Category: Changed Lives Stories
As the gospel advances, it makes an impact on families, communities, and entire regions as disciples and churches multiply. In every culture, worship takes a slightly different form as believers gather to find connection with each other and their God.
An African church might meet on a plain, under a tree near their village, or quietly in a believer’s home. It is here that they gather to hear from the Scriptures, worship the Lord, and pray. You may also find communion shared over crackers and juice and baptism taking place as buckets of water are poured over the heads of new believers.
In Africa, 600* new disciples gathered to fellowship and praise their Lord and Savior this year.
In Latin America, worship takes place in traditional church buildings as well as home gatherings. In a home, the believers will come together to sing joyfully and pray passionately. They will listen to each other share their burdens and have a time of teaching from God’s Word before sharing coffee and parting ways to boldly share their faith with those around them.
In Latin America, 91* new disciples joined in the worship of the One True God this year.
In the Middle East, a church will sit along the walls of a room in a believers’ home. Some will sing softly to keep their presence quiet and others will sing loudly to boldly let those who pass by hear the worship. They then pray aloud simultaneously and full of emotion before hearing testimonies and teaching from the Bible.
In the Middle East, 20* new disciples joined house churches like this one to worship Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) this year, and in the rest of Eurasia 4,211* new disciples were multiplied.
In a highly Muslim-populated area like Central Asia, church meetings look like customary traditions such as family meals or sharing tea with neighbors. During these quiet times of fellowship, the believers share Scriptures that have encouraged them that week and challenge one another to abide in Jesus Christ as they face the dark world around them.
In the hard soil of Central and Southeast Asia, 3,091* new disciples began their worship of Jesus Christ this year.
Believers in East Asia meet together in secret to find refuge and encouragement. It is the one place they can freely pursue their passion for Jesus—worshiping, studying Scriptures, and encouraging one another—as they prepare to share Him with their neighbors and friends.
In East Asia, 2,423* new disciples began to meet quietly to worship Jesus this year.
A South Asia house church typically meets once a week in a home, under a tree, or on a roadside to worship the One True God. The members, usually 7-10 believers, gather to sing songs from the heart; hear the Bible taught simply and orally by their church leader; and pray intensely for each other, their neighbors, and their country.
In South Asia, 47,406* new disciples began to worship the One True God this year.
By God’s grace and your partnership, 67,584* new disciples and 12,270* new churches were multiplied in 2013–further igniting the movement of the gospel through the world’s spiritually darkest places.
*All statistics collected from January-September 2013
Mustaf was trapped … stuck in a country that was not his own, alone with no family or friends, and full of despair.
Just days before, unfortunate circumstances forced Mustaf to flee from his home country. Traffickers had convinced him to leave his country and go to Greece where his family could join him in a few days and then travel wherever they wanted. Instead, he was given a false passport, which was taken from him the moment he landed in Greece, and a few days later he learned that his family had been killed. Now he sat alone on a park bench in Athens … trapped in his grief and hopelessness.
But that’s when Mustaf encountered a group of strangers—some Americans traveling on a short-term mission trip along with some locals from a nearby church.
As a few from this group sat and shared with him the hope and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ, Mustaf found himself in tears … telling his story and ready to repent. Right there—on a bench in a crowded park—he gave his life to Jesus Christ and found new direction and a new family.
Mustaf was baptized that same day and listened intently as one of his new friends explained the seven commandments of Christ. Then they shared the Lord’s Supper on the park bench where they first met.
Mustaf immediately began to put into practice all that he had learned, and just two days later he was already baptizing a new believer. Today he shares the gospel in the same park where he first heard of Jesus Christ and passes on his knowledge of discipleship to all who repent and believe as he did.
As a mission trip team member and his translator walked up a dangerous, metal stairway in a concrete apartment building, they met Norma and struck up a conversation. She was hesitant to speak to them at first, but she soon became comfortable with the two men and their conversation.
As they got to know Norma, it was clear that God has been pursuing her. Many members of her family have come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and have shared the gospel with her. And as the team member shared his testimony with her, she listened intently to what the Lord had done in his life.
Then he and the translator walked her through some verses from the book of John and Romans, and she would say in response to all of them, “Oh, yes! I agree.” Because her job as a nurse was to give blood transfusions, she understood clearly what a blood sacrifice meant for those who believe—a special kind of blood transfusion.
As they came to the end of the gospel presentation, she was given a choice: follow Jesus or not. Norma then said, “Yes, I want to receive salvation!” And on that staircase, Norma prayed to receive Christ’s blood for her sins and follow Him.
Indira is a Muslim background believer who desperately wanted her family to know the Lord. She wanted to be loved by her family again, but—more than that—she wanted her family to feel the love of Jesus Christ. So she asked an East-West national partner to go with her to her parents’ home to share the gospel.
The national partner was up all night thinking about how Indira’s family would respond to his message … especially when they saw that their daughter would be helping to deliver it—a daughter they disowned and oppressed because of her faith. So he prayed.
The next day, they went to the family’s home and began a conversation. Indira’s brother asked the partner to bless his family and his home, and the partner began to pray. Suddenly, Indira’s mother—Asiya—began to weep and cry out for repentance for harassing her daughter.
When the prayer was finished, the East-West partner asked Asiya why she decided to repent. She said, “As you began to pray, I saw a vision. It was a Man with a beard. He approached me and handed me a New Testament. At that moment, I felt such an indescribable and intense love in my heart, and I knew I had to apologize for what I had done to Indira and ask her forgiveness and the Man’s forgiveness.”
Everyone in the room was quiet for a moment. Then Indira spoke up with a simple, “You are forgiven.” Then the national partner began to share the gospel, and each person in the family received eternal forgiveness and a new Savior that night. Now nothing can quench the family’s desire for learning and preaching the Word.
For much of his life, Lipok lived in darkness. He did not know of God’s love and grace—walking a path of crime, destruction and despair. He was a drug addict and alcoholic who was full of rage and anger toward his family and his people. With no faith and no direction, Lipok joined a group of armed revolutionaries and continued to live a life of crime.
But after an arrest and a period of imprisonment, he began to gain a new perspective on life. Once he was released from prison, Lipok met a true follower of Jesus who taught him of God’s love and forgiveness … and he knew then that his life’s mission would be to share this message of hope with others.
An East-West partner met Lipok ten years ago—providing him with training and encouraging him in his ministry. Since then Lipok has spent his life spreading the gospel and planting churches among the unreached in his country—creating a movement that will build God’s Kingdom for years to come.
Now, a decade later, Lipok and his team praise the Lord for moving to plant over 7,000 churches throughout his region … and we praise the Lord for changing lives and providing us with faithful national leaders like Lipok to take the light of the gospel into the world’s spiritually darkest places.
But one day, a friend of his—an East-West national partner—came by to encourage Mohan and pray for him. That was the first time that Mohan had encountered such kindness, and it was the first time he ever heard about Jesus Christ. And it was that day that Mohan finally found hope for his life.
Mohan knew it was a miracle that his friend stopped by that day to share the gospel, and as he prayed to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior, God surprised him with one more miracle … complete physical healing!
Now, nothing can keep Mohan from walking throughout his city to share the message that transformed his life—in hopes that he will be the miracle that someone else may need.
Amanda had heard stories of what it’s like on the mission field. How the gospel in its simplest form would compel people to give up everything to follow Jesus Christ, and she thought they were true … but she didn’t believe that it would be true for her when she went to India this year.
On day one, she was too terrified to even speak to the people she would come into contact with so Amanda was paired with another trip member and translator team so she could watch and learn. And all day, she was amazed that the easiest and least complex presentation of the gospel is what seemed to touch hearts most deeply.
The next day, she finally felt bold enough to share with the locals herself. Amanda and her translator walked up to a small, concrete home in a rural Indian village, and as the nerves rose, she prayed and kept walking.
Inside the home was an entire family. She sat in front of them and began telling a story about herself and a Man—Jesus Christ. As she spoke about Jesus, one of the young women in the room just stared at her, hanging on to every word.
At the end of her story, Amanda asked if any of them would like to accept Christ as their Savior that day, and a few said yes. She began to lead them in prayer with the help of her translator, and all of a sudden she heard a chorus of voices praying to God for repentance and hope in Christ.
The sound of all of them praying was overwhelming, and as she said her goodbyes she felt the tears in her eyes and the joy in heart from seeing lives changed … and she knew that her life was changed forever too.
One of our missionary English teachers had taught a class on Oral English in which he addressed topics on American culture. Under the mantel of culture, all of his students hear the timeless truth Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.
Though our English teachers are not allowed to proselytize in their teaching, they can take advantage of any opportunity outside of the classroom to answer questions. The English teacher had created such an environment with a weekly “English Corner” where students could come and practice their English outside of the classroom. Han attended English Corner one night and told the teacher, “You have spoken about The God during class. I want to know more about The God.”
Over the next several weeks, the teacher spent time with Han sharing about the “Most High God.” Once Han came to realize that he didn’t need to understand everything and once he understood we must walk by faith, he gave his life to the Lord.
Ping is another young student of this teacher who had struggled with believing that he himself could handle any problem that life brought him. After more than a year of praying for Ping, the Lord provided an opportunity for a few of our English teachers to speak truth to Ping during a low moment in his life.
After much contemplation and reading through Scripture, Ping humbly and sincerely prayed to ask for forgiveness, inviting Jesus to come into his life and submitting his life to Jesus.
Now, the teachers meet weekly with Han and Ping and a third young believer who has been added to the group. These young men are being taught to share their faith, memorize scripture, study their Bibles, and pray daily.
Because of these follow-up Bible studies, these two young men both quote 1 John 5:12 in the most beautiful broken English:
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Kurt Nelson, President & CEO, shares his own story of how the gospel changed his life and shares with you ways you can be an ambassador for the Kingdom.
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East-West exists to multiply followers of Jesus in the spiritually darkest areas of the world.