What Doest Thou Here, Elijah?

village-sceneThe title is taken from 1 Kings 19:9 and again in verse 13. The setting is Elijah, having what he thought were very good reasons, decided to get away, and live in a cave. But Elijah was not where God wanted him. God pursued Elijah, and asked him twice, “What are you doing here?” God had other work for him. Retiring in a cave was not God’s place for Elijah.

In another setting, just a week ago, we had the privilege to take a three hour drive into the mountains, to the Lisu tribal village of Pang Klang. In Pang Klang most people worship Buddah, but there are five women who have chosen to follow Christ. Three have been baptized. They have no one to teach them, no evangelist to nurture them. When we arrived, there were two ladies who were not believers. One expressed interest in becoming a Christian, and after the message, Decha, our interpreter, explained the message, and asked her quite a few questions. He prayed for her, she prayed, and confessed her sins and committed her life to Jesus Christ! We laid hands on her and prayed. Her name is Alama, (ah leh mah’) and she cannot read. So now there are six women in the village who are believers. Who will move to that village and teach the Word? Does God have no one to send to them? Would He say to many of us, in the places we are today, “What are you doing here?”

After second term one of our student teams went into northern Laos. They were to explore the possibilities of mission work in Phongsali. In the short time they were there, their hearts were touched, and they saw great opportunity to reach many villages for the first time with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Who will go to the villages of Phongsali and teach the Word? Does God have no one to send to them? Would He say to many of us, in the places we are today, “What are you doing here?”

Brother Wright Dee, a 71-year-old Pastor working with the Karen tribe, just sent out this email. I quote:

Beside hostels, we see that there is a big need to evangelize. The immediate place that I am trying to start is at Wah Doh Klo. Many new people who were baptized had gone astray due to the fact that there is no evangelist in the area. One of the head men who got baptized about eight months ago has approached me several times to send evangelists to his area. I sent two evangelists to his place and the evangelists reported that there are too many young people who wanted to come to them to learn singing songs and hymns. I feel that it is a great call that the Lord wanted us to do. I am preparing to build a small house to accommodate about four evangelists and send them out to the villages around. I wish you will pray for this mission and you will try to get involve with us as close as possible. It is not going to be easy. The road is tough, and during rain it is most difficult to get to it.

Can you imagine, new believers falling away because there is no one to teach them. Young people begging to learn Christian songs and hymns. Who will go to Wah Doh Klo and its surrounding villages and teach the Word? Does God have no one to send to them? Would He say to many of us, in the places we are today, “What are you doing here?”

Several weeks ago a newsletter was sent out by a missionary working among the Muslims. I quote:

In closing I would like to share a heartbreaking story with you that took place a few weeks ago. B., a recent convert from Islam came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Tim, I pray every day for my brother who was murdered before he accepted Christ as Savior, He will have a second chance wont he”? As a missionary this is one of the most difficult question to have to explain to a new convert. I looked into her tear filled eyes and asked, B., what do you know about the nature of God?” She replied, “I know that He is loving, ‘He is not willing that any should perish,’ He is Righteous and Just in all that “He does, and I know He doesn’t make any mistakes, but my brother was a good man.” I asked her, “What does the Bible say about our works of righteousness?” Through her sobs she came up with the answer, “they are like filthy rags in God’s eyes.” She then began to cry very strongly and said the words that every missionary cringes to hear; “Why has America been a Christian nation since its inception, and only now have you brought the Gospel to us? Why? Why? Why???” I have no answer, why is it that there are still millions and millions who have never heard, while we in America bask in our freedom and never tell anyone of the freedom that is found in Christ? I think every Christian needs to look into the eyes of a “B.” and answer the question why didn’t you come sooner? It is 2007, yet her people of 5 million are still without a full Bible in their language. Where have we been? What have we been doing?

Many, like Elijah, have what they believe to be “good reasons” why they continue to lodge in the places where they lodge. They may even step outside occasionally, like Elijah did, to see if God might be calling them. But God’s call came to Elijah in a still, small voice. “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Still, small voices are easy to ignore if we choose to. It doesn’t take much to drown out the still, small voice of God’s call, just turn the music up louder, get a little bit busier, go out and buy some more clothes.

Meanwhile Alama, and her Christian sisters have no one to teach them, or even read the Word to them. The villages of Phongsali are ready to be harvested. Believers in Wah Doh Klo are falling away because there is no one to teach them. Young people who want to learn Christian hymns have no one to teach them. Muslim believers weep for those of their family who never knew the Good News, because there was no one to tell them.

Christians, AWAKE! What are we doing????

By Collier Berkshire, IGo’s Resident Pastor (I Witness News/Fall 2007)

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