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.


Blessed for Belief

Luke 1:20
"And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."

Poor Zechariah. He was righteous, walking blamelessly before God, but God was doing something so incredible, he just could not wrap his head around it. If not for God's persistant plan (and an outpouring of grace to give Zechariah what he needed to keep him headed the right direction), he would have totally missed the boat.

God is doing something great among the Dong people. He has promised to bring the chosen from every people before his throne to worship him. Let us not only believe what he is going to do, but speak up for the Dong people in prayer now, before the ability to speak is taken away as it was for Zechariah.


Praying through the Gospel of Luke

Over the next few weeks, in reading through the book of Luke, we will use truths from each chapter to help direct our prayers for the Dong people of China. This is especially fitting when thinking of the Jesus Film, which is based on the Gospel of Luke, being viewed in the Dong language. Let us pray that these insights we see in Luke's gospel will sink into the hearts of the Dong people, too.

In praying for people in another country, and especially something so huge and faceless as the millions of people among a particular minority people group on the other side of the world, it easy to not know what we should pray for.

Really, though, there is not much new under the sun: we will allow the Gospel according to Luke to direct us toward points for prayer, not only for the Dong people, but for our own lives as well. Glory to God.


Sending the Han Chinese to Minority People

"Why not just send local Han Chinese Christians into the Dong areas?" That is a good question, and has indeed been tried in many different ways. Like all of our methods and plans, it has its advantages and disadvantages. And regardless, it is going to happen and is something which we should keep in prayer.

The first thing to remember is that it is easy for those of us on the other side of the world from China to think of Han Chinese as "local". Yet, to the Dong people, the Han are not local. The Han are either "those people who live in the county seat and own all the businesses" or, further still from the Dong farming communities, "those people who come from the big city hours away".


Already White for Harvest

Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest (John 4:35). Jesus spoke these words into a context where the Jews had been prepared for centuries for the Word of God, and now, so many were waiting to find the Messiah, as evidenced by the thousands coming to Christ in just a few months after his resurrection. But how does this verse apply to the Dong?

Today, the Dong celebrate "ghost day" (the festival day of spirits or ghosts). For far too long, they have lived under the deception of the evil spirits they serve. The spirits are not something to like; they are something to fear. That in itself is an indicator of the evil nature of the spirits and that there may be a good natured One. The spirits are appeased so that they would leave us alone. Does not that ever bring up the thought that there might be One Good God or at the very least, the One who has authority over these oppressors?

Many Dong people, immediately upon hearing of a good God who loves them and has the authority and power to protect them, believe in and desire such a God. The hearts of the Dong people are indeed fields white for harvest. Feel free to download DongTeam's new prayer reminder background (on the media page) to keep the Dong people in mind. Pray that on this day especially, the Holy Spirit would fill their minds with a longing for the Truth of God, which is Christ himself.