Determination and dependence on the Holy Spirit mark the growth of the church in parts of Southeast Asia resistant to the gospel, as demonstrated in an inspiring report from one restricted-access nation.
A Foursquare pastor from a neighboring country crossed the border to preach in a small village where around a dozen people came to Christ after he shared the gospel and prayed for healing—with a disabled woman who had to be carried into the river walking out on her own after she was baptized.
The dramatic encounter was told to Foursquare Missions International (FMI) missionary Mark—who is not being fully identified for security reasons—by the pastor with whom he has worked for many years.
Having been part of establishing a healthy network of churches in his own nation, the pastor had a growing concern to reach people in the neighboring country where access for foreigners like Mark is not as easy. Because of his nationality, the pastor was able to cross the border—though he was detained for two days the first time for carrying a Bible.
Undeterred, he went back a second time, visiting an animist village where members of the community worshiped a white monkey. Though they were fearful of being found meeting with a Christian by authorities, they went to hear the pastor speak because of the man who was serving as his translator, who has his own remarkable background.
“We believe that the Lord has opened a door for a new work in this new nation, and we are excited for the future.”
—Mark, FMI missionary
A fellow national to the villagers, this man is one of only a small number of known Christians in the country, Mark says. He had come to Christ several years ago after an encounter in which Jesus—about whom he had never heard previously—visited him in a dream. Since then, he has served time in jail for sharing the gospel with others.
All those who heard the visiting pastor speak said that they wanted to become Christians. Three others in addition to the disabled woman were healed after they were baptized.
“It was so encouraging to hear what happened and see the well-established Foursquare church in one nation begin to develop a missions emphasis,” states Mark, who has served in that part of the world for almost 20 years. “We believe that the Lord has opened a door for a new work in this new nation, and we are excited for the future.”
Originally visiting the region regularly from the U.S. to teach and train, Mark and his wife moved there full time in 2008. Since then, they have lived and worked in three countries in the region.
As an FMI missionary, Mark’s focus is on helping develop church leaders. “We’re trying to get healthy pastors,” he explains. “Because if you don’t have a healthy pastor, you are not going to have a healthy church.” He and his wife speak at leadership events on topics including spiritual formation, the kingdom of God, the baptism with the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare.
Currently back in the U.S. for a period, Mark has been raising money to help support pastors who are in a desperate situation because the coronavirus pandemic has left already poor church members unable to work and give offerings.
For Mark, serving in Southeast Asia is “like living in New Testament times.” Idol worship, such as that practiced by the villagers in the field report he recently shared, is prevalent, he says, while the church also faces significant persecution. Mark recalls having to advise church leaders on what to do when a witch doctor who makes animal sacrifices gave some of the meat to family members, who were part of the church. “This probably isn’t something you will ever have to deal with in the U.S., but there it is an issue, just like in the Bible.”
At the same time, he sees the Holy Spirit moving in power as in the Book of Acts. “People are coming to the Lord through signs and wonders,” he says. “If you just go in there with an intellectual message, that doesn’t always do it, but if you have something to back up what you’re saying—that we really do have Good News here, and let me prove it to you—it can make an impact.”
Find out more about FMI’s work in Southeast Asia and how you can offer support.