The Seasoned Explorer » Walk the Line

Original blog from Elias Popa, Within Reach Global intern: The Seasoned Explorer » Walk The Line.

After almost 11 hours ride, we finally made it to the tiny village on the top of the mountains near Vietnam. If the car ride didn’t make us uncomfortable, the intense heat and humidity did. Surrounded by tropical forests, banana trees, and pineapple groves, we made our way up the steep windy path. The fierce beauty juxtaposed the intense darkness that was there. I still can’t get it out of my head. How would a place so beautiful, have so little light?  Nevertheless, the light was there. On the very top of the mountain where our underground co-workers were preparing a meal inside their humble home. Tired but in awe we made our way into the house and sat around the table. The dim light lit our table enough just to see each others faces. Together we ate with the body. We heard the testimonies of the miracles and wonders God has done in some of the most intense circumstances. We finished our food and gathered in a circle. Together we prayed for each other, for healing, for life and joy and peace. Then we sang together songs of worship. In that tiny, humble home, the Holy Spirit came in glory. My heart melted within me and yet again my love deepened for the body in chains.

On the next day we visited another village. Yet another hour passed by as we waited to get to the village. I rode on the back of a motorcycle through the vietnamese chinese tropics as the coworker steered the bike. I felt like an adventurer. Like Che before the revolution. The ride was beautiful. The village was at the highest point of a mountain deep inside the plantations and hills. There was a school there. The teacher allowed us to come and and hand out backpacks to the children that had John 3:16 on the back. The children, dressed in their traditional minority clothing, repeated a prayer after us. This was one of the first times anyone had heard the gospel there. No one in that village knew who Jesus was. For all they know he could have been a bar of soap. After praying with the kids we sat down to a traditional meal of snails and other delicacies shared by our co workers. When we headed back down from the village I hopped on the motorcycle and the rest of the team was in the van following behind. As we swerved in and out of the green mountains a team member gave me a call.

“The police have stopped us. They are interrogating us.”

I immediately told him to grab my camera out of my bag and remove the card from it and hide it, along with our bibles. The police men, yelling, began searching through the bags to find any evidence. That card had pictures and video if the kids praying and the co workers. I began praying fervently as myself and three of the co workers stopped on the road asking Jesus to cloak them and let them free. After what seemed like hours, the team members give me a call and say we are free to leave, everything is ok. One of the co workers lets out a deep Hallelujah as a sign of relief. Later I was told that my bag was sitting right there in the open and on the seat for the cops to see, but it was the only one the cops did not check…it was the only bag with all the evidence. In addition, whoever called in us in to the cops gave an exact number of the guys and the girls in the bus. But I had decided at that time to take the motorcycle back into town. So when the cops numbered out how many were in the bus, their numbers did not line up. There was no proof. Jesus is greater than any other. Truly, he walks the line.

Afterwards we climbed the southern most peak of China overlooking Vietnam… we prayed. We prayed that the gates to Vietnam would be opened and that the workers would make their way in to reap the reward of the suffering of the Lamb of God. He deserves those souls…and we want everything to do with making sure he gets them.

Later that evening we gathered around another meal and heard the awesome and great testimonies of some of the most humble and heroic men and women I have ever met. Really, when we get to heaven, you will see these guys as giants. Stories of grace and hope as well as despair and pain. But Christ had center stage the entire time. One of the people there is even translating songs and stories for his minority group to hear the gospel, which they have never heard. After time and time he said, for 10 years, the government took everything they had and even destroyed their house, he still is compelled to preach the gospel. I am proud to say he is also my friend.

God is so good. Once I was a chief of sinners. Living my life like hell on earth. But he was long suffering. He never gives up. He never backed off. He chased me and chased me until I listened. Now, I chase him with all my heart. I crawled, stumbled, walked, ran over fields to find him. It brought me to China. To Vietnam and who knows where else. He sat me at the table where I don’t belong. I am truly blessed beyond measure. I never thought I would find myself at the corner of China ministering the gospel with our brothers and sisters in chains to a group of people who have never heard. But I am glad I am. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. I just want to be where I can hear them sing with joy, despite the deepest pain.

Original blog from Elias Popa, Within Reach Global intern: The Seasoned Explorer » Walk The Line.

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