RICHMOND, VA – The beauty of the gospel is that God meets people—in the US, in Africa, in Asia, everywhere—in the midst of their sorrow, their obstinance, and their misunderstanding of him. He unifies us in his kingdom, then he sends us out with a unified mission: go and make disciples of all nations. Christians in the United States are not alone in this task, nor are we always leading it. As people worldwide come to faith, we, as a global family, work toward God’s vision laid out in Revelation 7.
Our Christians around the World series gives us a glimpse of how God is redeeming people then inspiring them to be on mission—every church, every nation. Let’s celebrate what God is doing through his followers and pray for each other as we do our part in his global mission.
After eight years of marriage, my wife lost her life to cancer and left me with a young daughter and a life in shambles. I had a broken heart, felt hopeless and lost, and couldn’t sleep at night. One day, my neighbor, who came to faith one month before, quietly left the Jesus film in front of my door. After dinner and putting my daughter to bed, I watched the Jesus film alone. I couldn’t stop crying as I reached out to Jesus for his help and forgiveness of my sins. Two months later, I got baptized and started attending a Bible class. I wanted to know God more and how to become Jesus’s disciple. I felt the calling for full-time work as I began to share my testimony with friends and coworkers. Our small group of Jesus followers soon turned into a church.
Our church is small and still growing in the Word, and therefore, overseas mission is quite overwhelming for us. However, we want to heed Jesus’s Great Commission in Matthew 28 and Acts 1:8. I believe Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria are where we can start. Our Judea and Samaria are the people in remote villages and ethnic minorities within our own province who won’t hear the good news unless someone takes it to them. Every year, we take volunteers to remote villages to help with farm work and share about Jesus to those with open hearts. As people respond and come to faith, we see how God strengthens and grows our church through those outreaches.
—Y., East Asia
Earlier this year, I started a small food cart and sold fried potatoes and rice noodle on the street of my hometown. Friends were shocked and asked if my dad’s business had gone under. My dad is a wealthy businessman, so seeing me on the street with a food cart was a total surprise. I assured them my dad still had his business. I simply wanted to raise my own support for volunteer work overseas and not rely on my dad’s help. Since believing in Jesus five years ago—because someone came to my country to share the good news—my life has changed, and I share my faith frequently with friends and family because I want them to have the same joy as I do.
I decided to serve overseas as a volunteer for two years sharing my faith with people outside of my language and culture. All my nonbelieving family members, including my parents who thought I would soon give up the idea when faced with challenges, saw how determined I was and started to encourage and support me even though they still didn’t understand why I was going overseas. Some of my friends want me to stay, get married, and enjoy a comfortable life. But I want to seek God and his kingdom first, and now I’m seeing how God is opening new doors and answering my prayers as I follow his lead.
Although my church is small, they’re supporting me financially and spiritually and are very proud of my decision to go and share overseas. A few have said with a tone of envy, “How I wish I could go too!”
—E., East Asia
My name is Jerry, and my family has been living in Jakarta for about a month now. I come from a broken family, which required me to stay with different family members as I finished school. It also gave me opportunities to attend church and receive Christ as my Savior during high school. I went to seminary, where I met my wife, and we began our ministry together serving a local church for seven years. I had opportunities to serve in other places in Southeast Asia on short-term mission trips. While traveling through Jakarta on these trips, God gave us vision and open doors to serve in Jakarta. Through prayers, fellow believers, and blessings of our church, God gave us confirmation to make a bold move to one of the biggest cities in the world.
The move has not been easy. There are cultural and lifestyle adjustments we need to get used to. However, we are confident in God’s providence and his calling. We are here because we love the people of Jakarta, and we want them to have opportunities to hear the good news.
We can’t go back to Venezuela. It is not livable there. Here in Colombia, we see Venezuelans sleeping in the street or asking for enough money to feed their babies. This is so sad. I don’t even have words to express it. We don’t have a salary anymore. We don’t have anything. We don’t have any way to get food either, but the amazing thing is that God provides—and not just barely. He is in every detail. When we don’t know what we will eat that day, we just worship the Lord, and one way or another we eat that day. We have a vision to plant a good solid church in this place so many will look to God. We see so much need and so much receptivity.
—Cesar and Neida, Venezuelan refugees in Colombia
After six weeks of looking for work and finding nothing, I went to a park by myself. I was always alone, so why wouldn’t I be alone? But I found out later that God was with me the whole time. A text message came up from a friend Carly back home in Venezuela. She is a Christian and had always tried to encourage me to read the Bible, but I was never interested. She asked how I was, and I said, “Not well at all. I am depressed. I cry every day. I’m not doing well.” She said, “William, you need to take refuge in the Lord. You are not alone. If you are in Colombia, that’s not circumstantial, God has a plan.”
She put me in contact with a church in Bogota. When I attended, everybody there wrapped their arms around me and gave me a big, warm hugs. It was the first time in Colombia I felt like I wasn’t alone. The pastor’s wife gave me a Bible, and I started reading it. That was the best day of my life. I got to know the Lord. I have to say there was a William Duran before and a William Duran after—not the same person. Nobody wants what has happened to Venezuela. But as horrible as it is, if that is what had to happen to get me to a place where I came to the Lord, then it was worth it.
—William, Venezuelan refugee in Colombia
I was always active in my church—singing in the choir, leading worship and Bible studies. Then I had a recurring dream that I was in a boat surrounded by people who were underwater, drowning. I started preaching from the boat and many of them came up to the surface to hear. Some climbed up into the boat and were saved. That’s when I decided to go to seminary and become a full-time minister of the gospel. For the past ten years, I’ve been pastoring the church in which I was saved, and I supervise others in our district. I go out regularly to surrounding villages to preach where there is no church.
—Pastor Lazare, Burkina Faso
I’m a pastor’s wife, and I was just always at his side. Then I received orality training in chronological Bible storying. I learned how to craft stories from the Bible in my mother tongue and share them with others. I brought that back to the women in my church, and it changed everything. When I share Bible stories that way, the women really open up. Before the women never spoke up in church. Now they ask questions and interact with the Bible because they really understand it.
My parents were Christians so I thought I was too. I ended up in prison and God sent a missionary there who shared the gospel with me. He baptized me in the prison laundry sink and discipled me. God was merciful, and my twenty-year sentence was commuted after ten years. Now I’m a pastor of a church in the city and doing prison ministry of my own. Prisoners connect with me when I witness because they know I’ve walked in their shoes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Cohen is a content editor for imb.org and a media specialist for IMB.