It feels SO good to be sitting here writing a new blog post. I have been devoting so much attention to getting back into the swing of things here at school that I unfortunately let my blog fall by the wayside- but I’m back! And I have a lot to talk about, so get ready.
For the past few weeks, the idea of missions has really been on my heart. Several months ago, I began to consider going on a summer project with Cornerstone (Campus Crusade for Christ at UNC) and ever since then, I have found the sufferings of the people outside of my world being brought to my attention.
It started with a video that I watched at Cornerstone’s weekly meeting one night- it featured Swedish students discussing their attitude toward religion and the gospel (which are two different things, by the way). The underlying theme of it all was that they didn’t even want to think about it- it scared them because they had no understanding of the overwhelming love of Christ. It just broke my heart to realize that these people rely solely on themselves to get through everyday life. I can’t imagine trying to get through a day – much less a lifetime – without knowing that God has a plan for me. Shortly after seeing that video, I attended an information session about going to Sweden for part of the summer to share the gospel with people there. However, this was all happening at the same time that my family was struggling greatly in the ever-changing situation with my granddad, and I essentially put Sweden on the back burner to focus on him.
As of recent, the situation with my granddad has become stable and it has, in some ways, freed my mind to think about other situations. While the idea of Sweden has popped into my head from time to time since I felt called to go there a few months ago, I just dismissed it, telling myself that it would be too much money or that I wouldn’t have enough time to discuss it with my family, fill out the application, and raise the money before deadline.
But here’s what happens when you pray that God will use you to further His kingdom: He holds you to it. And lately, there have been a number of instances that have pulled on my heart strings and remind me that I need to step out of my comfort zone, take a risk, and trust God to send me where He wants me.
In my history class, we’re reading a book called Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. It is, as the title implies, about the grueling and miserable lives of those trapped in North Korea. Some of the people that Demick talks about were South Korean natives, but got pushed to the northern area during the Korean War and were never able to make it back before the line was drawn at the 38th Parallel. While South Korea enjoys a thriving economy with the same luxuries that Americans do, North Koreans don’t even have access to news of the outside world; all news that its citizens receive is censored and altered to show the “government” of North Korea in a positive light. North Koreans have virtually no access to electricity. They are brainwashed to think that the fact that they overwork their bodies with extremely little compensation should be something they pride themselves on, as they are doing it out of loyalty to their country and their “Great Leader.” I could go on for quite some time about the hellish lives that North Koreans live, but I could sum it up by saying this: it’s sickening. It is absolutely terrible. No human should be treated in that way. I have trouble even wrapping my brain around the idea that the leader of North Korea has an ego so large and a brain so convoluted that treating the people that way is justifiable by any means. But even worse than that (yes, surprisingly- it could be worse) is that the children living in North Korea are taught that their leader, Kim Il-sung (who is no longer the leader of North Korea, but was at the time that this book was compiled) was God. When reading that, my heart sunk into my stomach. HE is God?! He’s not God at all- he is the furthest thing from God. And people BELIEVE it- they have no other choice because they don’t know anything different. Here’s an excerpt from Demick’s book describing this ideology:
“Kim Il-Sung understood the power of religion… Once in power, he closed the churches, banned the Bible, deported believers to the hinterlands, and appropriated Christian imagery and dogma for the purpose of self-promotion. If Kim Il-Sung was God, then Kim Jong-Il was the son of God. Like Jesus Christ, Kim Jong-il’s birth was said to have been heralded by a radiant star in the sky and the appearance of a beautiful double rainbow. A swallow descended from heaven to sing of the birth of a ‘general who will rule the world.'”
The story of Christ is the greatest love story of all time, and THAT is what they get as their love story. It’s a disgrace, it really is. I don’t have any other words for it, because it’s just so awful.
So, as Christians, what are we going to do? How are we going to fight it? I wish I had the answers to these questions, but I just urge you all to pray for tough situations like these. I realize that I just threw a bunch of devastating problems at you and then failed to provide any way to fix them (believe me, if I knew what to do, I would write about it for days), but I just want to encourage you all to pray for these people. Pray that I will make the right decision about leaving this little bubble that I live in and teaching others about the gospel. Pray that you will listen to God’s calling for your life. It’s scary to let go of the plans we make for ourselves, but what pushes me to do it anyway is knowing that it’s even scarier to hear that there are unreached people groups out there- people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, International Justice Mission is working to end slavery and human trafficking around the world, and one way they are doing this is gathering signatures for a letter written to President Obama to join the fight against slavery. I didn’t explain it very well, but you can read about their mission and sign the letter here: http://www.ijm.org/content/state-of-the-union?utm_source=Bitly&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=SOTU2012.
Also, the information session that I attended about going to Sweden was through Campus Crusade for Christ, and they host a number of summer projects in various locations, all meant for furthering the gospel. If this is something that interests you, you can visit their website here: http://gosummerproject.com/.
This is a heavy subject, and it’s easy to feel discouraged because we don’t have a quick answer for things like this. But in a way, we do: Jesus. He has overcome all of the problems of this world, and we must rely on Him first before we take the next step.
Have a great week, and PLEASE contact me if you have any questions or just want to talk about this!