Reaching the Unreached
By Ailsa Barker Wirawan.
A testimony of ministry to an unreached people on the east coast of SE Asia, pioneered by a local church and now part of a national missionary organization.
It was a stormy night for fishing. Enormous waves bashed the small motor boat in the Malacca Strait. Mr Raj fell overboard. It was pitch dark. His friends couldn’t see him, nor could they hear his cries because of the noise of the motor and the raging waves. He tried to swim to the boat but was pushed back by waves. He thought his end had come. Then he remembered. Jesus the Messiah was Saviour for all people, the field worker had told him. So he called, “Jesus, carry my voice to the ears of my friends so that they can hear me and see me.” Suddenly the boat’s lamp shone in his direction. He waved and called out with all his energy, “Here! Help!” They saw him, threw a rope and pulled him aboard. Jesus had heard his cry. “Jesus saved me,” he said.
Mr Raj reported to the field worker who had shared the gospel with him. He was discipled each week. At each meeting they renewed the fundamentals of belief, Mr Raj shared what he had done in seeking to reach his family, friends and colleagues, and this was evaluated. They prayed together for their families and their ministry, studied a passage of Scripture with questions, and memorised a verse. He was trained to share his faith and they prayed a prayer of commissioning.
After a little while, Mr Raj reported that he had five people who had believed and with whom he was meeting each week. He was trained to share Bible stories by repeating them each week. The worker made sure that he understood their meaning and was capable of telling them to others. A new story was told only after he had mastered the previous one. Because of his age and poor educational background, the process was slow. But Mr Raj was eager to understand and to memorise Scripture. He would often say, “Don’t worry, we can do this because Jesus the Messiah, God’s Holy Spirit, is within us!”
When the field worker visited his home, Mrs Raj was not pleased. She told him not to visit. She bashed the pots and pans in the kitchen making conversation difficult. But as time went by her attitude changed. She began to ask questions. “Why do you visit us when we are of a different religion?” The field worker told her the story of the Good Samaritan and asked, “Why did the Samaritan help the wounded man?” “Because he loved him,” was her reply. “We love others because Jesus the Messiah commanded us to. God first loved us and sent Jesus to save us,” he told her. Witnessing the change in her husband’s life as a result of his new faith, after three years Mrs Raj too believed and was baptized. She was discipled, trained to reach others and to lead a group.
Mr Raj continued to meet weekly with members of his group for discipleship and attended the monthly leaders’ meeting. He has won more than 20 friends and family to Christ. Several members of his group met regularly with groups of believers they had won to Christ.
Field workers follow the “Timothy principle” (2 Timothy 2:2) of training leaders so that they, in turn, can lead others. Mr Raj trained Mr Ham to share the good news. When he was giving Mr Ham a practical lesson on sharing the gospel with others, they met Mr Bin who showed interest. Mr Raj helped Mr Ham to follow-up Mr Bin until Mr Ham was able to do this on his own. After meeting several times with Mr Ham, Mr Bin was ready to believe. Mr Raj trained Mr Ham to perform baptism but Mr Ham felt not yet ready to do this on his own, and asked for Mr Raj’s help. The field worker assisted with transport to the river where the baptism was carried out and was happy to see Mr Raj and Mr Ham together baptizing Mr Bin without needing help.
Mr Ham discipled Mr Bin and trained members of his group to reach out just as Mr Raj had done with him. Mr Bin shared the Gospel with others and won others to Christ. Mr Ham then trained Mr Bin to disciple these new believers in his group. Training to equip house church leaders is held monthly. Workers make sure that the teaching being passed on to the groups is based on the Word of God.
At a meeting for leaders, Mr Bin was asked what he had taught in the most recent meeting of his group. He explained that he had taught about “the Vine and the Branches”. What had he emphasized in that lesson? “We must bear fruit.” “The most important thing,” explained the field worker, “is that we must remain in Jesus Christ, keep praying, and obey His Word.” By April this year there were 21 house groups meeting regularly, each with between five and ten local believers.
This article originally appeared in our August/September 2017 edition of Serving Asia magazine. If you would like to sign up for more great articles and testimonies, enter your details below: