July 26, 2016
Three Implausible Agents God Used to Save People
Post by Brittany Tedesco
He'd been walking several hours through the dense forest to reach them. The Chenchu people of India are a tribal group of hunter-gatherers who live off the land and worship a multitude of spirit gods. They'd never been presented with the gospel—never even heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Would they reject him? Would they do it violently, with spears or bow and arrows?
He pondered these questions as he kept his eyes on the forest floor, picking up his feet to avoid the rocks and tree roots. What he saw when he lifted his head made his heart stop. Just a few yards away, a bear looked straight at him. He froze. Couldn't breathe. He knew this was how it was going to end.
But then he remembered the entire purpose of his journey, and he began to reason with God. "Dear Lord, the Chenchu people are on the other side of this bear," he silently prayed. "If You take my life, I know I will be with You in paradise this day, but if You spare my life, I will take Your message to those Chenchu people. Do whatever pleases You."
Whoops and war cries and a rushing sound—like the sound of branches snapping off trees and underfoot—filled the air, before multiple arrows fatally pierced the bear. Somewhere around 30 Chenchu men, spirit-worshipping pagans, had earlier received a word from God that He was sending a messenger to them and they were to go rescue him.
A visiting indigenous ministry leader from India told this story at my church on Sunday. The man who encountered the bear was one of his missionaries, who works among unreached tribes. He, along with several other missionaries, planted a witness for Christ among the Chenchu after they cast out demons and performed other signs and wonders among them.
I found it interesting that God gave a clear message to those Chenchu people, lost in spirit and idol worship. It's not like they were praying to Him—they were praying to demons! It doesn't fit my theological paradigm.
I'm grateful that God isn't limited to my understanding of how He works. His love for the Chenchu people—for all nations—means that He's going to reach them in ways we couldn't have imagined. I've worked at Christian Aid Mission long enough to have read thousands of stories from around the world, and I can tell you that God is creative in the way He orchestrates the salvation of ethnic groups who've never before heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Christian Aid Mission is supporting a Bible training center in China that nurtures Christians from eight different tribal groups, one of which is the Miao.
The Miao have a very interesting background. British missionary, Samuel Pollard, was posted to Yunnan province, and began working among the Miao in 1904. They had no written language, so Samuel went to work to create what is now known as the Pollard Script. Instead of trying to alter an existing language to fit the Miao, he was determined to honor them by developing a script to capture the unique tones of their spoken language. This resulted in a script that places the vowel of each syllable above or below the consonant to indicate the tone.
Samuel didn't try to predict the outcome of his work; his diary indicates that he wasn't even sure he'd succeed in creating a viable script. He just worked, methodically and diligently, until it was done.
He must've been surprised by the massive numbers of Miao who came from near and far to get their hands on this script and learn how to read it. Every room in his house was filled with Miao eager to become literate.
Along with another missionary, Pollard taught them to read and write and led tens of thousands of Miao to Christ. He baptized 10,000 of them.
The astounding response to Pollard's script stemmed from a Miao legend. According to "Religions and Missionaries Around the Pacific, 1500-1900," the Miao had passed a story down through the generations that their ancestors once possessed books in their language, but had lost them in a river.
In 1917, the Pollard Script was used to print the New Testament in the Miao language. The Miao, now literate, hungrily devoured it. Some walked for days to get a copy.
God used a tribal legend, passed down through generations, to prepare the hearts of the Miao people for salvation.
You know what else He is using to lead people to Himself?
The words of a false prophet.
You may have heard about the widespread phenomenon of Muslims, who live in Islamic countries without access to the gospel, having dreams in which Jesus Christ appears to them. Researchers have discovered that the majority of new Christians from Islamic backgrounds in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia have had a dream or vision of Christ.
Nabeel Qureshi, who now works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, was once a devoted Muslim who stridently defended the religion taught to him by his beloved Pakistani parents. He is just one of the many Muslims who, through dreams, became convinced of the truth of the gospel.
After befriending a Christian apologist in college, Qureshi began to question Islam. What followed was a series of three dreams and a vision, in which Christianity was revealed as truth and Islam a lie.
The reason dreams are so significant to Muslims is because it is the only way they are able to connect with God—or rather, their version of God (Allah), who is described in the Quran as impersonal and unknowable.
In Islamic tradition, Qureshi states, Mohammed taught that "the dreams of the faithful are prophetic."
Many Christians have begun to fervently pray for Muslims during the month of Ramadan, and specifically on the "Night of Power," which falls on the 27th night of Ramadan. On the Night of Power, devout Muslims pray all night, believing that Allah is more attentive during this evening and more likely to bless and pardon them. It is also taught that angels visit the earth on this night.
It is a night during which many Muslims, perhaps as a result of the prayers of the saints, have received dreams and visions of Jesus Christ.
I've heard people talk about how unfair it is that some people groups in this world have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel, as though God is partial to us Americans and not to a primitive tribe living on a remote island. But God is no respecter of persons, as the Bible tells us. He has specifically told us that the end shall not come until all the nations ("ethnos" in the Greek, meaning people groups) have heard the gospel (Matthew 24:14).
In the meantime, Christian Aid Mission continues to work to establish a witness for Christ among every tongue, tribe, and nation...until He returns.