Did you hear? The Basye clan is moving overseas… or so we thought. Going back as far as our dating relationship, almost 17 years ago, Shelly and I have discussed and prayerfully considered our role in taking the gospel to the nations. In fact, we moved to Montana with the vision of planting a church on the South Side while we paid off medical school debt with the hope that our church would send us to work with unreached, unengaged peoples living in the 10/40 Window. Going down the long, arduous path of the interview process with a missions organization in 2014, we sensed that the Lord was saying “not yet.” Shortly after making the decision to table a move overseas, we learned that our youngest son had something known as renal dysplasia. More or less, his kidneys didn’t have enough healthy neurons to grow as he grew, thus, most likely his future would be marked by kidney failure. Even if we had wanted to, there was no way we could gain medical clearance with our missions organization at this point. Thus, we waited on the Lord, prayed for His healing in our son’s life, and sought to be faithful to Him as we desire to make Jesus known in the South Side of Billings.
Fast forward a few years – the burden and desire to engage the nations with the gospel, especially Muslims, hadn’t gone away. And, much to our amazement and praise of God, our son’s kidneys did in fact grow, despite the fear that they wouldn’t! With this amazing news we once again asked the Lord, “Do You desire for us to move overseas?” And so began the interview process once again. Having completed our application process, and gained medical clearance, for nearly the past year Shelly and I have been living with the tension of preparing ourselves to go overseas indefinitely in the fall of 2018. We would sell or give away what belongings we couldn’t store and we would quit our jobs in the late summer to commit a minimum of five years to being on the mission field. Through this process of preparing to go, we had narrowed our place of interest to Moscow for a variety of reasons: 1) there are a large number of Muslims from Central Asia living and working in Moscow (some suggest as many as 5-7 million in Moscow alone); 2) there was a medical opportunity for Shelly to utilize her passion for medicine to engage Central Asians (many of whom are illegal) with the gospel; and 3) it seemed to be a place where the kids would thrive and our son could have good medical care in the future, if it was needed. As a final step of discernment, Shelly and I spent 7 days in Russia in February with boots on the ground and asked once again, “Lord, is this were You want us?”
Coming back to Billings, we had the inevitable task before us to make a decision that would greatly impact the rest of our lives. As followers of Jesus, our greatest desire is to live our lives “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” and then do it (Ephesians 5:10). With many months of fasting and prayer behind us, and the entourage of brothers and sisters joining us in prayer, God answered our prayers and we came to a place of clarity. This is what I communicated to the CLDI Board and staff: “At this point in time our decision is to stay right where we are in Billings. This was a bittersweet decision; sweet in that we can remain in fellowship with our family and friends here as we participate in His work; and bitter in that we really do have a love and passion for Muslims, Central Asians, and God’s heart for the nations.”
So why do I share all of this with you? I share this to shed light to the amazing work God has called His children to be a part of – to glorify God as we make disciples of all nations. I often marvel at the good news of Jesus, that we have this joy of knowing Him and the sweet, abundant life to which we are called. Just this morning in my time with the Lord I read, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal… I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:24-25, 47). God is at work in our world and even as I write these words He is drawing many more ‘lost sheep’ unto Himself. In John 6, Jesus says repeatedly that He will lose none of those the Father has given Him. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is drawing the nations unto Himself, and He is using His saints (the Church) to proclaim the gospel and make disciples, teaching them to obey the commandments of Jesus, both locally and abroad. As we live in the tension of a world marked by much brokenness, sadness, fear, and decay; we have much hope in His kingdom to come:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away’” (Revelation 22:1-4).
King Jesus is coming again, and with His coming He will gather people of “every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” as they cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10).
As an organization concerned first and foremost with making the gospel of Jesus known in word and deed, and with a desire to teach and disciple those whom the Lord is drawing near, our aim is to engage in gospel work in Billings and abroad. As part of our CLDI Internship, we have the privilege of discipling young adults in the ways of Jesus, part of which involves taking our interns on an international exposure trip to see firsthand what God is doing among the nations. In doing so, our prayer is that our interns grow in their burden for the nations to know Jesus and what their particular role is to be in God fulfilling His global agenda to be praised by all peoples… whether they themselves go to the nations or participate in helping others go. While Shelly and I were in Russia, two of my wonderful staff, Drew and Kaylee Thompson, led our interns to work in a remote area in Asia as part of their exposure and discipleship process. I trust that you will be blessed by their three-word reflections of the trip.
Pressing on with great excitement and joy to make Jesus known locally and abroad…
(three-word reflections from three of the travelers)
Steadfast: God revealed His steadfast love for me with His unfailing comfort on the trip, by reminding me of the ways He has blessed me on my walk with Him, and through the example of my marriage.
Mountain: I was just constantly in awe of the creation around me. I pray that this trip will make me more keen to praise God for His beautiful creation at home as well. Seeing the mountain range was a HUGE blessing, and I am forever grateful for it. During our orientation, our guide shared an analogy about a mountain with us that communicated grace well to me: “We don’t need to be climbing up the mountain in order to reach God, because we will always fail. God already came down the mountain to get to us.” I loved that!
LifeStraw: First of all, the LifeStraw water bottle is such a cool invention. It was a blessing to be able to have safe water wherever we went. It also served as a cool analogy of how God is constantly refining us, challenging, and growing us in order to make us more like Him. It’s kind of like we’re going through a LifeStraw until we finally meet Him in heaven.
Striving: Our first full day the capital was spent visiting two different religious/cultural sites. In this time, it was evident that striving or making a great effort to achieve or attain something was fundamental to the beliefs surrounding these two ways of life. This contrasted deeply with what we know of Christian assurance and that we can have a true hope in the finished work of Christ. Our salvation is not up to us and our own efforts.
Kingdom Taste: One of my favorite aspects of the trip was getting to spend time around other believers. In reality, I spent a lot of that time nearly in tears. It was so incredible to spend time with those from a different country, culture, and language and yet get to share a bond deeper than all of those categories as brothers and sisters in Christ. The words of Revelation 7:9-10 definitely came to mind: a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. I know that our experience is just a taste of the joy that is to come as followers of Christ!
Humbling: Not only was getting to spend time with native believers an incredible taste of the Kingdom of God, but it was also a humbling experience. We were able to speak with the father of a pastor in one of the mountain villages and it was evident that he was so earnest for others to come to know Jesus. He is someone that had walked through persecution and trial for Christ’s name and I could not help but think of the last beatitude from Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when others persecute you and revile you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.” It was a real blessing to get to hear his story and encouragement. Additionally, on our final day of the trip we had the opportunity to take a mountain flight. I thought of the song Shout to the Lord and particularly the line that the “mountains will bow and seas will roar at the sound of Your name.” It was a humbling experience to think about how these majestic peaks will bow before our Savior!
Hopeless Effort: It is scary to think about whether or not their “gods” would be satisfied with their efforts or disappointed with them while they are here on earth. Apart from Jesus, we know that we could never earn approval or righteousness on our own through God’s law, but through the name of Jesus we have assurance that God is satisfied with us. That’s not so with those spending hours upon hours spinning prayer wheels in hopes of earning enough good karma before their next lives. Many of those we saw and met live without knowledge of Jesus and how their religious efforts are worthless in pleasing God.
Neglect: For being considered one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places in the world, the mountains are littered with mounds of garbage. Not only is the landscape neglected, but from current studies that I have heard, only 0.006% of the Church’s money in America goes to helping the nations that are considered unreached. This has me wondering what priorities the Church has set for itself with its finances.
Still: Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Even though it is easy to get discouraged seeing so many men and women living lives apart from Jesus, I am realizing more and more the need for me to lean upon my Creator and Father and not my own strength and understanding. My heart was in need of rest, and knowing that God has made the promise that He will be exalted among all the nations made me realize even more that I need to be still and trust that He is in control.