Daring to Commit to Christ

World Challenge Staff

In many parts of Asia, inviting someone to know Jesus is invited them to be persecuted…and yet the eternal promise of Christ is worth everything. 

A woman stands up in church, her black hajib masking her face except a slender gap for her dark eyes. She quietly walks to the front, mounts the stairs and takes the offered Bible.

With calm eloquence, she reads, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’” (Matthew 16:15-18, ESV).

What will her family and relatives say? Those who witness her may go out into the community and murmur against her. In Southeast Asia, being a believer or a church leader is very difficult. Most countries are predominantly Hindu, Buddhist and Islam. These religions are deeply interwoven with many of people’s everyday cultural practices. Believers are often seen as ‘outsiders’ even if they are lifelong neighbors, and Christianity is viewed as a foreigners’ religion.

Seeing a Problem, Praying for Answers

World Challenge’s partners in Southeast Asia are working diligently to meet the needs of poor communities with their towns and neighborhoods. This opens the door for questions like “Why are you helping us? Why do you care about us when no one else does?”

People become interested in the Jesus whose love compels believers to reach others and help the oppressed. Interest in Jesus, however, has proven difficult to translate into commitment to Jesus. In the past 10 years, the church leaders have only seen one or two people convert each year.

World Challenge’s regional director witnessed the young woman in the hajib reading from the Bible. Many people who were not Christians were in church that day, listening to scripture. The church leaders who partner with World Challenge were happy about people in the community accepting them and showing interest in Christ. However, they were wrestling with how to take the next step.

So much advice could have been thrown at them. So many strategies could have been laid out. Instead our regional director discussed the issues with them until the needs were very clear then offered to pray with them for the next few months. Whatever the solution was, it would be divinely inspired by the Spirit and overseen by the local church, not outsiders.

The Spirit Moves through Questions

For four months, they prayed together and individually. The local church decided then to hold a two-day conference where they would all gather with the interested unbelievers to pray and then answer questions about religious texts and practices within the community.

Many people attended. Suddenly, the floor was open for questions and discussion. People leaned forward in their seats, and those who had been often silent found their voice. Our partners testified that the Holy Spirit’s presence was palpable over those days.

By the end, 10 people came forward to commit themselves to Christ. It was bold and almost certainly dangerous, yet they insisted.

Our partners told us, “All the years we have worked here, we have never seen this before.” Now they are planning for more conferences at least once or even twice a year in their community. They are also praying for God to redeem 50 more people. Please join us and them in praying for the church in Southeast Asia!