Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Dan who was humbled while working among the Banjara, a large unreached people group in central India:
For me, it was fascinating to go back to the exact same villages where we had ministered one year ago. The people of the Banjara are gypsies – albeit there are 40 million of them, so they don’t actually move around that much. They are mostly illiterate in a rural area outside of major cities. They typically don’t interact within the cities, so the only way they would hear the Gospel is if someone went out and took it to them.
I had the opportunity to talk with this one man who was an idol worshiper. I really felt like I was “on my game – waxing Scripture poetically”. How could he not accept Jesus after I had spoken so eloquently? Yet, when I finished talking and asked if he had a response, he said:
“Well… God exists. If we do something, He’ll do something.”
At that moment, I realized that there actually had been no connection between what I had meant to say and what he understood. My ego was shattered in a hurry. I tried to argue and debate my way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me, “You’re not going anywhere. This isn’t going to work.” That was when I turned the conversation over to my interpreter. In a mere five minutes, as my interpreter spoke with the man about God’s grace, the man accepted Christ as his Savior.
It wasn’t about me, my eloquence, education or smooth delivery.
There was no doubt that God’s message was about His message. Not at all about me.
Now, before the trip, we had asked the “strategy question” of whether or not to go back to the villages we had been to the year prior, or seek out new places to go. When we saw the responses of people who had heard the Gospel the year before, rejected it at the time, but then spent the past year wrestling with God’s truth, our decision to go back was definitely confirmed!
As one woman said, “If you don’t send someone back to teach us, we’re going to forget!” Since they are illiterate, you can’t just leave them with a Bible. They need people there who can speak to them, teach them, pray with them, and guide them. One week of walking their streets simply isn’t enough. In order for an understanding of God’s grace, repentance, and salvation, it takes a lot of time.
Therefore, we set up a plan with our partners in the nearby cities to strategically come out and regularly minister to the Banjara; and then within a few months physically move out, away from the city and into their villages. Then they will have a group of pastors that they desperately hunger for and need.
Philippians 1:3-4 says: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel”. If not for the partnership between our teams and the local churches in the areas we go to, people like the Banjara would not have the opportunities to hear God’s word and learn what it means to live the Christian life, bound for eternity with Jesus. But because we partner together, there have been generations of churches planted and growing all over the world.
Next, we hear from Chris, who describes his involvement in Ethiopia among Muslims of the Arsi-Oromo tribal people:
We were doing an eyeglass clinic in one particular village, located in a Muslim region of Ethiopia. We knew that many of our translators were former Muslims, so we asked many of them if they would be willing to share their own testimonies with the people we met. One of them was a 19-year-old named Mohammad. His father was a very influential imam in that area. Choosing to follow Jesus was an incredible step for Mohammad, since his family would shun him immediately, so he kept it a secret for quite some time. Then one night, while spending the night at a friend’s house, he was talking in his sleep… about Jesus! Mohammad’s friend (at least he thought they were friends) told his parents about his faith in Jesus. His parents then tied him up and beat him, they brought over some of his peers who threatened to do much worse, all in an attempt to get him to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. When none of that worked, his father disowned him and kicked him out of the house. Mohammad took up residence in a local church, where the Christians there took him in and nursed his wounds.
So, while we were there doing the optical clinic, Mohammad would talk to the people in the waiting room, telling them his story and all about the love, grace, and salvation that Jesus offers. Several people each day accepted Christ after hearing the Gospel from Mohammad that week!
Another man we met was Abdu, a former imam. He was doing his typical thing that day, working at his local mosque, when he had a vision of Jesus, Himself! Jesus asked him, “Who do you think I am?” As any typical Muslim would say, he answered, “I think you are a prophet.” Jesus then took him through the Quran, showing him who Jesus is – not just a prophet, but God Almighty!
That was his last day at the Mosque.
So, at one point in the week when we were there, I looked over to see Abdu in the center of a circle of about 25 men. Abdu spoke with authority, with his Quran in one hand and his Bible in the other, explaining to the men there the truth about Jesus, God’s loving kindness and will for each of their lives. It was amazing to see God immediately use Abdu in such a powerful way!