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Deny Yourself: A Lesson From the Book of Luke

It was 6:00 am and I was wide-awake. Not because I am an early riser, but because of jet lag. All signs were pointing to this quickly becoming a challenging day. Our team dug into our daily devotions, which focused on pursuing a lifestyle of servitude to Jesus as pictured in the book of Luke.


“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” —Luke 9:23


Naturally, in a way only He can seem to do, God gave me a chance to practice what I learned.


The morning faded quickly and lunchtime began to lean into the day. My team decided to go check out a local restaurant. I was barely able to eat what was set before me without gagging. But just as I had been challenged to do earlier in our reading, I denied myself and choked it down. To be quite honest, I am not exactly sure what it was that I ate.


Shortly after lunch, we visited the local mosque. Somehow, my partner and I got swept into a crowd of people who were shuffling into the mosque. We had no choice but to follow suit. We watched as each of the devout Muslim men in front of us, carefully washed their hands, faces, and feet before entering the mosque. Doing our best to blend in and as a sign of cultural respect, we did just the same.


We followed them into the mosque and watched as everyone lined up with a calculated precision, facing in the direction of Mecca. People knew we were foreigners but were kind enough to help us line up correctly anyway. As salat (prayer in Arabic) began, I found a sinking feeling in my heart.


“Where was Jesus in this place, so full of darkness?” I thought. I cried out to the Father, “Why have you not saved these people yet? This is not fair! All these dedicated people have no chance to know you!”


I continued to wrestle with these questions for days. I later received a response from the Father simply answering my questions with another question.  


“Why do you think you are here?”

**This account comes from a recently returned cross-cultural intern.**
To learn more about our cross-cultural internship program, email for information.