One of our church planters works in a closed access country and we asked her to tell us recent stories from her ministry there. Here is some of what she shared.
“When I tell people where I go in ministry, even the local Christians usually discourage me by saying it’s too dangerous, etc. But I find that God opens up opportunities. A few weeks ago, I had a dream to go to a very heavily Muslim area. So I did, and I drove around for an hour in a taxi, praying that God would lead me to an underground house church. Miraculously, He did!
“We found them in an abandoned industrial area. We had never had any contact with this tiny group of new believers, but God knew they had been fasting and praying for three months that God would send them someone to teach them how to reach Muslims in their home villages. You can imagine their astonished reaction when I walked through the door! Now we’re teaching them outreach skills they can use in their difficult context.
“In other areas, I’m allowed to be a little more open. In one jungle village, we have a group of believers meeting now, and a pastor, and they’ve been trying to get a little bit of space together for a church and school to use for outreach. Every time they started to build it, thugs come in the night and knock the walls down. Then someone came in with falsified papers and tried to steal the land. Others came and chased away the builders by throwing rocks at them over and over. Finally, we found favor with the local chief of police, and God is moving.
“I’m the first white person to ever sleep in that village. And it’s really the help of the locals, not the missionaries, that makes the work most fruitful. Every time I preach, God always provides someone out of the crowd who becomes my translator to help with my limited language skills. Often that person becomes a real evangelist in their area. But there is also spiritual warfare: the whole time I was there last time, someone came and set up a black magic booth, demonstrating levitation and all kinds of dark spiritual power to compete with God.
“I see the spiritual side of things even in the animals: pigs and monkeys are known to kill people in that area, and usually when they get close, they attack. My first night in my tent, a pig came right up to me, but instead of charging, it just lay down, as if to guard the place. Then monkeys came and did the same thing, settling into the trees above my tent as if to guard it instead of harming me or trying to steal food. It’s hard to describe the eeriness of such experiences.
“How do you go about starting a church plant?” we asked.
“Well, actually, I use a kind of art, where I have Jesus stories drawn all over my hands. Then usually women will ask me, ‘What’s that story?’ and I get to tell them. Or sometimes they’ll ask if I’m really traveling alone, and I say, ‘No, Jesus is with me,’ and then I get to tell them about who He is. And then a lot of times I go into the hair and nail places that are just everywhere and let the ladies work on my toes or something, and share Jesus with them the whole time. It’s amazing how easy it can be to share Jesus stories in places like that.”
“Do you have any prayer requests?”
“Yes, definitely! First, pray for the families and the churches. Many of the people are coming from brutal family backgrounds, and there is a real attack of the enemy toward families in that country. And the churches really need courage and power to share their faith despite real obstacles. Second, pray for a team. I have on my heart to train others to plant churches in these regions, but it needs to be a special person or group of people. So, yes, pray for the locals and pray for more people I can teach to spark church plants!”
If you have a heart to share Jesus somewhere in the world, even locally, and are wondering where to start, just ask us! We’d love to help you get started. And, thank you for praying for our missionaries and for what God is doing among unreached people groups!