Raised in a well-off Muslim family in Kyrgyzstan, Alima could not believe that she and her two children were suddenly homeless.
She had always been a deeply devoted Muslim, reciting prayers five times a day, and was zealous to do good, according to native Christian missionaries. Her husband worked hard so the family could live comfortably in the impoverished Central Asian country, but then last year his coughing and shortness of breath hit, they said.
As Tariq’s health deteriorated, his attendance at the mosque became more frequent and intense, but soon he was so weak and in such pain that he had to be hospitalized.
Witchcraft was a way of life for an ethnic Mixtec father of six in a Mexican village who lost his two youngest children to mysterious illnesses.
Villagers who relied on his potions and rituals in their yearning to acquire fortune or favor believed that Roberto’s two young sons must have died in a war of spells between him and another specialist in witchcraft – and that his rival’s spell also doomed his other children to die.
It took a long, long time for Roberto to realize his perpetual drunken stupor would not take away the pain.
Villagers in the Philippines had waited in vain for foreign aid organizations to fulfill their promises to bring free medical clinics to treat their first-degree burns, pneumonia, respiratory infections and other ills.
Then a stranger from their own country showed up.
“He was attired in a traditional manner,” a ministry director said of the native missionary. “With blackened teeth strengthened by chewing betel nut, he smiled and disclosed that he came all the way from a tribal village together with his wife, children and grandchildren.”
In the countries of North Africa where only a scant few have heard the gospel, Muslims are taught that Christians worship three gods including the Virgin Mary, and they routinely hear that the Bible is riddled with major textual corruptions. While the Bible alone has been known to lead some people to faith in Christ, amid the region’s miasma of misinformation a personal connection is critical; one question leads to another, and nothing short of face-to-face answers will do. Following up with those who contact their website, native missionaries travel to different regions of the country – increasingly, with results forbidden by the surrounding society.
A young Christian woman in the Philippines whose speech impediment kept her in the shadows was devastated when her baby died before his first birthday. At any church service or gathering in an undisclosed town on the island of Mindanao, Maria Dominguez stayed back in a corner. In the past year she tried recovering from the trauma of losing her child by selling snacks in her neighborhood, a native ministry leader said. “Unfortunately, she did not have enough capital to finance her business,” he said.
Refugees from Syria are so desperate for help they usually don’t see beyond their own needs, but native missionaries in Turkey recently noticed something different in them. When a native ministry’s food truck arrives at a given refugee settlement, usually the predominantly Muslim refugees from Syria crowd around it and clamor for distribution to begin. On a recent distribution, however, several Muslim women went not to the truck, but straight to the director. “I said, ‘Go around to the back of the truck, that’s where the food will come from,’” he said.
In northwest Vietnam, a new Christian was telling a fellow villager about Christ recently when a man came up and struck him with a machete. Most Christians, knowing such hostilities could erupt from hard-liners, are careful to speak of Christ much more privately. While officials harass and arrest Christians whose worship becomes too large or noticeable, pressures from tribe, family and clan present the greatest challenge.
A Muslim woman was suffering from an illness that neither witchdoctors nor medical doctors could cure: She was convinced she was surrounded by snakes. Though nominally Muslim, Rachida was raised with voodoo belief in a prominent serpent spirit.
Between ethnic rebels trying to recruit them as soldiers and evil spirits threatening to afflict them, young adults in Burma (Myanmar) have a lot to fear. Besides fearing that any illness may be a sign of punishment from a malevolent spirit world, young men in Burma also live in fear of militants from insurgent groups drawing recruits from ethnic groups. “They are frightened all the time, as they don’t know when rebels will come to their village and take them from their family and from their village,” a native ministry leader said.
Three years after Greece signed an agreement with Turkey to discourage refugees from trampolining off Turkey to Greece, Greek facilities for receiving them are still overwhelmed – prolonging the crisis. Many of the newcomers are disillusioned with Islam and open to the gospel. Most refugees in Greece today come from Afghanistan, including Muslims who must avoid hard-line neighbors finding out they are learning about Christ.
Founded in 1953, Christian Aid Mission seeks to establish a witness for Christ in every nation by assisting indigenous ministries based in areas of poverty and persecution, giving priority to ministries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with unreached people groups. Today, we work with hundreds of indigenous ministries in eight regions of the world that share the gospel with more than 1,700 unreached people groups.