Couple is at peace among unreached
Alan James, Baptist Press
June 20, 2011

Couple is at peace among unreached

Couple is at peace among unreached
Alan James, Baptist Press
June 20, 2011

Taped to the inside of their apartment front door is a list

of essentials — “phone, water, keys, money, copy of passport” — that a North

Carolina couple doesn’t want to forget when leaving venturing into the streets

of a South Asian city of 12 million people.

Claude and Lynne*, members of Englewood

Baptist Church

in Rocky Mount, have been living in

South Asia since April 2011.

One item that’s not on that list but is crucial to their

ministry among the Koli people is prayer.

Answered prayer is why they are there.

The couple plan to live in the South Asian city for at least

10 months to help Englewood with follow-up among the Koli — an unreached people

group that did not have a church-planting strategy among them until recent

months. Englewood began a

partnership among this people after the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

annual meeting in Orlando.

Claude first felt the call to live among the Koli after his

pastor, Michael Cloer, returned from the SBC

with a conviction that Englewood

should do more to spread the gospel among those who haven’t heard about Jesus.

“I wondered if that could be us,” Claude said of Cloer’s

passion. “I didn’t know if God was in it or not. I just kind of thought about

it, prayed about it. It looked like a tremendous opportunity.”

“It’s like home,” said Lynne (name changed), a member of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, referring to a South Asian city of 12 million where she and her husband Claude (name changed) have been living since April 2011. After overcoming “mountains” to move to South Asia for at least 10 months, Lynne and Claude are working with IMB personnel and their supporting church among an unreached people group in South Asia.

At the time, Claude and Lynne — like many Americans — had

issues with debt, bills and thoughts of missing their children and new

grandchildren. Nevertheless, the couple became more compelled to learn about

this new opportunity.

Then, their world was rocked when Lynne was injured in a car


A truck struck her vehicle as she was driving through an

intersection, leaving her unconscious with two fractured bones in her back, a

cracked rib and internal bleeding.

Then, doctors discovered something else.

“The internal bleeding was actually (caused by) a tumor on

my right kidney,” Lynne recounted.

“It was fairly large, so we had to process that.”

At that moment, plans of going to share Jesus among the Koli

people no longer were “on the radar.”

Yet, Lynne said, “God was with us. We sensed His presence

carrying us through this, (but) we were not thinking about the Koli people at this


“This is God’s answer — we’re not going to (South

Asia),” Claude added.

“The focus of our life was my wife … and her health. I kind

of just let it go.”

And then as quickly as cancer entered their life, it was

gone. Doctors removed the tumor before it could spread to other organs.

“God was so good,” Lynne said. “He had such a perfect plan.

“That accident was a way for the doctors to find the tumor.

Now I’m cancer free.”

Still, even though the cancer was gone, obstacles remained

that kept them from being sure God was still calling them.

“Before Lynne’s accident we were thinking about our

children, finances, bills, debt and things that would keep us from going,”

Claude said.

One by one, however, each barrier began to fall as the

couple prayed and let go of their fear.

He quoted Mark 11: “Jesus said, ‘I say to you whoever says

to this mountain ‘be removed and cast into the sea’ … but believes those things

he says (it) will be done.’”

“You start understanding that if God’s in us going to South

Asia, if it’s His will, He can topple mountains. My future and our

future … we just surrendered that.”

In February 2011, the couple went with a team from Englewood

Baptist Church

to South Asia, with the plan to return for 10 months. In

their return trip a few weeks later, the first three days were a “mountaintop”

experience, as Claude described it.

“We were with the Koli; people were coming to Christ; we

were being let into homes,” he said. “Wow … this is so fun.”

“We were welcomed,” Lynne added. “We were treated with such

respect and honor no matter what home we went in.

“We were given the best food. Whatever they had, they gave

it to us. It was just so refreshing … the love of the people was just


Then reality hit.

“We crashed after the third day,” Claude said. “I believe it

was spiritual warfare. I believe the enemy came against us.”

“It’s a very intimidating city, overwhelming,” Lynne said.

“There were things that I saw and smelled. I couldn’t process

it and deal with it. It was just so much in your face.”

The peace of God that Lynne once felt vanished as she

struggled more and more with doubt. Even simple tasks like walking along the

city streets and navigating traffic were a challenge.

“What are you doing here?” she thought. “You don’t speak

(the language). You can’t even cross a street.”

Claude also struggled with discouragement. “The adversary

really came against us,” he said. “He’s been controlling these people for

thousands of years.

“This is an unengaged, unreached people group. There’s no

light (of Christ) among them. So when two people ‘bebop’ over here from the

States, thinking they’re gonna go into (Satan’s) territory that he’s had for

thousands of years and rescue people with the gospel, he came against us.”

Both now say their “low point” was a combination of fatigue,

spiritual warfare, culture shock and the stress of moving from family. Lynne

credits the prayers of friends back in the States with helping her cope with

the challenges. One friend later told her she specifically prayed that Lynne

would feel at home while she was away. Those prayers made all the difference,

Lynne said. “I’ve totally adjusted,” she said. “Even though I hear horns … it’s

noisy and loud, I can sleep through the night. It’s like home.”

*Names changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — James is a senior writer for the

International Mission Board.)

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