Red clay crackled beneath our feet as Lily touched my arm and said “jao,” which means “go” in her language. The young woman was walking us to the caravan of SUVs waiting to transport us out of the South Asian forest. We had just concluded an intimate time of worship and prayer with believers in her village.
I was a bit confused at first about what Lily was saying, since we did not speak each other’s language. She again let out an enthusiastic “jao” with her face beaming. “GO!” I replied and stuck my fist up in the air. We said, “Go!” again, raising our arms together to express our shared desire to obey the mission of Jesus (the moment was captured in the photograph below).
Earlier in the week, Lily attended the tribal women’s conference we hosted in a nearby city. A speaker from South Africa preached on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. At the conclusion of his message, the speaker encouraged the room of over 200 regional nationals to shout “jao” and “go” while putting their fists in the air in unison. Out of everything she learned at the conference, “go” stuck with Lily, and I believe she was God’s mouthpiece to affirm His calling on my life.
Less than a week after arriving back in the states, I received news that Lily had died suddenly of a snakebite. Thankfully, Lily was a Christian, and I know she is in heaven with Jesus. However, 95% of the people in her country are unreached, and if this had happened to any of them the outcome would have been heartbreaking.
The words from this speaker and Lily’s passionate “jao” were a divine echo of the “GO” campaign I’ve been working on at Southeastern Seminary. We launched “GO” in the spring of 2014 to share the story of how the Southeastern community is “going” and encouraging others to fulfill the Great Commission. Today is my last day at Southeastern where I’ve worked for the past two years and completed a Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership.
From class lectures to chapel to publications, getting the gospel to the ends of the earth infused every part of my work and studies at Southeastern. My experiences at Southeastern are leading me to spend three months on the international mission field. This might not seem like much, as many people have gone to harder, more difficult places for longer periods of time. However, to me as a woman in her late 20s, it’s no small thing to leave my job and the comforts of home to go.
One of the places I will be going this fall is to the remote region of South Asia where Lily lived. My hope is to share the good news of God’s Son who paid the penalty of sin for the whole world on the cross and offers eternal life for those who repent and place their trust in Him. Lily knew God’s forgiveness and love through a personal relationship with Jesus, and she couldn’t help but share Him with others.
Today, may we take the next step of faith necessary to follow Jesus more closely and go reach our communities and the nations with the gospel we love!