A Spiritual Reality

How many of us really feel like the countless stories of Jesus casting out demons really apply to our daily life? It is truly outside the understanding and experience of many of us, but for the Dong people, stories like the one in Luke 8 is much more of a reality.

It is easy for us to read right past yet another story of Jesus casting out a demon, yet there is a wealth of information in each one. For us who seek to pray with understanding for the Dong people, these stories make up an excellent training course in the spiritual realm which can inform us of some aspects of the slavery and trickery under which the Dong people live.


What a Relief

Everybody needed a little clarification about the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, even John himself. Though Jesus gave yet another riddled answer to John's inquiries, it seems to have brought up a topic Jesus had wanted to talk about.

When the people hear Jesus's glowing words for John, confirming he came to prepare the way for the Messiah, they seem to be very relieved. "They declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John" (7:29). They had accepted the message of John and now are accepting the message of Jesus, but did not quite know if that was ok, as if to say, "Are these two guys in agreement or have we accidentally switched sides."

It is much like the situation with the Dong. They do not quite know who is with who, which message is right, or whose message is more important. "Do I listen to this foreigner or that Chinese guy?" "Are they preaching the same message?" It is all a little weird to them, really.


Plain and Simple

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."

Now, who of us does not have a problem with this? "You mean I am supposed to continue to loan my money to that guy who never pays me back? That's bad money management." "I should be kind to that lady in the office who just spreads lies about me?" This is why the Gospel is polar opposite to every other religion out there.

We want to be praying for specific requests for the Dong people, and this is most certainly an issue for Dong Christians, just like it is for just about every Christian on this planet. Though incredibly simple, this message is probably one of the hardest things we will ever attempt, for we have to go against the very core of our sinful, selfish nature to follow the way of Christ.


Seen Enough to Know

Simon and partners were tired from another all-night fishing job, extra tired because it had yielded nothing. They may not have caught much, but at least they can use their boats to provide a service by giving Jesus a more comfortable speaking platform.

It was a community service; Jesus did not need to pay. Still, Jesus directs Simon to head back out in the boat and drop the nets again. We know the rest. Or do we?


A Prophet in His Hometown

"And all the eyes of the synagogue were fixed on him" (4:20). Jesus certainly was not afraid to say what needed to be said. And in cases like this one, in Jesus's home town, he most certainly drew their attention by his words.

He was back in Nazareth, just after beginning his ministry, and the scroll of Isaiah was given to him. He read Isaiah 61:1-2, scripture about the coming savior, anointed to bring the good news, healing, and liberty.

It seems the hearers in the synagogue were a little perplexed as to why he chose this scripture. He just read it and sat down. This is when they stared, probably trying to figure out what he was trying to say, for they know this is just Joseph's son.

This excuse, though turned around a little, is what is heard time and time again from some of the "oldest" Dong Christians. "In our home villages, everybody knows us too well and has already heard it too much; none of them want to hear the good news."


A Matter of the Heart

Because we have Jesus, we often completely overlook the message of John the Baptist. Yet, his message is powerful and full of the work of God. In Luke 3, he proclaims "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (v3), but how often do we really read those words?

Sure, the witness and message of Jesus is greater than John's, but if the Dong people only heard the message of John, they would be so much closer to the truth.


Humble Beginnings

In Luke 2, Jesus has appeared on the scene, but still so few even know of this incredible gift from God to man. How similar this situation is to the Dong people. The witness of the Christ has arrived, but so few have actually heard the words of life.

Mary had already heard the words of the angel in chapter one, but here we see her pondering the words of the shepherds to whom was revealed that the "Savior, who is Christ the Lord" had come.

Then, we have Simeon blessing Jesus as the salvation of God prepared for all peoples, and Anna prophesying of the one for whom all were waiting, the one who would redeem Jerusalem.

And we cannot forget those in the temple who personally interacted with Jesus in the temple when he was twelve years old. That must have been strange. These are adults, professional learners of the scriptures and the other Jewish writings, yet Jesus amazed them even though he was a fraction of their age.

Great events? Yes. Still, these seem like humble beginnings for the savior of the world: mom and dad, a few shepherds, some holy man, a widow that hangs around the temple, and some shocked seminary professors. Sure, he is amazing, but how is he ever going to be known as the salvation of all peoples at this pace?

Again, it is the same with the name of Christ becoming known among the Dong people.