- What it means to be flexible
- That God still does miracles
- To thank God for big and small things in life
From her childhood, Mina was tormented by an unexplainable, deep sadness. She could not rid herself of the depression that held her captive. In desperation, she sought help from a witch doctor in an effort to set herself free.
But it was there that she found an even deeper darkness. The next morning, Mina was overtaken by dark spirits which stayed with her for many years.
While still living under these spirits, some East-West missionaries came to her office and invited her to an underground church … where she heard of Jesus Christ for the very first time. The message of the gospel touched her heart deeply, but when she returned to her home that evening the evil spirits threatened her with a great sickness.
At that moment, she made a decision to trust the loving God she heard about and turn away from the dark spirits that controlled her life for so long. She prayed, “I don’t want to belong to this dark power anymore. Forgive me, Jesus. I give myself into your hands.”
Instantly, she felt the darkness leave her and a soft response in her heart from the Lord, “You gave your spirit into My Hands, and I give My Spirit into yours.”
Now full of the Holy Spirit, Mina’s mission is to tell other people what God did in her life and how He can change their lives as well.
In North Africa, calling Jesus your Savior can bring unwanted consequences … persecution, arrest, and aversion from your neighbors. Youssef* knew the consequences, but he decided that following Jesus was worth more than the money he may lose from his neighbors no longer buying his goods or even the time he may spend in jail.
Two years ago, Youssef made the difficult decision to follow Jesus after meeting an East-West national partner who travels to his North African country from a nearby nation. When the national partner finished sharing the gospel, Youssef knew immediately that he had heard the Truth for the first time in his life.
He became the first believer in his city.
Each month, he waits for the national partner to return so he can learn more about the Bible and receive encouragement. He has since been trained in evangelism and church planting so he can begin to share the message that changed his own life.
Youssef started by sharing with his family and friends. This made him an outcast in his community, yet his family not only stood by him but also became followers of Jesus. Now he, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his sister-in-law are the first house church in this city … meeting each week to worship God, pray, study God’s Word, and take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice.
And not even persecution will keep these four, passionate believers from seeking the spiritual transformation of their community.
“It only shows a deeper level of the urgency that we as followers of Jesus have to tell more people about Him here in our country,” Youssef said. “Nothing will take away my passion for reaching my people with the Good News of the message of Jesus Christ!”
*Name changed for security purposes
Javier went 70 years without really knowing Jesus Christ, and for most of that time he didn’t want to know Jesus. Having grown up in Latin America, engulfed in the Santería religion, he knew no other way to live. So he devoted his entire life to it … becoming a Santería priest.
Javier spent many days praying to the spirits and seeking to rise within the ranks of the religion any way he could. He even would mock the believers he met—laughing at them or spitting on them.
Elisa was one of the believers Javier once mocked. He once spit on her when she turned from Santería to Jesus Christ. So when his name showed up on a list of home visits she was to make with a short-term mission trip team, she was a little reluctant … but Elisa knew she needed to be obedient to where God was calling her.
She knocked on his door and—to her surprise—Javier welcomed her, a translator, and a team member into his home. As the team member shared the gospel message, Elisa watched in amazement as Javier began weeping. The man who once laughed and spit on her was being touched deeply by the story of God’s redeeming love for him as he realized what he had done and that he could be forgiven of it all … even now.
With the tears still in his eyes, Javier accepted Christ as his Savior. Elisa was surprised that she found joy and peace at counting him a new brother as they finally found reconciliation together at the feet of Jesus.
Nileen and Nita were both very obedient to their parents, especially to their father who was a Hindu chief priest. They did everything they asked of them like going to temples, reading sacred books such as the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana, and taking part in all the rituals … even though it meant nothing to them.
Deep down, the two sisters desired something more—a relationship with a God who is loving and kind.
One day, Nita met a Christian who wanted to tell her about Jesus. So she made an appointment for the next day so her sister could come too. The next day, they sat with this Christian for over two hours … enthralled by the story of Jesus Christ and His authority over heaven and earth—something that no one in their sacred books professed to have.
The sisters went home and told their parents what they had learned. Their father was so angry that he forbade them from talking about Jesus ever again. But it didn’t stop the two sisters from trusting Christ as their Lord and Savior that very day.
Nileen and Nita stopped going to temple and reading the books. They attended church in secret, but they were soon found out. From that day forward, everything changed.
Their father flogged the girls and didn’t let them eat for three day. But the two girls held onto their faith … praying the whole time and never compromising their faith. In the end, their father declared that Nileen and Nita were no longer his daughters.
The sisters left their home and have not seen their parents since, but they continue to pray for them and the opportunity to show the love of Christ to them.
Despite not being able to count their parents as brother and sister in Jesus Christ, they find peace and happiness in their new Father who supplies their needs each day.
But God is using even this shame to draw people to Himself.
Ita, an East-West national partner in East Africa, was sitting in a hotel. He could hear that the locals there were not fond of him as he sat eating his lunch. But then he heard something else … something from God.
God told him to eat quickly and to rush to pay his bill. Ita followed God’s call—paying his bill soon and paying the bill of the locals also. Then he sat down and waited.
When the locals went to pay their bill, they discovered that Ita had done it for them. They ran to his table to meet him. When Ita introduced himself, they quickly felt shame for speaking badly of him just moments before.
At that moment, a door opened.
To cover their shame, the locals invited Ita to their village. This was shocking because their tribe is known for hostility and isolation, but God used their culture as a way for Ita to enter.
He spent three days in this village sharing the gospel with the “A” tribe. When he left, 11 people had claimed Jesus Christ as their Savior and 7 of them had been baptized.
A once closed, hostile tribe is now being transformed because God used an unlikely door to bring the love of Christ to their village.
When Elizabeth was approached to consider teaching overseas in East Asia, her answer came easily.
She didn’t want that. Not now, maybe not ever. But she did commit to a two-week mission trip to spend some time with children at a newly established school.
It was during that trip that the Lord began to turn her heart toward the people of East Asia as she saw the great need of the people to hear of the love of Jesus Christ.
People like Bo—a child participating in the summer program—who had been kicked out of several programs for bad behavior, but whose temperament turned around after a week with Elizabeth and the other team members. His parents got the first good report they had ever heard about Bo, and it was enough to get them into a biblical parenting class to bring them closer to accepting Jesus as their Lord.
People like the cleaning crew at the school who thought the new teachers would be an extra burden but found their classrooms extra clean each day. When one of them asked the short-term team why they would take the time to do more than their part, heard the gospel and claimed Jesus as her Savior.
People like Mei, who opened the small school to open doors for sharing the gospel with the community and who needed help developing a curriculum for the children.
It was those people and more that the Lord used to touch Elizabeth’s heart. By the end of the trip, she was ready.
Elizabeth decided that in a year she would return to the school to stay for longer than two weeks—maybe even two years—to help Mei develop a curriculum and teach English and History to the students so they may have the opportunity to feel the love of Jesus.
Sua had not known Jesus long, but she knew she wanted to share her newfound faith with everyone she knew. She just didn’t know how.
When she heard of an East-West evangelism training, she became excited. Without any hesitation, Sua decided that this training was just what she was looking for.
She attended both full days of training–soaking up every work that the East-West missionary and national partner were teaching. Sua not only learned how to share the gospel but she also had the opportunity to practice on fellow believers and even unbelievers in her area in Southeast Asia.
At the end of the training, the leaders had each participant write down five names that represented people they wanted to share the gospel with. Sua did that and was eager to use her knowledge.
She began first by praying for the five people on her list, but soon she began telling them about Jesus Christ. Only a few weeks later, Sua had witnessed to three of them … each deciding to trust Christ as their Savior!
Now Sua is determined to show these new believers how to share their faith and continue to share it herself.
DATE: January 2013
LOCATION: Myanmar (Burma)
PARTIES INVOLVED: East-West church planter, local church members, and Buddhist monks
BACKGROUND: In Myanmar, Buddhists make up the great majority of the population. Their high status in society results in preferential treatment, making it difficult for Christians and even Muslims to find government jobs, which are often the most financially successful.
National and international news have recently reported many incidents of Buddhist monks fighting Muslims in Myanmar. However, the tension between Buddhists and Christians has been rising—leading to an increase in persecution of believers in the area. They see these religions as a threat to the security and purity of their culture.
As a result of these realities, the one thing believers fear more than being taken to jail is being left at the Buddhist temple to receive beatings by the monks.
INCIDENT REPORT: After completing his two-year, modular training in church planting, one East-West national partner eagerly set out eagerly to plant his first church. The church gathered in his home—around fifteen people began to worship through singing, teaching, and fellowship.
As praise to the Lord began, a group of Buddhist monks arrived on bicycles and motorcycles to beat the believers. With sticks and stones, they heaped their abuse onto the members of the church, leaving them bloody, bruised, and broken … but their faith remained unshaken.
RESULT: The believers in this village continue to share the gospel and many people are turning to faith—even knowing that accepting Christ will likely mean accepting persecution at the hands of their neighbors. Today, followers of Jesus make up more than 50% of the village population … allowing it to be declared a Christian village. To God be the glory!
This story was originally featured in Ignite, our global ministry update. Other stories include:
It was a day like any other. At least that’s how it must have looked from the outside, but inside Jamil knew something had changed forever. He could not go back to Islam … not after meeting “the real Jesus.”
The joy was overwhelming. Jamil knew he had to go home and tell his family and friends about the grace of God that just set him free. But his family wasn’t as excited as he was to hear the truth about Jesus.
Clearly upset, Jamil’s father yelled, “How can you say these things? This is not what you have learned from us!” Jamil told his father about the Christian that sat with him that afternoon and explained the truth about Jesus to him.
After hearing this, his father became angrier and presented Jamil with a choice … return to Islam and remain part of the family or follow Jesus and leave.
Jamil was in tears. How could this great news result in such a terrible choice? He clung to the truth of the Cross and said goodbye to his family—leaving his home forever.
Jamil wanted to make his life count for Christ. He received training from an East-West trainer, and today he works relentlessly to spread the gospel throughout his nation of Kenya. He now looks to his Heavenly Father for love and strength to carry out his calling.
With boldness Jamil explained, “I have never regretted choosing Jesus that day. I will follow Him and tell others about Him for the rest of my life.”
This story was originally featured in Ignite, our global ministry update. Other stories include:
Copyright © 2013 East-West Ministries International.