Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I mentioned in a previous post a story that reminded me about this scripture.
Please, let me retell the story with a little more detail as best as I can.
Dennis Jeffares, of Glocal Ventures, was leading the discussion with Counselor Long. Now, I don’t remember what Counselor Long’s job was, but he had been working as part of the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington for quite a bit of time. He was under His Excellency Le Cong Phung, the actual Vietnamese Ambassador. The Ambassador was not a part of this particular break out session, though he did participate in the Global Faith Forum. Just to be clear, Glocal Ventures (GVI) is the Non-Governmental Organization that Northwood Church started which all of their mission trips go through. The Vietnamese Government knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the NGO is a ministry of Northwood. The breakout session was about doing Missions through the “Front Door.” In other words, Northwood has always been totally transparent with the Vietnamese government, and this has lead to over a decades worth of ministry.
Ok, so the stage is set. Jeffares began the discussion; telling us a little bit of the story of Northwood’s ministry in Vietnam. He introduced some people that are instrumental to the ongoing endeavor. After a little bit, Counselor Long got up to speak.
Now, I can’t remember the exact words, but I’m going to try to remember as much as I can. He stood up and said, “I’m not a religious person. My mother was Buddhist, but I’m not religious.” Looking to Jeffares he continues, “But, I want to thank God for the work that you do in my country.”
HOLD THE FREAKIN’ PHONE!
Did I just hear a Communist Atheist/Agnostic give thanks to God for the work a church does in his country?!
You betch’ya I did! I sat there, at first I was stunned with the verses from Matthew 5: 13-16 flashing through my head. The next thing I realized, I began to tear up. Here it was, the words of my Lord Jesus coming true before my very eyes.
I have this weird idea that He was high-fiving angels up in heaven. “Yes, they got it! They’ve finally figured it out! Way to go Northwood! You make me proud!!!” Yeah, I have an overactive imagination.
I could be wrong, but I think this is how it works. They may not be able to evangelize on the street, hand out tracks and preach on the corner of Main and Seventh in downtown Hanoi. But, if anyone asks them “why” they are there, loving unconditionally, they have total freedom to share their faith. They’ve been doing it for over a decade, and the people know, THEY KNOW(!), that they are there because they love Jesus. They do it all above board, transparent, for everyone to see. Perhaps other missions organizations should take note.
I’ve heard Bob Roberts say multiple times that there is no such thing as a “closed country.” They aren’t closed to Christian businessmen, doctors, nurses, civil engineers, etc. They are just closed to arrogant Christian “missionaries, professionals, pastors, etc.” who won’t meet the country on it’s terms; but demand their own.
We can go anywhere and let our light shine before men. We just have to love them unconditionally, and serve them with total abandon. If we do that, they will see Christ in us and glorify our Father in Heaven. I know it’s true. I’ve seen it fulfilled, just like I read in Matthew 5.