he·ro noun : a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
This past week, I took a few days off to spend some quality time with two of my heroes: S and B (initials used for security purposes). I admire these two people so much for the way they courageously follow Jesus and represent Him with such humility and integrity.
You may recognize that S is my youngest brother, so you may understand why I was overjoyed when he, his wife, and two month old son traveled to visit my family in Burlington. S is not only my brother but one of my best friends… and yes one of my heroes (which is not a term I use flippantly).
You may recall a tsunami happening on the other side of the world in December of 2004. This disaster rocked several countries and opened doors for relief agencies and ministries which had been closed before. That next year S and B as a newly married couple moved their lives to a remote island in the Indian Ocean to lead a community development organization and train indigenous church planters among people groups which are overwhelmingly Muslim. Any one of those factors appears daunting:
- Moving across the world far away from friends and family.
- Leading a community development organization in the midst of intense devastation.
- Learning a new language and culture while discerning how best to share Jesus.
- Ministering among people groups where persecution is a bona fide reality.
I remember visiting them three years ago and staying in their island home: flying in on a twin engine prop, riding on potholed roads, dodging random water buffaloes, the sound of rain on tin roofed house, sketchy electricity, and of course a squatty potty. I met the indigenous couple who would soon take over the community development organization and church planting work on the island. We shared a meal with a hajji- a Muslim elder in the local village- who told me how he loved my brother and his wife like his own children. He knew of their faith in Jesus and made me promise to tell my mother that they would be safe in his village. I saw first-hand God’s faithfulness in the midst of bouts with loneliness, wrestling through spiritual warfare, navigating government red-tape to avoid deportation, and living with the ever-present threat of persecution. I saw first-hand the ripple effects of identifying with a broken people and incarnating the message of Jesus.
Now they’ve moved to a bigger city in the same country as they prayerfully contemplate their next steps with engaging some of the most unreached people groups on the planet- places where Sharia is the law of the land. They have considered the cost and believe that Jesus and these millions of people are worth whatever they may be called upon to pay.
This morning as I walked them to the gate at the airport, I choked back tears.
Tears because they are my earthly family who I love and miss intensely.
Tears because I am so thankful to be a part of the Jesus’ family with them.
Tears because I am so proud of the example they are for me, my family, and numerous other Jesus-followers.
And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:28-30