Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hope in the High Country

“Mr., mr., you have to take your stuff and leave. I won’t be responsible for it. You must take it.” About an hour before my friend and I asked the team we led into this town to look through their backpacks and remove everything heavy that was not needed for the next two days. Once unloaded we sent them on and would catch up later with them as we spent time with a local believer and finalize the storage arrangement.

We were headed to mountain village to show the Jesus Film and the hike would mean five to six hours up a mountain to an elevation of about 10,000 feet. The group of people we were to share the story of Jesus with were the Lisu people. Nearly three quarters of a million of these beautify people live in the southwest region of China in Lijiang, Baoshan, Nujiang, Diqing and Dehong regions of Yunnan Province.

Many of these mountain people have never heard of Jesus and few have modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. These are farming peoples who terrace the hillsides eking out a simple life with no hope or future. They live in fear of spirits whom must be pleased or manipulated in order get what is needed to live.

When the hotel manager told us that we would have to take the stuff with us we were dejected. This meant that we would have to load the stuff into our own backpacks and head to the mountain. Slowly we sorted and packed the materials and headed to catch a bus out of town. Once we got off the bus and started up the mountain we began to strain under to extra weight. Slowly we staggered up the mountain taking regular stops to breath and rest. Nearly three-quarters of the way to the village we heard something approaching from behind. Standing to the side of the pathway we watched with a surprised look as an elderly man maybe in his late sixties trudged by with six cases of Coke strapped to his back and flip flops for shoes. We starred at him and then back at each other as he went by without any heavy breathing or laboring walk.

Without a word we both thought the same thing and with a deep breath we left our self pity behind venturing forward until we reached the village. The team was already there as we expected, exchanging gifts and interacting with the Lisu people. With a warm welcome, refreshing drink and exchanging greetings we shared the idea of showing a film story in which the Creator God wanted the Lisu people to see and help them understand who He was.

Excitement quickly filled the village as we draped a large bed sheet between two trees and set up the battery operated projector. As evening took hold many gathered with small portions of food sitting on the hillside. With a brief introduction the film began. I don't think anyone spoke a word as they watch the film. For many this was the first time they have ever seen this type of media and heard a clear message of the gospel acted out in their own language. For the first time hope can to this high country home of a peoples who seemed lost in time.

After the film was over conversations took place throughout the night as many wanted to know and understand more. Questions around how the Creator God is above all other gods and spirits were asked and answered. Our local Chinese and Lisu believers translated and after leaving materials with a promise of returned within a week we got some rest in order to leave the village and our new friends in the morning. We know that local police many visit the village in the following days after word got out so we didn’t want to stay too long.

Morning came too fast and after some tea we redistributed everyone’s stuff from our overstuffed back backs. With some prayer for many who came to say goodbye the village sent us off. I saw the Spirit of God show up on the mountain, give understanding, and bring hope to this village. I don't know what has happened since but I am banking on the Eternal God and local believers from the nearby town to continue to nurture the new hope into a flame. I hope to see my mountain friends again. I hope to sit and talk about the time when hope came in the high country.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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