Feature

How Long?

Comings and goings beyond our control

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“We just don’t know how long we will have with them!”
Toward the end of a recent trip to the C&MA’s North and Central Asia Region, I heard this comment twice in less than a week.

The first time I heard it, I was talking to William*, one of our international workers in a major city in Russia. We were sitting in the basement of an old building that had been renovated as a center where immigrant workers from central Asia could come to learn English and celebrate their indigenous culture. He explained that these immigrants move to Russia to find work, making far more money than is possible in their home country. They leave their families behind, sending most of their earnings back to support their loved ones.

Often, as many as 20 central Asian workers live in one apartment. They become homesick, missing the food, the culture and their families. For many of them, the center our international workers and their national church coworkers have made is a haven. Several of these central Asian workers have given their lives to Jesus as a result of relationships with our team members at the center. Some have remained in Russia, but most have moved back to their homeland as a new witness for the Savior.

“The situation of the central Asian workers who come to Russia is such that we just don’t know how long we will have with them,” William said. Any impact on their lives must be made as quickly as possible. Many times, William will have just a five-minute notice—a quick phone call as they are leaving for the airport—that one of these dear men is returning to his homeland, perhaps never to see William again.

A week later, I was having lunch with some Alliance workers in “Tea House,” a country in which access to its citizens is carefully monitored by the government (creative-access, or CAC). One of them said the very same words his colleague in Russia had used: “We just don’t know how long we will have with them!”

But the meaning was far different. The Tea House worker was talking about the possibility that the government could tell them to leave at a moment’s notice. Because the leaders of CAC countries don’t always appreciate the presence of Western Christians within their borders, there is always the chance that today will be the day our workers have to uproot their families and leave.

Because our workers just don’t know how long they will have with the residents of these nations, The Alliance makes the most of every opportunity to share the good news of a risen Savior with those living in darkness.

Two countries, two workers, two meanings from one statement: “We just don’t know how long we will have with them.” As you give to the Great Commission Fund, please pray for our workers around the world as they face circumstances and pressures we just can’t imagine. One worker may have only a moment’s notice that a friend is leaving, and other workers may have only a moment’s notice that they themselves have to leave.

None of us really know how much time we have with those we come in contact with. No matter where we live, we all need to make the most of our time with those who are living in darkness.

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