Not everything in ministry is exciting. In fact, some things are hard and dangerous. The people who live in the Cholistan Desert often live in fear from their Muslim overloads. This video link, Marwa’s Story, tells about an Indian family who suffered terribly until their harrowing escape. It was made by a secular organization.
But let me tell you about Pastor Solomon whom I have come to know. He and his wife and four children live in a one-room hut. A few years ago their oldest son became ill and Solomon borrowed money from his Muslim landlord for medical care. His son died.
Compounding the grief was his debt to his landlord. His pay is so small that he will never be able to repay his debt. He will be a slave to his Muslim landlord for the rest of his life. He often does not have enough food for his family and other poor Christians in the village try to help. Yet, he is growing in the Lord and is witnessing to others. Yesterday he stood and testified that he recently told a story about Jesus to two other people. This was courageous of him.
Solomon wants to continue growing and do more, but he is tied to his land for which he does not earn enough even for food. But we can do something about this. We are asking you to join us to raise the money to pay off his debt. Then, he can seek other employment for better pay and be freer for ministry. How much do we need to free Solomon from slavery? We need $3800. Please pray about joining us to free Pastor Solomon from his debt.
Click on this link, give your gift to WGS, and earmark it for Pastor Solomon. 100% of the proceeds will go toward this. If more is collected, we will devote it to providing for him and other pastors ($10 a day!) to proclaim Christ in their villages. And, we will always be on the lookout for more slaves to free.
Thank you for your prayers and consideration.
In my previous post I told about people listening, practicing the story, and going home to tell their friends and family what they have learned.
I shared with you that I give them time to practice the story in the meeting. Also, I have started to ask them to come to the front and tell the story to the crowd.
Some of them are doing this. In the picture to the right, I watched from my cell phone as Tabitha went to the front and told the story flawlessly. I took this photo from my phone as I watched!
So how do we reach these villages for Christ? We have a two-fold strategy.
- We must multiply pastors.
- We must multiply storytellers.
Shakaib works with three other pastors. Bihari is a young pastor who lives in a village of a few hundred people. He owns a Bible and hymnal. I have sent him “Going Deeper” studies. I use the story that I share with the village and “go deeper” with him with questions to answer and verses to study. This builds his knowledge of God’s Word and a strong foundation of doctrine. I sent him a study last week. Within two hours, Shakaib had translated it and Bihari had completed his assignment! You see him proudly holding his Bible and his completed first assignment.
Just a few minutes ago, I finished Story 6 with people in Shakaib’s village. They are now having some refreshments that we have provided and practicing the story with each other.
We need to pray for courage and faith for them to tell these stories to others. I will share more in the next post about this developing outreach.
Yesterday I shared about my friendship with Shakaib Munawar and our working together through Facebook to tell stories from the Bible to the poor village people who live in the Cholistan Desert, on the eastern edge of Pakistan bordering India.
The people have responded amazingly. They listen with great attention, in spite of interruptions like braying donkeys or unwanted lizards coming into the group!
I am also doing more than telling them random stories. I told Shakaib, “Brother, I want to do more than tell them stories about Jesus. I want them to learn The One Story about God’s plan for the world.” I sent him the 6 Cs of God’s Story: Creation—Catastrophe—Covenant—Christ—Church—Consummation.
I sent him a story of creation and a corresponding story about Jesus and patiently tell them that the story of Jesus is really part of a bigger story that we all need to learn.
People are doing more than listening. During the meeting, I give them time to practice telling the story to others. They gather in small groups and share what they are learning with each other. At the end of the time I ask them to share their thoughts and insights. I regularly hear, “I am learning so much, and I am telling others what I am learning,” and “My life has changed and I want to give everything I have to Jesus.”
When the meeting is over, I tell them to go home and share the story with friends and family.
As a result, two villages without a church are asking for the stories. People want Shakaib to come and tell them about Jesus and God’s plan for the world. I just found out the other day, that villages far away have already heard about this and want to hear these stories about Jesus.
I asked Shakaib, “How many villages are in the Cholistan Desert?” He answered, “Thousands upon thousands.”
I asked, “How many have a Christian witness?” He answered, “About 15 or 20.”
I will share more tomorrow about this great need and developing plans.
Multiply pastors and multiply storytellers.
In a previous post I mentioned that Shakaib said, “Jonathan, there are thousands upon thousands of villages, but only 15-20 have a Christian witness.”
There is only one way to reach these villages – multiplication of storytellers and multiplication of pastors. In this photo Shakaib meets with two other pastors, Solomon and Munir, and a key brother, Juma, who is growing and learning rapidly.
They spent 5 hours in prayer and study of God’s Word. After their day of devotion to our Lord Jesus, Shakaib told me, “Brother, they want to have a conference. They want to gather 20-25 people in one place for hours of training in God’s Word and to learn how to become better storytellers.” They were full of the joy of the Lord after this day. Finding a facility is a challenge because all the villages are poor. Yet I learned today that they found a place and will start making preparations for a training conference to teach people skills, the Word of God, courage, and faith to become storytellers.
The needs are enormous. In one village, the people asked me to pray for clean water. They dug a well, but the water was too bitter to drink. They have to walk many kilometers to get their drinking water. Often they will come forward and tell me their stories, and I will pray for them. The picture to the right is Shamno and his wife Jamyat. Jamyat was at one time living an evil life. She was influenced by a brother who is a witch doctor. Jamyat developed a dangerous tumor on her neck. She went to many people for healing including her brother, but her tumor remained. She had heard about Jesus and decided to call upon his name and was healed. She and her husband are radiant Christians today and want to tell others the stories they are learning.
We rejoice in God’s mighty power and want to help these people and their pastors grow in their faith.
We have learned that for $10 a day, we can support these bi-vocational pastors. They are farmers, but for $10, we can free them up to travel and minister to area villages. Our first goal is to supply four of them with $10 a day for three days a week. That’s $120 a week to free up four pastors. That’s $6240 for a year!
If you would like to help with this, you can donate securely online with this link. Be sure to designate your gift for Pakistan Pastors.
In my next and final post in this series, I will tell you a sad story. Not everything is glorious and triumphant. There are many trials.
It Started with Friendship On Facebook. “Good morning, brother! Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus!”
These were the words of Shakaib Munawar that often greeted me. He is a pastor and third generation Christian. His grandfather was led to Christ by a British missionary. Over a period of weeks, we got to know each other better.
I learned that Shakaib was a pastor working in a small village in the Cholistan Desert. One day he asked me to teach his congregation. I proposed another idea. “What if I tell them stories from the Bible?” He agreed, although I would discover later that he was skeptical about their usefulness in training people with good doctrine.
I learned something else. Shakaib ministered in three other villages. I wrote the stories, emailed them to him, and he translated them into his native language. I sat in the comfort of my home and told the story. He listened on a Facebook call in the desert and translated to his people. This is what I saw. It is incredible to think that I was speaking to these people meaningful words about Jesus, and they were listening and eagerly learning about him. But there is more.
How did the people respond?
“These stories are so clear! Thank you for telling us about Jesus. We want to learn more,” and “I want to tell everyone what I have just heard.”
But there is more, and tomorrow I will share what happened next!
The case for faith is indeed strong. The evidence is overwhelming in favor of the existence of God, of the reliability of the Bible, and of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In this final broadcast in our series Tough Questions for Today’s Christian, I review 14 questions and provide a foundation for a reasonable faith. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of questions. It’s fast paced. Get ready to write quickly!
Faith can be a three-step process – investigate, choose, and transform. In our previous blog and podcast, we talked about investigation. Today, our discussion is on the importance of making a choice. Lee Strobel and his wife met with one of the most influential writers and speakers in the Christian world. His name, Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California. Willard, who is now with the Lord, was the author of two highly regarded books in Christian circles, The Spirit of the Disciplines and The Divine Conspiracy.
The Strobels and Willard talked about people responding to God – why some do and some don’t. What was the determining factor in people’s faith or unbelief? Willard had a surprising answer – it didn’t have too much to do with the evidence. Listen and find out more! – Jonathan Williams, WGS Ministries
We are nearing the end of our series Tough Questions for Today’s Christian. We have examined eight of the hardest issues skeptics bring up and it is not always easy to respond to them.
- Since evil and suffering exist, a loving God cannot.
- Since miracles contradict science, they cannot have really happened.
- Evolution explains life, so we don’t need God.
- God isn’t worthy of our worship if he kills innocent children.
- It is offensive to claim that Jesus is the only way to God.
- A loving God would never send and torture people in Hell.
- Church history is littered with oppression and violence.
- I have doubts, so I can’t become a Christian.
To tackle these objections, Lee Strobel, award winning writer for the Chicago Tribune who had converted from atheism to Christianity traveled to the offices and homes of eight prominent Christians who have excelled in the academic world. Each one provided outstanding rebuttals to the objections and clarified many misconceptions. Strobel mentioned that he discerned three steps in their answers; three steps every person must take to travel the road from unbelief to belief, from skepticism to certainty that Christ is real and that we can have life in him. The three steps are investigation, decision, and transformation.
Learn more about these three steps and six compelling scientific and historical facts that will make a solid case for faith. – Jonathan Williams, WGS Ministries
Would you like to help me get these messages out to the world? Click here to donate to WGS Ministries. Your gifts in the U.S. are tax-deductible.
Several factors can feed our doubts – busy-ness that prevents us from taking time to reflect and learn, comparing ourselves to others and thinking that faith looks only a certain way, and a fear of commitment. Let’s move forward in our understanding of doubt and faith.
Dr. Anderson explained something important for all of us to hear – we must understand what faith is not.
Click on the link below and take about 3 minutes to read his insights and many others that I present in the second part of this message in my series Tough Questions for Today’s Christian. – Jonathan Williams, WGS Ministries
Were the heroes of the faith born that way? Did they ever have doubts? Do you ever have doubts about God? Is it possible to be a Christian and have doubts?
Lee Strobel traveled to Dallas, Texas to interview Dr. Lynn Anderson. Dr. Anderson pastored churches in Canada and the U.S. for over thirty years. In 1996, he founded New Hope Network Ministries which focuses on coaching, mentoring, and equipping leaders. He has also written numerous books including one with the provocative title, If I Really Believe, Why Do I Have These Doubts? He had a great story to tell Lee Strobel which I will pass on to you.
Listen to these fascinating comments today in my series “Tough Questions for Today’s Christian.” – Jonathan Williams – WGS Ministries