They usually hang around the edges of our city, begging on street corners, searching for metal scraps, dodging insults, and hiding from immigration police. I had never met any L* people until they wandered into our neighborhood one day two years ago. They were several miles from their temporary living space near the city market, but right where God wanted them to be on that chilly fall morning.
A mom, her teenage son and young daughter rang our doorbell. Behind a high gate, I had been loading my car with clothes that our children had outgrown—a mundane chore. I didn’t know where to donate the clothes and prayed that God would show me.
My husband had just left home, walking to a meeting. I would find out later that he was especially praying for the L people as he walked. Not because he personally knew any of them, but because the teams in our region had agreed together to pray for this unengaged, unreached ethnic group.
And now they were at our door.
A God-ordained meeting
The mom asked for food, a blanket and a cooking pot. Quickly I understood that God had arranged this unexpected, but perfectly timed, visit. I invited them inside our gate and offered them the already-packed bags of clothes and a ride home.
As we drove across town, they told me they were from a neighboring Central Asian country. I explained to them that God surely brought them to my door at just the right moment because He wanted them to know that He sees them, knows them, and longs to give them life through Jesus. While the mom changed the subject at the mention of Jesus, the little girl in the back seat repeatedly asked to hear more.
I gave them a copy of the “JESUS” film and my phone number before we said goodbye. We talked briefly several more times in the following weeks before they called one day to say they were headed to their home country for the winter. I wondered if we would see them again.
A God-orchestrated movement
As we began to tell co-workers the story of our encounter with the L people, we found that they too were meeting Ls unexpectedly. We started receiving reports from all over Central Asia:
• We have heard through multiple, reliable contacts that about 40-50 L people in the J region have come to faith. Many of these have quit begging as a profession and are seeking legitimate employment.
• We heard recently that 10-14 L people in S region came to faith. One came to Christ up north and went back to his hometown with two brothers from the capital. They shared the gospel and 10-14 believed.
• A young L man named Harry* was very much against the gospel for a long time. About a month ago, according to his testimony, someone dressed in black came to his house and told him it was his time to die. Harry was extremely scared. He started praying, but nothing happened. Then he remembered the name “Iso” from his mother, who is a believer in Jesus, and he prayed in Iso’s name. Then the man dressed in black left. After this, Harry came to faith in Jesus and is now passionate for the Lord and leading a group of 10-15 L people who meet weekly.
• We went to the local market in hopes of meeting L women who beg there. We found one woman squatting with a baby in her lap. We squatted down beside her, gave her a chocolate bar for Women’s Day, and started to get to know her. From my phone I played a 3-minute testimony of an L pastor, and the mom listened attentively. I was able to share from Romans 5:8 how God proves His love for us in Jesus. She allowed me to pray for her and her family in Jesus’ name. We are very encouraged by this first step to reaching the L ladies at our market.
A God-glorifying moment
The L people we met in the fall of 2017 returned to our country in the spring of 2018 and then were chased out by immigration police. Other relatives, however, were able to stay, and they were even warmer and more welcoming toward my husband and me. They invited us into their one-room home and listened as our friend, a Central Asian pastor, shared the gospel clearly. All five listeners received the good news with joy. They, too, were eventually forced to return to their home country, but not without new hope.
Workers across Central Asia regularly see God move in response to our prayers for specific people groups, but rarely do we hear so many reports of answers in such a short time span. Clearly God has set His heart on these people and He has invited us to be a part of His work. Would you also join us in praying for the L people? Though we must protect their identity here, God knows each one by name.
• Please pray that they would have access to God’s Word and hide it in their hearts (Psalm 119:11).
• Pray for those of us who find L people living on the edges of our communities: that we would love them deeply, sharing with them the gospel and our lives as well (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
*Names changed for security
This article was originally published by the IMB on imb.org