Monday, August 31, 2015

From Persecution to Praise...

I visited our earthquake response projects and teams in Nepal last week. It was humbling to see the sacrificial work of local and expatriate partners in responding to the needs of over 2 M displace Nepali people. We have done food distributions, hygiene kits, temporary shelters, medical/health care clinics and reconstruction, just to name a few of the ministries going on.

I also heard some amazing testimonies. One local pastor told me about how he had some to faith 20 years ago and has endured constant persecution. He was one of the first believers in his village and had been beaten, threatened with death and his wife and children were constantly harassed by other members of his community. In the past few years, he said that the community where he lived began digging up the bodies of deceased Christ-followers and desecrated the bodies believing that they could discourage the gospel advance this way.

He then smiled and told us that things had changed since the earthquake. The pastor, along with our team members there, was able to help in the community through our disaster response projects. This shocked the local people. They knew they had been cruel to the small group of believers in their community. They felt bad and the leader of the persecutors came to the pastor and told him that they were sorry for all the things they had done to the local church and its members. They confessed that the followers of Jesus were good people and that there was something different about them. They even offered to create a special place for the church to bury their deceased and they would not continue to desecrate the bodies.

The pastor was grateful for all of this but he was more grateful that after so many years of resistance and persecution, many people are now responding to the gospel. And he credits the earthquake response as the tipping point to change the hearts and minds of the persecutors.

The pastor said that only God's Spirit can change the hearts of people but that acts of kindness by his church and BGR was God's tool to help initiate the change.

"Kindness to the poor is a loan to the Lord and He will give a reward to the lender." (Proverbs 19:17)