I was introduced to “different” the summer I took about 30+ Jr. Highers to Mexico. What an experience! Yes, our own Mike Hain was with me (and what a trip he had). The things I saw on that trip changed my life -- forever! I can’t begin to tell you the broadening I experienced during that two week period, but it opened my eyes to what “different” really meant. Villages with no electricity, families with very little to live in or live on, people with incredible sickness, cities with little or no governance…wow! It was a different world just south of the border. Oddly, though they had never heard of Jesus, they had heard of Coke, and most villages were selling it daily! It all seemed surreal to me, and I was sensing in my heart the emotion of Luke 24 – “preach this good news to all people groups.”
I remember watching out the bus window as we left a village one day, seeing a little girl stare at us. She just stood there waving, probably wishing she was on the bus with us. God burdened me again, and convicted me that if only one ever knew, it was worth it. At least she’ll know! Out of that came a song, about the only one I’ve every written – “If Only One.” Yes, the work is hard, the people are different, and the sacrifices are many. But it’s worth it if they hear!
A few years later I took some more kids back again, and once again God used that time to deepen my love for the nations across the globe. Even when I was mounted on the shoulders of one of my sophomores, Clint, and we were about to get slashed by a crew of knife-carrying, cursing Mexicans, I was saying, “Lord, I just want to be your mouthpiece so that they will hear.” I didn’t know Spanish, but Clint knew a little, and he was relaying to me that what they were saying wasn’t good! I remember him saying to me as they squeezed in on us and the intensity increased, “Todd, if they come at us, I’m going to Heaven swinging, so get ready to jump!”
Fortunately for us, the missionary could sense there was violence brewing in the village, and so he blew the whistle (we knew when we heard that whistle to head straight for the bus), indicating it was time to “head ‘em up and move ‘em out.” We loaded the bus, a girl between every guy, and asked the girls to bow their heads and for the guys to lean over and make a shield or covering for the girls. We no sooner did this than rocks started hitting the windows. We were getting stoned! Lanny, the missionary, started the bus – I’m so glad that church bus started! – and we headed for the village gate. Men were standing in front of it, hoping to stop the bus and take the girls (we found out later). But Lanny yelled back to us, “Hang on, I’m not stopping.” As he approached the gate, the men parted, then cursed and threw more rocks. But we kept on rolling! And rolling, rolling, rolling all the way back to Chihuahua!
I remember my visit to the Indians in Canada in the mid 80’s. It all seemed pretty normal, till we got to camp and scrambled off the bus. (Yep, me and more kids!) Our job was to take the Gospel into various Indian villages surrounding the lakes up there, but they didn’t tell us we would have to battle the mosquitoes from hell! Ugh! In fact, I think four of our smaller Jr. Highers got carried away that week and I’ve never seen them since. Seriously, I came home with 96 bites from head to toe, and I didn’t even have that many compared to most of the people on our teams. We were one scratching group!
Now what if I said, “Since you treated me that way, I’m not coming back. And I’m not telling you about the greatest news of all – Jesus Christ!” Or what if I said, “That’s too difficult and hard. I can’t take that much stress in my life, so you’ve got to find out about Jesus another way.” While you might say that was logical, I would say it is unbiblical. And pretty selfish, too! After all, Christ loved us when we were still sinners. And he died for us, even though the ‘way of the cross was rigged and steep – even fatal! So modeling his love means I should love even when it is hard and uncomfortable, and even when it involves people who don’t like me or aren’t like me. We are under a command – to tell the nations! Truly, the scope of the gospel is the globe!