The Church Unleashed in Central Asia
One of the other features from The Mission of God Study Bible is titled “The Church Unleashed.” It is a series of essays written by missionary personnel from around the globe. The stories they tell are compelling are several levels and I will share some of them here at the blog over the next few months.
The first one I’ll share is from a worker in Central Asia. The person’s name has been withheld in order protect their work and identity because of where the person serves. As you read the essay, I hope it will cause you two things in your life. First, pray for the person and their work in this anonymous place in another part of the world. Secondly, let their story challenge you in your own mission work. The mission of God is happening in all places and all believers are invited to join in. Make sure you engage at every level you are able today.
Coming down out of the high mountains of Central Asia flows the ancient Oxus River. It runs through desolate lands where the summertime temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Just above the river valley is a desert area with a handful of very poor villages. Our humanitarian aid agency did a series of water projects for both drinking and irrigation. We mobilized the community to dig wells and canals that would vastly improve their quality of life. What they needed more than anything else however, was a relationship with the One who could give them streams of living water. Our team was made up of me and four national workers who are followers of Jesus. As we shared the Truth with the villagers, we discovered that although they were all strict Muslims none of them had even heard of Jesus.
One day our team shared with a man about how Jesus lived two thousand years ago, died on a cross, and was raised to life again. The man responded by asking what the price of meat was up in the capital city! He was not changing the subject; he just had no context to understand anything we were telling him. What could we do? We began to pray. Every day we got up, prayed, sang, and studied the Word together. All that we did was worship to our Lord in front of the villagers. At the end of seven months we had seen some amazing things, miracles and answered prayer, but no one wanted to become a follower of Jesus. We were discouraged. We moved on to other villages.
A year later we returned and found that while we had been gone the Holy Spirit continued to work. People had been reading the Bibles we had given them. Two couples had become followers of Christ and wanted to be baptized. We prayed with them, baptized them in the local canal, taught them the Lord’s Supper and went on to work in other places. I was concerned that we would not be able to disciple them and train them to withstand the persecution that would come. But we had discipled them. To this day these two families meet every day, pray, sing, study the Word, and worship together. Every day they go out and proclaim the Gospel. They do exactly what they saw us doing for seven months. Every day they are persecuted for their faith. They have been criticized, ostracized, threatened, and beaten, but their love for Jesus keeps them going. I don’t understand how they could stand strong for Jesus in such a dark and hostile environment with so little encouragement or support. One day we went down and one of the new believers gave a short devotion. His wife read aloud the last two chapters of Revelation, and then he said, “We are not working for these pathetic houses, or this hard barren land. We are not working for an earthly home. We are laboring for an eternal home that will be glorious forever.”