Wailing in the night

by Ken Askew

 [This article originally published in HeartCry Magazine, volume 65.  The entire volume is available at www.hcmissions.org.]

 The sound was not jolting, but as it sliced through the night it cut me to the core; eyes wide open, I dared not move.

Instead, I lay perfectly motionless in my bed; straining my ears, I listened intently. It was pitch dark and nothing was moving outside my barred windows.

What was that sound?

A voice? Yes, but what was he saying?

A song?

What did the wailing mean?  My mind raced as the hollow third floor of my lodging place amplified it like a megaphone.  Then, as quickly as it began it started to fade.  It was over and the city came to life as if it had just heard a wakeup call.

Halfway around the world, in a very different culture, I had just heard the morning call to prayer broadcast from the village mosque.

Matt Glass, HeartCry’s Asian Coordinator, and I were in a remote village within sight of the Himalayans visiting with local Christian missionaries.  Hopefully, we would have an opportunity to share our faith from God’s word in the coming days; both to our Christian friends and their lost friends.

As I prayed that morning for the events of the coming days, I also offered a confession for my fears and weak faith.

Why had the strange wailing in the night bothered me?  Why did I, even for a moment, lean on my own understanding and let my mind wander instead of fully trusting in the living God?

I serve the true God; Creator of heaven and earth.

My prayers were answered; fear abated and hope changed to joy as we arrived to find a crowd of people gathered into our meeting space that morning. One couple traveled over thirty kilometers (no small adventure in this region) by taxi in order to hear teaching from the bible, giving us all the more encouragement to be faithful in the proclamation of His word.

As the praise and worship progressed into the third hour of the second day, women held and rocked their children in the heat, bible pages rustled as we searched scripture, and, unbeknownst to us, the gatekeeper listened intently from below.

When the services were over, he ran up the stairs as we prayed, pulled our missionary friend aside and announced that he wished to know more about Christianity.  I can only pray that he was moved by the Spirit to repent.

As I write this, images of the Haitian earthquake are fresh on my mind.  Thousands upon thousands died in that quake.

How many perished without the gospel?  Had the same earthquake hit the Asian village where we taught, the same carnage would lie in its aftermath.

How many might perish without hearing the gospel?

I am reminded of the tower of Siloam where souls perished in the aftermath of its collapse.

Jesus warns the crowd that calamity is at their door and that unless they repent, they will “likewise perish” (Luke 13:3) without the gospel; without saving faith.

Around the world, many souls are motionless in spiritual darkness and at the door of calamity.

Many will perish without saving faith.  Who will shake them out of their stupor?  Who will bring the gospel within earshot?  Who will explain to them the gospel; the good news of Jesus Christ?  Faithful Christians.  That is why indigenous missions is so important. 

Ken worships at Tharptown Baptist Church in Russellville.  Truth Matters articles are available online at www.truthmatters.us.  Comments are welcome and may be sent to kenaskew@me.com.