In spite of unrest and upheaval, the gospel went forth as local missionaries visited villages, returned later to those they met and built close relationships – often praying with them at night. Workers also reached people online or by phone.
Seeking to reunite with his brother in London, a 16-year-old Bedouin shepherd boy from the Middle East was growing frustrated with questions local missionaries were posing to him. The boy started crying when they asked him to sign an application form for asylum. “He had never gone to school and didn’t know how to read or write,” one of the leaders of the ministry said. “He started crying when our interpreter explained to him what a signature meant.”
In a country in the Middle East, a young Muslim man recently passed by a local ministry’s church site and picked up a New Testament from the stack outside. “He took it home, secretly read from it and hid it, because he feared what his family might do to him,” the ministry leader said. The 22-year-old Muslim had no idea his older brother was also secretly exploring Christianity.
A young mother in Africa had gone to a series of traditional healers, each with their fetishes and incantations to tribal gods, in a desperate quest to heal her son. He was 3 years old and had never been able to walk. She heard about a meeting at a nearby community where villagers studied the Bible. In her sub-Saharan country unidentified due to local opposition to the gospel, both the healing and the deaths of children recently moved parents to seek Christ.
Heba was rescued before she could end her life, condemning the 32-year-old mother in northern Africa to continue in a misery whose sources she did not fully understand. An affair with a younger man blunted the pain at times but soon compounded it, further toxifying problems with her husband. “I was living a miserable life filled with sadness, failure and problems,” she said.
An 11-year-old boy in Mexico had trouble socializing, and his father was addicted to drugs, so local missionaries seeking to help him had persuaded his mother to let him live at their educational center living quarters. Workers noticed some alarming drawings in his notebook. The sketches made it clear the boy was suicidal.
A refugee from Syria told local missionaries in Iraq that he had dreamt of a group of Christians visiting his house and telling him pleasant things that he could not now recall. He said he was a Muslim officer in the Syrian army who had fled when enemy soldiers occupied his home. “I remember when I woke up, I had a wonderful peace and joy that I had never experienced before,” he told them. “Can you visit us at home?”
A Syrian widow with several children had endured affliction before and after arriving as a refugee in Jordan. Islamic State (ISIS) invaders in Syria had seized her oldest son and, fearing they might take her other children, she and her husband had fled in 2013. Some of her children were able to help her husband in odd jobs he might find on the streets – until he was diagnosed with cancer.
A series of murders of children and young women prompted a three-day prayer event in a town in western Kenya. Church members and community leaders were praying for safety when a young man burst in and confessed to raping and killing six young women. The local missionaries and other leaders prayed for deliverance and salvation as the man’s anguished cries drew more people to the meeting tent – including some bent on lynching him and burning his body.
Accompanied by police and soldiers, a district official in Laos told Christians in a tribal village that those who refused to renounce Christ would be imprisoned. He was angry that they had refused to heed a prior warning to quit worshiping Christ. “Christianity is a western religion – it cannot be practiced in our country,” he told them. “I will give you one more chance to renounce Christ. If anyone still wants to believe in God, then just raise your hand.”
A shaman in Indonesia had quit his life as a robber and drug seller five years ago, but he still had no peace. Deeply troubled, he invited a worker and others from the ministry to his house to talk with him and his family about Christ. When the local missionaries showed up, they found 40 people at the house.
A young man in Iraq, Sami, and his father were descended from multiple generations of historic Christians, but during occupation by Islamist militants they had been forcibly converted to Islam. Such converts have trouble showing loyalty to a new caliphate, often refusing to join the fight to establish and expand it. Both men were subjected to torture; Sami told native missionaries in Europe that his father died trying to save him from the militants.
Amid conditions that seem to grow more apocalyptic every day, local missionaries in Latin America need either super-human stamina or otherworldly faith. A worker in Bolivia needed true grit to continue reaching out to a young man whose drunken rages had driven his family away. “Every time Pablo got drunk, he went home and hit his wife and children,” the leader of the native ministry said.
Christian Aid Mission seeks to establish a witness for Christ in every nation by assisting indigenous ministries based in areas of poverty and persecution, giving priority to ministries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with unreached people groups. Today, we work with hundreds of indigenous ministries in eight regions of the world that share the gospel with more than 2,000 unreached people groups.
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