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A genuine live-like-the-natives, cross-culture experience may encourage romantic notions of exotic adventure abroad or discourage you from ever returning. Please note that we are talking about visiting an underdeveloped nation with no key to a five-star, air-conditioned hotel room with a pool and a gourmet restaurant.
The highly developed, cosmopolitan country of Singapore, for example, with its mega income, technology, communication and transportation systems, does not qualify. McDonald’s, Burger King, K-Mart and a zillion other U.S. multi-national companies are embedded in the landscape. Mercedes and BMWs abound and virtually everyone speaks English.
On the other hand, you can travel to Belize, Central America, where English is the official language, and have the feeling that you have just stepped back in time about one hundred years and more in the jungle villages and banana plantations like Cowpen. Some missionaries from the outset, or in time, may enjoy most of the comforts of their homeland. So much depends on the mission location and objectives. You may be going to an established mission base or compound complete with a washing machine and telephone.
Perhaps you have the funds, or the faith, to rent a place of your own and enjoy normal conveniences in town or a rural area. Conversely your mission service may necessitate a pioneering effort far from normal creature comforts and ongoing Christian fellowship.
Three years ago while hosting a rousing basketball contest for very eager third graders at an overcrowded elementary school in Belize, Central America, I heard about a place called Hillview. When I asked friend and teacher, Judy Waight, how Sparrows Gate Mission could help the children at her school she said, “The poor children of Hillview need a school of their own.”
My heart is hurting with the knowledge that at this moment Sparrows Gate Mission does not have a single volunteer to help rescue even one of the thousands of destitute street kids in Mexico City, Manila, Rio de Janiero and Bangkok. And speaking of Bangkok, reliable sources say that more than 500,000 prostitutes in the city of Bangkok are under the age of sixteen.
For months I’ve earnestly tried to tame the internal storm, the grief, the outrage and even the unrelenting call of the Holy Spirit to rescue these kids. It’s as if a lightning bolt is tethered to my heart—a bolt that wants to unleash its light on the powers of darkness and wrench some of these children from the enemy's grip.
I have walked the streets of Manila, Rio de Janiero, Bogota and Belize City alone late at night into the wee hours of the morning to rescue street kids by finding loving Christian homes for some of them and providing medical care and food. But now, with God’s help, it is time to send search-and-rescue teams to establish safe places where homeless street kids can come for meals, an interim place to sleep and learn about the love of Jesus.
Jesus himself talked about leaving the 90 and nine to GO rescue the one sheep that had gone astray. Almost forgotten, lost sheep, trying to survive on the violent city streets of Asia and Latin America, need loving shepherds and volunteers to be there for them. Our proposed, permanent mission training center is a vital link in encouraging, inspiring and equipping volunteers to help reach and rescue these kids.
Someone, somewhere is up to this challenge. I believe that someone, right now, is saying “Lord, here am I, send me. ” Someone, is earnestly checking the internet to find the right opportunity for serving poor children abroad. It is my prayer that they find our website and are influenced by the Holy Spirit to make a life-changing electronic connection.