By Todd Stiles
We had climbed five flights of narrow stairs, some in the dark, before we ended up in a small room, perhaps 12 x 12, where gathered was about 20 believers. They were part of this house fellowship in south Asia—a church no less—and present were more than Asians and Americans. God was there. In us. For us. With us. All of us.
Among this faith family that day was Rajkumar, a young man who had traveled from his church plant in another village to meet us. He had heard the “Americans” were coming and that the white pastor was going to open God’s Word with them. So he came to see, hear, and learn. But he taught me more in his story than I taught him in my sermon.
Rajkumar had become a follower of Jesus a few years earlier, after which he spent 24 months being discipled by a local pastor connected to the Timothy Initiative. Through this obedience-based and biblical mentoring, Rajkumar, even before graduating, went to a Muslim-concentrated village to witness of Jesus. Before long, God, through the message of the gospel and by the power of His Spirit, graciously opened the hearts of five Muslim men in the village. They, too, became believers and were baptized. Quickly. Openly. Boldly.
But not all was well in the village. Others began opposing Rajkumar, even threatening to harm him if he kept telling others about the only Way. But this did not dissuade Rajkumar. Even when they would gather around him to intimidate him, or at other times follow him in order to arouse fear in him, nothing deterred him. With courage Rajkumar consistently shared Jesus in the village in spite of constant threats and imminent persecution. He simply trusted God in the middle of all he didn’t know and couldn’t control and continued to obey, praying all the while for God’s hand to guide and protect.
As things escalated, God did exactly that—providentially provided protection for Rajkumar from the increasing hostility. How? The very men who had just become believers as a result of Rajkumar’s testimony came to him and told him they would be the protection he needed. After all, they said, “we know those guys who want to quiet you. We used to run with them when we didn’t follow Jesus, and we know we’re stronger and bigger than they are. So we’ll go to them and warn them not to bother you anymore. Or else.” (Okay, that’s a loose English translation, but it is the gist of what Rajkumar’s new brothers told him.) Now that’s an answer to prayer.
Rajkumar wrapped up this story with a big smile and a loud laugh (and I was doing both as well), relating to me how he was so happy God had given him even more freedom in the village to keep sharing the news of God’s forgiveness available through Jesus. “I think I have my own security team,” he said with a wide grin. And while his fantastic five have done nothing more than simply stand up for him verbally, their willingness to “watch his back” has been the very thing God has used to keep the gospel seed being sown widely in soil that is often strongly resistant.
So everyone’s got a part to play in seeing the gospel “speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thess. 3:1). That’s right, all of us. Rajkumar. Me. You. Yes, even body guards.
For it’s not always in the miraculous or prophetic that God accomplishes his will. Often it’s via the very normal things of life—things like friendships, conversations, relocations, even muscles—that God providentially clears the way for his glory to be known among the nations.
Todd Stiles is lead pastor of First Family Church in Ankeny. This post was originally published at toddstiles.wordpress.com.