Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 29, 2009

In the Mountains

   28 April 2009 | Kashmir

   I awoke to the sounds of the first call to prayer this morning. The sounds of these competing calls from different mosques overlap and become a cacophonous wake-up call. To say that these calls throughout the day are largely ignored would be an understatement. Daily life and commerce continue uninterrupted with the exception of a few faithful facing Mecca on their knees. This morning Kelly joined the wives of our hosts to learn about and engage with Muslim women. Lee and I joined our host and headed into the mountains. Our trek took us more than fifty kilometers on winding roads into some of the most beautiful geography I have ever seen. One Muslim friend we met today reminded us that Kashmir is often called heaven on earth. I have to agree that if there is a heaven on earth, this is closer to it than anything I have ever seen.

boy-horse   As beautiful as Kashmir is, I find that the people are even more beautiful – not just in the physical sense of the word, but in the sense of their worth and value to God. The people who live in mud-plastered log homes in these breath-taking mountains have very little or no access to the gospel because they live in inconvenient places. Unless Christ-followers are willing to go beyond, the people who live in places like this may never have an opportunity to hear and make a decision about the claims of Christ. They deserve that opportunity. Our trek today allowed us to meet and to speak with many people. We enjoyed the most gracious hospitality and received sincere invitations to return.

   As we drove back to Srinagar, I could not help but reflect on the characteristics of those who serve the interests of the kingdom here and who are committed to taking the gospel to remote areas. These are just a few of the things that came to mind.

R = Resolve | The Christ-followers who live and serve here have an iron-clad resolve to tell the story of Jesus. This is the kind of resolve that loosens your grip on everything familiar to you so that you are free to venture to places that are unfamiliar to you. We don’t take resolutions as seriously as we should. We make them and quickly forget them every New Year. But, I have found that those who serve in inconvenient places have a tight grip on commitment – a grip that enables them to serve purposes higher than their own in places far from home. Resolve matters.

E = Endurance | The Christ-followers who live and serve in inconvenient places have remarkable stamina. This is the kind of stamina and acclimatization that is developed by living for long periods in inconvenient places. When Marco Polo’s father and uncle met with Kublai Khan, the great Mongol leader asked them to bring one-hundred wise men on their return trip so that his people could learn about God. Marco joined his father on the return journey, but the Pope sent only two priests instead of one-hundred. Within a short-time these priests turned back because the journey was too difficult. This stands as the greatest missed missiological opportunity in the history of Christianity. Endurance matters.

M = Motivated | I have observed over the years that Christ-followers who live and serve in inconvenient places are highly motivated, whether they are nationals or expats. They value every relationship, are proactive in meeting others, and pray fervently. Those who serve here cannot afford to be lazy. Slackers and sissies don’t survive in inconvenient places. Their lives are truly purpose-driven. They understand why they are here, embrace God’s call on their lives, and hold back nothing. Motivation matters.

O = Ownership | The Christ-followers who live and serve in inconvenient places take ownership. I often hear them refer to the people they serve as “their people.” They feel a personal sense of responsibility for them. After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to a lonely place to grieve but the crowds followed him. Jesus felt compassion for these people and spent time with them. When evening came the disciples said to Jesus: “Send the crowds away, so they can go the villages and buy themselves some food” (Mathew 14:15). In other words, “the welfare of these people is not our responsibility.” Jesus, however, told the disciples to take ownership – “You give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:16). Ownership matters.

T = Time | The Christ-followers who live and serve in inconvenient places know that it will take time before their investment yields fruit. As we were driving into the mountains today, our host said, “I want to be here thirty-years from now.” He talked about the fact that it will take time before many of their initiatives bear fruit. But, he is not discouraged and continues to serve and to sow with hope of the harvest He is patient and understands that time matters.

E = Expectation | The Christ-followers who live and serve in inconvenient places do so with expectation. They understand that their “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). They bathe every initiative in prayer and propel their prayers heavenward in the spirit of David, who prayed, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Ps. 5:3). How easy it is to grow discouraged or to become impatient when God does not answer as quickly or in the way we want Him to do so. Those who live and serve in inconvenient places learn to wait expectantly on the Lord. They understand that expectation matters.

• • • • •

Note | For more on Kashmir, please read Kelly Isenberger’s blog.


Responses

  1. Thanks for doing evangelisms in kasmir & srinagar!I love to hear that, my neighbors’ country is hearing Jesus, through you. I am a believer, and living in Bangladesh, India is closer place to me, to go and do evangelisms! but it dose not happened on me.

    Infact, I went India some times, for evangelisms. But I guess that, I should go more so many times!

    Thanks once again.

    M….


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