"Again, Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you'" (John 20:21). "To preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners; to comfort all who mourn; to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Where are the people? Where do we start? If God is constantly at work, how do we join him?
Nestled in a mountainous region of China by the Jin Sha River, ethnic minority tribes such as the Dai, Yi and Lisu live in close union with their surroundings and worship natural forces. The practice of demon worship, sorcery and black magic has been a way of life for generations. As people turn to the witch doctors for answers and healing, they become indebted to evil sprits until death. From doing heavy labor to obeying ceremonial customs commanded by the witches, villagers can never pay back their debts. They owe their souls, spirits, dignity and children in servitude to the clutches of darkness. They are broken, hurting and lost.
Between the late 1800s and early 1990s, people traveled for days and weeks into these villages of Yunnan to proclaim the Savior's message of redemption, forgiveness and new life. Lives were transformed and light was brought into the lives of villagers enslaved for generations by evil spirits, animism and hatred.
Now, as urbanization is changing the way of life, village people from all over Yunnan are leaving their homes to find better employment opportunities in Kunming, the capital of this province. The Spirit is at work in China. He is bringing the unreached peoples into the city.
Two years ago, a few girls from an interior mountainous region left their village to find work in Kunming. As the years progressed, more and more girls followed. By the time we crossed paths with these girls, around ten were working in the city. Most of these girls are from the Dai ethnic tribe. Witchcraft, animism and other forms of spiritual evils influence most of their lives and families. Many have been wounded or hurt by these practices. They desire freedom from such bondage. One by one, each has shared the gospel with a newcomer. As they meet and fellowship regularly, they see the truth in God's word. It is their vision to establish a meeting point or church in their own village. Hope and Faith are two girls who have been praying fervently for redemption and salvation for their village.
Hope's father died of alcoholism in March of 2002. Buddhist witches were invited by the family to cast spells in hopes of reviving him. Hope was sleeping in her room while he was in a coma. She saw an evil spirit that looked liked him approaching her. She screamed and told it to leave. A month after he died she decided to leave her village, find employment in the city, forget her sorrows, make money to support her family and pay off debts.
Hope had various jobs before the Lord led her to our family. In the city, her friend, Faith, shared the gospel with her. As Hope's desire to draw near to God grew, her spiritual attacks increased. Often she would have nightmares of her deceased father trying to kill her or dream of her nephew who drowned asking her for food. These dreams would disturb her. Through prayers, her reoccurring dreams stopped and she was no longer afraid.
Before knowing Christ, Hope lived with a strong sense of hopelessness and despair. After accepting Christ, she shares how wonderful it is to have peace in her heart, not fearing for the future. Hope has a strong desire for someone, or herself, to be sent to her village to share the new hope she has found. She wants the joy and peace she experienced in Christ to permeate her village. She feels her village has been terrorized by evil spirits long enough.
The Lord has been preparing people to answer this call. Hope's best friend, Faith, told her parents during May of this year her decision to serve the Lord in choosing to learn how to set herself apart for Him. She will be attending a Bible school this coming September to know more about God's Word. It is her vision to return home after a few years of Bible training to share the wonderful truth of the gospel with her village which has never heard the "Good News."
There are three more girls praying for God's will. They are being discipled to become spiritual leaders within their fellowship. Each is aware of the cost of becoming a disciple. Prayers are needed for protection of the hearts of those who desire Christ and that they not be plucked away by the Evil One.
Where are the people? Where do we start? The people are next to us if only we are willing to be a vessel.
Image credit: Étal de marché by Gilles Vogt via Flickr.