Now, I am no geography whiz, but I do know that these 3 locations on a map have very little in common and even less proximity. I do know that God is working uniquely in each place and last night, I got a beautiful picture of His great plan.
My aunt and uncle have been in Ukraine as missionaries for the past 14 months with a short stay in Laos to teach English and preach the Gospel whenever they were given an opportunity. After sharing dinner together, they showed us pictures of their adventures and talked to us about what life had been like for them in these 2 very different countries.
My uncle described the sweetness of genuine fellowship and faith that the Ukrainian believers had - unencumbered, it seems, with the many comforts and distractions that I encounter on a daily basis. The aftermath of years of Communist rule has left many of these people stripped of the ability or freedom to think for themselves - many still need to hear of the Freedom available in Christ and of the depth of His riches.
The people in Laos are inundated with statues of Buddha everywhere they turn - confusion and blindness abound in this country of monks and Hmong people. Jesus is virtually unknown in this land - our God that cannot be contained or represented in a man-made form longs for the hearts of these people.
So, what does any of this have to do with Lynnwood, you ask? Well, that is where I come in. Lynnwood is the center of my universe and I can get so darn short-sighted and tunnel-visioned as I hole up here in the northern region of the Puget Sound. The fact is, I am a missionary to this unglamorous, strip-mall overrun section of the world just as my aunt and uncle are missionaries to foreign lands. There is a giant shrine just over the freeway from me to the god of materialism - fueling the hearts and passions of many a follower that tithe regularly to it. There are idols in my own home - buried deep inside my heart that God wants destroyed as much as He desires to see Laotians destroy the bronze statues of Buddha.
The big picture that I glimpsed last night is that the world really isn't all that big and we are not really all that different as people. Each of us, created in the image of God, wascreated to worship the Creator. Each of us erects idols of our own making that we worship in the place of the all-satisfying God. Each of us is called to share the transforming power of the Gospel in the place where we are placed - starting with living out the Gospel daily in our own homes and lives. Each of us should have our eyes and eyes open to RECOGNIZE that Jesus is working all around us and that we are invited to join the adventure - He is redeeming lives in Ukraine, Laos - and even Lynnwood.