It was a nothing-out-of-the-ordinary meeting at our church, meaning that we are blessed to have such frequent encouraging opportunities to hear of God’s work around the world. Upbeat music from a three-man band. Scrumptious desserts. About a hundred people gathering to celebrate what God has been doing in and through individuals and groups as they’re involved in global and local mission efforts. Lots of time for both casual and guided conversation in small groups. One of the assigned topics was this: share a time of joy that left a lingering sense of happiness in your life.
At our table experiences ranged from one woman’s 20+ hours on a hijacked plane to a man’s sense of satisfaction while doing handyman work for needy people in the community. And then quiet Marni* began her story. She had never traveled far from her home, never owned a passport, was and is fully involved with her family and church activities. She had heard stories of people from the church participating in mission outreaches to Mongolia and “for some reason” (we all smiled!), she decided to apply for the next trip. Her stated reason for going was simple: “I wanted to see if Jesus was there.”
Marni is well versed in biblical truth. Her head knew of God’s omnipresence…of course Jesus was in Mongolia. But something in her heart needed to see how He was there. What did Jesus’ presence look like in Mongolia? After Marni’s words—to see if Jesus was there—she couldn’t go on with the story. Emotion took over as tears flowed. When someone asked, “And was He there?” she smiled through her tears: “Of course He was there!”
Marnie hasn’t been back to Mongolia, but part of her heart is in that beautiful country. When groups return, she attends the “report night.” She reads the emails from our Mongolian friends who tell of sharing the good news of Christ on the university campus, with teachers in cities and villages or with nomads in the rugged countryside. She prays for teams that go and for the people to whom they go. Not only is Jesus in Mongolia, Marni is there too.
*Marni has given her permission to tell this story.