Nomads by Faith

The following (lightly edited) is a journal entry written by a Navigator who, along with his wife and small children, is pioneering a work in Asia.

Photo courtesy of Leio McLaren

Photo courtesy of Leio McLaren

The day finally came. We sold our house and left many possessions behind. We said goodbye to family and friends and boarded a jet to Asia.

By faith, says Hebrews 11:8-9, Abraham obeyed and went out. By faith he lived in the land of promise.

Like Abraham, there is so much we don’t know. But we know the important things: God, His promises, and His calling on our lives. So, we obeyed and set our course toward the nation that we were to receive as an inheritance, an inheritance shared with Jesus himself (Psalm 2:8).

Now we’re here. Now we live here. This isn’t like one of our past visits. It feels different. On day one, we didn’t get out to see famous places. Instead, we unpacked, journeyed to the local market, and started figuring things out: SIM cards, house help, where to get food. Lunch was bread and eggs stored in a minimally stocked fridge. Everything seems slow.

The kids are getting into new routines. Baths happen in a plastic tub. The inevitable spilling leaves the bathroom floor wet. For them, continuity is found in their toy trains and blocks, and their favorite lullaby app. But their world is different: new beds, a rooftop to run on, muddy streets swarming with people.

On our way to do some shopping yesterday, we got caught behind a street parade celebrating a local deity. Our son, imagining the parade he’d seen at home, said, “Maybe see big horsey.” We tried to brace him for the fact that there probably wouldn’t be any horses. Well, there were two large, white horses pulling a decorated parade wagon! We even got a picture next to the horses. What an amazing sign of God’s goodness to our child.

The parade progressed slowly. With thousands of people lining the jam-packed streets, we couldn’t exactly pass by. So, we walked a little, ducked into stores, and then walked again. Finally arriving at the market, we tromped through the mud buying potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and other supplies as the kids tried to make sense of it all.

By faith we are living in the land of promise. It is, for us, a foreign land. The meaning of the deity’s parade was bewildering. Finding food is like hunting for treasure. Communication is confusing. The flavors are new and strange. Household routines are unfamiliar. Our local friends are as yet few. We don’t belong here, but it’s our land of promise.

By faith we are living in tents. Even as we set up this apartment, we realize that it’s temporary. We might live here for a month, maybe six months, maybe even a year. But it won’t be long. We’ll move on soon, like nomads who pack up their tents night after night. Nothing we like about this place will remain with us forever. Everything we dislike will not endure without end.

Even in our temporary state, we are assured of what we hope for and certain of things not yet seen. God will bring to pass His promises for the nations here. Our labor is not in vain. God will fulfill His purpose for us in our generation. God has prepared good works for us to walk into. All the nations will worship and glorify the name of Jesus. Our lives are in transition, but the Gospel will endure forever.