This year God blessed my husband and me with our first child, a son. We named him Elias, a variant of the name Elijah in many languages, including the one spoken in the country where we serve.
In the Southern Watchman, March 21, 1905, Ellen White wrote, “The work of John the Baptist, and the work of those who in the last days go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to arouse the people from their apathy, are in many respects the same.” She continued, “With the earnestness that characterized Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist, we are to strive to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent.” As missionaries in the 10/40 Window, we’re raising our son with one thought in mind: these are the days of Elias, and this is our task.
The lyrics of a popular Christian song say that “these are the days of Elijah, declaring the word of the Lord.” But how do we declare the Word of the Lord in places where we can’t openly share the good news? I've found that at the urban center of influence (UCI) where I serve as director, my actions speak louder than words. Because I’m a foreigner, everyone’s watching how I conduct my business and personal life. My neighbors see that I don’t work on my day of prayer. My workers and customers observe how I treat them with respect. And my friends see how I help refugees with genuine love and compassion.
COVID-19 hit this country especially hard, and the government instituted strict lockdown policies. My UCI has been no exception to the current reality of a global pandemic. We’ve moved all our services online. As my business partner and I talk with our clients, we hear comments such as, “Thank you for your positive personality,” and “I feel like we’re family and I can speak openly.” They’ve continued to access our services in part because we offer something they aren’t getting from our competitors: genuine friendship.
Last week, we invited a customer over for lunch. Because her health is poor, she has been mostly confined to her home. She was so thankful to meet with us and have an uplifting conversation. We spoke positively about the country and how it had become our home. We shared how God was blessing us during these difficult times. We promised to pray for her, and she left encouraged. Our lifestyle and our business are declaring the Word of the Lord.
When my husband and I decided to come here, I had no idea we would stay so long. But I find myself here six years later, blessed beyond measure. A church has been planted in our city, our refugee ministry has borne fruit, and I’m learning how to be successful at business as mission.
When Elias was born a few months ago, God brought a song to mind that I sang as a child. The chorus goes like this:
Good morning Lord, I love you.
I just wanted you to know.
Here’s my heart, my life, my will, myself,
I give it all to you.
Take my life today and use it,
Guide my feet along the way.
May Your words my mind renew,
Your Spirit fill me I pray.
Every morning I sing this song to Elias. I pray that every day his life will be a blessing to those around us, that he’ll grow to love and serve God. The first objective of the I Will Go strategic plan is “to revive the concept of worldwide mission and sacrifice for mission as a way of life involving not only pastors but every church member, young and old, in the joy of witnessing for Christ and making disciples.” I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can make mission a way of life for you and your family. We can all be Elias, preparing the way of the Lord!
I Will Go
Reach the World: I Will Go is the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s strategic plan for 2020 to 2025. It’s a rallying cry to all church members to reach the world, inspiring and equipping them to use their God-given spiritual gifts in witness and service to Christ.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28 is clear: Jesus’ followers are to go and make disciples of all nations. The gospel must be shared with the hundreds of unreached people groups around the world. I Will Go outlines specific objectives and ways to accomplish this task. Explore the I Will Go plan at IWillGO2020.org and find your place in this global movement!