CENTRAL ASIA — With his
oldest daughter sick and his wife not feeling well, Seth* was exhausted, but
hanging in there during two weeks of leadership training for missionaries in
Seth and Sara’s* children
stayed busy with a team of volunteers from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh
and South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., that provided childcare.
For this family of seven,
ministry is a team effort. Sara wanted to be a family on mission ever since
second grade when she met a retired missionary and knew she, too, wanted to go.
Seth took a little more persuading. He was living for the American dream until
one day in college the Lord put this question in his heart: what is the eternal
significance in what you are doing?
God opened Seth’s heart to
understand the truth of Philippians 2. “I realized Jesus walked among the
filth. He was our greatest example. That cut me to the heart,” he said. “I
surrendered. He finally had my future.”
Seth graduated from
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and he and Sara asked God to send
them to serve somewhere in the 10/40 Window.
And so, this family from a
small North Carolina town moved to a city of six million in Central Asia. Their
first two years in the country focused on language school and trying to start a
business in order to get a work permit.
Seth and Sara have lived
among the six million for seven years now. Of this six million, about 300 are
believers in Jesus Christ. Of the people Seth and Sara have met and ministered
to and shared the gospel with, no one yet has received Jesus Christ as their
personal Lord and Savior.
If Seth and Sara said this
statistic discouraged them, it’s unlikely anyone would fault them. But they
don’t see it this way. Seth said they know they are where God wants them to be
and that’s enough. Seth sees evidence of God working in peoples’ hearts every
time he is able to share the gospel. Or every time he is able to show love to
someone and they want to know why.
Simple, ordinary things
become not so simple for Seth. Like the time a guy at the pool Seth often
visits asked him why he talked to everyone — why he talked to the lifeguards
and even the janitor. Seth told him why he cared about others, no matter their
job or status. “People are attracted to the difference Jesus makes,” he said.
Seth’s goal is to, “in every
conversation, insert a piece of truth.”
For seven years this family
has lived away from family in Greensboro and from friends and other believers.
“What do you do when all that is stripped away?” Seth said. Learn the
importance of abiding in Christ and looking unto Him for spiritual refreshment.
“You can only minister out of the overflow of your heart,” Seth said. “If you
are dry, you have nothing to give.”
Seth has also learned the
beauty of worshipping with other believers — and it’s something he no longer
takes for granted.
Too often he sees believers
living in comfortable, safe environments “squandering the opportunity for
worship I yearn for.”
Seth remains focused on the
task of bearing witness to the truth of the gospel because he knows it is God
who gives growth and God who gives opportunities to share the truth. Seth talks
about 1 Cor. 3:5-9 as one living in the promise — one experiencing firsthand —
that all believers are servants, whether they water the soil or reap the
harvest. Seth and Sara will continue to serve the Lord in their city and pray
for the God of the harvest to make light shine forth from a city still in
* Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lilley, who
writes for the Baptist State Convention, was part of the Providence team.)