by Dr. Tony L. Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – We were missionaries in Africa during the 1990’s.
The 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser diesel, washed-out white color, with a wide faded red stripe down the side, was used when given to us as missionaries. We normally travelled with 2 spare-tires when we went into the brush of Africa but our problems with the cruiser were more serious. The head on the engine was blown and the engine would spew water and the radiator would boil over. It was easy to get stranded on the edge of the Sahara desert when daily temperatures were on either side of 100 degrees. Carrying extra water on top of the steel frame built on top of the land cruiser to transport the portable baptistery became essential on every trip.
We put in multiple requests to, Bill, the regional missionary leader asking for funds to replace the old Toyota but we were turned down every year until Bill came to visit us. Bill wanted to visit a remote village area where many former Muslims had accepted Christ and then became our best evangelists among those living within the entire region. We took the old land cruiser when Bill traveled with us.
I drove the cruiser and Bill sat to my right in the passenger seat. The former Muslims from the capital city, now followers of Christ, who I was training in ministry leadership filled the others seats of the land cruiser. We left early in the morning so the temperature was not yet skyrocketing over 100 degrees.
The day in the village went better than planned. Bill got to see the recent converts in action leading worship, preaching, and teaching lessons from the Bible in small groups. Bill saw the intense fellowship between those from the capital city and those in the brush. Bill participated as we separated through a long time of open prayer before returning to the land cruiser for the long, late afternoon drive back to the capital of Niamey, Niger. However, the temperature had run-up on us during the long day. The worst was yet to come.
During the trip back to the city, the land cruise spewed water from under the hood. The radiator boiled until it emptied itself of moisture. The aroma of something burning filled our nostrils. Bill offered “fatherly-like-advice” as to how to remedy the situation. We rapidly ran out of water from on top of the land cruiser. Now we were pacing our return home so that we could intermittently stop at tiny villages to draw water from their wells to fill the radiator. It was a long afternoon that spilled into the evening as we stopped, let the engine cool, drew water, then filled containers and the radiator over and over again.
As you might expect, the very next morning over breakfast Bill announced that he would give us funds to replace the engine and radiator in the old land cruiser. It was not the promise of something new, just something resuscitated. It has been over twenty-years since I drove that land cruiser sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and I sometimes wonder if that vehicle is idle buried with the seasonal blowing sands of the Sahara Desert or is that old relic of a land cruiser still on active duty helping someone in Africa.
With Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday upon us and the Passion Week offering us times of reflection, renewal and gratitude for our salvation, I am so glad that Christ did not just replace parts in my life when He became my personal savior. Christ transformed me into something indescribably new. I love the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) that says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I cannot blame Bill for trying to save money where he could during our missionary days, but I am grateful that our Lord and Savior holds nothing back when extending His salvation to the entire world. Paul continues to write in verse 18, “And God had given us this task of reconciling people to him.” My prayer is that this resurrection celebration season will create gratitude in our hearts and minds, then drive us to “go” so that others can look forward to their own resurrection in Christ after they are reconciled to Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.