INDIA (BP) — Sarah Weber signed up for the September missions trip to India in May. It would be her first international experience.
Although she and other members of a missions team from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., prepared spiritually and physically for months, Weber said she never expected to lead someone to Christ.
“I was planning on planting the seeds,” she said.
But when a Hindu woman in her 70s wanted Weber to tell her how to become a Christian, she had to shift her thinking.
“I didn’t know what to do [at first],” Weber said.
The woman had heard of Jesus since her childhood but did not understand how to trust in Him.
Weber told her, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are, what you’ve done. God loves every person and wants to spend eternity with [every single person].”
The translator continued the conversation with the woman, and she decided she wanted to follow Jesus, even if it meant rejection by her family and persecution by her neighbors. And she wanted Weber to lead her in prayer.
“That’s a woman that lived her life as a Hindu that’s going to sleep tonight as a Christian,” Weber said. “We have a new sister.
“The Lord was working in her heart without us,” Weber added. “I know He can do that, but it was great to see.”
One day, more Christians could emerge from the various mountain villages in Sikkim state because the team shared the Gospel in and around a relief camp near the India-Nepal border set up after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake Sept. 18.
One Lepcha woman (from the people group in the area) heard the Gospel for the first time as a group of team members drank tea in her home. A man who lost his wife in the earthquake also heard, as did several others living on the mountain, at the base of the mountain and even 30 miles away from the mountain.
Ryan Blackmon, a paramedic on the Alabama volunteer team, said it was eye-opening to see the faces, smiles and eyes of the unreached people groups he had heard about.
Though the Americans returned home in early October, the work continues.
Jacob, a Nepalese believer who lives in northeastern India, is undeterred by rejection, persecution and humiliation.
“I just share Christ no matter what,” he said.
Jacob served as a translator for the Alabama group. He moved from Nepal to India when he was 13 and became a Christian a year later when a believer from Mongolia told him about Jesus.
Six years later, Jacob can recall the exact date, time and moment when Christ entered his heart. Eager to share, he accompanied the American volunteers where they ministered. Anyone who met him could see the joy in his eyes.
Jacob hopes to return to Nepal, start a university ministry and eventually plant churches.
Team member Chance Walters quickly befriended Jacob. After they shared the Gospel at the relief camp together for the first time, it was as if they had been brothers their entire lives.
“It’s encouraging to see [Jacob] share his faith so boldly when [Christians] rarely share the Gospel with the people they work with or see every day in America,” Walters said.
Another translator for the team, Mercy, also is a Nepalese believer. After the earthquake, she shared with her friends and neighbors from Isaiah 54:10: “‘For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then, my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”
Team member Elena Collins said she often saw Mercy sharing the Gospel with locals before the team even knew what was being discussed.
“[Mercy] just jumped right into it with no hesitation,” Collins said.
As team members shared their faith and God’s Word with the Nepalese, they saw and felt things they never expected.
“Back home, I kind of see Christianity as American,” team member Brad Collins said. “I know it’s all peoples on paper, but coming here, hearing nationals pray in their native tongue, put faces to that. [The believers] are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Neisha Fuson writes for The Alabama Baptist, online at thealabamabaptist.org. Some names were changed for security reasons.