As Christians, we are commissioned to “Go” (Mark 16:15) and reach the nations. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming; how can we make a difference in this sea of seven billion people? Although large crowds characterized Jesus’ ministry, he focused his energy on 12 individuals: his disciples. While in our own strength we sometimes seek to add people to the Kingdom of God, Jesus focused on multiplicative growth.
We play soccer at the Highlands some nights. The field is small as it used to be a swimming pool. The management at the Highlands filled dirt in the pool and converted it to a soccer field with artificial turf. A tall fence surrounds the pool, so that when I first entered I felt as though I was entering an ultimate fighting cage! We had a lot of fun playing with the residents of the Highlands.
After the game, I found myself talking to a young man named “Luol” who is 17, stands no less than 6’6” tall, and is from Sudan. Luol has lived in the States for about five years and will be a senior in high school this fall. His mom and his four siblings lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for five years after they fled from Sudan. Luol’s greatest aspiration is to become a jet pilot like his dad was before he was killed in the Sudanese civil war in 2003. If that does not work out, he would like to become a professional soccer player.
Luol is only 17, but his experiences have made him mature beyond his years. He carries himself with decorum and respect. He is a Christian and participates in a Bible study led by the interns from World Relief who also live in the Highlands.
Our friends are not limited to soccer players. “Samir” lives a few apartments down from where I live. He is six years old and loves piggyback rides. His family is from Iraq. He loves to give swipe-swipe-pound handshakes and ride bikes in the small, crowded apartment parking lot with his gaggle of friends. His parents are working very hard to provide for their family.
The other day, I played badminton in the apartment parking lot with “Sumi” and his three brothers. Their family just moved to the States one month ago. Sumi went to university in Darjeeling, India and studied science there. I never knew badminton could be such a serious sport!
Living at the Highlands is a singular experience. I doubt one could live in proximity to such a wide assortment of cultures in any other place. At times, these refugees can feel isolated and forgotten. But God has not forgotten them. Each of them is His son or daughter. They are His workmanship and masterpiece. They have special talents and skills and personality traits that God placed in each of them.
One individual (Jesus) investing in a few (the Twelve) resulted in the greatest spiritual revival in history. The enemies of the Gospel exclaimed, “They are turning the world upside down!” (Acts 17:6). God has a plan to reach the nations, but we must realize that He is using us to reach individuals! Investing in one person is always worthwhile.
Caleb is a participant in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.