I never once really considered the fact that I had hands until I adopted a Deaf girl and started waving them around all day in order to communicate with people. Prior to that, I only thought about my nails if I happened to be biting them and bit a little too far. Then, I’d think, “Ow. That was too far.”
But, once our Deaf daughter came home and we found ourselves in this new, hand-centered community of people, my glaringly mistreated fingers became a thing that entered my radar. This led me to the nail place in a strip mall near my house.
The Questions in Strip Malls That Lead to Jesus
You need to know that everywhere I go, I bring with me an entourage of little girls—my daughters. Two of them are not Deaf or Chinese and generally can fly under the radar in public places if I distract them with enough candy. 🙂 And then, there’s Joy—my sweet, adopted daughter who was born without any ears, can’t talk, and is completely Chinese.
Every time, I have brought her into a nail place, I’ve gotten some form of the following questions: Is she Chinese? Is she your daughter? Did you adopt her? How much did she cost? Why can’t she talk? Why didn’t you adopt someone normal?
I realize that those questions appear to be offensive, typed out like that, but I’m never offended by them, because I can see all over their faces, that they’re not trying to be rude or make a statement by asking. They are genuinely shocked that I would choose to put time and resources toward bringing an Asian child with special needs into my healthy, happy Caucasian family.
It’s been the coolest thing to sort through these questions and walk through these conversations, because they inevitably lead to the gospel. I’ve shared the gospel in nail places these past eighteen months more frequently than I have at any other time in my life. Why is that?
It’s partly because the people I’m meeting ask the questions that lead to Jesus, sure. But it is also because the people I’m meeting do not know the gospel. They really don’t.
Entering the Deaf community led me to a nail place and entering a nail place led me to a culture unfamiliar with the gospel.
For the Vietnamese community in my town in the American South, who get up, go to work at the salon seven days a week, and otherwise live fairly isolated lives with their Vietnamese family and friends, Jesus is a foreign concept. I know this, because I’ve done some conversational research. And it has become clear, after talking with several of them, that I might be their only source of information about the gospel.
Unreached People Are All Around Us
My nail place conversations led me to look at research online and let me tell you some crazy stats. According to Joshua Project, there are currently 488 people groups in the United States. They say 84 of those are unreached. And they estimate the population of those unreached in this country at 10,777,000. That’s staggering to me. In a country where the largest religion is Christianity by 77.3%, there are that many people who have not heard the good news of the gospel.
I also read through Unreached Peoples — Last Reached Places: An Untold Story of Lostness in North America by J.D. Payne. I found it on the North American Mission Board’s website. It’s a short, eye-opening book—and in it, I found a webpage called “Global Gates,” that laid out the population, ethnicity, and religion of every unreached group in the Metro NY area. Tens of thousands of Syrian Jews. 20,000 Yemeni Arabs. In just that NY area, they have close to two million people listed.
The point is there are a lot of people all over the country like the new friends I’ve been making with my daughters. The men and women who salvage my fingers, and so many people around us, not only don’t know Jesus, they don’t even know about Jesus.
I know the research is at least directionally accurate, because I talk to them all the time. Almost every single time I’ve sat down in one of these places, we get to the gospel pretty quickly. And I always ask them if they know about Jesus, if they know about God, if they’re familiar with Christianity. They aren’t. Not even a little bit. Now, granted, some of them don’t speak English, but many of them do, and it blows my mind that they haven’t heard.
Live Less Transactionally
God calls all believers to serve Him in different ways. If He’s leading you to obey Him in a way that sounds random or crazy, just try it and see where that leads you. Maybe it won’t be a flight to China or an ASL class or a nail place, but as we seek the heart of God, we will see that He provides opportunities for us to share Him with people.
I’m not suggesting we all converge on our local nail places. I’m not even saying you need to focus on a specific group of people. I’m suggesting we follow God’s lead, trying to look with God’s eyes, and rather than entering into and exiting our grocery stores and dry cleaners and hair salons and dental offices, as people needing to make a transaction, we pray that God will lead us into lifestyles that make the lost scratch their heads and ask, “Why?” Let’s look for simple ways in regular moments to talk with real people about forever hope.
Pray for Opportunities to Speak Up
Maybe today, you can ask God to lead you to who He wants you to love and how He wants that to happen. Then live. Live your days and let other people into them and help whoever needs it to see the hope and joy and peace that is found in following Jesus.
I entered a local nail place looking for more presentable hands, but gained so much more than that. In these places, I’ve gained opportunities to step into new relationships and reach into new worlds of different people. Sitting in their chairs has given me the opportunity to reach into their world, the way Jesus reached into mine.
Jesus is alive in us, and we live in a country where millions of people don’t know who He is. Let’s ask the Lord the help us live in a way that causes hurting people, many of whom are “unreached” to say, “Why and what and how?” So that we can answer, “Jesus.”