“For you were slain, and by your blood your ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation….” (Revelation 5:9)

In the midst of the Olympic fervor, we find ourselves in the bottom part of Africa, in the dry and brittle month of August, where every green blade of grass has waved a flag of surrender. On the television screen, the patriotic athletes engage in robust competition in brilliantly lit London town; in rural Kabwe, the various ministries from this gathering of African nations surround each other with enormous arms of support, with cheers that rival stadium‐level uproars.

In tightly crammed quarters, the crowds overflow into vinyl tents and give enraptured attention to travel-­weary speakers who have maneuvered their way to the Zambian conference. South Africans pray blessings on the workers from Zimbabwe, the enthusiastic Mozambique leader is affirmed with applause, and the Malawi contingency explodes with exuberance for the task at hand.

When the petite lady from Madagascar holds the microphone, her quiet demeanor cannot veil her lion’s heart, her zeal for her nation, her uncontainable longing for the unreached peoples that are imprisoned inside pagan walls. In this land where travel is taxing, where workers are few, she charges ahead like a valiant warrior forging deep into enemy territory, giving little thought to the rigorous sacrifice involved.

No one is threading medals around their necks at the moment, in the middle of the race, as they lunge around the track, sprinting for all they’re worth for the cause of the Gospel. No television crew records their heroic exploits on behalf of the

Savior they hold dear; at breakfast tables, we will not gaze at their faces plastered on cereal boxes.

For this moment in time, their shoes are simply threadbare from the agonizing wear and tear in the field the Lord of the harvest has called them to till. They know the cost of selfless struggle, of bravery borne on the backside of the continent, of a relentless pursuit of things most noble, worthwhile, and fruitful.

Their faces shine with the unexplainable pleasure of pursuing the prize valued in heaven’s arena: the souls of men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation who will one day worship in the throne room of the King.

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