stories from the field

Faith in Darkness

It is a genuine test of faith. The spiritual darkness that sits over the country seems almost palpable at times. It’s as if there is a dark ceiling under which only brooding shadows reside, obscuring the view of anyone who seeks to find their way. We are desperately praying for a shattering of this darkness and for the Light of God’s Love to burst into the lives and hearts of the people we have come to know and love.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for a missionary’s heart to bear is the separation that results from legitimate security concerns. Separation, that is, from new believers.

Our first experience with this distinct test of faith involved a small study group fifteen years ago. The members of this group had accepted Jesus and were conducting discussion style teaching on a regular basis. An entire nuclear family would gather around Christian TV programs to learn and worship together. How thrilling to hear! Then two brothers and a cousin began to walk with Christ and joined in.

Regrettably, as a few foreigners would visit fairly often, the police became aware of the illegal “activities”. In fact, two of the men from this group were thrown into prison, and remained there for three grueling months. We do not know what horrors they endured.

Being fearful upon their release, they isolated themselves and asked that Christians and foreign brothers not visit. We often wonder if they are experiencing the great and gentle healing by God’s loving hand, or if they knew His joy in the midst of their suffering. We don’t know. We are now cut off from communicating with them, but we pray that this story is not finished. We need to have faith.

Our second experience involved dear friends whom we’ve known from the beginning of our time here: a barber, his lovely wife, and four beautiful daughters. The entire family accepted the Lord as Saviour and were baptized eight years ago. They had joyfully received the Christian picture books for children, songs, Bibles, and TV programs we have shared with them over the years.

Unfortunately, the family moved to another town, where they have no Christian fellowship. They live with family members who are strong Muslims, and the children are in an Islamic school. When we last visited them, there were more Islamic strongholds in their home than Christianity. We are saddened, and yet, we have faith that their story is not finished either.

We often wonder if they are experiencing the God of all peace and comfort as war rages just down the hill from their town. We pray that they hold fast to the truth of Christ. We are now cut off from being able to communicate with them, but God is not. We pray that their story is one where they remain true to Christ.

Our recounting our experiences would not be complete if we did not share about how some are not separated, but brought together in Christ. We know a dear man who has been walking with Christ for about ten years now. With many ups and downs in life, he has always returned to his love for Jesus, reading, praying, fasting and sharing verses that have spoken to him with us. Through the internet, he has met another national who loves Jesus. Please pray for these two, and give thanks with us for God’s grace in their lives.

At times, we can see glimpses of light streaming into the darkness. However, losing touch with new believers and the loss of follow-up with seekers continue to test our faith. For example, we were excited to meet, but subsequently lost contact, with several individuals who reached out to our partnering internet ministries while searching for the Truth. One man joyfully accepted a Bible, but returned to his town, and has not been heard from since. Another seeker traveled to a different country and has lost contact with us, and we can only hope that he is continuing in his faith. A third young man, riddled with questions about faith and different religions, never made a commitment and has now traveled away. Yet another dear young man met with us at length to discuss his questions, but then having received a Bible, stopped communicating with us and has not been heard from for nearly a year. Still, there are some like the high school senior who met with us several times, enjoying Bible study. Defying threats, he continued to meet and ask questions right up until a violent uprising forced foreigners to leave.

We often feel cut off from these people we love, not being able to reap what was sown, but we know that God is at work. We only see a glimpse, simply an introduction to the story, perhaps without ever knowing how the Lord will continue to move in these lives. We are waiting in faith, and praying that the darkness will be shattered.

Would you join us in praying that the spiritual darkness would be shattered and that faith would remain in Him who will accomplish these things? “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrew 11:1. If you would like to learn more ways to pray for our workers please visit www.pioneers.ca/pray.

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