Originally written for “Lets Talk” 2008 by Keir Tayler.
The U2 song, “The Sreet’s of no Name” captivated my heart 24 yrs ago.
The lyrics say it all. The song transcends racism, cultural differences fear, & self-worthlessness. A street with no name is where 80% of civilization lives. This street is rife with dust, wind, open sewerage, poverty, sickness, war, hopelessness, broken lives and families, orphans. Life there is cheap and valueless.
On a Mission.
Some years ago I flew over a nation at war. Two of us had flown in under radar (no GPS’s then) landed on a ‘road’, jumped onto two motorcycles and went (somewhere) for 4 hours. In the dust without shade, trees, running water we made camp with our tents. For five days, morning and evening we taught the Bible to 1,200 leaders. They had traveled as far as 3 weeks away to get there to be with us for this instruction. They had learned of our coming by word of mouth. What a privilege to be there.
Our camp was 70 meters from the administration of this event. Here the leaders ate, slept and fellow-shipped, among grass huts with open fires for cooking. At sunset we would end our last meeting and then retire for the night.
One cold night a young girl far away in the bush, her only companion and old lady, slept deeply. All they had was a loin cloth for clothing, a small basket with old husks in it and a worn out shawl. In the early hours of one morning the young girl had a vision. In it she saw some foreigners coming from another nation to hers, who would bring life to those who wanted it. The vision ended with a voice saying, “Go toward the setting sun and you will find them.”
She arrived at sunset one evening with her friend the old lady. They could hardly walk from disease, malnutrition and exhaustion. She approached one of the leaders at the administration center and was told to “wait” … as they were “busy … planning”. She sat aside patiently and waited. We did not know this. The leaders could have said, “Go there where that fire is, and you will have help.” The night passed.
The next day at about 11am, while I was preaching, we were interrupted by a messenger. He told us someone had died and that we must attend to this as soon as possible – due to the heat and there is no refrigeration. I finished the meeting and asked to see the immediate family of the deceased. We came to a grass hut at the fringe of the area. At the entrance sat the old woman, gazing out into the bush. She did not acknowledge us when we arrived. I went into the hut and saw the young girl lying on a reed mat. She was partly covered by an animal skin and was curled up in a ball.
I reached out my hand and touched her motionless body. She was cold. I felt her ribs and bones pressing against her skin. She was so thin! Deep emotion swept through me and a torrent of thoughts flooded my mind: ‘why? … raise her to life … who is she? … her name? … her parents? … where are you from? … why now? … so young’.
I asked the leader squatting next to me, “Where did she come from?” “We don’t know; from the bush; it’s because of the war”. “What is her name, where is her family?” “We don’t know her name, no one has told us and she has no family”. “What about the old woman there – is she a relative?” “No, she is from the bush also. They have no home they were lost wandering about and they were told by someone to come here”. The next question I had to ask was “Why were they not cared for?” ” After a pause the leader looked down to the ground … a single tear hit the dust. “We forgot … about them”, he said in a thick tone.
Tears flooded from my eyes. Helpless and in utter despair, I stood and left the hut choking back sobs. We had only been 70m away with food, water, clothing, medicine and a warm fire … and Jesus. I felt His compassion that has forever changed my life.
Two weeks later I am at home. I have just returned and it is Sunday. Now I am to give a good report to the church and express ‘all that I can’t leave behind’, in my heart. How do I explain this to a secure culture and lifestyle? How do I unfold what I have experienced to church family? How do I express this overwhelming compassion to my church where traditions, entitlement, comfort, and complacency cloud understanding. I could not fully impose upon innocent Christians what I had experienced and expect them to ‘get it’. The real answer is: Unless you go – you will never know.
(Mathew 9:35-36) “When Jesus saw the the multitudes … He was moved with compassion”. Compassion triggers divine love into action. He called and sent those He had to experience what He knew. That was first – deputised mission. Before theology, spirituality, perfect candidate for – what ever is lacking in the church. He thrust them out. Compassion is the river bed of the supernatural, faith and hope are the river banks.
I believe it is imperative for those of us who are ‘churched’ to place ourselves voluntarily into a situation where we are beyond our depths emotionally, spiritually and geographically. It does not have to be extreme. To some extreme is no lights, cold water, no toilet. In the place of discomfort every confidence will be challenged and we will be enlightened as to what our Lord feels.
Every believer should be in place of brokenness to clearly embrace His values which result in His vision. You then become invincible for His use. Go to the streets that have no name – you will find Him there!