Twelve years ago, I was a tired mother of two young boys, sitting in a rocking chair in our bedroom in a mega-city in South Asia. I had snuck away to rock my baby boy while enjoying the air conditioner blowing on me before facing the heat and busyness of dinner and bedtime routines. A slight knock on the door interrupted my solitude as Hannah* came in the door. She was a quiet and sweet-natured Muslim woman who came to our home during the week to help with the cleaning. She asked me what she could be doing to help me right then. I knew she could probably use a break as well and I selfishly did not want to move right then to see what needed to be done around the apartment. We encouraged her to take a break in our living room and put on the Jesus film for her in hopes she might watch it. We had been sharing the gospel with her, praying for her and asking others to pray for her since she came to work for us the year before.
I had dozed off in the rocking chair with my baby and was awoken to another knock at the door. This time Hannah came to me in tears and fell at my feet. She asked me how Jesus could die for people who sinned against him like that? God was drawing Hannah to Himself and I had the great joy of talking with her and praying with her that day. Hannah accepted Christ and was baptized in a dirty river on the outskirts of town by the dark of night. I still remember seeing her white teeth shining in the moonlight when she came out of that water as a smile filled her countenance.
God used our simple, imperfect family to be His hands and feet in a place on the other side of the world for His glory. By His grace, He is still using us. However, this is not just our story. This story includes people 10,000 miles away that Hannah will likely never see this side of heaven.
The people in the small country churches of my childhood home in rural Tennessee have prayed for us and with us over the years. They have prayed by name for the people we see face to face. They have wept over lostness with us and they have rejoiced when they hear how God has answered their prayers. They are part of Hannah coming to faith in Christ as well as what we confidently hope may be many others who have turned from their sins and followed Christ.
Southern Baptists have been sent out through the IMB to work towards reaching the 1.7 billion South Asian Peoples. Each one of these individuals are laboring in harvest fields that need more laborers. Today over 800 South Asian people groups comprising 51 million people are still completely unengaged and unreached with the gospel message. We cannot be okay with those numbers.
Right now, God has opened doors for Arkansas Baptists to partner with the IMB in our work among South Asians in strategic and informed ways that have never before been possible. God works in and through the prayers of His people. I have seen it first-hand. Imagine this story of Hannah being multiplied many times over all across South Asia and beyond. Prayer is not an ineffectual discipline to check off a list but an invitation to cry out to our Father, the Almighty God, to work in and through His church and to draw the lost to Himself. His unfolding plan is that His glory would spread to every nation, tribe, people and language. His desire is that the billions of people who are right now giving their worship to idols that do not speak, do not hear, do not love and cannot save would turn in repentance and believe on the one true God and receive life. Life everlasting.
As one of your IMB missionaries to South Asia, I’m asking Arkansas Baptists to continue to come alongside us in prayer. There will be people from every nation, tribe, people and tongue before the throne. Don’t you want to see it unfold? Don’t you want to cry out for God to do it now? It is an intense spiritual battle with incredibly high stakes, and we watch it play out before our very eyes. But this story doesn’t just belong to those of us who have a front row seat. This is the story of the church doing what God designed the church to do. You have an invitation before you to be a part of the story of South Asians knowing and worshipping the One, True, God.
Join us today at www.absc.org/praysa.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Madison Strauder of the International Mission Board