This post is written by a Cafe 1040 Student
Twenty years ago, a sixteen-year-old girl living in a rural mountain village was kidnapped in the middle of the night. Terrified, she spent three days with a family who intended for her to marry their son. After negotiating with her family, she was a married woman. The first ten years of her marriage were marked by extreme poverty, fear, and pain. Her husband soon became an alcoholic who spent his days gambling away their small income. Struggling to make ends meet, this young girl who was now a mother spent many days wondering if life was even worth living. Would killing herself take away the pain?
In the midst of the pain, some foreigners arrived with a message of Hope.
First, she noticed her neighbors changing. They were no longer getting drunk or gambling away their money. Over time, her friend’s husbands became completely different - treating their wives and children with kindness and respect, instead of anger and contempt. The young girl wondered what was different and sought to find answers regarding the change in her friend’s lives.
She began going alone to these neighbors’ homes to meet with them. In the beginning there was intense fear. The government did not approve of this thing called Christianity. Sneaking over at night, she began hearing of an incredible story of hope in the life of a man named Jesus Christ – a man acquainted with the sorrow and rejection and fear she often felt. She began to empathize deeply with the stories about His life.
One day, her friend shared with her that Jesus Christ’s life ended the day the rulers of that time crucified him on the cross. But this wasn’t the end of the story.
God raised him from the dead to return victoriously, and he charged his followers to share the meaning of his death and resurrection - hope for a dark and dying world! His sacrifice meant that the shame and pain that people deal with every day could be taken away. His story meant that the death we live in as sinners in a broken world could be dealt with and forgiven once and for all, and that people could live in the freedom of peace and joy even amidst suffering! All she had to do was believe and repent.
The young girl hearing this for the first time rejoiced. Could it be true? Could the pain she had suffered her whole life be taken away, and joy and peace be exchanged in its place? That day she offered her heart to Jesus and a long road of redemption began. Her husband noticed a change in her and began to go with her to her friend’s house. For a year, they tried to follow God, only hearing Bible stories through their friends, since there was not yet a translation of the Bible in their language. As the young girl’s faith increased, the enemy rushed in to make her husband doubt and turn back to the Buddhism and Animism of his childhood.
He retreated to drinking and gambling, and the young girl struggled every day to choose Christ’s way despite suffering.
But then one day, a glorious thing happened. Her husband came to her with a repentant heart, desiring to call out to Christ and give Him his life.
They went back to their neighbor’s house again. As he heard more stories from the Bible, he began to desire it more and more. After a while, he raised money and went to a large city to learn more about sharing the story of Jesus and making followers of His Word. Returning with a fervent heart, he joined his friends to gather followers of Jesus as a church. Persecution met them full force, but with persevering hearts, they began meeting weekly with other believers in their village. A few years prior, they had finally received the book translated into their language. New followers were frequently added to their numbers, and they received God’s charge to teach others how to follow Jesus and make other followers of His Word!
The young girl and her husband began to share even with neighboring villagers from other people groups.
They met opposition from tribal beliefs and often fought spiritual warfare from curses that village leaders cast on their friends and family. But Christ proved Himself even greater. One day, her mom got extremely sick. Rushing her to the hospital in the closest city, the girl and her husband lifted fervently, crying out to Jesus to heal her. In the midst of this tragedy, her mother turned to God and suddenly her sickness disappeared. Later, they found out that a close embittered family member had asked a village leader to curse her, and when she turned to Christ, the curse was defeated.
Now, the young girl sat close to me, in the form of a mother of four in her mid thirties. Tears streamed down her face as she shared her story with my team. Wiping my own tears, I praised God for sending missionaries to her village thirty years ago. I thanked him for her story, and the incredible encouragement it was to me and my teammates in the midst of a very difficult and dark season among an completely unreached urban people group just a few hours plane ride away in the same country. I rejoiced, knowing that in a remote village that will forever be etched on my heart, a woman is ferociously following Jesus, and obeying his command in Matthew’s letter to go and make followers of Jesus in all nations!
Even more than being encouraged, this beautiful woman has challenged me to unashamedly share the good news of the hope within me, and spur on believers to become followers who make more followers who make more followers, until the name of Jesus is shared with every people group in the world!