In parts of Asia where Christians are not typically welcomed, World Challenge partners are building relationships and sharing the good news.
Yasira* is a respected Islamic woman and leader in a closed Southeast Asian country. In 2018, our team met her through a livelihood program for raising goats and developed a strong friendship with her.
Because of the team’s friendship with Yasira, the community took notice. Yasira’s village is at the heart of a long-standing conflict and home to at least 20 widows whose husbands have been killed in the last three years. Thanks to ongoing fighting between the government and religious revolutionists, the neighborhood is justifiably wary of visiting strangers; however, the team’s consistent, peaceful relationship with Yasira gave them a positive reputation.
Eventually, the team even received a request to do large scale community development and ministry in that town.
Welcomed into the Village
By God’s grace, the community invited the team to teach health and other basic livelihood skills in the town’s Arabic school. People from the neighborhood showed up for lessons on nutrition, animal husbandry and cultivating spice plants; and evidence of these lessons being put into action began popping up all around town.
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Yasira’s community and the team continued their relationship, just in a new way. The local government had noticed the significant impacts of the ministry education on the daily lives of their residents. Officials reached out to the team to request more health lessons, specifically on how to avoid the virus and generally on how to maintain good health practices.
At one meeting, Yasira told the team, “We are very grateful for how you gave us knowledge and skills to help us, not only physically or economically but holistically.” The village leader added, “As the local officials, we should be the one thankful to people like you who do all these things to help our communities.”
Living as Salt and Light
Yasira has become like a mother to our team, watching over them when they visit the village. Whenever they share a meal together, Yasira asks a member of our team to lead them all in prayer, warmly telling them, “It’s a blessing for us to receive you in our homes.”
Holistic community development opens doors for our teams to be salt and light in areas that would not otherwise be open to the good news. Through practical help and lessons, God opens doors and hearts to deep, meaningful relationships and opportunities for ministering to the whole person.
Please pray for our brave, committed teams entering these difficult places, restoring hope and facilitating reconciliation to God.
*Name replaced or omitted. For our ministry partners’ security, we don’t release names or locations in highly sensitive areas.