That they might experience joy

One of our missionaries has recently begun serving in an area where the good news of Jesus is not welcome. We call these areas ‘creative access locations’ as to live there, workers need to have occupations that make sense to locals but that also allow them time and opportunities to creatively, and effectively, share the gospel.

Among dead people

For the first time in my life I am living somewhere where the gospel is not known. It is hard to describe, but a vivid memory from my first visit to this city was the feeling of being among dead people. There was no genuine joy, no hope, no peace and this is a feeling that persists.

Recently I was teaching a private student, a very wealthy lady who has a successful career and lives in the most exclusive and expensive part of the city. She drives a very expensive car, always has perfect hair and clothes and lives a very interesting life. She has travelled extensively and has even met royalty. She was good fun and I enjoyed our lessons. One morning, I asked her to describe the most joyful experience she’d had, and her answer was very unexpected. She told me without hesitation that she had never known joy. She has everything materially a person might dream of having, but despite her great wealth, she has not experienced joy.

Hope for the hopeless

Later that day I went to my language helper’s home. She lives in a building with bare concrete floors, exposed water pipes and electrical wiring, windows without glass and simple furniture. She has three children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She is at the opposite end of the wealth spectrum to my private student. She is a devout follower of Islam. She is incredibly generous and kind and patient, but she can’t go to the mosque to pray which means she can’t build up the same amount of good points as men. She laments that there will not be many women in paradise because this is what her Prophet has said. She is too poor to be able to go to Mecca to have her past sins absolved. She knows that her good deeds are never going to exceed her bad deeds. She feels hopeless.

The gospel is not known by either of these women but how their lives would change if they knew the truth! I am no longer teaching the first lady as she has moved to another city. God in his kindness has been giving me opportunities to share with my language helper and she is becoming more open to discussing spiritual matters. I really long for her to know the one who is the way, the truth and the life. How her life and heart and family would be transformed! She would still be poor in the eyes of the world, but her burden of sin would be lifted from her and she would know that Jesus has a place prepared for her in the new creation.

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Lois Ooms worked closely with AIM and the Africa Inland Church (AIC) in Kenya for 39 years. For ten years she lived at Litein Hospital and was the Director of Community Development for AIC Kenya. She then spent eight years supporting AIM missionaries across Africa, leading workshops in transformational development. Now she is retired, but continues the challenge of adapting the principles to the North American context.

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