When we were school children we studied the great heroes who had gone before. They were almost always pioneers. They were the ones who braved rough seas to bring their small, primitive ships to America.

Or the ones who cut across the mountainous terrains where thick brush and wild animals threatened their very existence.

Or the ones who were willing to risk every personal convenience just to forge new paths and open up new territories. Paths and territories which the rest of us could eventually enjoy.

Well we recently received an email from some of our modern day heroes.

They are bright, educated people who could have forged ahead for monetarily impressive careers. But they didn’t do that. As I said, they are heroes. They are forerunners – and by that I mean they are forerunners for God.

These heroes were called by God to a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar, and they accepted the call.

They were called to a group of people who had never heard the gospel. The island called Nosey Mitsio can only be reached by a several-hour boat ride. There is neither running water nor electricity. The language is a remote dialect and many Christian concepts are foreign to these people. They worship their ancestors, and are afraid of angering them. Demonic activity is all around.

But God loves these people – as much as He loves you and me. So He called a young man and his wife to take His love to them. It’s pioneer work and it’s not easy.

To minister to these people, you have to develop their trust. So our friends moved to the island 4 years ago and have been living among them in the same condition. They live in what we would call a shack, but it’s like a palace to many of their neighbors.

They eat the same food, farm and fish in the same way, and their children play the same games as the local children.

In this recent email, our friend shared how difficult circumstances had been barraging them. There had been sickness and a number of deaths on the island. The people had become more frightened about angering their ancestors, so they had become more closed than ever to the gospel.

In addition, torrential rains had brought darkness and even more difficult traveling conditions. They had to walk long distances in the mud to accomplish their work.

They were becoming discouraged.

As Adam, our friend, laid in bed looking out the window he saw a strange light. He got up and trudged to the nearby beach to see more clearly what was happening. There were clouds, so the moon and stars were not reflecting. The light was coming from the water itself.

The violent weather had churned up some plankton which were riding the waves of the sea. Their phosphorescence was a light shining in an otherwise dark place. Adam stood on the beach and pondered.

This was a reminder that God was shining His light in a million ways that we don’t even recognize as possible. In fact it was a reminder that Adam, his family, and their team were the light He had sent to Nosey Mitsio – and people were seeing that light, even when it seemed otherwise.

As our friend returned to his bed, he noticed lightening bugs flittering around the ceiling of his home. He had never before seen lightening bugs in Nosey Mitsio. More light. More of a sign from God.

He fell asleep encouraged and determined to see God’s plans come to pass.

You might think that you are in a dark place. It may be at your work, among friends or family, or among your neighbors. Yet it’s not totally dark because you are there. You are the light. You are God’s light in that place.

Let’s challenge ourselves in 2018. Our challenge is to be the light. Everywhere we go we are to be the light. We are not to pull back or become discouraged by what we see around us. We are to be the ones who change our environment.

My prayer for all of us is that we will truly shine brightly for others to see. We too are forerunners for God – and His change agents in dark places.