No Place Left
Only a few hours after landing, Cameron, Nathan, and I found ourselves sitting in front of an expectant audience of new believers in a newly formed house church. Our translator, Raj, informed us that the "oldest" believer in the congregation had become a Christian only three weeks prior and asked if we would each share our testimonies and a brief encouragement from the Word of God. After singing several songs to which we could only joyfully clap along with, we shared our stories and short messages and prepared to leave. Before doing so, we were asked to pray for certain people in the room. We each soon found ourselves praying for physical healing of those that came to us, something we'd only heard of or read stories about. It was at this very moment that it really hit me that we were in South Asia.
It seemed like every day we would find ourselves wholly blown away by the faith and courage of the people. While traveling to different cities, we had the opportunity to visit believers and hear their testimonies about how God was working in their lives to share the Gospel. We heard stories of masses of people healed in the name of Jesus. We heard stories of new believers leading people to faith before having a Bible or even fully knowing the Gospel message. We also heard stories of pastors who were beaten by mobs for their work for the Gospel. Throughout every single one of these testimonies, there was a common theme: they had been changed by Jesus, and the goal of their lives was now to tell those around them about Him. While leading a short training in the countryside one evening, Cameron and I stood on a hill by the house with several others and took in the view. Our translator Sanjay let us know that every house we could see had not heard the Gospel. Thinking about this now, I'm reminded of John 4:35, where Jesus told his disciples, "look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." We were looking over the white fields at that moment.
On another day, we met with two believers, a father and a son, whose lives have been threatened because of their faith. Our translator asked if we could share our testimonies with them to encourage them, but we decided that the best way to lift up these brothers was for each of us to encourage them with the Word and prayer. We shared verses like Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," and we were amazed by the reality of Scripture in their lives.
I was simultaneously broken by their persecution and emboldened by their courage to faithfully share the Gospel, even if it meant losing their lives. A few days later, while leading a training session at Raj's family home in the mountains, we had the opportunity to meet a local pastor who works with unengaged and unreached people groups in the area. Being able to share with those who have not heard is what makes the trials and persecutions worth it for these pastors and believers.
While in South Asia, we met a group of people captivated by and eager to share the Gospel until all have heard because of their love for Jesus. You might be wondering how you can help these believers in South Asia from here in the States. Prayer is vital to their mission. We can pray that the Holy Spirit will begin to work in the hearts of the lost in South Asia and that God would raise up laborers from within their region to share the Gospel, and laborers from without to enter in and help continue the work. We can pray for multiplication of churches, and that entire families or villages would believe the message of Jesus. In the meantime, we can take up their mission and the command of the Great Commission here at home and pursue that call in our own families, schools, workplaces, and communities. Because to reach the ends of the Earth, we have to start where we are.