“Pandemic” was a word I rarely considered until three years ago when Covid swept across our planet and struck fear in human hearts from coast to coast. Many of us have similar stories - travel stopped, businesses closed, lives were lost, and others completely turned upside down.
When I think of this word “pandemic,” I can’t help but be reminded of Romans 8:18-23 where Paul tells us that all of creation was subjected to futility in hope by God, and that it groans in eager expectation to be set free and to obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Oh, what blessed hope we have in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and oh, how utterly broken our world is, global pandemics and all.
And yet, all of this creation serves as a physical reminder of much greater spiritual realities.
I have to admit in advance that during Covid, I was actually leading a hospital system - great timing, right? I remember the very moment we received shipments of special anti-viral medications; the National Guard showed up with the first delivery of medication for our physicians and nursing staff - what an incredible day!
As I stood on the back of a quiet and cold loading dock watching, I remember the look on the faces of our security and EMS staff as they energetically and proudly carried those life-saving medications in from the trucks and helped secure them in our facilities. To the sick and dying in our hospital, those medications meant the difference between life and death.
A greater need
With the seriousness of a global pandemic barely behind us, I can’t help but be reminded of the far greater global pandemic that threatens all of mankind. This pandemic doesn’t just lead to physical death, but it’s a terrifying pandemic that leads to eternal death and separation from God in hell. In fact, this pandemic is far more real than any physical virus, and way more threatening.
If Covid affected you or your family in any way, consider also the pervasive, unrelenting pandemic that threatens your life and every single human around you, and that is Sin.
I recently traveled to South Asia for a mission trip with the first international missions team sent back to this major city from our church since Covid began. As we arrived, the brokenness created by the global pandemic, sin, was inescapable.
You can’t hide from or ignore the physical brokenness; it was everywhere: poverty, homelessness, sickness, broken families, chains of drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, child sex slaves, just to name a few. But it was far darker than that - everywhere we turned we saw hopelessness; people dying from an eternal pandemic with no cure in site… in fact, most of them had never heard the name of Jesus before in their life.
As you peruse some of our photos I’ve included, you will see that we’re smiling quite a bit for being in such a dark place. Why is that? It’s hard to explain other than just to point out the joy, oh my friend, the joy!
The sheer joy, just like we experienced when the National Guard delivered life-saving medication, came freely as we were able to deliver the very name of Jesus to people who have never heard this precious name before. Was it hard or risky? I honestly don’t remember - we were too busy smiling and excited to deliver the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:15b)
What an incredible honor and privilege it was to participate along with three other brothers in Christ in bringing the Gospel message to the slums of a major city in South Asia. The slums of this city are filled with millions of people. Consider the worst homeless encampment we’ve read about in the U.S. and multiply it by at least 1,000. The sites, the smells, but most of all the precious faces that will forever be burned into my memory, fill my mind even now as I recall this visit.
I’m so incredibly thankful to be part of a church and church family that relentlessly pursues the great commission and chases after opportunities like this to bring the Gospel to some of the darkest places on the planet.
I’m excited to report that on our journey there were approximately 50 people who accepted the Gospel message, the Good News of Jesus Christ!
A little more about our journey
Our mission approach was really 3-fold:
1.) First, our days would typically begin with an auto or train ride into the slums where we would go door-to-door through the alleys and crevices in the slums, sharing the Gospel. Most of the homes in the slums are no larger than 10x10 shacks with no running water, very little electric if any, and rarely a bathroom. We worked to pull people into conversations in the streets and in the alleys, even going into people’s homes.
2.) The second was to leverage the homes of a handful of existing believers in the middle of the slums to invite all of their neighbors to hear the Gospel message in larger gatherings. Some of these believers had become disciples of Jesus as a result of prior mission teams that our church had sent—how awesome is that? We would go to these homes and share the Gospel and testimonies, and then stay and pray with them, often for physical healing.
3.) Lastly, we had wonderful opportunities to work with the team there on the ground - encouraging them, praying with, and for them. I felt like the water bottle team on the sideline of a football field, running out onto the field during a time-out and bringing what little and brief relief we could to battle weary soldiers.
Key takeaways from the trip
1.) The spiritual battle we are in is real. We were there toward the end of monsoon season when they have many pagan festivals and are worshipping false gods. The local team shared that during this time they typically see an uptick in demonic activity, demon possessed people, and demon oppression. And boy did we see that up close and personal. In fact, as I was sitting down some days ago preparing to write out a testimony regarding our trip, I received a text from one of the team members on the ground there asking for prayer for a demon possessed boy named Nishant. I’m excited to report that two hours after we asked our local church to pray for Nishant, I received another unsolicited update letting us know that it seems Nishant was delivered. Praise the Lord!
2.) The second take-away I had was the fact that most of the people we spoke to had never heard the name of Jesus before and, worse yet, the hundreds and thousands of people that we walked past each day to get to where we were going and to the people we did speak with--how many of them will never hear the name of Jesus unless someone tells them? The fields are ripe for harvest… but the workers are few.
Let me close with this thought – we praise God for those 50-60 people who put their trust in Jesus Christ during our trip. Would you please lift them up in your prayer time in the coming days and weeks that those seeds planted would fall on fertile ground… we know the Lord promises His Word does not return void. I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to an opportunity to go. I promise you, If I can do it, you most certainly can do it… and it will change your life for the Glory of God.
As seen in The Christian Post!