"I have seen the smoke from the campfires of a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been proclaimed."
I love that image. The great missionary Robert Moffat looked out across the velds of South Africa and his heart cried out for the unreached nations before him. The smoke rising up across the horizon was a constant reminder that the task was unfinished. With every flame came a spiraling cloud. A thousand tribes of men, women and children circling around the fires and from the distance he watched as those signal fires marked out the nations.
I have seen the smoke.
Moffat had followed the call of God into missions as a young man, spurred forward by the testimonies from Moravian missionaries, stories he heard sitting at his mother’s knee. His soul shook with an unquenchable passion to reach those nations and proclaim the name of Jesus.
I have seen the smoke.
Every time I read these words my soul leaps into action. I’m stirred to prayer and spurred to reach unreached villages. But Africa has changed so much in the last two centuries since Moffat first arrived in January of 1817. There are still villages and there are still fires. There are still spirals of smoke rising up across the African plains and desert dunes where the name of Jesus Christ has never been proclaimed.
And now there are great cities, major African metropolises where millions of men, women and children from distant fires are converging. Unreached peoples from closed countries who do not gather around the fire but sit beneath the soft fluorescent glow of electric light.
I have seen the smoke. And I have seen the soft glow of electric light spilling from a thousand African apartments where the name of Christ has never been proclaimed. Many nights I arrive at church as the sun sinks into the ocean and I watch as the electric glow of lights begin to ignite. I think of the mothers and fathers, like many generations before, gathering their sons and daughters to hear their tales. They listen to stories in their languages through the illuminated box by the wall. They sway to the songs in their own tongue through the radio with its tilted silver antennae at the corner store.
I have seen the soft glow of electric light spilling from a thousand African apartments where the name of Christ has never been proclaimed and my heart weeps, it shakes, it trembles with the passion and the pain. There is a passion to hear the name of Jesus lifted up on each corner, in each building, each home. There is a pain because today we have not created space between us to share the life and love of Jesus.
I have seen the soft glow and my heart leaps for joy because every day we are pursuing our mission of creating space to grow a movement. Every day we plant His church deeper into the soil of Dakar. Every day we are closer to telling His story in Wolof through our church and new creative media. Every day we are closer to new songs in their own tongue that proclaim the name of Jesus into the lives of millions of urban unreached. Every day I see the soft glow and rejoice because you are praying for us and interceding with us for the nations.