Twenty years ago, Lian, a native missionary leader and a very close friend, took me to a leper village. While I was interviewing poor children and their leper parents, soldiers led by a captain confronted us.
Going to the rural areas without registering with the authorities then was illegal. And Lian’s country was one of the most repressive regimes in the world. “Come with us,” they demanded. Are we going to jail? I wondered.
Lian bravely told them that he would first like to speak in the small village church his ministry had built in that place.
The leader of the arresting team acceded. In his own language, Lian began speaking to the small group of trembling leper believers, while nonbelieving Buddhist lepers gawked through the glassless windows waiting to watch us being bound and hauled off to jail.
Lian started preaching, his voice unwavering and clear, and a calm descended. I saw the captain writing in a small notebook what I thought were additional charges he might bring against us.
When the preaching ended, the captain and his men marched us to our vehicle. “Go back to the capital,” he sternly ordered. We drove all night, passing a number of military checkpoints. I heaved a sigh of relief when I entered my hotel room.
Several weeks later, we received a letter from Lian. The captain of the arresting team had received Christ! He also told Lian that he would give him a permit not only to preach in the leper village, but also in the adjoining areas. Many of the unbelieving lepers who had crowded the windows likewise received Christ as their Savior and Lord!
That’s the power of the gospel and the effectiveness of indigenous missionaries. I have seen it many times.
Let me tell you about some of them.
Rajesh, who pastors 10 village churches on the India-Bangladesh border, was showing me his bicycle. I asked him if it was hard for him to cover these places by a bicycle. “I just have to pedal a lot more,” he said. “But I get this fever at night every time.” Our friends pitched in to buy Rajesh a motorcycle. He’s reaching more than a dozen unreached people groups.
In the Philippines, I asked Emilio how the Lord opened the door for him to share the gospel on Mindanao Island among neighbors highly hostile to Christians. He said, “One day I saw one of them stealing my chicken. I wanted to chase after him. But the Lord distinctly spoke to my heart to let good overcome evil. So the next day, I took three of my four pairs of pants and went to the house of my neighbor thief and gave him my pants. He was open-mouthed with surprise, and gently invited us inside. That was our first open door to Muslims!”
Ronggi had his arm around his wife, Ming, as he told me about his time in prison for preaching the gospel. “I was there for 15 years. I witnessed to many prisoners and almost 300 came to Christ.” Ming smiled and added, “They released him just recently, and we are so happy.”
“When he was in prison, I despaired for life,” she continued. “I wanted to commit suicide.”
But instead, she started 36 house congregations in the southern part of their very oppressive communist country. Now both are pastoring and coordinating these house churches—composed of unreached tribes and language groups.
In Sumatra, Alamudin’s fellow teachers conscripted him to disprove the Bible. After much study, he came to the jarring conclusion—Christ is real! He must receive Him as Savior and Lord. Now, years later, he is still on the run—an itinerant gospel preacher in remote areas, with a fatwah on his head. His wife and two young daughters died of dysentery. But his son followed him as a preacher of the gospel.
One night, a group of men invited the son to come and preach the gospel to them. It was an ambush. The men took turns stabbing him to death. Alamudin remains faithful.
Can we be heroes together?
In the Philippines, whenever a villager needs to move his house, his friends eagerly gather to help the family. They slip long and sturdy bamboo poles under the house and, upon signal, simultaneously pick up their ends of the bamboo poles and heave them on to their shoulders. Then, in cadence and sometimes with a song, they march toward the new location. We call this “bayanihan.” It comes from “bayani,” which means hero, and “han,” a suffix for words that connote a communal event or togetherness to voluntarily help lighten a heavy load. They are “heroes together.”
Thank you for being “heroes together” with us for God’s precious, hardworking missionaries around the world. They are taking the gospel to their remote places, and you are helping them get there.
Bo Barredo is president and co-founder of ANM.
We are launching the ’Til All Hear campaign to raise monthly support of $50 for each of 1,000 native missionaries reaching unreached people and language groups with the gospel. Your gift will be matched, so just $25 equips a missionary to take the Gospel witness to the unreached. Will you be one of those supporting the Rajeshes, the Emilios, the Ronggis, the Mings, the Alamudins?