In 2012, I was given an offer that would forever change the direction of my family’s life and ministry. I was asked to consider the role of International Director of Bethany Gateways – Bethany International’s sending agency. At that point, we had been living in Africa for 13 years with no intention of leaving any time soon. Saying yes would mean relocating to the US and providing strategic oversight to our mission force around the world.
A DREAM OF THE FUTURE
The night I was offering the job, the Lord gave me a very powerful dream. I was in the presence of three American men when suddenly standing beside us were four men of a given ethnicity. They were standing absolutely motionless and expressionless – they almost looked lifeless. Within a short time, this group of four seemingly hollow men became a group of about 15 men and women, bursting with praise and worship to the Lord. As I woke up, the Lord said to me, “If you do this thing, life will be brought to otherwise lifeless places.”
A little lover two years later, I was the International Director and my family and I were living in the US. Throughout my time as International Director, that phrase “…life will be brought to otherwise lifeless places” continued to echo through my memory as a promise to my family that such a major change would be worth it. In fact, one of my daughters even painted a picture that hangs in my office with that phrase on it.
STREAMS IN THE DESERT
It is now 2019, and I am writing this article from SE Asia. Our team here was involved with a small Buddhist village, in an area with no Christian witness of any kind; however, they discovered a tiny struggling church in this village. They befriended the pastor and church members and became one of them. Through their interactions and encouragement, the pastor began to lead his people in outreach to the rest of the village. The church took on a new sense of urgency to be a light in an otherwise dark village.
In a public school classroom across the country, the class rose to do their morning ritual Buddhist chants. A six-year-old boy stood up, and with confidence told his teacher, “I will stand with you, but I won’t chant. I am now a Christian.” His mother abandoned her life of prostitution and came to the Lord through the faithful ministry and discipleship of one of our missionaries and global partners. She now serves the Lord and is teaching her son to stand for truth.
In another part of Asia, one of your missionaries, together with BGU interns and global partners, have been serving in a Muslim village. Months ago, while interactions were very positive, there was no indication that anyone was interested in anything beyond education. Just last week, things turned a corner: two women and their whole families came to the Lord. One of the ladies shared with a missionary, “I now pray to Jesus, but please, come and teach me how to pray. I don’t know how, but all day I say, ‘Thank you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus.’”
Across the ocean in Africa, recently one of our missionary families was able to baptize nine Muslims who came to faith in Jesus. In the same region, another one of our missionary families had been serving for eight years in a Muslim village and had yet to see anyone interested in hearing about the message of Jesus. Some trained African missionaries came to join them in the village for a month and, within two weeks, they started two Bible studies among Muslims.
The African missionaries came to our Bethany missionary and said, “We have found that YOU are the person of peace in this village. Because of your faithful service, and because the people in the village know we are connected to you, we had the freedom to begin these Bible studies. But, it is only because of your faithful service, and because the people in the village know we are connected to you, we had the freedom to begin these Bible studies. But, it is only because of your faithful service over these many years.”
Life is being brought to otherwise lifeless places because faithful men and women are willing to go to the hard places, sacrifice, and let their lives shine forth in the darkness. Please pray for our missionaries and partners across the globe who are serving in very difficult regions and circumstances, all with the purpose to bring life to the lifeless.
This article is from the Spring 2019 Issue of coMission Magazine.