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Helping those who help the world

Living Testimony of a Former Muslim

by Melissa Chang |

Islam, Muslim Contextualization, Stories from the Field

 petals

MY CHILDHOOD

I was born on a Tuesday in December of 1967. My father was a Mullah (a Muslim religious leader) in a small village in South India. Everyone in the village respected my family because we were strictly religious. My father’s special duty was to read from the Qur’an in Arabic to our Muslim neighbors. Yet he did not forget to teach his own children.

At the age of five I went to the nearby Madrasa (Muslim religious school) to learn Arabic, so that I could study the Qur’an.

HEARING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS

One Saturday, the market day in my village, when I was going home from school, I saw a large crowd in the market place. I went over and found a group of Christians there. They were telling the crowd about their faith stories from the life of Jesus and selling Christian booklets. I bought two of the booklets.

 1. The New Testament in my language

2.  The Way of Salvation 

I kept my booklet although I despised Christians. When I reached home, I sat down in a quiet place and started to read these books.  As I read, I wondered if the Jesus of this booklet was the same ‘Isa whom I knew about as a prophet. To my mind, the Jesus of this booklet was different from the Jesus of the Qur’an. Now I read that this Jesus could forgive sins. This very forgiveness of Jesus had changed (transformed) many sinners, and it made me love Jesus.

In fact, I considered my heart to be in a worse condition, full of a sinful nature. How could I find freedom from this spiritual disease? The booklet offered the cure. I rejected it because I had been taught that God alone forgave sins – not Jesus, the prophet.

Nevertheless, I could not free myself from the strong argument in the booklet. I became uncomfortably aware of my own sinfulness. What would become of me when I died? I could not escape death or the Day of Judgment. I made up my mind to find out more about Jesus with the help of a correspondence course advertised in this booklet.

DESIRE TO KNOW THE TRUTH

I had very much interest to collect and study the Biblical books.  At the same time I continued all the practices of Islam. I could not forget the name “Jesus” when I repeated it every evening in my recitation of the Qur’an! So I decided to make a study of Jesus in the Qur’an and in other Muslim books. I had learned Arabic in my very childhood, so I could read and understand the meanings of Qur’an.

I found that ‘Isa has a very important place both in the Qur’an and in the Hadith – or Muslim tradition. In the Qur’an it seemed to me that ‘Isa was even more important than my prophet Muhammad. Some of my Muslim friends came to know that I was reading Bible and Bible related books. They gently suggested that I concentrate more on Muhammad. Still I continued to wonder about those Qur’anic passages which referred to Jesus, to His unique birth, and to His marvelous deeds.

Not far from my home there is a Christian Church.  I decided to go there secretly. When we arrived, the pastor of that church received me and began to share the gospel. After some discussion the Pastor suggested that I read the Bible with a prayer for understanding.  I obeyed his suggestion and I continued my reading of the Bible.

An awareness of my own sin never left me. It gnawed at my heart continually. After few days, I felt again a strong desire to see the pastor. I had to share my difficulties and doubts. The Pastor encouraged me and answered my questions about Christian beliefs and practices. Most of his answers satisfied me .

I returned home with a copy of the whole Gospel which my friend had given to me. Although I was very glad to have it, I was afraid that someone at home might see it. So I put the Gospel in a plastic bag and hid it under a stone in the forest. I often went out of the home to read it, especially St John’s Gospel. One verse, the words of Jesus, gave me some consolation:

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

The words “believe also in me” impressed me greatly at that time. Although I was anxious and troubled, this verse comforted me.

Like a magnet the love of Jesus attracted me. I thought that if Jesus were my master too, how I would love him! Yet, when the idea of becoming a Christian crossed my mind, I rejected it as an evil thought from Satan – for I was a Muslim.

FINDING THE LIGHT

I continued to read the Holy Bible with care and attention. In it I found treasure such as I had never dreamed of – it has the power to speak to those who really want to find God’s revelation and guidance. It showed me my real self, my sinful and guilty heart, and showed me also that I was spiritually blind. It asked me to bring all my sins and problems to God in the name of Jesus the Messiah. He came to this world searching for me! He died for my sins and rose again; He went up to heaven, and He will come again. I became convinced that the Holy Bible is indeed the Word of God.

The Holy Bible brought the answers to the problems which worried me. Its living word was able to satisfy my soul. What I had never found before in my religious experience, I now discovered. I became sure that the Holy Bible faithfully and accurately recorded the works and teaching of Jesus – this mystery of God’s eternal Word coming into our world as man. Now I became convinced of the truth of His death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming, which before I had not understood and had even hated.

No doubt, many Muslim friends will continue to think that the Holy Bible is corrupt and abrogated by the Qur’an.

Yet let him – especially if he is conscious of God’s holiness and his own sins – give serious thought to its message. Then let him, as I have done, draw his own conclusions.

A GREAT DECISION

On January 26, 1985 I surrendered to Jesus the Messiah. I confessed all my sins and accepted Him as my personal Savior and Lord, and by baptism in 1986 I was united to Him and His fellowship.  I could feel divine power entering into me.  I rose from my knees a changed man with peace in my soul, joy in my heart, and assurance in my mind. And today I still have that same joy, hope and assurance. Although I could not explain it, in my heart I believed that all my sins were washed away through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, that I had received power for a new life of love, and that the Lord Jesus Himself was reigning in my heart.

But the same day I was sent out of my own home. I could not see my mother, one who I was extremely close to. My father died when I was at the age of 5. Till now the door of my own home is closed before me.

IN HIS SERVICE

I had five years of systematical Bible training from two Bible colleges in India and graduated in the year 1989.  Soon the opportunity came to work with a Christian organization in the area. This gave me a chance to go to different parts of India to tell the Good News. I continued to do this for about one year. During that time I learned more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I am grateful to the Lord and to my friends in this team who gave me the opportunity to work with them. They helped me during difficult times.

My present concern is to bring the Good News of God’s light to my own people wherever they are, especially in my own area. May they accept the invitation of Jesus Christ which He gives to all to know the great Salvation of God.

I did not choose Him, but He chose me.  To God be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Photo by The Big Quack

Letter from an Indian Pastor

by Melissa Chang |

India, Stories from the Field

greetingsfromindia

Dear Missions Launch,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you have asked about me, I want to share a small testimony of myself.

I came from a Hindu Religion Background, who worshipped idols and deamons. I am the only son to my Mother and I have no brothers and sisters.

In this worldly life I was enjoying all the evil things in my life, and one day (in the year 1992) I was fedup with all these thing in my life and decided to commit suicide. In that time a believer of Jesus Christ preached to me the Gospel of Lord Jesus, and in the evening of the same day he showed a film made on Jesus Christ named DAYASAGARA. As I was seeing the film I saw Jesus getting nailed for the sins made by us, and at the same time I confessed all my sins and accepted him as my Saviour and decided to live for Him.
After some days growing in Christ and in His word I got baptized on 10/03/1992. The Lord called me for His service when I was in prayer. He said:

“Do not make anything for yourself in this world but hope for the reward in the Heaven”

Then I came to know that if I win souls for His Kingdom I will get a greater reward in Heaven. At this time of calling I was just 15 yrs old.

A preacher told that he will take me to a Bible college and took me to a place where many of them were distributing the literatures of Jesus and showing the films based on Jesus but not to Bible college. Glory be to God that He used me mightily there for 3 years. later in 1995-1996 I got an oppurtunity to study in a Bible college. I completed my Bible College and I was praying for which place I shoud go to preach the gospel, and I was praying that it should be a place where the word of God has not yet been recieved. Then God guided me through His visions to go to Holenarsipura in 1997.

When I came to this place not even a single home was available for me to stay but there was a small congregation of believers. I went to them to ask for help to preach the gospel but they created a oppositional environment for me in such a way that I will not get any chance to preach the gospel there. So I went back to my hometown and prayed with fasting for this place to be reached by God and to get a rented home for me to stay in this place. Then God said to Me that “Human is equal to a piece of grass why are you afraid of him?” These words encouraged me a lot and I decided that it will be for His sake if I live, and if I die it will be for His sake. And keeping faith on Him I packed all my luggage and went to Holenarsipura.

By His Grace and Mercy it has been 13 years I am serving  Him in this place in spite of many struggles and problems. God has increased by ministry and there is a congregation of (400-500) rural people who came to know JESUS in this place. God has led us so gracefully that we have been able to heal devil spirits and bondages by His power and many are healed.

We also run a Sunday school which helps us in making children equipped in Jesus Christ. The Lord has also helped us in conducting women fellowship in which every women is helped by the word of God and has been able to preach a few things about God and lead others to Jesus Christ. Also we are able to provide food to some beggers and poor in our area by His grace.

By the help of God and  we have a land to build a church. In it we need a church to be built of around 8000 sq ft area and we are praying for that.

So do please pray for our ministry and for the church building. It would be helpful to us a lot that we will be introduced to your readers and they can pray for us.

Note: I am sending some photos of the Congregation gathered in a prayer meeting, Sunday school children, and baptisms.

I will always keep praying for you and for you ministry.

Please pray for My ministry and for My Family.

Your prayers are very precious for us.

Your Brother

Pr.Vasanth

baptism in India

vasanth in prayer

Indian baptism

Lessons Learned from Christians in Cameroon

by Melissa Chang |

Africa, Cameroon, Jesus Film, Stories from the Field

jesus film in africaDear Melissa,

I can’t explain why – maybe it’s because it’s Africa and there are no spare parts and no Best Buys around the corner, but every film showing comes extremely close to never happening. I remember this from when I spent 3 months in Kenya doing this also.

So tonight, our group lost an adapter so that the generator was African voltage and the projector was American voltage – so they didn’t connect. Finally, one of the Cameroon team members cut the chord in half, stripped it and rewired it. Someone forgot the stakes to stake the screen into the ground so we found some government building to show the film on. Then, there was no audio chord to the speakers, so we had to take turns holding the mic next to the computer audio for the whole movie. Then they realized they had forgotten the gas for the generator, so a kindly African volunteer hopped on his moped to go find some. His motorcycle broke down on the way, so some other volunteer took over from there while he got help.

Eventually, and miraculously, with lots of prayer, it almost always seems to work out. Really I think it is because these Cameroon Christians just never give up no matter how long it takes. They believe there is a solution and they don’t quit until they find it. Also, it shows how important this film showing is to them.

When we asked our Cameroon leader what we were going to do after he had cut and stripped that chord in case we needed that chord tomorrow, he said “But we need to deal with today.” Then he quoted us this scripture “Don’t worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

I have a lot to learn from these guys.

Stories of Missionaries and Faith in Haiti

by Melissa Chang |

Stories from the Field

pray for haitiThe staff of MissionsLaunch would like to offer our sincerest sympathies and prayers to all of those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. If you would like to donate to help the efforts, CNN has a great list of Haiti relief organizations.

When watching the coverage online, we have decided to give you a brief overview of some of the stories involving missionaries and or faith for you to read. Here are some of those stories:

Missionaries: We’ll go back to Haiti

Lone missionary stays at Haiti orphanage

Faith shines through destruction in Haiti

Savannah missionaries in midst of Haiti quake

Conover family in Haiti, father urges action

Newlywed missionaries from Dallas area blog about Haiti suffering

Many Haitians’ religious faith unshaken by earthquake

Highland Park United Methodist missionaries experience heroism, loss in Haiti

Martinez missionary couple: Haiti aftermath ‘horrific’

Quake changed missionary’s life

Prayer and praise to God rise from Haiti’s ruins

Photo by *~Dawn~*

Stories from the Field: I’m Here!

by Melissa Chang |

Cameroon, Stories from the Field

cameroon arrival
Dear Melissa,

Since I don’t journal, I thought that I might try to write you a letter or 2. That way, I can keep you informed.

1st of all – the plane ride and jet lag almost killed me. I thought I might not be able to wake up in time for the trip. I prayed and prayed, and thank God today is Friday, and I finally woke up feeling more myself. I really, really WANTED to be here because I WANT to be here and be at the top of my game.

So, day 4 and we are still traveling. Travel the Road was a very good name for a missionary reality show because that is like a huge part of missions – getting there. Then you are so depleted and are at your worst, but you have to suck it up and find it within you to be your best again because now you have to go and enter the culture.

So, this kind of will tell you how I feel. We got off the plane, got our luggage, took a van through the city to our hotel. Bam! We entered the culture. Mopeds everywhere, shacks and storefronts jammed together and on top of each other with not one inch of space. Trash in the streets, vendors selling bananas, homemade furniture, mangos, roasted corn, clothing, women dressed in full African colored fabric from head to toe and young boys in tattered clothes selling 100’s of bags of peanuts which they carry on their heads.

The smell was the 1st thing that hit me. It is the unique smell of Africa; smoke from burning coal and trash, people who are very hot, and various meats being grilled over open fires – even in the city. I breathed it in and smiled. I looked around at all of the sights and honking mopeds swerving in & out of traffic, and I thought to myself “you know if this doesn’t kill me, it’s going to be awesome.”

Since then, we have just been having orientation and trying to get enough to eat, which has been difficult. Sweat is literally dripping off of us at all times. Tonight, a 4 hour van ride to our last and final destination far into the northern villages. And then, tonight it begins! We are showing the 1st film show in Gizega tonight!

Photo by Elin B

Interview with a Missionary: Linda Ables

by Heather Carr |

Stories from the Field

8-27-2009 12-42-30 PMLinda Ables and her husband, Ed, are veteran missionaries with more than 30 years of experience spreading the gospel in Latin America and among the Hispanic community in the United States.  Linda took the time to share some of her experiences and wisdom with us.  Here is what she had to say:

How did you come to the decision to become a missionary?

God called me at age 15 through study of missions in girls’ organizations in church, where my dad was pastor.

In what country / region did you serve?

South America, first, 1 year in Costa Rica for language school, and then in Ecuador (15 years) and Argentina (9 years).

What is God doing there?

In the Andean regions of Ecuador, believers are thriving and churches growing in spite of continued opposition.

What is the social climate like?

There is much poverty and need for education and medical care.

What are some effective ways to evangelize in this culture?

Showing God’s love through ministries to help families, such as clinics to give basic medical advice to mothers, etc.

In what ways has the native culture been integrated into worship services?

The Andean people sing in Quecha, their original language, instead of Spanish, and their typical instruments are used.

Please describe your most memorable experience as a missionary.

We were in Latin America as missionaries for 25 years. There were thousands of memorable experiences. Probably the best was starting a church in a new housing development in the largest city of Ecuador, Guayaquil, with all our family taking part and seeing the work grow from the six of us to a strong church of many hundreds by the time we left.

What is the most difficult hurdle you faced as a missionary?

Our family had difficulties with our two sons from the influence of Argentine culture with easy access to alcohol and drugs, even to young adolescents.

How did you overcome this obstacle?

We left in 1993 after we had been robbed and beaten in our home. We took a leave of absence so that our sons could have a more stable environment and complete their education.  Then we stayed in the U.S. to work in missions with Hispanics in the northeast area of Alabama.

What things should someone considering serving as a missionary consider?

Make sure God has called you, not just that you’d be interested in going to another country for any other reason.

Photo by Engage-toi

Susana’s Story-Finding Christ in the Amazon: Part 3

by Heather Carr |

Peru, South America, Stories from the Field

amazon river view

Larry Garman and his wife, Addie served in the Amazon jungle of Peru for 45 years. They ministered to the Aguaruna Indians by providing for their medical needs and teaching them about the love of Christ. Larry’s time was also spent training missionaries.

One day, as a new class of missionaries gathered for their first session, Larry asked his students to introduce themselves. One of his new missionaries was a young Aguaruna man from a village near the medical clinic where Larry had ministered for many years.  That day, God shared with Larry a glimpse of the masterpiece he had been helping to paint in the Amazon for so long. Larry’s pupil was Susana’s son, a young man who wanted to be trained as a minister.

God had spared Susana’s life in Larry’s clinic. His mercy was evident in Susana’s recovery and his provision for her family. Susana recovered and raised her children with a strong faith in Jesus. In turn, her son grew into a man with a heart for spreading the gospel.

As a missionary, only God knows the extent of the impact your faith will have on the world. But, you will almost certainly catch a glimpse of God in action.

Photo by mattcameasarat

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 2 Here

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Larry and Addie Garman retired from the missions field in April, 2009. The couple’s work lives on in Peru through the construction of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center in the country’s second largest city, Arequipa. 

To learn more about the center, visit the Extreme Nazarene Ministry website.  Additional information about the Extreme Peru projects are featured in Engage Magazine.

Susana’s Story-Finding Christ in the Amazon: Part 2

by Heather Carr |

Peru, South America, Stories from the Field

amazon
Photo by zedzap

Though he was trained as a medical doctor, missionary Larry Garman knew his limitations. When ingested, the barbasco root was fatal to humans which, was something the Aguaruna Indians of the Amazon had known for a long time. he women of the community chewed the root when they were overwhelmed by sorrow or shame.

Larry had seen the hope in Susana’s eyes when she attended their small church. He had watched her grow from a child into adulthood. Why would a young mother with such promise have done this to herself? Better still, would God be willing to save her?

Larry treated Susana to the best of his ability, then he began to pray. He asked God for a miracle—Susana’s complete restoration. Then, he waited on God.

Larry was accustomed to waiting. His life as a missionary was one of complete dependance on God’s provision. When he first began his small clinic in the jungle of Peru, his faith had been tested. Modern medicine was foreign to the Aguaruna people, and their customs were not particularly friendly to the practitioner.

Larry knew he could help her, but there was a chance the treatment would not work. If it didn’t, she would not be the only one to suffer the consequences. If his patient died, Larry would also die at the hands of her village. Hesitating for a moment, the young missionary thought of his wife and children. Then, after raising a prayer to heaven, he plunged the needle into Susanna’s arm and began the lifesaving IV.

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 3 Here

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Larry and Addie Garman retired from the missions field in April, 2009. The couple’s work lives on in Peru through the construction of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center in the country’s second largest city, Arequipa. To learn more about the center, visit the Extreme Nazarene Ministry website. Additional information about the Extreme Peru projects are featured in Engage Magazine.

Susana’s Story-Finding Christ in the Amazon: Part 1

by Heather Carr |

Peru, South America, Stories from the Field, Uncategorized

amazon jungle light
Photo by jonrawlinson

Susana rolled the rough brown root in her hand.  She wept as she raised the deadly plant to her lips and began to chew.  She would rather die than witness the slow starvation of her young children.  She  waited for the white clouds she had seen engulf so many fish in the river to crowd out her pain.

Later that night, missionaries Larry and Addie Garman found themselves awakened by loud weeping sounds coming from the river.  They knew they were in for a long night.  The couple had been living in the Amazon jungle long enough to understand that traveling the river at night was treacherous, and never taken lightly.  Their waiting would come to an end as two small boats beached nearby.

 By the dim light of a flash light, Larry began to recognize the small crowd climbing ashore.  The weeping women were accompanied by men carrying a stretcher.  His trained eye immediately recognized the barbasco poisoning.  “No, not Susana.” Larry thought as his eyes took in Susana’s ashen face. 

Larry’s mind began to replay the time spent in church with Susana as a child.  The first Vacation Bible School session they had shared with the other Aguaruna children.  Her amazement at her first experience with crayons, and the moment she accepted Christ as her savior.  Larry was saddened by the thought that this young mother’s life would likely be over before dawn.

Read Part 2 Here

Read Part 3 Here

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Larry and Addie Garman retired from the missions field in April, 2009.  The couple’s work lives on in Peru through the construction of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center in the country’s second largest city, Arequipa.  To learn more about the center, visit the Extreme Nazarene Ministry website.  Additional information about the Extreme Peru projects are featured in Engage Magazine.

Missions Twitter: Week Ending 7/24/09

by Melissa Chang |

Africa, Missions Twitter, Stories from the Field, Tanzania

africaWe at MissionsLaunch like to let you know what’s being tweeted about in the world of Twitter surrounding missions. This week our theme is “Tweets from the Field.” We have especially been enjoying the tweets of mamaafrica who has been a long-term missionary to Tanzania for 5 years. Read and enjoy. Also, be sure to follow mamaafrica on Twitter. Happy Friday! 

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mamaafrica: Brick making has turned into a marathon today.

mamaafrica: We have a clear sky, we have the usual soft wind and this day has been like all others

mamaafrica: Four year old boy just outside fence whistling and walking with a brick on his head. Walks ten feet and stops to wave at me

mamaafrica: The child does not know he is poor. With loving people around him and work being his play, he is rich.

mamaafrica: @rileynathan Congratulations! Mission work is so rewarding. God is blessing you. You will see

mamaafrica: Holding a baby who held his arms out for me to pick him up and hug him again and again and again was so wonderful.

mamaafrica: He had been left in an empty home for days.

mamaafrica: Found covered with bug bites and extremely malnourished he was taken to the Musoma Orphanage.

mamaafrica: Pictures of our work here in Tanzania http://bit.ly/DEHSe

mamaafrica: Had a Sanitation and Hygiene class for women of Bunda.

mamaafrica: Love being with God’s animals in Africa. http://mamaafrica-tz.blogsp…

mamaafrica: http://twitpic.com/8r2x7 -Children eating the papaya as they make bricks. Joy of giving

mamaafrica: Living in a country with no books is hard. Even with the problems in the U.S., you are so blessed with reading

mamaafrica: Watched an amazing African sky while electricty was out.

mamaafrica: http://twitpic.com/6c0wu – when you are 5 it is your turn to carry the baby on your back.

mamaafrica: http://twitpic.com/6c0m7 – Children who see no white people are afraid of Mzungu. A little boy in church next to me

mamaafrica: @MissionsLaunch Thank you so much. Just had a group showing the Jesus Film every night/ week. If we had a projector we could do it in Swhil

mamaafrica: Tuesday morning: Tea Toast and Twitter. All is well in Tanzania.

mamaafrica: Just found out that I too have malaria. Ugg. Feeling the war in my blood right now.

mamaafrica: Just heard a helicopter. Have not heard that in 5 years.

mamaafrica: is waking up to a soft rain. I like to think my same rain is cooling off the animals in the Serengeti just over our hill.

mamaafrica: Because of pounds of new bio-filters 450 more people for will have clean water.

mamaafrica: When I see the school going up, I hope I can use it to make a difference

Photo by sly06

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