A glimpse into my time in Central Asia!
Where is the Silk Road? What is its beginning and end? For many centuries, scholars have debated this very thing. Part of that is the informality of the road itself. To be sure, there was no official trade route used that was called the Silk Road. In fact, that term was later coined by German explorer and geologist Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen sometime in the mid-nineteenth century.
Even still, Silk from China was one of the main commodities traded along the desert pathways and sea lanes. A state secret in the Empire and closely guarded cultural treasure, silk was the means that many made their wealth along the road. Along with spices from India, gems from the Arabian peninsula, and ivory from the north African coast many goods were carried by caravan in the ancient world along this famous network of trade routes.
The earliest known beginning of the road was in the Han Dynasty of China (206 BC - 220 AD) and it started in the capital at that time, Chang'an (modern day Xi'an). There were three main routes: The Northern Route, Central Route, and Southern Route.
The Northern Route started in Shangdu and ran west through the northern wastes of modern Mongolia. Then it went past the Caspian and Black seas onward to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
The Central Route ran from Chang'an (Xi'an) west through Central China's Gobi Desert to Kashgar. Then it continued west to the ancient Arab world of the middle east.
The Southern Route started in Chengdu and ran southward into Southeast Asia then west to India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Those were the three main routes overland. Combined with sea routes to North Africa, Japan, and Indonesia the Silk Road covered most of the ancient world.
It's important that we know the regions the road touched because not only were goods and services traded so were philosophies, ideas, and religions. The faiths of the people along the Silk Road in ancient times can still be seen today and has influenced generations of religious belief. Our mission is to the heart of enemy territory and to the people held captive there.
Will you go with us?
Who are we trying to reach? What is the message we proclaim?
The target of our mission is the peoples along the Silk Road. Seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately not. The road traverses some of the most remote and harshest environments in the world. From the wastes of the Gobi Desert and the Arabian Peninsula to the jungles of Bangladesh and India to the war zones of Afghanistan and Syria. Truly, danger is part and parcel to travelling along the Silk Road. Despite that, even the people trapped in these places must be told the Gospel. After all, how will they believe if they haven't heard and how will they hear if no one has told them and how will someone tell them if no one goes? We will go.
There are other places that do not pose physical danger but rather spiritual. The mega-cities of Japan and China, the modern metropolises of Dubai and Doha, and the countless small villages all along the way each pose their own spiritual threats. Consumerism, materialism, and the ever growing hunger for more stuff pushes religion and faith to the fringes of modern thought for the people in these places. In fact, secularism and atheism is increasing with each modern generation. As such, there is a growing dissatisfaction with life as these pursuits prove fruitless. The harvest grows more and more each day!
Who are we trying to reach? Anyone who will listen. The rich, poor, powerful, weak, popular, outcast, healthy, sick, law follower, criminal, sinners, and saints all. No one is too far from the Cross.
Our message is simple: Repent from sin and believe the Gospel.
Repent: A complete turning away. The beginning of the lifelong struggle and fight against sin. A continual and ongoing ethic that plays out everyday in the life of the believer. (2nd Corinthians 4, whole chapter)
Sin: The nature that is present in all of mankind from birth. It is our open and blatant rebellion against God and his law. Scripture makes it clear, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "There is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3: 10-12) This reality plays out in our cultures, families, and individual lives. The brokenness of creation is evident to all, even non-believers.
The Gospel: There is only one remedy for the sickness of our souls. That is the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. His death, burial, and resurrection paved the way for our Salvation. The love of God was displayed for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Its not by our own work or merit that salvation comes to us but by the free grace of God. This was given for our good and His glory so that we could do good and honor Him. (Ephesians 2:1-10) There is no life apart from Christ and no other way to salvation from sin. (John 14:6) All who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus and truly trust in Him will be saved. This message is for all peoples of every ethnicity. (Romans 10:5-13) With the truth in our hearts, we are called to go and tell others of the Good News we have believed. (Matthew 28:16-20) This is because only by hearing the Word of God preached can salvation be brought to the peoples of the world. (Romans 10:14-17) All this for the Glory and Renown of the Lord of All, Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:1-11)
The message we share is of eternal significance. Souls are at stake and we must preach.
Will you proclaim it with us?