by Jeff Havenner, vision trip participant
I was privileged to recently be part of a Frontier Fellowship vision trip to three countries in Central Asia. We visited with pastors, church planters and followers of Jesus who are engaged in various forms of outreach to communities with little or no access to the Gospel.
Every place we went, people asked us, “Why did you come here?” That’s a good question. Why didn’t we take vacation time to visit a place like Florida or Hawaii? I told them I came to Central Asia to learn from them—to learn what it’s like to be faithful to Jesus in places where the cost of being His disciple can be as high as imprisonment. I came to pray with them for their nations and their ministry.
My reason for going is best expressed by Paul’s words to the Romans when he said, “For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11–12).
Paul was speaking as an apostle appointed by Jesus. He had the privilege and calling to impart spiritual gifts. I may not be able to do that, but certainly felt called to the second part—to encourage and be encouraged.
Our presence with believers in these countries was the best gift we could share—an encouragement to their faith. Our faith, too, was strengthened through opportunities for prayer and fellowship and by seeing and joining their work firsthand.
On one occasion, we attended a party with students at a vocational school. Our participation in the activities with students added to their celebration. Another evening, a group of us walked through part of a city with workers who reach out to women caught in human trafficking. We prayed as we walked, asking Jesus to help those who are trapped and give strength to the ones working to set captives free.
Frontier Fellowship trips expand one’s vision. They can involve doing some challenging things in unfamiliar places. I recommend a trip like this to anyone who wants to get a glimpse of how Jesus’ followers around the world are responding to the Great Commission.
Going to Central Asia helped me understand that Jesus’ Church is not just an American phenomenon. My eyes were opened to many people from different cultures who follow Jesus, calling on His name in different languages and faithfully serving Him.
Now when I get ready for church on Sundays, I think of my Central Asian brothers and sisters who’ve already gathered that morning to worship God together. I feel that I’m adding my voice to theirs.