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Eyes Open...Tears Flowing

Last month we took a short break and traveled to the capital for some R&R. I usually get carsick on the four hour drive down the windy mountain road on the way to the airport, but our friend Thirta was driving more slowly for my sake. For the first time since we moved here I was actually able to keep my eyes open and look out of the window for the entire trip. We passed beautiful vista after beautiful vista, and the drive was periodically punctuated by small villages along the main highway. Here in this country it is not considered rude to stare at people (or maybe it is just not considered rude to stare at foreigners), so as we passed through one village called Gaira, I freely stared at the people we passed by as they freely stared at me.

There is nothing particularly distinct about Gaira; it is just like any other little village in this remote area. There were young women doing their daily chores outside of their homes; little children in their uniforms on their way to school; old men sitting outside passing the time. But as I locked eyes with these villagers, the Holy Spirit brought their daily reality to my mind - that day in and day out, they live out their lives there in Gaira without knowing the God who created them. They do not know the God who loves them so incredibly and wants them to know Him. The weight of the realization that each person whom I locked gazes with is an eternal being brought a flood of emotion and I began to cry. A couple verses from Scripture came to my mind and heart - "The true light... was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him." (John 1:9-10), and "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:14-15). Later on during the drive I asked Thirta if there were any believers in Gaira. There are none. I asked him if there are any believers or churches between our town and another town two hours away from us where there is a small church. As far as he knows, there is not even one single believer in that whole area. And this story can be repeated all over this region of a million people, in all the little villages that are just like Gaira.

When people talk about the church in this country, they often speak of the "exponential growth" that the church has experienced since the country opened up in the 1950s. The church in this region of the country, however, is a different story. At last count (over five years ago), there were only 1300 believers out of the 1 million people who live here. The churches here are in the process of doing a more current count of the number of churches and believers in this area. Next month there will be a meeting of the leaders from these churches, as well as some of us foreigners who are working with them, and this data will be presented (a State of the Union address, so to speak). They will also be gathering to begin a church leadership training course, in which they will be learning how to help their existing churches mature and reproduce. Pray for these meetings and that this will be the start of something big here.


Ruth serves with her husband Doug in Asia at a mission hospital. They are Global Partners of GFC.


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