotion once we returned to the guest house. We studied Acts 10:1-11:18 and enjoyed discussing the events that led to Cornelius becoming the first non-Jewish person (Gentile) to become a Christ follower. Peter—who had no vision for reaching the Gentiles—responded to God in obedience, stepped out of his comfort zone, and shared the good news of Jesus Christ with Cornelius and his household. While significant cultural barriers to coming to faith still exist today, the most important barrier to faith has been removed by God. We rejoice in the fact that God shows no partiality to any ethnicity and wants people of every culture to follow Him.
This week we are out of our comfort zones, but we take comfort from Scripture when we see what can happen when God’s people step out in faith and obedience. Please pray for us this week that we would be bold, and pray that we would encounter people, like Cornelius, who want to know more about Christ. Many of the people we are trying to reach are devout, give alms, and pray, just like Cornelius did. But those works alone could not rescue him, just like they cannot rescue the people we are trying to reach. Both have the same basic problem: they need to know Jesus Christ as Messiah. Also, consider who are the people outside of your comfort zone that God would have you reach out to this week. Maybe it’s a neighbor, a co-worker, or someone you see on a regular basis. As we try to engage with the lost in this country consider engaging with those you know who need to follow God in your walk of life.
Tomorrow, we begin our first full day of ministry. We will visit a Hindu temple that is a popular local tourist attraction and attempt to have spiritual conversations. In the late afternoon we will visit a large Ramadan market. Many of you may be wondering why visit a market during Ramadan when devout Muslims are fasting? Muslims break their fast at sundown (around 7:15 in this country) and are usually too famished to prepare an elaborate meal. Besides, who wants to cook when they are fasting! This market exists so people can get their food and have a nice meal with minimal preparation. We are going to the market to prayer walk.
Prayer Requests for the Next 24 hours:
- For divine appointments at the Hindu Temple, and that we would be ready to answer people’s spiritual questions.
- That our people group will hunger for God’s Word more than food in their belly as they fast during Ramadan.
- For our endurance as we continue to recover from jet lag. One praise is that we all slept well last night, and made it through the day without needing a nap.
Thank you again for praying for us during our journey!
Jackson, Slade, Hannah, Bryan, Chris