The Word of God—Unstoppable
Unlikely evangelism cannot be stopped.
By Sally Lam-Phoon
In a Communist environment where public gatherings are banned, and rules and regulations restrict freedom of religion, how do you spread the good news of the gospel? It is indeed possible, because the seed of the gospel knows no boundaries. Like yeast in bread dough, the truth of the gospel grows and produces much fruit.
A Pioneer Mission Movement (PMM)1 missionary called Shen,2 found his niche in a secular Communist university at which the seeds of his faith are growing and multiplying. Eager to learn the local language, both he and his wife enrolled in the top university in the town he was sent to, and he quickly made friends. Soon Shen was asked to be a language teacher. From there he gained the confidence of top leaders in the university and was later given the responsibility of working on international relations with other foreign universities to encourage better communication between teachers and students.
In this capacity, Shen found many mission opportunities to minister to the many young people there. In time his silent witness resulted in the conversion of some of the leaders of the university.
While Shen labored on, his wife began working with a group of children in their home. A total of 70 children visited their home every Thursday evening to learn English, sing songs, and listen to stories. Their parents were delighted. They asked Shen’s wife, “Why are you so willing to teach English for free? Everyone who teaches English here charges a lot of money.”
“You don’t understand how much your children are helping my children adjust to a new culture and language,” said Shen’s wife. “Since your kids help my kids, we want to help them with English.”
In a country where making money is a top priority—doing anything for free often raises suspicion. But in Shen’s case, the parents see it as a service to their children, and they feel comfortable that they can learn English in a safe environment. From time to time these grateful parents even send special gifts and resources that the Shens can use as incentives in their English classes.
At the university something out of the ordinary occurred. The English department decided that in order for students to have a strong foundation in English, they must read English books. One of the courses in the curriculum is Bible, and all English majors use it as a textbook for studying English. Inevitably, the university also made sure the instructors were agnostics or atheists, who viewed the Bible merely as a language text rather than a holy book.
What the university didn’t understand, however, is the power of the Word of God. A student named Serene held the Bible in her hands for the first time when she enrolled in the class. A strange feeling came over her, and she found herself saying, “Who knows? One day I may become a Christian.” She quickly brushed the notion aside. “How can I even think such a thing? I’m a Communist Party member; it’s impossible!”
But as she perused its pages she had many questions. So Serene approached her new friend Shen, whom she knew had a background in Christianity and theology. Little by little, Serene came to understood more and more about Christianity.
As her heart was stirred, the struggle began. Serene came from a family of Communist leaders, and as a party member she was already establishing herself as a student leader. As trust grew between her and Shen, she revealed her internal turmoil. Shen used the story of Moses as an example. “This prince of Egypt was willing to give up his position in the Egyptian court and chose to be the leader of his tribe,” Shen told her. “ ‘He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward’ [Heb. 11:25, 26, NIV].”3
Shen continued: “But where is Moses now? He lived for his tribe, serving them until the day he died, but he was taken to live in heaven, and now he is enjoying the ultimate life of living with God.”
After this conversation Serene cast her lot with Jesus and joined the church. After her baptism she became very active in sharing the Word with her dormmates every morning and evening. Shen taught her the importance of feeding on heavenly manna daily, so as she read Serene invited her dormmates to read along with her.
Serene is now one of the “shepherds” for a little flock that numbers 44. She preaches in neighboring churches, teaches children about Jesus, and witnesses to her university friends about how the Word of God changes lives and imparts hope. Since her baptism she has led five friends to the cross. To date, more than 20 university students have been baptized and are now sharing the love of God with their classmates.
Shen has more ideas for urban evangelism. His success in his little town has inspired him to ask the Lord for bigger dreams to fulfill. Today Shen has a business teaching English and other foreign languages. He also has a shop selling all kinds of products from cosmetics to clothing to accessories. Through this shop he is able to provide employment for the young people who are new converts so that they can be part of missions.
Lee, a health professional, has been working in a Communist country for the past seven years, quietly making friends and gaining respect in her field. She conducts seminars in her area of expertise, trains leaders, and just lives her life as a Christian. Lee has found that her seminars have served as excellent places to make connections with attendees. As she gains their confidence, they ply her with questions. Lee then invites them to her apartment for a discussion. With a smile she gently warns them that her principles are grounded in Christianity and the teachings of Jesus. If they don’t mind that, she is more than happy to share. Many lives have already been touched in this manner, but we may see the fruits from this type of evangelism only when Jesus comes.
The Word of God will go forward even in the most difficult situations. First Peter 1:23 calls it the “enduring word” (NIV), the unstoppable Word that continues to work like yeast even in the most hostile environments. Nothing can kill it or destroy it, because it contains God’s living power to a dying world. And like yeast, it grows silently and surely until it feeds the minds of millions with nourishment that only God, through His Word, can give.
1 The Pioneer Mission Movement (PMM) is a Global Mission project of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division that sends regular pastors as pioneers to foreign countries within the division to plant churches. Their contract is a six-year term. During the first year they learn the local language. More than 50 pastors are serving in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, and China. Requests from countries outside of the Northern Asia-Pacific region have resulted in the sending of PMMs to Russia, South America, and Africa.
2 Names have been changed.
3 Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Sally Lam-Phoon, a native of Malaysia, is serving as the children’s/family/women’s ministries director of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division in Hsau, South Korea.