I’m reading a fascinating book called Travels in Siberia. As the title indicates, it’s a travelogue of the author’s adventures in Siberia. Ian Frazier describes himself as being “infected with a love of Russia” (16).
One anecdote in Frazier’s book describes the 1993 journey of a small group of Eskimo Quaker missionaries across the frozen Siberian tundra to share the Gospel in small fishing villages they encounter along the way. The men traveled via snowmobiles, towing sleds loaded with fuel and supplies. At one point, their trail became impassable due to weather. They charter a Russian commercial helicopter to transport them, along with their supplies and dismantled snowmobiles, to their next destination. Frazier evaluates the evangelistic results of their efforts as less than what we might consider successful: “In the first village, Lorino, smiling kids sitting cross-legged in the school gym hear their message and sing songs the Americans teach them. But driving on in the Arctic night, the party comes across the vodka wagon–big metal drums of vodka on sleds, behind Russian snow machines driven by itinerant vodka peddlers. In one or two of the northern-most villages, the population is so drunk that public assembly isn’t possible, and the Eskimos meet with villagers by twos and threes in their homes (67,68).
The perseverance of these missionaries is an inspiration to me. All of my days are spend in physical comfort: enough food, good-quality water, and more than adequate housing. How much comfort am I willing to sacrifice to do the things Christ calls me to do?
That’s a good question for this new year. Compared to these intrepid missionaries to Siberia or my persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Africa, or China, sometimes my day-to-day life as a Christian seems, as Alan Hirsch would say, more like a reflection of “middle class morality” than a dynamic expression of a life that is sold out to the Lion of Judah.*
I likely won’t snowmobile in Siberia in 2020. But I’m praying that I will follow God in unexpected ways this year with the confidence that only His Holy Spirit can provide. How about you?
*Hirsch, Alan. Reframation, 63.