Blessed with the residual effects of jet lag, I awoke each day pre-dawn, my alarm the rooster’s crow. Then came staccato barks of neighborhood dogs, and in the distance droned the sound of traffic accentuated by the incessant horns in a city that didn’t sleep. But it was the coo of the doves outside my window in this South Asian city that I remember most.
One morning toward the end of my trip, my mind wandered back over my experiences the previous week. I’d visited new Christians in the region. And I thought back on the conversation I’d had with my host. Although this South Asian Christian had been instrumental in planting hundreds of churches, training leaders, sponsoring schools, and refuge homes, he expressed concern he would not have time to complete all he wanted to do for God. He, like me, was in the last quarter of his life, and by his country’s standards was in the final stretch—I want to finish well.
He verbalized what had been on my mind for long time.
I, too, want to finish life well. Sure, I know God gives freely. He doesn’t expect payment. Nor can I purchase His appreciation with my money or deeds. God is merciful, generous and loves me as I am. But, I, like my South Asian brother, want to live the last quarter of my life to its fullest.
As I listened to my new brothers and sisters share what God is doing in South Asia, I was humbled by how much they had accomplished in less than a half century of evangelism. These believers live the book of Acts. I heard of miraculous healings, the demon-possessed freed from their misery, blessings abounding in the poorest of communities. For a week I traveled with South Asian versions of Barnabas and Paul. I shared lemon ginger tea with Lydia, Mary, Martha and Priscilla. I praised the Lord in song with South Asian Samaritans.
I broke chapati with South Asian apostles, honoring the saints who came before them with their commitment to take the Gospel first to their neighbors, then to communities beyond. They may not have understood that they were living in the 10/40 Window, but they toiled just the same. They planted seeds they might never see harvested, and did so with joyful confidence that they were helping God to finish the task of bringing the last band of humanity into the Kingdom.
Spending time with these fervent Christians, I felt disappointed that I had not made myself more available to the Lord over my lifetime. What would I have to present to God for the blessings He had bestowed on me? I hadn’t planted churches, built schools or rescued women from sex trafficking. I’d failed more times than I succeeded in my commitments to prayer and fasting. I am not sure if I have ever really even led a soul to the Lord. What had I to show for 60+ years of life?
The ceiling fan circulated cool, calm air. I blinked back tears and prayed—I don’t want to disappoint You, Lord.
Then came the coo of the morning dove. As she cooed comfort to her nested children, so God encouraged me. He reminded me that I was created to live the life He’d given me. He knew me before I was born and created me to do great and wonderful things. He assured me that I only needed to continue to trust and lean deeper into Him.
I rested in the reassurance that a willing soul is never too old to serve. We are all children of God with wonderful possibilities in store right up until the moment we take our last breaths. I, like my South Asian brothers and sisters, have different talents. Each of us is uniquely called. Each of us is uniquely equipped to serve in our partnership with God.
I believe God took me to South Asia to share with all of you the great things we can accomplish when we partner with Christ. And although we may not hike the foothills of the Himalayas, praying and fasting for the unreached of that region, we are part of God’s plan. Our prayers sustain new believers in difficult circumstances. Our financial support provides the training and materials they need to share the Gospel with the last band of humanity to be welcomed into the Kingdom. Our enthusiasm to share all we have learned with others fans the flames of the Gospel fire which, in the words of Harold Kurtz, is out of control!
What an exciting time to be alive.
And, oh, what an opportunity to invest in a life well spent!
—Roberta Updegraff, author and Frontier Fellowship vision trip participant