Stories from the Global Church
One of the privileges of being at the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jakarta is to be reminded that God is at work throughout the world through the global church. Indeed as we struggle in Europe with the hard-heartedness left by Modernity, the gospel is growing in wonderful ways in the Global South and other parts of the world.
Here is a story from a Lausanne participant (anonymised to protect his identity) and a few reflections of what we can learn from it.
‘D’ from Nepal
D Lives in Nepal and comes from a village high up in the mountains. He became a Christian aged 13 in 1984 when a Christian Nepalese evangelist came to his village. To convert to Christ then was illegal and culturally unacceptable. But despite this he was so gripped by the gospel - even at an early age - that he suffered being chased out of the village by the villagers and his family for the sake of Christ.
Without a home and a family he wandered for two months in the mountains until in God’s providence he met an older Christian. Having fed him and cared for him this older brother in the Lord said he needed to be baptised but because it was illegal (carrying a three year jail sentence) he wanted to take him across the border into India. On their way travelling to India, the man changed his mind and instead took D to a house where a Nepalese Christian man took in orphans and street children. He housed D for a number of years and paid for him to go to high school.
At school D witnessed to the other pupils and amazingly saw 60 of them give their lives to the lord and 10 of them went on to become pastors - he is still in touch with them now! D did well in his education, leaving school and going to university where as well as getting a degree he nurtured a passion for church planting. On graduating he started his first church with a few converts as a result of his evangelism. The church continued to grow under his ministry and he went on to plant 22 churches in Nepal! All this is taking place with no external financial resources, much persecution from the communities he is working in and government opposition (sentences of 3 years in jail for baptising anyone and 1 year in jail if anyone converts to Christianity).
When D’s mother died his father came to live with him. His father was the chief witch doctor in the area - having trained many of the other witch doctors in the mountains. However when D’s father stayed with him he would be in the room for the nightly bible studies. After 10 years his father said one day ‘I want to follow your Jesus!’. D baptised him secretly and straight away his father started to be under considerable spiritual attack because of the demonic forces he had meddled with as a witch doctor. These subsided in time and with prayer. The other witch doctors heard of his conversion and tried to put curses on him but none of the curses worked which caused a lot of confusion about why not! Some of them have now given their lives to the Lord knowing that Jesus is sovereign over all!
D continues to serve God faithfully in Nepal and is passionate about continuing to church plant. In our workshop on church planting at the Lausanne gathering he was by far the most experienced person in the room!
Lessons we can learn
It is amazing what God can do through someone fully committed to him. When the prophet Isaiah is called he responds ‘Hear I am! Send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). He makes himself available, he commits himself to God. D’s life story is amazing but what is noticeable is that at each stage he has made himself available to use as he has committed himself to God. He may not have had the resources or privileges many of us had but God has used him in quite remarkable ways because he made himself available. Perhaps the reason that many of us are not so used by God is because we are scared of fully committing ourselves to him.
He was prepared to bear the cost of following Christ because he knew it was worth it. How hard it must have been at a young age of just 13 to choose Christ over your family but D did. Then later at school he was prepared to stand for Christ among his peers. Subsequently as a church planter he suffered many hardships standing for Christ in a hostile culture. Jesus reminds us that ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it’ (Mark 8:35). Often for us in a Western culture the cost we will bear is that of a dented reputation or a cold shoulder - is that really too much to give up for the sake of the honour of Christ’s name? Surely when we reflect on Mark 8:35 the trade off of this life for the life Christ gives us is worth it.