August 2, 2016
Listening for God's Timing
Post by Brittany Tedesco
"If someone did not give me a small Gideon New Testament, I would be perishing in sins of dishonesty, pride, jealousy, self-centeredness, ego, and many others, all for which Christ died for me and others. So it is by grace that God made those provisions for me to have His word."
Our South Asia Director, Raju Sharma, spoke these words after directing funds from Christian Aid Mission to a native South Asian ministry so they could distribute Bibles to children in a Muslim region--the very same region where Raju received a Bible and accepted Christ as Savior.
"After receiving the donation for the children's Bibles, we are distributing almost 100 copies per day," the ministry leader wrote to him. "Almost all the Muslim children we find are interested. They are very happy to get this book. Most are high school students. Surprisingly, we found some college students are interested to get a copy. Some parents have also expressed their interest to get a copy for their children."
Along with this report, the ministry leader sent several photos of various children holding their new Bibles. Raju, still at the office, received the report around 3am. He and our Overseas Director, who also happened to be at the office at that hour, responded in grateful prayer until 4am.
God's timing is perfect. Not only did He provide funds for those children's Bibles through generous supporters like you, He connected Raju with a man who graciously lowered the cost of Bible printing and waived the shipping charges.
He guides our steps and orders our days. If we humble our hearts in surrender to Him, He will prompt us when we should move and when we should sit still, when we should talk and when we should stay silent.
In 1917, communist rulers in the newly-formed U.S.S.R. outlawed religion and boldly proclaimed the eventual eradication of Christianity. New rules mandated that churches be closed and Bibles and other religious literature destroyed.
For the next 70 years, communism dominated the region. When freedom came, in 1987, native Christian workers, many who were supported by Christian Aid Mission, began sharing the gospel.
It turns out, secularism never really took hold among the Russians, who, unlike individualistic Westerners, prefer to belong to a spiritual community of people. Most of them have found this sense of spiritual community through the Russian Orthodox Church, now tightly entwined with the Russian government; but thanks to the work of native missionaries, a small protestant minority (around 1% of the population) has steadily grown.
As the gospel began to take root in Russia, new followers of Christ desperately needed places to worship in what was once a vast communist empire.
Old government-owned buildings were being sold to private entities at dirt-cheap prices. Native missionaries looked at those old buildings and envisioned churches. Christian Aid Mission founder and then president, Dr. Bob Finley, knew this was an unprecedented opportunity from the Lord, and he began making this need known to our supporters. Some of them gave tens of thousands of dollars. Between 1998 and 2006, these funds were used to purchase 180 large buildings in the former U.S.S.R. God's people now had places to gather for fellowship and worship. Real estate prices have risen considerably since then.
In one of our recent staff meetings, Raul Hernandez, our Director of Development, noted how the Holy Spirit has consistently led Christian Aid Mission to provide resources before the opportunity to provide them ends.
On July 20, a series of so-called "anti-terrorism" laws took effect in Russia. These laws ban people from sharing their faith in homes or even online. According to this "Christianity Today" article, "Christians in Russia won't be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes." These laws, the article states, are the "country's most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history."
Perhaps most troubling about these laws is the overreaching authority they give to law enforcement. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom states that these laws authorize police to "arrest people suspected of violating 'generally accepted norms of social behavior.'" The laws carry fines up to $780 for individuals and $15,500 for organizations that are caught evangelizing.
The Lord knew this was coming, even when we didn't. Once again, He led us to act in His perfect timing.
In 2013 and 2014, Christian Aid Mission supported a massive undertaking to blanket Russia in Bibles. Ministry leaders discovered that there were 130,000 villages and small cities in Russia without a Christian church. They mobilized a group of mostly young people to go into these villages, share the gospel, and leave behind four New Testaments.
The Lord connected us with a source who printed the New Testaments at a mere $0.48 per copy. Christian Aid Mission raised the funds needed to put New Testaments into the hands of hundreds of college-aged missionaries who committed one year of their lives to this project.
One of the young missionaries, working in Siberia, told of the first person he shared Christ with: a florist named Inna. She laughed and told him to leave her alone, until he opened a New Testament and began to read to her about how Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world, and how He can forgive her sins, too. "She started to cry and replied to me that she has so many sins that Jesus would never be able to forgive her," he wrote in a report. "I invited her to pray for repentance and invite the Lord to be her Savior."
The missionary moved on and encountered a man named Dimitri who became angry at the mention of Jesus. "I smiled at him and hugged him and asked if I can pray for him. . . he agreed," wrote the missionary. The man, who accepted Christ as Savior that day, canceled his plans to drink with his friends and instead shared Christ with his mother. "I gave Dimitri a New Testament and he was full of happiness and joy. His face was shining from changes in his life," the missionary wrote.
By 2014, the group had distributed 220,000 New Testaments. Over 50 teams had shared Christ in 42,100 villages. More than 12 million people heard the gospel, and over 3 million prayed to receive Christ as Savior. Approximately 700 new church fellowships were formed.
All of this was accomplished just a few short years ago before the new law went into effect. We didn't know it was coming, but God did.
God sees what's ahead, and if we'll just stay close to Him and seek Him in humility, we'll be led to act and move according to His will.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for supporting Christian Aid Mission as we seek to hear His voice and act according to His leading. You've made this work possible.