When I lived in India, little red worms crawled up from beneath my tile floors. They looked like threads, but my teammate informed me they were worms. She also taught me how to kill them. Every morning as part of my daily routine, I doused capfuls of bleach on the little guys till they shriveled up, then I swept them into our trash.
Life in India was like that. A beautiful country full of vibrant colors, India brimmed with culture, laughter, hospitality, and adventure. But the stresses of cross-culture living kept popping up. Worms on the floor. Flies on my towels. Sickness. Temperatures at 115 degrees. Life was hard.
But then came the days when the neighborhood teens asked me to start a Bible study with them. Or when we handed out Bibles and a young man asked if he could bring the entire box back to his village who had never heard. Or when I handed the Gospel of John to a temple priest and he complained to me, “Full Bible! I need full Bible! We know Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, but we don’t know the ABCs of Christianity.” India hungered, and every day I handed out Jesus, the Bread of Life.
My teammates and I had a frontline view of the battle. We prayed together throughout the day—on our way to the slums, walking home, before meals, before bed, before Bible studies. This was war. People’s lives were at stake. We gave up every comfort and depended on God for every need. No sacrifice was too great.
Now I’m on the other side. I live in America. I sit at a desk, answer emails, write books, monitor sales … and think of India. I remember the blank stares when I mentioned the name Jesus, and how their eyes widened in surprise when I got to the part where he rises from the dead. And I think to myself, “What am I doing now?”
During World War II, the US came together in unity. Posters reminded citizens the battle wasn’t just overseas. Every person had a role to play. They planted victory gardens to feed their families when rations grew tight. They cut down on gasoline usage. They worked longer hours to build war supplies. The war effort affected every area of life, whether at home or abroad. Citizens who would never see the battlefield still sacrificed every day—through time, money, and labor—to ensure we came out victorious.
What would it mean to carry this level of dedication with us every day—being willing to do without so that we could send more missionaries overseas? Or even to other parts of the US that are now nearly as unreached as India?
When I lived in India, I didn’t realize my supporters were in the battle too. I lived overseas because friends and family donated money to pay for my expenses while I lived there. I didn’t realize—and I don’t think they realized either—how crucial their role was.
Now that I’m back home in America, I’ve started sending money every month to my friend from college who lives in the Amazon as a missionary. I remember the battle, and I know she’s fighting on the frontlines every day. But even this small donation feels too easy. I remember the level of sacrifice I lived daily in India, and I know I’m not living at this same level now. In India, I was willing to give up anything to see one more person in heaven because I saw the battle every day. But here in America, I’ve grown soft. I sacrifice less. Indulge more.
But do we have to see the battle in order to sacrifice?
I don’t see the worms, hear the flies, or feel the heat. I don’t see the faces, hear their pleas for Bibles, feel the daily burden of the lost as I wake up. But if I could sacrifice when I lived in India, can I still sacrifice now that I live on the home front? If the US could sacrifice for soldiers during World War II, can we sacrifice for Jesus during this decade?
As Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”(John 15:13). The greatest love is to sacrifice so that someone else can have eternal life.