September 5, 2012

Team Submarine

Team Submarine is a small team from Vox that will be travelling to Central Asia to both support a close friend working in country and to develop plans for deepening Vox’s participation in some small, but meaningful work there. This is in part a request for prayer and support, and it’s also an invitation to join in some exciting, practical kingdom work. If any of it resonates with you, you’ll find some simple ways to participate listed at the end.

As a small community of friends struggling to love Christ and others amidst the distractions of millennial America, developing prolonged, meaningful connections to Christians and Christ-inspired work in other parts of the world can be both stubbornly difficult and life-giving. God is at work in hard places around the globe and our current lifestyle seems custom-designed to shut that out. Since Vox started, we have tried to break with the current American cycle of non-committal narcissism and build a few tangible connections to fellow laborers in majority-world settings. We’ve wanted to serve, to learn, and find communities looking to reciprocate.

Over the last few years, we’ve had the blessing of developing just such a partnership with an unusual community of Christians working in Central Asia. They are a diverse team ranging from experienced career missionary doctors to young Dari literature experts; their work is equally varied ranging from rural maternal health trainings to university textbook distribution. Vox’s main contribution to this team’s work so far has been a remarkable young man who we’ll refer to as E for security reasons. E came to Vox as a prototypical Austin hipster, a college student struggling with large questions of identity, meaning, and purpose. Over the next few years we had the privilege of seeing God enter into and give direction to E’s struggle. He soon asked to be baptized and after graduating from college expressed a calling to live amongst, and work for, the people of Central Asia. He was and is Vox’s first ‘global missionary’. In just a few years he has grown fluent in Dari, helped publish a nationally distributed maternal health book series, and formed numerous, now thriving, university student groups. He has witnessed his local and foreign friends kidnapped, endured prolonged negotiations, and developed a number of significant discipleship-centered relationships with local friends and neighbors. In short, God has walked with him and honored his commitment.

As a church we would like to now acknowledge where God has chosen to work and step alongside our brother by sending a small team to Central Asia to provide him with some much needed face-to-face encouragement. We also hope to learn from the experiences of his team and explore how best to expand our community’s contribution. The trip is scheduled for September 17 – 26. We are set to spend time in a couple of cities (including the team’s headquarters). We already have a full slate of activities scheduled for us, including leading workshops on public speaking, web-design, and English literature; preaching at a Friday worship gathering; visits to the book distribution network E has established, and individual visits to some of the rural medical and education projects E’s team has pioneered in the northern regions of the country.

A particularly exciting aspect of the trip will be some preliminary planning for a possible national public service campaign tackling the issue of physical disabilities in the local culture. After decades of war, physical impairments are unfortunately widespread throughout the country and yet the longstanding tradition of completely rejecting disabled persons’ place in family and society remains firmly entrenched. We are hoping to leverage the considerable media skills of our Austin community to help a local Central Asian team produce a series of PSAs, set to be broadcast on national television, that affirm the worth and role of Central Asians with physical impairments.

It is indeed exciting times in Austin and Central Asia. If any of this has resonated with you, why not participate? We’ve tried to streamline things a bit by making a website for the trip.

Visit Team Submarine’s Website

On it you should find an option to sign-up for updates, a link to donate to the trip (anything helps), and a snazzy little photostream. Two of the guys going, and E himself, are notoriously good photographers, so expect some quality pics throughout! If you’re limited financially, please don’t shy away from signing up for updates regardless. Three of the four men travelling are leaving behind wives and children, so, as life inevitably shows us, our primary need is prayer. And if you’re not even sure how you can pray for any of this, maybe you can simply join us in remembering daily some words of Paul that must seem especially poignant to our Central Asian brothers and sisters:

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

To the father who loves!

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