Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 24, 2015

Across Antarctica Alone

Ernest Shackleton is one of my historical mentors. He lived during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, the period from 1897–1922 during which sixteen major expeditions from eight countries focused on the Antarctic continent.

Shackleton first ventured to Antarctica in 1901 aboard the Discovery as a member of the well-financed National Antarctic Expedition under the command of Robert F. Scott. Although this was the best equipped scientific expedition to Antarctica to date, Scott and his team failed to reach the South Pole.

Shackleton returned to Antarctica in 1908 aboard the Nimrod as a member of the British Antarctic Expedition. By January 9, 1908, Shackleton and three companions had trudged to within 96 miles of the South Pole. However, finding themselves dangerously short of supplies, Shackleton made the most difficult decision of his life — he turned his men toward home.

In 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and the British explorer Robert F. Scott led their respective expeditions to Antarctica in an attempt to reach the South Pole. On December 14 of that year, Amundsen arrived at the pole a month before Scott. Sadly, Scott and his four companions died on their return journey.

In 1914, with the prize of the pole already having been claimed by Amundsen, Shackleton set his sights on an ambitious new challenge — a trans-Antarctic expedition from the Wedell Sea to the Ross Sea. He hoped to be the first to cross the cold continent on foot. Shackleton described this expedition as “the last great polar journey that can be made.”

Endurance Crew
In December 1914, Shackleton set out with twenty-eight men on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. However, once again, Shackleton encountered an unexpected and devastating setback when his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in an ice pack in the Wedell Sea. The ship was later crushed, leaving Shackleton and his men stranded.

Shackleton and his men endured a twenty-month ordeal — one of the greatest survival stories of all time. After finally reaching Elephant Island, Shackleton selected a few men and made a daring attempt to reach a whaling station on South Georgia Island in a small lifeboat. He promised the men he left behind that he would return for them. He did. And he did not lose a man.

Frank Worsley
I first learned about Shackleton and the failed trans-Antarctic expedition by reading Alfred Lansing’s book, Endurance. The story is remarkable. I could not put the book down. One of my favorite characters in the story is Frank Worsley, captain of the Endurance. When Shackleton selected a small group of men to travel from Elephant Island across 800 miles of ocean to South Georgia Island to get help, Worsley accompanied Shackleton.

Shackleton reached South Georgia Island thanks to Worsley’s brilliant navigation skills. Sailing across the stormy South Atlantic Ocean from one tiny island to the other was no small feat. But Worsley got them to South Georgia where Shackelton was able to arrange for the rescue of his men.

Frank Worsley
A couple of weeks ago, Henry Worsley, a distant cousin of Frank Worsley, set off on a remarkable journey. In his own words: “In this centenary year, to commemorate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1915 attempt to complete the first crossing of the Antarctic Continent, I will attempt the first ever solo crossing of the Antarctic landmass, unsupported and unassisted.”

Thanks to modern technology, Worsley is posting daily updates on his website, including oral logs sent by satellite phone. And, satellite tracking devices enable us to follow his adventure step-by-step. I am especially inspired by the fact that Worsley, who spent 36-years in the military, is attempting to do this solo crossing at the age of 55. Go Worsley!

In a day when most people seek comfort as they grow older, I have deep respect for guys like Worsley who pursue great adventures. In many ways he reminds me of Caleb, one of my favorite Old Testament characters. At 85 years-old, Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Joshua 14:11).

Schakelton Solo Antarctica Map
I know that anything can happen to stop Worsley in his tracks as he walks across Antarctica alone. But I am rooting for him and I am praying that he is able to complete his great adventure. He is motivated by his own family’s history and his desire as a soldier to raise funds to help injured veterans. Frank Worsley and Ernest Shackleton would be proud!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 15, 2015

Praying for Paris

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Christ-followers is that they always move in the direction of people in need. You will find followers of Jesus compassionately serving wherever there are people who are hurting. Whether that hurt was created by social storms, natural catastrophes, unspeakable evils, injustice and oppression, or the challenges of living in a tough geographical context, you will find the followers of Jesus there — doing what Jesus would do!

One thing that a true follower of Christ should never do is to wantonly take the lives of others. To strap on a bomb, walk into a crowd, and kill yourself and those around you is not something that Jesus would do. Such a heinous act would be a direct violation of both the example and the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus never took a life. Instead He gave His own life as a ransom for many. And Jesus never instructed His followers to take a life. He was instead a servant-leader who showed the world what love looks like. Jesus told His disciples that love — not hate — would be the distinguishing hallmark of His followers.

Eiffel Tower
Those responsible for the bombings in Paris have once again shown the world what you can expect from a worldview that is devoid of a sound theology of the sanctity of human life. ISIS, of course, claimed responsibility for this tragedy that took the lives of 129 people and injured hundreds of others. Their impoverished worldview, like those of other terrorist organizations, has once again wreaked havoc and left a trail of wrecked lives.

Pundits and intelligence think tanks will connect countless dots as they analyze the Paris attack. As Steve Jobs once said, you can only connect the dots by looking back. Ultimately, those dots lead to the heart of a worldview that sanctions the killing of those who are not of like faith and practice — or infidels. Those dots will lead to teachings that speak of jihad, not all of which can be explained away or sanitized to define jihad as merely a spiritual struggle.

I applaud the many in the Islamic world who are crying out against the terrorist attacks in Paris. However, my Muslim friends are going to have to do more than hold candlelight vigils. They must ultimately address the exegesis of their own scriptures — especially those passages that sanction violence.

Our decisions are largely driven by our worldview. When Islamic terrorists feel justified in creating hell on earth because of how they interpret their own holy writings, then no one is safe. Islam must take greater measures to educate or reeducate their own youth in order to raise up a generation that thinks differently about the meaning of jihad.

As for me, I will remain an intentional follower of Jesus. There is no confusion with Him. He modeled well what it means to love others and instructed His followers to do the same. I am praying for Paris.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 13, 2015

Swahili Sayings

Every culture has their own sayings or proverbs — practical nuggets of wisdom passed down from generation to generation. Swahili, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa, is rich in proverbs. While in Africa last month, I came across some interesting, enlightening, and entertaining Swahili proverbs. These thought-provoking proverbs are rich in wisdom. Here are a few of my favorites.

Terry and Kids in DRC
Swahili Saying: Mwenye njaa hana miiko.
Translation: A hungry man observes no dietary restrictions.

Proverbs 27:7 expresses a similar sentiment: “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.”

Swahili Saying: Siku utakaya kwenda uchi, ndiyo utakayokutana na mkweo.

Translation: The day you decide to go out naked is the day you will run into your in-laws.
Or into your preacher!

Swahili Saying: Manahodha wengi chombo huenda mrama.
Translation: With too many captains, the ship does not sail properly.
It is indeed true that “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Swahili Saying: Mcheza na tope humrukia.
Translation: He who plays with mud will get splashed.
One popular expression warns, “If you play with fire, you get burned.”

Studious Kids
Swahili Saying: Mwana umleavyondivyo akuavyo.
Translation: As you bring up a child, so he will be.
This saying sounds like Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Swahili Saying: Fadhila ya punda ni mateke.
Translation: The gratitude of a donkey is a kick.
We often caution against ingratitude by saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

Swahili Saying: Kuupanda mchongoma kuushuka ndio ngoma.
Translation: One who climbs a thorn tree may not be able to come down.
Cowboy wisdom warns against getting trapped in a box canyon.

Swahili Saying: Wawili sio mmoja.
Translation: Two is better than one.
The wise King Solomon would agree. He noted,“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

Swahili Saying: Anayefikiri amesimama, aangalie asianguke.
Translation: He who thinks he is standing should be on his guard not to fall down.
The Apostle Paul warned, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Edwardi Lake Tanganyika
Swahili Saying: Maji ya kifuu ni bahari ya chungu.
Translation: Water in a coconut shell is like an ocean to an ant.
We should always try to consider what things look like from the perspective of others.

Swahili Saying: Kila mlango na ufunguwo wake.
Translation: Every door has its own key.
A teacher might think of this saying in terms of how students learn.

Swahili Saying: Heri kujikwa kidole kuliko ulimi.
Translation: Better to stumble with a toe than a tongue.
Proverbs 18:21 warns that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

Swahili Saying: Kulea mimba si kazi kazi kulea mwana.
Translation: It’s not hard to nurse a pregnancy, but it is hard to bring up a child.
The really hard work begins after a child comes into this world.

Swahili Saying: Mwenye kovu usidhani kapowa.
Translation: One with a scar, do not think him as healed.
Proverbs 14:13 shares a similar thought: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.”

Swahili Saying: Methali kulenga si kufuma.
Translation: To aim is to not necessarily hit.
Anybody can aim. However, there is no Olympic medal for aiming!

Swahili Saying: Nyumba usiyolala ndani huijui ila yake.
Translation: You cannot know the defects of a house you have not slept in.
This saying is similar to the Native American proverb, “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.”


For more on wise sayings, check out my posts on Cowboy Proverbs and Dichos Sabios.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 9, 2015

Praying for All Peoples

If you are a member of Kingsland or have recently visited, please check your mailbox for your copy of 40 Days of Prayer for the Nations — our missions ministry’s 2016 Prayer Guide. We are encouraging every family at Kingsland to pray through this guide starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving through the end of the year.

40 Days for Nations
Why pray for the nations?

Evidence of our passion is most often found in the language of our prayers. John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer, pleaded with God, “Give me Scotland or I die.” George Whitfield, probably the most famous evangelist in the eighteenth century, prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul.”

As a Christ-follower, I am passionately concerned about the spiritual welfare of the nations. Like Paul, I feel the weight of my debt or obligation to all peoples (Romans 1:14). Paul considered himself a debtor to all who did not know Christ. This obligation to share Jesus extends to all peoples.

Prayer is a key component in fulfilling our obligation to the nations. I am a Christ-follower because others prayed for me and moved in my direction with the good news about Jesus. I will be forever grateful for those who invited me to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

This prayer guide was born out of my concern for the spiritual welfare of the nations. At Kingsland, we have accepted the responsibility to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ, one home at a time. The Great Commission uses the words panta ta ethne or “all peoples” — a reference to every people group on the planet.

Today, there are more than 6,600 remaining unreached people groups in the world. An unreached people group is one that lacks enough followers of Christ and resources to evangelize their own people. We have an obligation to pray for these people groups, to move in their direction, and to invite them to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

40 Days of Prayer
I invite you to pray for the nations over the next forty days and throughout the new year. The prayer prompts that I wrote for this guide are those that I personally pray daily for our work among the peoples of the world. As you pray, allow each prayer prompt to ascend to heaven in the language of your own prayers.

And, while you pray for the nations, please remember to look for opportunities daily to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ, one home at a time.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 7, 2015

In The Company of Friends

Democratic Republic of the Congo | Tanzania | 27 October 15

We are finally back in Tanzania after a great adventure for the kingdom in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Traveling with our small team has made this adventure all the better. Each of the guys on the team is a seasoned traveler, counted the cost of going to a difficult place, did an excellent job of storying the message, and displayed a rugged determination to take the gospel to the Congolese Taabwa.

Team in Tanzania
Traveling with guys who love venturing to the ragged edge is a privilege. Each of the guys on the team had a the-tougher-the-better attitude. Sleeping in tents, walking long distances, eating fish caught out of Lake Tanganyika, no showers — no problem for the guys on the team. These guys have what it takes to peel back each layer of difficulty involved in taking the good news to hard places.

Once we crossed Lake Tanganyika and returned to Tanzania, we traveled two days to spend time with our friends from the Safwa tribe. We had a season of prayer and study with the Safwa men and women who have become our valued partners in the gospel over the past eight years. There was no better way to end our time in Africa than by spending it in the company of friends.

Safwa Study Time
I had the privilege of leading a day-long study of 2 Corinthians 6 and facilitating discussion on what Paul experienced as a servant of Christ. The Safwa easily related to the hardships that the great apostle described in his second letter to the church at Corinth. Each of the Safwa men and women are familiar with hardships, challenges, difficulties, opposition, and push-back from the forces of darkness.

I am grateful for our partnership with the Safwa. Over the past eight years we have worked together to take the gospel to the Bungu and Taabwa tribes of southwestern Tanzania. Our journey to visit the Taabwa on the Congolese side of the lake was a first for them. These dear friends will continue to follow-up on those who came to faith in Christ in Kivubwe. They will ensure that others who live in villages along that side of the lake continue to have opportunities to hear about Jesus.

Safwa Door
Because God has opened a door of opportunity for us, we are committed to returning to the hard places we visited. Our hearts are strongly knitted together with the hearts of our Safwa friends. God has used our partnership over the years to strengthen the work in a place filled with challenges and hardships. We are grateful to call the Safwa our friends. They continue to teach us what it means to go beyond for the kingdom of God.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 5, 2015

The Worst Place to Be Sick

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 25 October 2015

One of the toughest things about living in a remote geographical context is the lack of access to good medical care. Spending this past week in Kivubwe, a village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has again reminded me of the intense suffering of those who live far from medical care.

The DRC is often referred to as the worst place in the world to be a woman. In remote places like Kivubwe, maternity can mean mortality because of pregnancy related conditions. The maternal and infant mortality rate here is among the highest in the world. Additionally, the problem of fistulas as a result of pregnancies gone bad is a huge problem for women.

This past week I met two teenagers who have been suffering in silence in Kivubwe. Hemmed in against the shores of Lake Tanganyika by mountains, these kids have limited options for getting the specialized care they need. And, because their families are on the lowest end of the poverty scale, these families cannot afford to access the care their children require.

Boy With Leprosy
On the day that I accompanied one of our ex-pat partners, a surgeon, to a village clinic an hour’s boat ride from Kivubwe, a fifteen-year-old teenager joined us. My doctor friend explained that this young man was dealing with the initial stages of leprosy — already visible in his fingers and toes. The DRC, it turns out, has one of the highest number of new cases of leprosy in the world.

Leprosy — I am familiar with this dread disease and what it can do to a human body. I have met many people with leprosy on my travels to India. In this day and age leprosy is a preventable disease, unless you live far from medical care. My doctor friend introduced the boy to the folks who run the small village clinic we visited and arranged for him to get medical care. We will help to underwrite the medical costs of this boy’s care.

Later in the week I met a thirteen-year-old girl who had a horrible skin disease. I sent photos back home so that a dermatologist could help with the diagnosis. The doctor looked at the pics and identified the skin disease as a congenital condition called Ichthyosis Vulgaris. He also prescribed a plan to help mitigate the condition. Again, we will help underwrite the cost of the medical care that this young girl needs.

Although I have seen all sorts of terrible diseases and physical ailments on my travels, nothing bothers me more than to see children suffer — especially from things that are preventable. Certainly the worst place to be sick is any place that is far from good medical care. Remote villages like Kivubwe are indeed among the worst places in the world to be sick.

Every summer, the children of Kingsland raise funds during our Vacation Bible School to help kids in other parts of the world. Next year, we will invest our VBS offering in the DRC to help build three operating rooms in three remote villages. Our partner and his wife, both doctors, will make their rounds at these three locations. This initiative will result in many lives being saved. In the meantime, our missions ministry will continue to assist by helping to underwrite the cost of medical care and the sharing of the gospel in the DRC — one of the worst places in the world to be sick.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 3, 2015

The Day of Trouble

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 24 October 2015

Trouble often lurks in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike. After five days of fruitful work among the Congolese Taabwa, trouble came looking for us. We had just finished lunch when I noticed a man walking in our direction. Something about him bothered me — the look on his face, his walk. Whatever it was, I had an uneasy feeling about this guy.

I have had uneasy feelings like this before. Over the years of taking the gospel to hard places I have met too many guys like him. I have been questioned by authorities, followed by police, surrounded by angry people, run out of more than one village, physically pushed by a Muslim imam, and had my stuff confiscated. This guy, I thought to myself, had the unmistakable markings and swagger of trouble.

His first order of business was to identify himself as a person of authority. He was, it turned out, a low-level official who was despised by locals because he is a bully. Although we had all of our documents in order and had permission to be in the village, he insisted that we did not and threatened jail numerous times over the course of what became hours of back and forth.

Over the years I have learned that you cannot reason with bullies whose only agenda is to flex their scrawny muscles and cause unnecessary trouble. When the woman who had prepared our meal asked him why he was causing trouble for us, the guy flexed again. He warned her that she did not know who she was talking to and should be careful lest she and her husband end up dead in the jungle.

By now the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Our partner motioned to us to break camp and to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, a military official showed up and got into a back and forth with bully boy. He told him to back off and that bullies like him are the reason people are afraid to come and bring much needed help to their village.

Bill Under Stars
By nightfall things finally quieted down. We made preparation to sleep under the stars since we had already taken down our tents. We had a sleepless night and stayed on watch lest trouble return in the night. When the sun came up, the bully was back for yet another muscle-flexing round. And then the military guy came to our rescue once again, giving us time to load our gear onto our boat. This time our military ally threatened the bully with arrest and told him to stand down in no uncertain terms. Bully boy finally slithered away.

Scenic View of Village
Going to hard places requires that we do so with the awareness that the enemy is always looking for ways to push back and to extinguish the light. And although we had to leave the DRC a day earlier than planned, two more young men came to faith in Christ the morning we left — a reminder that no matter how hard the enemy tries, he will not frustrate the purposes of God. Ultimately God will prevail in spite of any bullies or any troubles that may come our way.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 1, 2015

Small Beginnings

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 22 October 2015

The rainy season is still weeks away in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — but it has rained anyway over the past two days. Although the rain was refreshing, it did complicate things a bit for us as we slept in tents along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Just as we were getting accustomed to the searing heat in the daytime, we had to adjust to keeping ourselves and our gear dry.

Rainy Day Boy
The rain also slowed us down a bit — in fact, it slowed everything down in the village. People waited until the rain lightened up before starting their day. During the heaviest rain we hunkered down in a dark hut adjacent to our campsite and kept dry under its thatched roof. This wait-time turned into a prayer time.

Rainy Day
As soon as the rain started to let up, we ventured out to engage with the people of the villages near our base camp. On one rainy day, my friend Terry and I and our translator decided to hike the narrow trail that followed the rugged shoreline from our base camp to the next village. The hike was nothing short of spectacular and afforded us amazing vistas of Lake Tanganyika.

Omar & Terry Hike
We stopped to share Bible stories with a young family at the first village we came to. Like everyone else we met, they had never heard anything about the creation of the world nor how God had made the first man and woman. So, we started there. Chronological Bible storying is tedious work but important because it sets the context for understanding Jesus and why He came.

Terry Hike Rocks
After a pleasant visit we ventured farther down the trail toward the next village. The last quarter-mile of the trail disappeared into a chaotic jumble of slick boulders. It looked intimidating until a mother with a baby wrapped in a sling came by, hopping from boulder to boulder in flip-flops. Folks here walk this rugged trail every day and do so with mountain goat agility. As for us flat-landers, not so much but we did enjoy the challenge of picking a good line from rock to rock.

Edwardi Arrives Village
The final turn into the village was National-Geographic-picturesque. Absolutely beautiful. As we walked past wooden fishing boats and a jumble of nets on the sandy shore, we met an 80-year old man from Zambia. He was sitting on the porch of his granddaughter’s home situated within a stone’s throw from the shoreline. He welcomed us with enthusiasm and invited us to sit with them.

Terry & Edwardi
After listening to his story and asking him lots of questions about his life, we learned that he had heard about Jesus. So, we talked about Jesus. As we sat and faced the lake, we shared stories about how Jesus had called His first disciples along the Sea of Galilee and demonstrated His power over nature on this lake that figures so prominently in all four Gospels. Both he and his granddaughter listened with great interest as we talked about Jesus and why He had come.

Red Tree Kids
One thing is certain when visiting with people who have little or no understanding of the Scripture — you have to be patient and build their understanding about God one story at a time. Over the course of our time of storying in the villages, a dozen people came to faith in Christ, some with grateful tears in their eyes. Our Safwa partners started and will continue the discipleship process to prepare these new believers to take ownership of their remote slice of geography.

Omar & Red Tree
In the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13, Jesus likened the kingdom of God to things that start small but then become big — like a tiny mustard seed that grows to become the largest tree in the garden or a small amount of leaven that a woman worked into a large amount of flour. We rejoice that the kingdom of God has now come to a small fishing village in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Pensive Edwardi
We are confident that the small beginnings of the kingdom in this remote place on the planet will indeed grow over the coming years and spread from home to home and on to neighboring villages as one transformed life touches another. That, after all, is how the gospel came to us — and that is the leavening power of the kingdom!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 30, 2015

Pushing Back the Darkness

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 20 October 2015

I once heard a story about a blind old man who carried a lantern in the dark. A young passerby who saw him laughed at the sight of this blind man carrying a lantern at night. “Are you afraid that you are going to stumble over something,” he mockingly asked the old man. “No,” the old man replied, “I just want to make certain that no one stumbles over me.”

The blind man was right about one thing — it’s easy to stumble over things in the dark. That’s why we need light. Light enables us to see what we otherwise would be unable to see. When Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the significance of His incarnation, He explained that He had come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Him would not remain in darkness (John 12:46).

Kids on Net
I have thought a lot about darkness the past few days as we have walked slowly among the people of the village we are visiting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This war-ravaged nation witnessed incredible loss of human life. During the years of war, missionary efforts in the country were severely hampered. Throughout those years the country was steeped in darkness and unspeakable evils. The Congolese know what it means to “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79).

Bill Pitching Tent
When we arrived at this village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, the tribal leader gave us permission to set up camp among them. Village kids watched with great interest as we pitched our tents. People of the village walked over to see what was going on and welcomed us with open arms. Our base camp became a hub of fellowship and the laughter of children and some deep conversations with the people about spiritual matters.

Water Carriers
Every morning before venturing into the village, we spent time in prayer as a team. On our first morning, our partner reminded us of why we had come so far. “We are here to push back the darkness,” he said — a sobering reminder that we were indeed in a dark place and among people who had not heard about the light of the world. And so we ventured daily into the village, carrying our lanterns.

Where do you begin a spiritual conversation with people who have not heard about Jesus? We began by laying out a basic infrastructure of the story of redemption using chronological Bible stories. Beginning with the story of creation, we explained God’s interest in and love for the people of the world. We talked about why God eventually had to send His only Son to illuminate our dark world. We had conversations under trees, in the village market and local school, and anywhere we met people who wanted to listen.

Village School
As we shared Bible stories and answered questions, I thought about the words of Psalm 119:130 — “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” We are grateful for every opportunity we had to share about the hope that is found in Jesus. We were even given permission to share in the village school. Our deepest prayer is that the things people heard will indeed enable them to see and understand what they previously had been unable to see. Every person we spoke with thanked us for coming and for helping them to learn about God.

Praying w New Believers
We are also grateful for the dozen men and women who embraced Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Our Safwa partners will mentor these individuals who will remain in this remote place. This is their mission field — they must reach their own neighbors. These new ambassadors of light must now carry their lanterns of God’s light and push back the darkness in this hard place.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 28, 2015

Regardless of Difficulties

Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo | 19 October 2015

Jesus shared a profound truth about the purpose of His incarnation while visiting in the home of Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector — “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). Concern for the welfare of those who were separated from God compelled Jesus to empty Himself, take on the form of a servant, and leave the indescribable beauty of His home in order to enter into the dark realities of our homes (Phil. 2:7).

Team Pic at Dar
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus charged His followers to take His message to all peoples, regardless of any hardships or difficulties associated with doing so. His plan was simple. His kingdom would grow at the speed of one transformed life touching another, like a small amount of leaven worked into a large amount of flour (Matthew 13:33).

The last command of Christ has not been repealed — it is still in effect. There are still thousands of people groups waiting to hear the good news about Jesus. Many of these peoples live in places that are difficult to reach, even in our day of high-speed everything. The hard reality is that many people have yet to hear the gospel because they happened to be born in tough geographical contexts.

Campsite View
Early this morning, a team of men from Kingsland and I ventured to one of the more difficult geographical contexts on the planet — a village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moving in the direction of the Taabwa tribe in this region was far from easy. Two-plus days of non-stop travel took us as far as the shores on the Tanzanian side of the vast lake that separates Tanzania from the DRC.

TZ Boat Driver
Once we reached our launching point, we slept for a few hours before loading our gear onto an old wooden boat. The twenty-plus mile journey across the narrowest part of the lake was hard. Five-foot waves tossed our boat and our stomachs for the four hours it took us to cross the lake. Along the way we stopped to clear immigration and waited an additional four hours for permission to continue our journey into the DRC.


Our final two-hour push took us along the shores of the now-calm lake where we could see the villages at the foot of the mountains along to shoreline — villages that can only reached by boat, adding yet one more layer of difficulty in reaching these people with the gospel. When we made the final turn to the village we had come so far to visit, we were greeted with great excitement. Very few, literally count-them-on-one-hand, foreigners have visited these villages.

Terry Arriving in DRC
After meeting the village leaders and receiving permission to camp among them, we headed back to the boat to off-load our gear. Surrounded by a crowd, I drew a map of the world in the sand and illustrated the distance we had travelled to come to their village. And then I asked if any of them had heard of Jesus. Not a single person said yes.

DRC Kids Welcome
We journeyed far to share the good news with the people of this remote village — and we did so in obedience to the last command of Jesus. As I looked at all of the faces in the crowd I thought about something else — the danger of being lost with no one looking for you. I was glad that we had come so far to visit the people who live in this very remote place. After all, that is exactly what Jesus would want us to do, regardless of the difficulties.

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