Saturday, November 14, 2015

Getting through the 10/40 Window

Several years ago the American Christians were very concerned about the 10/40 window.  It was a calculated view of where on the planet the fewest Christians lived and where the greatest need to share the gospel could be found.  We thought if we all just pooled our resources and really jumped into the fray we could make the biggest impact.  It’s not that we wanted to forget the rest of the world and their need to know about Jesus, but it seemed to suddenly occur to us that there was a part of the world we had forgotten. 

The 10/40 window is the part of the globe between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator.  It stretches from Africa to Asia.  When it became a topic for discussion, it was said that 97% of the world’s unevangelized population lived in that space. 
I remember very vividly hearing a preacher preach about the need for missionaries and prayer warriors and dollars to reach into this part of the world.  I remember vividly talking to God about it.  I told Him I didn’t really want to go to those places, but couldn’t I somehow be connected?  Could my prayers matter?  Could I help someone else who was brave enough to go?  I can see my younger self looking at the map of the 10/40 window hung before me and feeling a great sense of responsibility, but having no idea how I could meet this need.  I’m just a German/Polish girl from the south side of Milwaukee, what could I do?

Many, many times after that I had deep prayer times talking with God about the children in those nations.  I didn’t know any of them, but I could see their faces.  I had no ideas what their names might be.  I couldn’t imagine their living conditions – were they comfortable like my children?  Did they have safe playgrounds in their neighborhoods? 

You must understand that I have very strong convictions about the things I believe about the Bible, but I came to those conclusions on my own from reading the Bible,
from discussing the Bible, from learning about God through strong teachers who had read and learned from the Bible.  Because of all that God has done for me, I want everyone to have the option to know God.  Whether they chose to follow Him or not is not my responsibility.  I feel that very strongly.   I am only responsible to share His Word and his goodness.  He will do the rest.  And they will make their choice.  That is my simple view of personal evangelism. 

I think that’s why I was so burdened for the people of the 10/40 Window.  It’s that I felt as if they didn’t have a choice.  They couldn’t learn about the Bible perspectives about God because the Bible wasn’t available to them.  At all.  They are Communist or Muslim countries where the Bible simply isn’t an option.  I have no idea how God will judge them. And I’m not trying to stir an argument.  In my heart of hearts I was very sad to know there were people living day-to-day without a way to know God like I do.  Maybe that sounds simplistic to you, but my views are really quite simple when it comes to religion.

It bothered me and I talked with God about it a lot.  I asked Him to help them.  I asked Him to send people to them.  I asked Him to protect those brave enough to go there.  Every time I heard of a missionary going into that field, I followed their work very closely. 

And then life happened.  A lot of it.  I got distracted from the rest of the world’s problems as I dealt with my own.  Months and years were taken off the calendar and then one day I was offered an opportunity to teach in Moscow.  I jumped at it!  All of a sudden I found myself living like a missionary with the official title of Associate in Missions and classroom teacher at an international school.

I’ve been in Moscow for two solid years now.  I’ve just begun my third school year.  The students here are from around the world.  I think the latest total is 35 countries.  In my classroom there are 25 students from 10 countries.  The classroom staff represents 3 more so in total we are 28 people from 13 parts of the world.  It’s a wonderful mix.  It’s an English language immersion program so we communicate fully in English.  For which I’m very thankful.

We use a Bible-based curriculum and talk a lot about the goodness of God.  It’s my favorite thing about being here.  I am required to teach from the Book which changed my life and talk about how it impacts my every day.  I love it. 

Many of my students are Christians, but not all.  Their parents have them at our school because of the English language.  They overlook or explain away or ignore the Bible and hope their children are not affected by it.  But they are, of course, affected by it.  It’s the Bible.  It’s the Word of God.  It will give them the tools to make their own choices about God. 

Yesterday as I was looking around the room I was reminded of the 10/40 window.  Of my 25 students, 12 of them are from eight different 10/40 countries.   If I were to include the countries of previous students, I would add four more countries to the list.  That means I have “traveled” and shared the Bible in 12 of the 10/40 countries. 

Sometimes God is almost sneaky with the way He works His plan in our lives.  I guess He is showing me now how He will use me to reach into the 10/40 Window.  Twenty years is nothing in God’s timing.  If you’re one of my prayer and financial supporters, He is using you, too.  Together we are sharing the Book that changes lives.