There are many things that can (and will) be said about Bangladesh, but let me first say it's far away! Our trip getting there was 40 hours ... coming home only 36 due to shorter layovers! And after getting home around midnight last Friday and sleeping a few hours, I hopped in a car to drive to Chattahoochee, FL for my home church's 100 year anniversary celebration. So after traveling some 10,620 miles over the past couple of weeks I'm very glad to be home for a while!
I learned many things while in Bangladesh - things about that culture, things about the work of the church in that country, a good bit about my own selfish heart, and much about trusting God. There's a part of me that wishes I had a bubbly, emotional, passionate response and could say it was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced ... but that's not exactly true. And while it is definitely true I've never seen or faced anything like what we experienced in Bangladesh, I've not exactly felt any tingly emotions! I guess the best description of how I'm feeling is that of being overwhelmed ... overwhelmed by the staggering needs of a densely populated place that is essentially void of the Gospel ... overwhelmed by the realization of how small and insignificant I am in such a world ... overwhelmed by seeing how weak is my faith ... overwhelmed by how little difference Christ seems to make in my life on a daily basis ... overwhelmed by my lack of evangelistic zeal ... overwhelmed by the utter need to depend so fully on God's grace for absolutely everything. The list could go on and on! If you see me with a blank stare on my face over the next few weeks it's because I'm still processing everything I saw and experienced and trying to figure out what the Lord is doing in my heart and ministry as I serve as pastor here at Community.
Our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ there in Bangladesh can teach us much about faith, boldness, fellowship, sacrifice, service, humility, trust, evangelism, etc. We must learn from them what's it like to live in a culture where Christianity is frowned upon and even persecuted (we're rapidly heading in that direction). We must learn from them the joy of worshiping our Savior without the fear of how it might interfere with our own agendas. Bill Nikides told me years ago - "it's not so much that the Bangladesh church needs us, we need them." I learned that this comment is true.
As I reminded Bill of his comment from years ago, he clarified it by saying that the Bangladesh church actually does need us as much as we need them ... we need each other. The church there has great needs in the areas of discipleship and leadership training and I'll be working with Bill and some others helping to work out a discipleship curriculum for the PCB (Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh). They have financial needs that we can help with. They need the wisdom and counsel from the churches here in the USA as they make plans for the future. They need to know they are cared for and supported by us as they undertake the impossible task of penetrating the nation of Bangladesh with the Gospel. We are in a partnership with other PCA churches to help the PCB do these and other things. I would ask that you join me in praying for the PCB and urging us as a congregation to get actively involved in this partnership.
I'll be going back! It might be a couple of years or so, but I'm willing to make that long journey again for the sake of those precious fellow believers. I'd ask that you begin praying now about possibly joining me. I'm so grateful for Darrin Nold and his accompanying me on this recent trip. I couldn't have asked for a better traveling companion!