An Unlikely Catalyst for Change | World Challenge

An Unlikely Catalyst for Change

Steve Otradovec
July 11, 2018

Lasting change in one of the few remaining communist countries in the world

In this Southeast Asian country, Christians, while tolerated in major urban hubs, still face daily hardship and persecution from communist hard-liners who see religion as a threat to their way of life. Mr. Phoum is a former atheist and Soviet-trained livestock farmer. His life radically changed 10 years ago when his cousin, a drunken gambler, suddenly acquired a disabling illness. Her erratic behavior and alcohol-induced antics were well-known and neighbors believed her worthy of whatever shame and disease came upon her except one brave local pastor.

This spirit-led pastor began to visit Phoum’s cousin in spite of the opposition, praying fervently for a miracle… and God heard him. According to Phoum, one day his cousin sat at death’s door, the next she leapt with new life – inside and out. Phoum had heard the gospel message during his time in Soviet Russia, but he experienced the wonder-working power of God in his homeland through his cousin’s dire addiction. Now his entire family follows Christ.

In 2017, we met Phoum while casting vision for community development in his country. Phoum devoured the lessons and participated wholeheartedly. Seeing his passion, we felt hope that he could be a champion for change. Several months later, we returned to deepen the training with our team. We were overjoyed to see him with a profound hunger for more.

During one particular lesson, we witnessed a substantial “a-ha” moment within Phoum. He couldn’t contain his excitement as he explained that, “before now, I didn’t understand that God created the earth good. Now, I get it and He wants us to take care of His creation and help restore it to His original design!” Phoum caught the fever for God-driven change and will be a spark to carry it forward in his country and beyond. Before our training Phoum had difficulty sharing the Gospel. The threat of persecution is real but through these practical means he can begin to connect the basic needs of his neighbors with the wonderful message of God’s love. Starting in his own community, one life at a time, he hopes to reach surrounding communities with the Gospel.

Moments like these encourage us deeply. We share many critical aspects of community development during our training seminars and we pray fervently that the seeds go deep and take root. It’s incredibly encouraging when we get to see a moment of deep insight happen before our eyes. People like Phoum are mission critical. We don’t do the development work in communities, we empower and encourage local people to do it themselves. It takes local people grasping the ideas and in combination with the Holy Spirit, “taking it to the streets” to create sustainable change. Thank God with me for brother Phoum, the courageous believers in closed countries and the hope of lasting transformation. Also, pray for their protection and steadfast faith in light of the persecution they face every day.