‘Along The Silk Road’

Published 7:21 pm Thursday, May 13, 2010

In one of the most captivating regions of the world, Christianmissionaries are quietly at work performing the toughest calling intheir religion – witnessing to the Muslims of Central Asia.

To complete their challenging but anointed job, they need strongprayers. But before those prayers grow strong, those who offer themup need to know what the mission is like.

First Baptist Church of Brookhaven knows, and they’re going toshow it.

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Next weekend, the church will hold two days of education andprayer with “Life Along the Silk Road,” a vivid walk-throughdisplay of the land, life and people of Central Asia and acelebration of the work done there by missionaries of the SouthernBaptist Convention’s International Mission Board. The display willbe open to the public on Saturday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,and Sunday, May 23 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“It will take you through all these places and show you the workthe mission board does in these countries,” said associate pastorJeff Doremus. “It’s a depiction of life in Central Asia.”

By displaying numerous high-quality photographs, Central Asianartifacts and other items, “Life Along the Silk Road” aims to showvisitors what the area is like, who the people are and why bringingthem the gospel is so important and challenging.

To drive home the point, a particular part of the display willfeature 2,500 candles with only one burning. The “lostness” exhibitsymbolizes the one Christian for every 2,500 people in theregion.

The lengthy touring display will end with a series of prayerrooms, where those moved by the missionaries’ work may take amoment to urge God to support them.

Women’s Missionary Union Director Renee Hutson, herself anexperienced Central Asian missionary, said the church has onefive-member family serving in the North Caucasus region in Russia,though exact details on them are kept secret for safety reasons.Like many missionaries in the region, they accomplish their holymissions by operating small businesses geared toward helping thelocal people in some way.

“We focus on that part of the world because as far asChristianity goes, it’s an underserved part of the world,” Hutsonsaid. “There are few Christians there.”

Spreading the gospel in Muslim lands can be dangerous, Hustonsaid. Though Islamic extremists who persecute Christians are notthe majority in the region, missionaries do operate in their turf,too – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and more.

Even these Muslim-dominated countries have small, often secretgroups of practicing Christians, and more must be reached, shesaid.

In most parts of Central Asia, Islam is docile and the peoplethere warm and friendly, Hutson said.

“They’re not all the Muslims we think of when we think ofterrorism,” she said. “They’re sweet, hospitable, family-orientedpeople. One of the sweetest men I met there went into the Mosquefive times a day to pray.”

Though the cultural and religious divides are deep and wide,hopes are that events like “Life Along the Silk Road” will bringCentral Asian missionaries the needed blessings to keep going. Thedisplay is being hosted by churches all across the nation, Hutsonsaid.

“God is big enough,” she said. “He asks us to pray, and when ittruly becomes a desire of our hearts, God will work miracles inthat part of the world.”