Jasmine Richards serves with the IMB in Southeast Asia.
Ten-year-old Mai was in the jungle near her home in Southeast Asia looking for food with her mother when a plastic bag dangling from a tree caught her eye. She quickly ran over and discovered printed Gospel material inside. Fascinated, she shared her findings with her father when she returned home. To her dismay, he told her to throw everything out.
In Mai’s country, most families follow Buddhism and worship their ancestors. There are very few Christians, especially in rural villages like Mai’s. Many are hostile to the Gospel or any faith teachings that contradict their cultural beliefs.
Mai wanted to respect her father’s wishes, so she got rid of all the material except one book. She put it under her pillow and read it over and over again in the years to come.
A couple of years later Mai’s neighbor started a church in their rural village. God was at work there – Mai not only had a neighbor who was a follower of Christ, she had a neighbor who wanted the message to spread. As a teenager, Mai started attending and learned more about the Bible. Eventually, after many years, Mai placed her trust in the Lord and became a believer. Her church helped her go to college and she became a teacher. The Good News of Christ and His faithful community forever transformed Mai’s life.
When Mai shared her testimony with Christian worker Ethan Chase, he realized that the Gospel tract she’d found so many years before had been left there by a prayer walking team he’d sent out. Because the rural villages are unreached with the Good News and are difficult to access, he often leads teams in broad seed-sowing evangelism activities, like leaving Gospel material anywhere it can be found – for example, dangling from a tree. It’s like scattering seeds in a field and trusting God to plant them.
“Other believers and I have done lots of prayer walking,” Chase said, “and really more than just walking. We’ve done prayer bicycling, kayaking and motorbiking. We must be creative to engage some of the more remote villages.”
God used that creativity to plant seeds that later bore fruit in Mai’s life. Not only is she now a believer, she also works with other Christians to help spread the Gospel.
Mai’s story is just one example Chase said he could tell about God at work in unexpected ways. After more than a decade serving overseas, he’s learned that patience and perseverance are essential. God knows and loves those like Mai in Southeast Asia’s unreached villages, and He is always moving to draw them to Himself.
“People come from these areas that we prayer walked to our city for work and are coming to faith as well,” Chase said. “They’re people that we would never be able to reach if they stayed in their village. But God has brought them to us.”
Pray for Mai and for the church in her part of Southeast Asia to be healthy and multiply. Pray for more workers to have longevity and persevere when the harvest might not seem plentiful, trusting the Lord will work in His time.