I recently got back from a summer trip spent in Southeast Asia that consisted of nine other teammates all told to say the same thing to Immigration or anybody else when asked, “why are you here?”- because where we went, it was illegal to share the gospel: the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist and Partners International CEO Luis Bush in 1990 to refer to those regions of the eastern hemisphere, plus the European and African part of the western hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet. That was my location- in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
Here, I encountered people who were kinder and more joyful than anyone I had ever known. These people who were more lost than words can say, taught me more about my faith than a lot of Christians I know today. I watched as they devoted every part of their life to their Muslim faith. I saw them at the end of Ramadan lay out newspapers in every part of the streets to bow down and pray. Five times a day they followed the call to prayer and spent their lives believing that their good works will get them into heaven, and that because of their fasting they will be forgiven of all their sins. I witnessed thousands of wonderful people bow down and pray to a god that does not even exist; a god that never hears their prayers, never sees their offerings, and can never give them a hope into eternity. So how is it that these people who get absolutely nothing in return from their god can be more devoted than the church today who receives graciously and endlessly from a loving Savior? I know “Christians” today that never even spend alone time with Jesus outside of church, community groups, house churches, or bible studies, not to mention spends five times a day with Him. They think they are spending eternity in heaven, when in reality they don’t even know Jesus personally any more than these Muslims do.
This was one of the most significant and challenging things I learned while being there: do you really know Jesus intimately or do you just know about Him? My heart breaks for these people whose good works are all in vain, and for the American Christians who find their identity in their church than in Christ Himself.
Now am I saying that you have to stop everything you’re doing and bow down and pray five times a day in order to know Jesus personally? Well, no. But I am saying, try to spend some alone time with Him, because He has a lot to tell you- and it is more worth it than anything this world can tell you.
- M. Hibbard