“Meet your fears with faith.” – Max Lucado.
My husband Paul and I set out on a trip to Asia several years ago to teach English as a foreign language. Our team would spend four weeks teaching at a summer English camp in a tropical city.
There are no Christian missionaries in such countries. But there are many English teachers who happen to be Christians.
We knew there would be challenges on the trip. A language barrier, a different cultural mindset. There would be minor discomforts, jet lag, a new cuisine, and maybe there would be bugs.
To me, that’s not a minor discomfort. I have a serious case of entomophobia—the fear of insects.
I am convinced that insects are sinister. and my Asian experience with them confirmed that conviction and proved that modern people have underestimated the capacity of their tiny brains.
During our stay, we shared an apartment with three other women. Paul was the only man in our apartment. But because of his work obligations, he could only stay for one week. The unwelcome creatures knew when the man had vacated our premises.
And the invasion commenced.
Leading the vanguard of the roach assault was a creature fresh from the championship round of the World’s Largest Roach Contest. His blue ribbon medallion still hung about his shell.
This creature clambered across the top of the open door of the large wardrobe in one of the bedrooms. The sight of him made the four of us shiver to our cores.
We had fearlessly traveled halfway around the globe to carry the Gospel into a hostile country, and a large, yes, very large roach had reduced us to a singular quivering mass.
The bravest of us, a woman from the South, someone who had already seen such creatures in real life—not just on television—stepped forward and shut the wardrobe door, crushing the roach’s shell, and ending his terrorizing foray into our previously peaceful, bug-free haven.
On my next trip to the convenience store in our complex, I took a translator along with me to make sure I got the deadliest insecticide manufactured in that nation.
But the onslaught had begun, and roaches appeared in kitchen trash, which we began to empty the moment we produced it. No more trash in the kitchen! No more food on the counters—only sealed, one-serving cereal packages in the cabinets.
One night while watching some American late night television programming, I heard one of my apartment mates pounding her hard-soled shoe repeatedly in her room.
I did not need to ask. I knew she was fighting the roach fight.
I sprayed my room almost daily, especially around my suitcase. I didn’t want to give any such creature a free ride to America—to my home.
I arranged to be the last one to leave the apartment each day and sprayed my way to the door, leaving the aerosol can on the shelf right next to the exit just in case I needed it upon my return.
Apparently, my spraying had worked. While there were still unwelcome visitors at various times in the apartment, I managed to escape the trauma of finding such a creature in my bedroom—until the last day we were there.
When I woke up that day, I found, belly up on the floor at the foot of my bed, a dead roach. Not as big as our first invader but just about as stomach wrenching. I spoke to the dead creature. “Today is a good day to go home.”
I am glad to say I survived the trip well, and that the memories that are clearest and most dear to me about my first trip to Asia do not involve roaches.
The history of Christians carrying the Gospel to Asia is long and storied and filled with more sacrifice than our encounter with roaches. William Carey in India, Hudson Taylor in China. And so many others. Their stories are filled with authentic sacrifice. And enormous legacy.
Sometimes I talk with my grandchildren about my time in Asia. I tell them what I saw. I tell them about the faith of some people there and that Christianity is exploding there.
I don’t talk much about the roaches. They were a temporary challenge. What Christ does there will last forever.
What Christ does there will last forever.