Write something. Pick up your pen and just write something. Don’t forget. Don’t let it get away from you! Time is running out. I can’t! I just can’t. How?
This was my subconscious screaming at me just weeks ago as I tried desperately to make sense of things on a 16-hour flight home from South Asia. During those sleepless hours crammed between a window seat and a really sleepy lady, I was terrified that the events of the last few days would slip through my grasp before I had chance to document them, make sense of them, treasure them. And I couldn’t do it because my heart and mind were too full.
With a small team of 12, I’d just spent 10 days traveling farther than I’d ever gone—the other side of the world, really—hiking through remote mountain areas of South Asia for one purpose: to tell everyone we’d meet of the hope they can have in Jesus Christ.
The mission sounds simple, but it’s safe to say that I had no idea what would really happen in the field. Working with incredibly servant-hearted translators to visit homes in the mountains, I met people of all ages and beliefs– Hindu, animists, and families who don’t have a god but cling to the traditions of their forefathers. All were so kind and welcoming. In some of their eyes, we could see the light of God…He had prepared the way and they chose to accept Christ. For others, this was not the case. “Now is not a good time,” “Jesus sounds like a good idea,” or “We like him,” they would say, “but maybe later.” Nothing I said could change them. And this broke my heart.
Daily, we took “shortcuts,” which is the local term for “up”—AKA back-breaking, muscle-searing climbing. When I felt like I could go no farther, one of our translators asked how I was doing. “I’m okay but I’m in pain,” I said, with a weak smile. She grinned big and said, “There is beauty in the pain.”
We hiked in a monsoon—our translators without rain jackets or proper shoes. Mine was hiking in flip flops holding a sweatshirt over his head to keep dry. They came because they believe this work is important. When I asked them the highlight of the trip so far, they said, “the rain—we were wet all the way through.” Confused, I asked why. Why was that a top moment? Because, they said, “There is beauty in the pain.”
We slept through a massive storm on the side of a mountain, rain pelting our tents and the fear of falling trees and mudslides creeping inside our heads. My translator later told me he spent most of the night in his tent praying for safety, and yet, this was his favorite moment. Why? Because he got to spend so much time with his Lord. He wondered if he would see his family again, and he found beauty in the pain.
I went to help friends “save” their people and learned saving has nothing to do with me. I had prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His. And He did. He used my broken sentences to draw people to Him, then at the next house showed me no amount of eloquent speech could soften a hardened heart. And this is hard. And this brought tears. But I found beauty in the pain, seeing firsthand that only He can save.
And over there faith isn’t for fun. Jesus isn’t anyone’s homeboy. It’s not glamorous. And it’s not always safe. And you may look, as I did, at a new friend from across the world, and ask, “Why do you do this? It’s really dangerous for you. You could be persecuted.” And they will say, as he did, “Yes, but when we suffer, we see our Christ. When we suffer, we see the sufferings of Christ.” And that is when you will see the beauty in the pain.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” -Isaiah 52:7