RICHMOND, Va. – Easter is coming. It’s the day we mark the biggest moment in history: the moment the resurrected Christ conquered sin and death.
A few years ago I shared some “little Easters,” the quiet epiphanies that continue to reveal His risen presence on the move around the world. Here are a few more.
STEPPING UP – “This is what we’ve been waiting for, praying for: Zambian people telling Zambian people about Jesus!” reports an IMB (International Mission Board) mission team in Africa. “Recently an 18-year-old, blossoming preacher-in-the-making traveled more than three hours by public transportation and his own two feet to encourage the new Litoma Baptist Church.”
The small congregation, only 6 months old, had barely begun when the missionary couple who helped them get started returned to the United States for a time. The fledgling church’s members needed support and reassurance. The young “Timothy” taught the older members, and during a revival weekend, 18 new people came Sunday morning.
“Thank you, Lord, for making this young man missions-minded for his own people!” the IMB team prays. “Thank you that he refused to let anyone look down on him because of his youth (see 1 Timothy 4:12). Continue to bless him and provide peace in his unstable home life. May Your wonderful words of life go down deep into the hearts and minds of the 18 men and women who expressed an interest in the church.”
RESISTING THE DARKNESS – “A man came last night to ask my husband to go and pray for his daughter who was sick,” another missionary in Africa writes. “When my husband arrived, there were several people waiting outside the hut – eerily silent. As he entered the hut, the girl was acting very strangely and it soon became apparent that this girl was more than likely demon-possessed. He began to pray for her, laying hands on her and calling out the demons in Jesus’ name. After some time, he walked around outside with the girl’s father, praying for protection on the whole family.”
After an hour, the girl began to act normally. She came outside to sit by the fire.
“Witchcraft is very real here,” says the missionary. “Many people can become demon-possessed. The girl’s father had asked for my husband to come and pray for his daughter [instead of seeking out a witchdoctor]. Praise the Lord for the belief of this man, a relatively new believer. Pray for renewed spiritual strength that will glorify the Lord in all things. Pray that this girl will be delivered from the powers of darkness and accept Jesus as her Savior.”
WEEPING FOR JOY – A mission volunteer recently crossed a river with a ministry team, leaving behind a busy city for a rural area dotted with palm trees and bamboo houses on stilts. They walked through a village, crossed a rice field and found a one-room schoolhouse with a tin roof and chicken wire covering the windows. Inside were two rows of wooden pews on a dusty cement floor.
“From my seat at the front of the room, I looked out the windows to view lines of fat banana trees all around us,” the volunteer recalls.
“It felt almost like a dream, and I felt so thankful to be in this place with these people. The people of this village were filled with love and humor. I couldn’t get over the words from their leader declaring that they had nearly 75 believers … with many more waiting to be discipled and baptized.”
A man came forward with a guitar, strumming the tune to a song the volunteer team had never heard. But they knew what the song was about by the way the people closed their eyes and raised their hands toward heaven.
“They were singing with as much volume and passion as they could muster out of their thin bodies, and I began to cry,” the volunteer says. “I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks, dirty from the dust of traveling there. The sight of these like-minded believers giving their whole heart in praise of Him who had saved them was more beautiful than any landscape or artist’s rendering I had ever seen. … Like dry land thirsting for rain, the people were desperate for Good Book teachings, and you could see them being watered spirit and soul.
“These people risk everything to come to this gathering. They could lose their homes, be imprisoned, possibly even killed, for standing in their newfound faith. Yet, here they were with hands raised high and smiles on their faces. Despite circumstances and hardships, sacrifices and sufferings, triumphs and blessings, life with purpose is a life worth living, and He is worth it all. That day, for that moment, they got it. They lived it, and so did I.”
Easter is coming.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erich Bridges is IMB global correspondent. Visit “WorldView Conversation,” the blog related to this column, at http://worldviewconversation.blogspot.com/. Listen to an audio version at http://media1.imbresources.org/files/148/14841/14841-82226.mp3.)