First Person: God’s Word is life-giving for South Asian Christians

I recently studied the book of John in my morning devotions and used what I learned to lead two Bible studies – one with a non-Christian, and one with a Christian.

What impressed me most during the time with my friends is the power of the Holy Spirit.

To the unbeliever, the Bible is merely a book – a story about a man. To the believer, the Bible is the life-giving hope that has bolstered her through poverty, two marriages to abusive and alcoholic husbands, the death of her three-year-old daughter, and the isolation from being the only believer in her home and community.

In the world’s eyes, she has nothing, but she has hope and peace that’s unexplainable apart from a relationship with the One who brings hope and peace. I continue to be amazed by the stories of the Christians I encounter. The faith of the Christians here is so strong and steadfast.

Too often those of us from traditional church backgrounds do not walk in obedience unless we are guaranteed success through controlled processes and outcomes. We tend to not pursue the calling to kingdom work when we enter communities, share the gospel, disciple believers, develop leaders or form healthy churches unless we feel we are masters of the content, or if we feel the work fits our gifts. Thus, we hesitate to share the gospel.

When we look at the Word, we see a completely different picture. Disciples are often called to do what they are incapable of doing, and so they cast themselves before God, begging for help as they walk in obedience. This growth in faith further equips them as they are empowered by the Spirit.

In Matthew 16:15, Jesus says to His disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Just before Jesus’ call and command, His disciples were having trouble convincing one another of the reality of the resurrection. Disbelief filled their minds and hearts, but they chose obedience. As disciples of Christ, our inability and our Savior’s great ability should mark how we pursue the call to labor in His kingdom.

Here in South Asia, your brothers and sisters continue to press into the darkness, carrying the vision to see every tribe, tongue and people reached with the gospel for the glory of the Lord. Their work is marked by dependence on the Spirit. They see their weakness and spend hours daily in prayer. They fast regularly. They turn to the Word in desperation for guidance.

One brother in Christ with a sixth-grade education has overseen the development of many Christian leaders and more than 100 house churches over the last four years. Another Christian brother walks an average of six miles a day to share the good news and make disciples. One sister in Christ who cannot read or write has reached a community of Muslims with the gospel, discipling those who believed.

All of this was accomplished during trials and suffering. The words of the popular worship song ring true, “The night is dark, but I am not forsaken; for by my side, the Savior He will stay. I labor on in weakness and rejoicing; for in my need, His power is displayed … When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat: Yet not I, but through Christ in me.”

*Names changed for security