“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared tomake a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” 1 Peter 3:15
Mission trips have a unique way of both emboldening you when it comes to opportunity and providentially surprising you when it comes to timing. Our team realized this to be the case, as we spent three days working with our partner Kim, as she serves among the ‘Y’ People. This was the second part of our trip to explore work among unreached peoples of E. Asia, as we look towards future partnership for UBC.
The “Y” People number 8 million and are one of around 55 minority peoples in this part of E. Asia. They are an animistic people revering the worship of the Tiger through many of their ritualistic practices. It just so happened that days before our team arrived, Kim connected with someone in the town she lives in, and found out about a festival that was happening during our time there to celebrate the culture of the Yi People.
We traveled a few hours to the nearby township where the celebration was being held. Performers in dance, music, song and poem were taking the stage as they put the ‘Y’ peoples culture on full, colorful display. We explored the costume and pageantry of the day, but it also gave us unique opportunities to share. Obviously being may be the first foreigners many of these folks had seen, we looked like the newest exhibit at the traveling zoo. Selfies were a dime a dozen and we probably made front page headlines in the morning gazette. Beyond the curiosity of our culture, and even through it, God answered our prayers in giving us opportunities to share.
Two college graduates introduced themselves to us and wanted a picture with John and I. After introducing ourselves and sharing our reason for being there, we were invited to their art studio. They had recently graduated college and opened up a business/studio to teach art. We were shown great hospitality as we sat in their studio drinking tea and sharing about our cultures. We soon found out that one of the guys had been to church with his uncle, and so we took the opportunity to explore his beliefs. We segwayed to the gospel using the Prodigal Son story, as a means of reflecting the nature of the gospel through an honor/shame lens. Neither of our new friends believed that day, but seeds were sown. We later met up with them the next day and were able to spend more time with them and reflecting their character and love of Christ through our lives.
The second day, we had plans to travel into a ‘Y’ village, but due to road closure were stopped. While sitting on the side of the road we began conversing with a group of guys, some of whom we had met the day prior at the festival. Because the ‘Y’ people are an oral culture, they love sharing stories and our being there for the festival allowed them to delve into story telling surrounding this particular festival. Again, we took every opportunity to share, too, the greatest story that we know.
I came away from these few days continued to be amazed at how we may have plans, but God directs our steps, as He wills. Sometimes that is in a conversation over tea in an art studio or on the side of a mountain in a village road closure. Other times that might look like going for a walk with your neighbor and talking about life and the gospel, or asking the waiter at the restaurant you frequently often how you can pray for them. You never know just when God might present an opportunity for proclamation. Don’t miss it, we have no greater message to tell than the gospel. You have hope in Christ, go herald it!
Written by Ryan Martin