Upon receiving my latest edition of WORLD magazine, I read the following front-page headline: DANIEL OF THE YEAR, Frank Wolf, “A career in Congress spent fighting for the forgotten.” Virginian Congressman Wolf has given the past thirty years plus of his life to travelling to some of the most dangerous places in the world to do something about suffering in seemingly forgotten areas. As the WORLD article reported, “As part of his work in the House of Representatives, he traveled to hot spots like Cold War-era Romania, oppressed Tibet, communist China, beleaguered Sudan, and war-ravaged Iraq, often focused on the plight of religious minorities persecuted by government officials and extremists.” Congressman Wolf retires this month, but his work will continue. When he visited Ethiopia in 1984, he said, “What I saw and experienced in Ethiopia . . . fully awakened me to the suffering of other people. And as both a U.S. c congressman and a Christian, I knew I had to do something about it.”
December 2-11, my wife and I spent time with other “Daniel’s” like Congressman Frank Wolf. These are missionaries located in the Basque region of Spain who have given their lives “fighting for the forgotten.” This northern region of Spain bordering the Bay of Biscayne and the Pyrenees Mountains is unique unto itself. The Basque people are a very proud people holding onto their national traditions and guarded in their approach to other Spaniards and outsiders.
What causes me to consider them “forgotten” is the impact of cold, lifeless religion that has left them suffering in their agnostic, sinful condition in these small mountain villages or large cities. Many, many Basque people have never heard the gospel, never read a Bible or heard the name “Jesus.” This land is virgin territory for the Good News.
How my heart was moved by a lone shepherd leaning on his staff as he tended his sheep near the small village of Zegama. He stood all alone, seemingly forgotten, quiet and forlorn. I waved at him as we passed by on our way up the mountain to the Aierdi Farmhouse. On the third pass, he finally acknowledged my wave. Here is a man, most likely unsaved, a shepherd in need of hearing the gospel of the Good Shepherd (John 10:10-11). My heart ached as I realized that I could not speak to him in his own language. Just as quickly, though, I rejoiced because of the dear missionaries who have given their lives to learn his language and “fight for the forgotten;” who live near him and have a burden for him as well.
Truth is, you do not need to travel 5,000 miles to Spain to “fight for the forgotten.” They live next door to you, work alongside you, ride on the bus with you, attend your school, etc. They are gripped in the cold clutches of their sin and have never heard the gospel. Many of their children have never heard John 3:16 or the simple children’s Christmas song, “Away in a Manger.” God has not forgotten those around you in your community, and He has not forgotten these Basque people, and therefore, neither should we. We must fight for the forgotten. We must do something about it. What sacrifices will you make this Christmas? Where will you go to reach the “forgotten?”