Yesterday I was catching up on a couple of episodes from the Voice of the Martyrs podcast, where I heard the story of “Sister Amber,” a missionary to Tibet whose name has been changed to protect her identity.
Although Tibet is a closed country, Sister Amber has been working there for 16 years. Her entrance was first paved by an invitation to come and start up some food gardens for the Tibetan farmers. But after a couple of years, once she had trained one of the locals and passed the work on, she found herself saying, “My heart is ready for the nomads.”
Home to one of the most nomadic groups left in the world today, Tibet is known as “the roof of the world.” And as these nomads live at an elevation of 5500-6000 meters, they refer to themselves as ‘the roof on top of the roof of the world.’
“Their language is not a written language,” Sister Amber explained. “It’s an oral language; so I find mostly you have to live your life as an example before them: an example of Christ’s love for them, his friendship to them.”
How did she do this? It was Christmas of 2012, and Sister Amber was with a Tibetan friend who had come to know the Lord just a few months earlier, when…
“The Father showed me and him that he wanted us to wash the feet of the nomads. It was 25 families that we already knew and had a relationship with. We went out to do this without them knowing we were coming, in the middle of winter, on Christmas day. Very very cold. We hiked up over the shoulder of a mountain.”
And that was for just one of the families they intended to visit…
“We realized that we were probably going to have to walk miles, for quite a few weeks, to get to the other families,” Sister Amber said.
But as they climbed over the shoulder of the mountain to their first family, the two hikers saw a constellation of yak-hair tents gathered all around the tent of the first family. Normally, these nomads do not camp together, but according to Sister Amber…
“The Father knew. He knows what’s over the mountains and what’s going to happen. And so he brought them to us.”
Every single family they had meant to wash the feet of.
“My dear friend then shared with them, told them why we were there––and the astonishment on their faces! These people only bathe once a year, usually in August. They have the bathing festival, and that’s when they will wash themselves. So to actually wash their feet, which is the lowest part of their bodies (and is seen as a taboo part of their body), was very humbling.”
“They got themselves organized, lined up, and we just took snow and melted it. I had soap and a towel. My friend bathed them, and I towelled them dry. And while he was bathing them, we prayed over them. We did everybody, right through to little babies, to aunts and uncles, grannies and grandpas, moms and dads. We were busy at it until about midnight. It was so beautiful, because Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.”
“The wonder of it was that it was such a breakthrough, because I’d been sharing with them about Christ for a long time. And when they realized that this was what Jesus did, when we were about to leave, they said, ‘Please will you come again and tell us more about this Jesus?’”
As I listened to Sister Amber’s story, and thought about the lengths they had gone to bring Jesus’ love to the lives of these nomads, I thought about my neighbours, the people in mylife, and your neighbours too. It struck me that we don’t have to hike into the mountains for miles and weeks in the harsh cold of winter to show them Christ’s love. They live next door!
But I guess the question is: Is my heart ready? Sister Amber had said that her heart was ready for the nomads. And as far as God’s heart goes, we know it is always ready for those who don’t know him. But is my heart ready? Am I ready to love my neighbours? And is yourheart ready for yours?
Pastor Daren Redekopp
p.s. Speaking of hearts, we talked about hardened hearts last Sunday. This Sunday Renae and I will be sharing about what’s been happening since I had my heart procedure in January. It’ll be during our 3pm prayer time, and everyone’s invited.