September 29, 2015

Sit By the Gate and Watch

Post by Martin Li

In a remote region in Laos, a plot of rainforest land owned by local Christian farmers remained uncultivated, as they were unable to afford the equipment necessary to develop it. The farmers did what they could to earn a living, but the Buddhists who dominate the area didn't make it easy for them. In fact, many farmers were badly persecuted for sharing their faith.

A few years ago, however, everything changed—starting with a tractor and a bag of seeds, provided by Christian Aid Mission.

The leader of an indigenous ministry in Laos recently visited our office to tell us what our support had produced in the hands of those farmers.

They'd used the tractor to plow their land and cultivate crops, which eventually earned them a comfortable living.

But envy began to spread.

One day, while the believers gathered to worship the Lord, hostile Buddhist neighbors and local police surrounded their church.

Expecting to be arrested and thrown into prison, the believers became fearful. Yet the pastor led them to continue worshipping God and lifting up prayers for protection.

An hour later, when the worship ended, the congregants cautiously opened the doors to find all of their enemies had gone. The following day, some of their Buddhist neighbors asked if they might be able to invest in the agricultural project.

The Christians gladly accepted all requests, and increasing amounts of land were designated for cultivation. The standard of living improved for many of the locals.

When word reached the governor, he called a community meeting to reward the good deeds of the local farmers. Their pastor was invited to represent them—the first time in local history for a Christian to attend such a government-level meeting.

"He is a Christian, and has no right to attend such a meeting with us!" screamed one district official.

The governor's response was a game-changer: "Shut up! He represents Jesus, and is good to our people."

The ministry leader shared with us that more than 300 churches were planted in that region due to the faithfulness of those local believers.

The End.

Not quite, actually. You see, all of those churches and all of that success drew the attention of 15 different missionary agencies from the West. They wanted to partner with these Laotian locals. Many of them sent foreign missionaries who stayed with the locals and attempted to train church leaders.

All of it was very costly, and ultimately drew the attention of the government, which became alarmed by the infiltration of foreigners into their country. They suspected the foreigners of being spies, sent to overthrow their nation.

Locals began rejecting the foreign workers, refusing to associate with what looked to them like a foreign religion.

"They got into mud with us," the ministry leader said, "which really messed up the local ministries. We had to stop such partnerships as it is not good for us or for them."

He illustrated his point with the biblical account of Esther. A great deal of Esther's story, he told us, is about Mordecai, her cousin.

After Esther became queen, Mordecai sat by the gate of the kingdom. Though he couldn't enter the inner court, he was an invaluable resource for Esther.

Christian Aid Mission has played the role of Mordecai for more than 60 years—assisting "Esthers" working in the "inner courts," or native missionaries working on the frontlines. We sit by the gate and watch, mobilizing God's people to pray for and give to those on the frontlines.

"The role of the person standing at the gate is a very important role," the ministry leader said. "If you are in prison, you are no good to us. Let us go to prison. Stay alive! Stay well! When we are hungry, give us food. When we are in prison, call out to God in prayer. Do your role and we'll do ours."

Xiaoguang - posted October 8, 2015
Thank you Brother Martin. Your article helped me understand what Christian Aid Mission are doing to our brothers and sisters in the world. Encouraged by this quote --- "If you are in prison, you are no good to us. Let us go to prison. Stay alive! Stay well! When we are hungry, give us food. When we are in prison, call out to God in prayer. Do your role and we'll do ours."
Patsy - posted October 8, 2015
Martin, what an inspiring illustration of what God is able to do through Christians who have a heart to give and encourage those in dire circumstances. It also encouraged me to stand by the gate. I loved this article; it is well written and inspiring.
Nell - posted October 7, 2015
I read it. It is very well written and insightful, has a wonderful encouraging message! Thank you for sharing it.
Hong Xu - posted October 6, 2015
Thank you Martin Li for this edifying story well written. As sheep need gate keeper to watch their needs, our Christian brothers and sisters live in closed land like Laos, China, North Korea.... need us to be their gate keeper and do right.
Larry - posted October 5, 2015
Do not try to figure it out. In the Good Book it says EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. That time is coming soon.
Patricia - posted October 2, 2015
Your insight is spot on with how we must handle the Enemy, just as Jesus did, with Scripture, when He was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness by Satan. Not much has changed, except we must realize/remember that God provided the way out and Christ has already won the victory. Satan wants us to forget that and uses every means from discouragement to lies to deception to take away our joy.
Karen - posted October 2, 2015
YAHWEH & YESHUA richly bless, guide & protect you. THANK YOU for keeping those of us far away, in touch with the immediate needs or our dear brothers & sisters, mothers & fathers persecuted for their faith. May our loving heavenly Father grant great revelation & spiritual joy!