John* was burdened from a young age to take the gospel back to his home country.When he first returned and began sharing with his people group, he was not well-received. For two years, village leaders were cold and unreceptive, rebuffing every attempt at a gospel conversation.
Then, last year, John tried an alternate strategy. Rather than leading every interaction with a spiritual slant, he tried meeting the physical needs of the village. With this new mindset, John joined national Send Relief partners in establishing a community center and hosting a free tutoring program for minority children.
One day, after a community event hosted by the center, a village leader who had been particularly rigid in past interactions approached John and told him, “We are very thankful for how you have helped the children. We welcome you and your team to our village anytime to host programs to help the kids. Do not worry about government officials. I will take care of that.”
By ministering to the children of the village and showing genuine care for their wellbeing, John and Send Relief partners were able to break down walls. They earned the village leaders’ trust and respect, gaining even more access to the people who truly needed their help.
Through this open door, Send Relief was able to meet the educational needs of children who didn’t have access to formal schooling, make home visits to the elderly and shut-ins, help ensure food security in the village and host a spring festival to bring the community together. Even more exciting, national believers were trained and equipped to continue partnering with local churches and serving this community after Send Relief’s departure.
One of the churches was inspired to start their own community development projects in a different region, using these as opportunities to plant churches in previously unreached areas of the country. This fall, students, teachers and pastors from this church recruited believers from all over the city to commit to long-term ministry in the village, providing much-needed volunteers and resources to the community center.
Today, what started as an outreach to one rural village has expanded across six communities, impacting 500 people and educating over 100 children who would not have had access to schooling.
John continues to be mentored by a Send Relief partner and is preparing to take a community development certification test which will allow him to have a stronger presence in the villages he serves.
Pray for John to be strengthened and encouraged in his walk with Christ so that he may help as many people as possible and pray for the new believers who came out of this project, as they are experiencing significant persecution for their conversions.
To give to more unreached communities like this, go to sendrelief.org/donate.
*Name changed for security.
Published October 22, 2020