His prayer, “Please, God, one soul for You today,” has been answered 10,000 times over.
By Charlotte Ishkanian
Golden Lapani is a lay Adventist whom God has called to introduce the gospel message to a special group of God’s children in Malawi.
“Every day I pray, ‘God, lead me to one person whom I can lead to You,’” Lapani says. “Even if it means risking my life, I want to reach these people for the Savior.” God has blessed Lapani’s work with almost 11,000 converts in the past 20 years.
Lapani first met the Lord while he became ill while he was teaching school. During his illness he had a dream in which God called him to follow Him and be healed. Lapani knew very little about Jesus. In spite of his parents’ disapproval, he declared himself a Christian, and soon afterward he was healed. He began telling others that Jesus had healed him.
His first convert was his elder brother. The brothers worshipped alone in Lapani’s room. Then his sisters joined them. The little group of believers continued to grow, and two years after his baptism Lapani had raised up five Adventist congregations and baptized 145 new believers. Six years after Lapani was converted, his father accepted Jesus as his Savior. His mother hesitated for another five years before she gave her life to God and was baptized. Today his mother is one of his strong supporters.
The Murdered Chief
A short walk from Lapani’s home lies the village of Damba.* In spite of Lapani’s repeated attempts to make friends in Damba, the villagers resisted his efforts to share the gospel with them. Then one day the village chief disappeared. Rumors spread that Lapani had killed the chief and sold his body. Lapani realized the situation was grave, and that without God’s protection the villagers could take his life. Lapani, his family, and his Bible workers fasted and prayed for 21 days, asking God to reveal the truth of the chief’s disappearance so that God’s name would be honored.
On the twenty-first day Lapani met a man from Damba on the road. He greeted Lapani by saying, “Pastor, your God is a miracle-working God.” The man described how the chief’s body had been found in the river, attached to two huge stones weighing almost as much as the chief himself.
The chief’s brother was eventually convicted of the chief’s murder, and Lapani was invited to visit Damba. When he arrived, the people welcomed him openly. “Tell us about your God, who saved you,” they begged. Lapani visited each home, sharing corn and used clothes with those in need. Next he held evangelistic meetings and more than 80 people were baptized.
Recently the government of Malawi visited Lapani to hear for themselves the story of how the chief’s death had changed Damba. They recorded his testimony and broadcast it over national radio at least three times. Lapani has received requests from a number of non-Christian village chiefs to come and teach the people about Jesus.
The incident in Damba was not the only time Lapani has stared death in the face. He has been stoned and poisoned, and been the victim of witchcraft and attempted drowning. In one town he drank poisoned water. When he began experiencing severe stomach pains, his young cook admitted to poisoning him. Lapani knew he had only a short time to live, so he prayed. Then he took the cook to the police station to report what had happened. “I may die,” he told them, “but I have forgiven this boy. Do not prosecute him.”
Church members prayed, and God healed Lapani, who encouraged his cook to give his life to Jesus. Later that day Lapani preached the gospel and 68 people in the village accepted Jesus as their Savior. Today a church stands in the village, the result of an attempt to kill this faithful witness.
Christ’s Method of Ministry
When Lapani first enters a new area, he visits the chief to announce his presence. Then he and his Bible workers visit in homes, praying with people who have needs. If villagers lack food, he provides cornmeal, the most common staple in Malawi. If they are sick, he prays for them and locates medicine if they need it. He brings clothing for the elderly and children. But most of all, he seeks to make friends and win confidences. Then Lapani asks for permission to hold meetings. Usually the answer is yes. But if it is not, he continues to visit people and love them.
After evangelistic meetings one of Lapani’s five Bible workers remains in the area to nurture and teach believers for at least six months. Lapani urges the new converts to build a church. He obtains land from the local chief and instructs the believers how many bricks to form and burn, how much sand to gather, and how large to make the church. Then he raises funds to buy sheet metal to roof the church.
Thus far, Lapani has led almost 11,000 people to Christ and built 43 churches in his region of Malawi. He tries to visit each church at least three times a year, makes note of who is not attending, and visits each one to encourage them, help them, and pray for them if they are sick. He returns regularly to hold revival meetings, which have added many more believers to the churches he has established.
In 2004 a drought hit Malawi while Lapani was holding meetings. The people watched their crops wither and die without rain. Lapani and his team prayed for rain for three days, then the heavens darkened and heavy rain fell. But it rained only in the morning, not during the afternoon when meetings were scheduled. At the end of the series 38 people gave their lives to Jesus.
Paramount Chiefs Bow to Christ
In 2001 Lapani joined a missionary pastor to hold evangelistic meetings in one area that had resisted efforts by other Christians to spread the gospel. They taught cooking classes and needlework to the women and showed a video on the life of Jesus to help bring the people to the meetings.
More than 20 people in this region gave their lives to Jesus, including a principal chief and his wife. Follow-up meetings brought 25 more believers into this congregation. The believers have built a church that includes a large garden of sweet potatoes. Church members tend the garden and sell the produce to support the church.
Two years later more than 50 people, including another important chief and his wife, joined the Adventist Church when Lapani held meetings in their village.
“As long as God gives me strength and provides the funds, I will continue this work,” Lapani says. “The devil has tried to put me down, but God is stronger than the devil, and He prevails.”
“Pray for me,” Lapani pleads. “Pray for those who have become Christians through our work. Pray for our enemies, too.”
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* Damba is a fictitious name, but the village is real.
Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Adventist Mission and Children’s Mission. For more stories about Adventist Mission, visitwww.AdventistMission.org.
Read 856 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 March 2015 06:28