Hearing a Heartbeat

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AsiaThat morning, snowflakes were seesawing down on my hair–and there I was wearing sandals. I kissed my family goodbye and loaded myself and an overstuffed hiking backpack into a friend’s Prius.

And so began my two-week trip to Asia (via plane, not Prius). After about seven years of not really being together, spread out all over the world, my sisters and I were converging in Asia to celebrate a big birthday of my youngest sister’s. She works with migrants, and she and her husband are treading through the adoption process. I get a kick out of bragging on the two of them because their work is long, slow, hard, terribly important, and literally stuffed with blood, sweat, and tears.

So I sat in Beijing, waiting on a flight. I think it was a combination of the jet lag (for me, tired = emotional) and (get this) the church announcements that brought tears to my eyes on the skybridge. I should explain that last one: In my job of presenting the video announcements every week, I find someone (or Google how) to dismiss the kids to children’s church in a different language every week (sounds weird, but it works)–and offer ways to pray for that people group (from sites like Operation World and The Joshua Project). Around Chinese New Year a couple of months ago, my friend Nary said goodbye in Mandarin, and we bowed together.

That announcement was how I knew 1 out of every 8 people in the world are Chinese–and that the number of Chinese Christians has now surpassed that of the Communist party. Perhaps because Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home transported me into the world of Chinese persecution of Christians–and this novel enlightened me on some of Christianity’s thriving before Communism–my heart leaps at the thought of China coming alive.

Yet it still breaks for China. There were a billion people sitting around me, separated only by plate glass. And how many of them have ever heard they can be satisfied in their souls? How many have known that mind-blowing love, or a hope they could never explain in words?

The Closer We Get

Henry Martyn once said that the closer we get to God, the more intensely missionary we become. Of course in one way it’s like discovering a cure for the cancer everyone has and the fountain of youth all at once. So you get all excited and it sloshes out.

But as God lures me deeper in, drawing me to his great chest, I can’t help but hear that heartbeat of his for the nations, too. When I walk into Beijing, I see some form of “people who don’t know their right from their left. And should I not love that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).

It’s this colorful, jangly thread through his words to us that keeps popping up: from making Abraham a blessing to all nations (Gen. 22:18), to his heart for the foreigner in all the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 10:19 et al), through Isaiah and Psalms. It weaves through nearly every book of the Bible, all the way to the “end” of this side of the story, where people in every shade that his pastels churned out are there. They’re adoring him in every language (Rev. 7:9), like Mandarin and an Arkansas twang, and their souls are finally satisfied. (That’s something cool this brother-in-law of mine does: creating the same music that can be sung in different languages! But I digress.)

The Group Effort

Honestly, I am still getting over the fact that I’m essentially a “goer” who needs to stay right now. But if I can’t go, I see I’ve got to send well. This “go and make disciples of all nations” thing is a group effort, and no one really gets a pass, y’know?

This year, God has restated over and over again that my heart can be broken for the things that break His–wherever I’m at. Can I see them with his eyes? Can I keep myself from making an us/them distinction, whether it’s the guy washing my dishes at the Chinese restaurant, or the immigrants at the border? Isn’t our profound need for Jesus the great equalizer?

If you will, pray with me, friends: to have his eyes. And his heart.

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