FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 27, July 12, 2018
“The people who were dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.” -Matthew 4:16
Modern Missionary Zeal
My friend, Ben Cohen of Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Hunter Combs, an American working with Frontline Fellowship, and two of my South African friends, John Mark Clifford and Abrie Lourens, also of Frontline Fellowship, Cape Town, South Africa, returned recently from a mission excursion into the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Sudan is an Islamic country which has been waging a war of ethnic cleansing for many years on the Sub-Saharan black tribes of the Nuba mountains and South Sudan. Sudan’s President Al Bashir, who is under international sanctions for crimes against humanity, has for years slaughtered thousands of people in Darfur, South Sudan, the Blue Nile district, and the Nuba mountains. Just after President Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Trump offered to lift economic sanctions against Sudan if Al Bashir stopped the incessant bombing of the Nuba mountains. For well over one year, no bombs have fallen in that region, giving the people there a measure of peace in a land which has known unthinkable tragedy, suffering, and death for decades. You may remember “the lost boys of Sudan,” thousands of young boys who fled their country to escape genocide. Many of them were brought to the U.S. as refugees and one was a member of our church in West Hartford.
Ben Cohen and John Mark Clifford have made several trips over the last couple of years to South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Last December they ventured into a totally Muslim town and began open air preaching. A crowd gathered to listen and thirteen Muslims called on the name of the Lord. When Ben and his team returned recently a church had been established with over thirty converts from Islam now worshipping the risen Christ.
Ben worked well over one year to secure the funding and procurement of 32,000 Bibles and 43,000 The Story of Jesus Christ picture books, both in English, to distribute to the school children of the Nuba Mountains. All were distributed, even in totally Muslim areas because the leaders want their children to speak English, to move away from the Islamic based, Arabic speaking culture forced on the people by Al Bashir.
It is no exaggeration to state that the people there have nothing. The Bibles the children received were the only book they possess. The schools literally have no books or paper. They often write on the dry, dusty ground. One high school group of students, the moment they received their Bibles, were reading the book of Joshua in unison. In some cases children walked two hours each way to receive their Bibles.
During their mission, I was in fairly regular e mail correspondence with Ben Cohen and Peter Hammond, the Director of Frontline Fellowship, and Peter told me that the situation was very “hot,” that the young men, all of whom are married with young children, were in danger by marauding groups who were fighting and killing each other due to cattle raiding. On one occasion the local army with one hundred men escorted our friends out of a killing zone to safety.
I take away from this mission trip three points for your prayerful consideration.
First, the millennial generation, perhaps justifiably so, is regularly maligned by older people, as soft, self-centered, and lazy. Millennials, we are told, have a deep concern for injustice, that they have a social conscience. If we could capture the millennial Christian with a true, Biblical zeal for the Great Commission, of being willing to risk all for the sake of true justice, that people might know the freedom of life in Jesus Christ, then perhaps we could see once again a great wave of missionaries going out to risk their lives for all the great peoples of the world who still live in darkness and face eternal perdition.
Second, why would children walk two hours each way to receive a Bible when so many in the western world utterly reject the Bible and pay it no mind whatsoever? The answer, of course, is that the people of the Nuba Mountains have suffered beyond our wildest imagination. Suffering very often opens people to the only true hope for mankind, to find peace with God. With the exception of those my age who suffered or died in the Viet Nam War, very, very few in our succeeding generations have suffered. God very often uses suffering to draw people to Himself. I have often said that we must have revival in our nation or there is no hope at all; and I don’t see revival coming unless there is some major catastrophe which rivets our attention on what truly matters—reconciliation to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Life is simply too easy for us. There is no compelling reason to seek after God when we live in the lap of luxury.
And third, a life of sacrifice, of being poured out as a drink offering, to use the Apostle Paul’s language, is well worth living. These four young men were in danger, far from their wives and children, living in very dry, hot conditions, sleeping wherever they could, experiencing one logistical setback after another, and yet they persevered in serving people the world has largely forgotten or never known. And knowing all four of them as I do, they will undoubtedly go back for more. These young men remind me of Matthew Henry’s comment in his commentary on Daniel in the lion’s den. Matthew Henry said that the night Daniel spent there was the best night of his life. Why? Because the pre-incarnate Jesus was with him. Jesus is with His people when they are in danger. My friends, to borrow from the words of the great martyr missionary Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” While God has not called the vast majority of us to travel to the Nuba Mountains to risk everything for the good news of Jesus Christ, He has called us to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. At the very least, this means we dedicate our prayers, time, and money to getting the gospel to all the great peoples of the world who are still living in darkness. Remarkably, as only one example, there are ninety tribes of people in the Nuba Mountains who are largely unreached by the gospel. All the mission organizations, with the exception of Samaritan’s Purse and Frontline Fellowship, have long ago left the area.
May we pray for Frontline Fellowship and PEF missionary Ben Cohen. Both could use your financial and prayer support. I promise, you will get a “big bang for your buck.”
Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship
P.O. Box 847
Bristol, TN 37621
Designate it “Ben Cohen.” Or donate online by clicking here.
If in the United States, you can send a check for Frontline Fellowship to:
Frontline Fellowship USA
P.O. Box 728
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
PHOTO CREDIT: Frontline Fellowship, Frontline News Update 2 of 2018