BLOG: The smoke of a thousand villages

By Dan, Mission Mobiliser

Many a morning have I stood on the porch of my house, and looking northward, have seen the smoke arise from villages that have never heard of Jesus Christ. I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages — villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.

The smoke of a thousand villages.

Robert Moffat, Missionary to South Africa.

Livingstone’s inspiration

David Livingstone is perhaps one of the most famous western missionaries of the last few hundred years. Though his legacy is complex, his dedication and resilience are undeniable. As a young man, Livingstone was initially set to travel to China, but was inspired by Robert Moffat, who wrote letters to him and spoke of the need there was in Africa.

The smoke of a thousand villages.

A spiritual desert

When travelling to and from a conference recently I was deeply reminded of these words. As we flew across the vast deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, I could see the distant lights of towns in the night below; countless individuals living in lands of spiritual darkness.

The next day I was in my local church, standing with brothers and sisters in worship. And it struck me, looking across at their joyful faces, that there were more believers in that room than in some Arab nations. How can it be that more local people follow Jesus in one small congregation in an English town than in entire countries of millions upon millions of people? There is still much work to do.

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And yet, despite the immensity of the challenge, there is hope. Africa itself provides a clear example: much of it has been deeply touched with the gospel. Today, despite the historic and present barriers, there are millions more Christians in that continent than in the one that sent Livingstone and Moffat. At the conference itself, I met brothers and sisters from across sub-Saharan Africa who are sharing their faith and sending workers to the nations. Together we long that the gospel would take root in North Africa as well. We long that the Arab world would experience the joy of knowing Christ.

The smoke of a thousand villages.

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