God used a Bible study run by World Challenge’s partners in Liberia to reach the most unlikely of men: a preacher who did not know Christ.
Sabarto was a preacher in his church and a staunch observer of all religious traditions. Despite this, he knew very little about the Bible and what it actually said about God.
His reason for becoming a church leader was very simple. He had lived through Liberia’s horrific civil war. The country had been wracked with horror as 150,000 people were slain, and at least 200,000 more fled the country. Nightmarish scenarios where soldiers would catch a pregnant woman, bet on the sex of the unborn child, then kill the mother to determine who was the winner of the bet were not uncommon. The entire country was caught in a fever dream of brutal violence and political corruption.
Throughout the war, certain churches had faithfully sent aid and supplies to the Liberian people, and this generosity made a deep impression on Sabarto. He resolved to become a preacher in the denomination that had most helped him and his family during the conflict.
A Life Outside of Scripture
Sabarto’s wife, Yah, never liked the church or approved of her husband’s ambition to be a preacher. It didn’t help that Sabarto would often drink and come home very drunk, then go to church on Sunday and lead services. Yah rightfully felt that this was hypocritical, but matters became even worse when their adult son died. Sabarto and Yah took in their son’s two children and helped raise them, but the grievous loss hardened Yah’s heart even more. Out of the wounds of grief in her sprouted a very backslidden life.
In the midst of all this, Sabarto heard of a Bible study class being held in the village by World Challenge’s partners. On a whim, he decided to attend. The class helped people read a passage of the Bible, discuss it amongst themselves, compare it to other scriptures then pray for one another.
This novel way of interacting with the Bible and the things he was learning about God fascinated Sabarto. For the first time, he realized that God desired to meet with him and had plans for his life. Overcome by this realization, Sabarto surrendered his life to Christ and asked our partners if they would help him understand God’s Word better. Naturally, they were overjoyed to do so and brought him into training.
Transformed by God’s Word
Sabarto took part in the Bible studies and also leadership training with our partners. His thirst for God’s Word and understanding grew, and he became consumed with passion to serve God in a new way that he had never tried before. Part of this was integrating an understanding of scripture into all parts of his life, including how he provided for his family. He studied agriculture with World Challenge’s leaders and learned ways to cultivate a small home farm that could ensure his family had food. He began leading his community by example in this type of agricultural work.
On top of that, he now leads the church planted in his village, stewarding God’s Word with passion and care. With his own life, he testifies to the power of meditating on the Bible and experiencing God’s presence.
Please join us in praying for Sabarto’s wife, Yah, that she would also seek God and experiencing healing in his hands. Pray for Sabarto’s community, that they would become receptive to the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to transform their hearts.