WEEK OF PRAYER: Missionary's visit ends man's 20-year wait for Gospel
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements Cooperative Program giving to support more than 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries as they share the Gospel overseas. This year's offering goal is $175 million. The focus is on celebrating what God has done in recent years, praising Him for allowing Southern Baptists to be a part of His work, while emphasizing that reaching those who remain untouched by the Gospel is a doable task, but these will be the hardest people groups to reach -- requiring that believers pray, go, partner and give as never before. The 2010 Week of Prayer for International Missions is Nov. 28-Dec. 5. To find resources about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Ray Aker* couldn't believe his ears. The Oklahoma native had spent the past two years sharing Jesus in a rural area of China without seeing a single salvation -- until now.
God had brought Aker and a small team of Southern Baptist volunteers to a man named Solomon* who lived with his family in a dirt-floored shack in an isolated mountain village. Aker told the Gospel story and Solomon immediately believed.
But it was what he said afterward that Aker can't forget.
"Twenty years ago, I understood in my heart that there was one God above all," Solomon told Aker. "But I didn't know anything about Him. So I prayed every day that He would send somebody to tell me who He was.
"God answered my prayer today when He sent you to me."
"That was probably the single most powerful experience that I've ever been a part of in ministry here," Aker says. "I didn't do anything special.... God ordained that moment in time."
Immediately Solomon began telling others about the one, true God and quickly led six villagers to faith, including his wife and two daughters. The local witchdoctor took notice.
If Solomon didn't stop sharing, the witchdoctor threatened publicly, he would be cursed and die in three days. Solomon refused to be silent, and on day four when villagers saw that he was still alive, they wanted to know why.
Aker says Solomon told the whole village about Jesus. In one day 80 people gave their lives to Him.
"These people live in daily fear of evil spirits," Aker explains. "Everything they do -- which direction their house faces, when they get married, what they eat -- it's all based on trying to appease these evil spirits.
"The fact that Solomon didn't die rocked their worldview."
Four years later, God has used Solomon's influence to bring more than 400 people to faith across three neighboring villages. Three house churches have been planted. Aker says the Good News is now spreading to a fourth village.
"We went from zero [believers] ... to 147 in about five months," Aker says. "I will never make it to every single village of our people group -- it's impossible.... That's why we have to train and raise up believers ... to reach the rest."
But the villagers aren't the only ones whose faith has grown as a result of Solomon's work.
"If you had asked me back then ... did I think God could do these things? I'd say, 'Yeah, I think He could. But I haven't seen it.' I believe in my head God can do it. Did I believe in my heart that He would do it? Back then, if I was being honest, I'd have to say no," Aker admits.
"God had been preparing Solomon for 20 years ... I'm just thankful God allowed me to be a small part of it."
*Names changed. Don Graham is a writer for the International Mission Board.