Christmas Comes to a Tiny, Forgotten Village

Alliance News Feed – Christmas Comes to a Tiny, Forgotten Village

By B, an Alliance worker who serves with her husband, JS, in the North and Central Asia Region. Their team’s ministry to an unreached people group includes medical assistance for the ill and a cottage industry enabling impoverished village women to earn an income.

In June 2016, my husband and I entered a new village. In this economically and a spiritually oppressed area, there were no known Christians or churches.

We wanted to see if any of the village women would join our fair-trade cottage business, doing cross-stitch embroidery. Just a few older ladies were willing to leave their homes to look at the work.

When the younger wives tried to join us, their husbands told them to stay in their homes. We realized this village was quite fearful of strangers.

By the end of our first visit, just three older women had agreed to work on the cross-stitching. We told them that in a month and a half we would return to pick up their work and pay them.

Building Trust

The time arrived for us to return to the village, collect the embroidery, and pay the workers. This time more women agreed to do the cross-stitching, since they saw that we are true to our word.

Each time we returned to the village in the months that followed, more and more women agreed to do the cross-stitch work. As the numbers grew, we asked the women if they would like to listen to songs in their language. Many were interested, so we began giving them Christian music CDs and DVDs.

On a later visit, we asked if they wanted to watch a movie in their language. Again, they were interested. So we gave them the JESUS film DVD.

We wondered if the villagers watched or listened to the multimedia materials we’d handed out since no one talked about them. But we continued to pass out more Christian music CDs and the JESUS film.

After about a year of visiting the village, the women and their families were so comfortable with us that whenever we returned, many came out of their homes to visit with us. Even the villagers who didn’t do the cross-stitching joined in.

Celebration of a Holy Birth

In December 2017, my husband and I hosted a Christmas celebration with the village workers and their families. I asked the women, “What do you think Christmas is about?” Everyone thought it was the West’s New Year’s celebration.

When I told them that in their national language Christmas means “the celebration of a holy birth,” they realized what they had been listening to was true.

“But whose birth is it?” they asked.

I explained that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Immediately some of the ladies exclaimed, “Oh, in the movie you gave us, we saw Jesus being born, and He was laid in a manager. We saw it, and we remember—it is true!”

When I heard those words, I was elated. They had watched the JESUS film, and they had made the connection.

After our sharing time together and then giving a gift to each of the workers, I thanked the women for doing the cross-stitch work. Then I said, “I am a Christian. Can I pray for you?”

They all agreed. But it was very foreign to them. (This was the first time I had openly declared myself a believer to the villagers and prayed publicly—it was a risk.)

Why Are You Serving Us?

After I prayed, my husband and I served them a meal of cut-up fruit, homemade chicken noodle soup, and zucchini bread.

“We have never had such delicious food like this before!” they said. “And why would you serve us when we should be serving you? You are the boss.”

Where we work, we can’t openly share the gospel of Jesus Christ. But God makes a way for His light to enter—even into an insignificant, tiny village in the remotest corner of the world. Into this village the truth of Christ’s birth has pierced the hearts of the lost.

This is a treasured, Christ-centered Christmas memory for us. And we praise God for it!

Learn More

Read the author’s recent article, “Hospitality: A Key to Conversion,” to learn how a gospel-resistant community has responded to visits in her home.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Christmas Comes to a Tiny, Forgotten Village

A Secret Christmas

Alliance News Feed – A Secret Christmas

by an Alliance international worker serving in Europe/Middle East

“I’ve been wishing for a Bible since I was 10 years old. My father told me it was forbidden and I could never touch one.”

This was Bethany’s* response when I first offered her a New Testament two months before Christmas. She took it home, read the whole thing in one month, and came back ready to start her new journey of faith. Bethany even received a dream from God during that time confirming the decision she’d made to follow Him.

Perseverance Through Persecution

Those first two months were filled with joy, but she had to keep her faith a secret or risk being beaten or killed. Some weeks she couldn’t come to meet me because her father was in a bad mood and would lock her in the house. During those weeks Bethany read and reread the Gospels as soon as he left the house and memorized the entire book of Matthew in case her family ever took her precious book away.

When the Christmas season came, my husband and I invited her to our home to celebrate a few days before the actual holiday so her family wouldn’t know why she was away from the house. Even then, Bethany had only two hours before they expected her home.

We assembled the tree together, hung decorations, enjoyed hot cocoa and candy canes from America, and read the Christmas story in Bethany’s language. At the end of the night, we gifted her with a simple candle that wouldn’t arouse suspicion if her family saw it. It was to remind her of the Light of the world who had come and brought new light into her life.

Childlike Joy

Bethany was quiet and reserved throughout our celebration, so I wasn’t sure what she thought of the night. The following week when we met together again for our discipleship meeting, I asked her about it. Tears filled Bethany’s eyes. “I’ve never had a happier day in my entire life,” she said. “It was the best day ever, and I’ll never forget it.”

Sometimes I take for granted all the traditions of Christmas. I even mourn having a plastic tree because we can’t get real ones in our country. But celebrating it with someone who has never before known even one single tradition, seeing the joy she had about each little thing we did, made it one of my favorite Christmases ever.

*Name changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – A Secret Christmas

Alliance Churches Damaged in Anchorage Earthquake

Alliance News Feed – Alliance Churches Damaged in Anchorage Earthquake

Alliance Northwest District Field Director Randy Shaw reports on the damage incurred by four Alliance churches:

As you have heard by now, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Anchorage Basin in Alaska. The Alliance Northwest District has four churches whose buildings and member’s homes were left in a mess: Alliance Bible Church (ABC in Anchorage), Alliance Christian Fellowship (ACF in Eagle River), Sunny Knik Chapel (Wasilla), and Northern Light Chapel (Palmer). One woman noted that everything made of glass in her home is now gone.

Some of the damage done to Alliance Christian Fellowship (ACF) in the Alaska earthquake November 30 (Photo courtesy of Brian Cook, pastor of ACF)

ACF is closest to the epicenter and was hit the hardest. They are in the process of wrapping up a major remodel and suffered significant damage to church offices and property. They also sustained damage to their pipes, which lead to flooding. Some of their staff received major damage to their homes as well.

ABC, Sunny Knik Chapel, and Northern Light Chapel had some messes to clean up, and ABC will need to replace some ceiling tiles and fixtures. However, these three churches did not receive any major damage. Praise the Lord there has only been one report of someone from the congregations getting hurt.

Please pray that those affected will receive care and that all will be protected from aftershocks. Pray that the Church will rise and be a source of help and that Jesus will get the credit. Even He lived in complete dependence on His Father. Let’s follow Him in this.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Alliance Churches Damaged in Anchorage Earthquake

The Harvest Is Ripe, but the Workers Are Few

Alliance News Feed – The Harvest Is Ripe, but the Workers Are Few

Based on an update by Syna Lao, an Alliance international worker serving in Cambodia

God is doing something amazing at Srae Nouy Alliance* church! Located in Anlong Veng province, one of Cambodia’s spiritually dark areas, the congregation continues to see miraculous healings and people being set free from evil spirits.

This happens so frequently that word has spread among unbelievers in the community. Curious people began to drop by to see these wonders for themselves. As a result, Pastor Dy, who shepherds the congregation, reported that more than 70 people attended the church service one Sunday. Attendance had doubled!

Among the new visitors were six adult women, ages 21–78, who are relatives. For generations, all the females of this family had suffered under severe curses and bondages from evil spirits.

That Old Black Magic

Marta,* the grandmother, used to practice black magic and had made a living as a fortune teller. Although she no longer does those things, she and the entire family still experienced chronic headaches, slurred speech, and many unexplained bodily pains.

Mr. Raa (in blue) uses his vehicle to take new believers to Srae Nouy Alliance church. The five women to the far right are among the six who prayed for and received prayer for deliverance from demonic oppression. (Photo courtesy of Syna Lao)

Among the four younger women, one is mute while another constantly laughs and talks nonsense. All six ladies had various visible and nonvisible symptoms.

During a Sunday service, when it was time to pray for healing, Marta and her 59-year-old daughter, Leta, went forward to ask for prayer. The church leaders approached them to lay hands on and pray for them.

Marta had suffered chronic pain in her left arm for more than 30 years. She had to keep it bent to have relief. After receiving prayer, she was finally able to straighten her arm.

Completely Freed

Leta, who had suffered a chronic headache her entire life, said, “No medicine can help me!”

But after the church leaders prayed for her, the headache was no more. As the church members continued to intercede for Leta, she passed out twice and awoke smiling and completely freed. Pastor Dy concluded that at least two evil spirits had come out of her. The four younger women also asked for and received prayer.

As a result of her deliverance and learning about the freedom found in Christ, Leta’s husband gave his life to Jesus. Although the other four women haven’t been back, Marta, Leta, and her husband continue to attend the church when they can get a ride. Pastor Dy reported that their newfound faith is genuine.

Soeuth teaches a village ministry discipleship class. (Photo courtesy of Syna Lao)

The field is ripe in Anlong Veng, and we are experiencing an abundant harvest season! As stories of healings and miracles continue to spread, curious “not-yet-believing” friends and neighbors are flooding into village churches every week in every village just to “check it out.” Some of these people dropped by and then left, but many stayed for the entire service.

As a result, the number of those attending Sunday services or classes have doubled or tripled! Mainly women attend services here, but men have started to come to church and Bible classes as well.

Expectation, Anticipation

As my husband, Soeuth, and I continue with our weekly discipleship classes in the villages, our students come with expectation and anticipation to hear God’s words. People are asking for new classes, but we can do only so much with just the two of us. If we had more time and extra helping hands, we could easily start two or three new classes in each village! Please continue to bring this need to the throne and ask the Lord of the harvest to send us more workers.

What You Can Do

This year, 60 new clergy, vocational, and community development positions have opened in some of the world’s most spiritually desolate places—including countries like Cambodia. Your gift to the Alliance Year-End Offering will send more workers among people who desperately need the redemption, healing, and restoration only Jesus can offer.

*The congregation is part of the Khmer Evangelical Church, the C&MA in Cambodia.

*Names changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – The Harvest Is Ripe, but the Workers Are Few

A Marathon of Epic Proportions

Alliance News Feed – A Marathon of Epic Proportions

An update from Ray Van Gilst, superintendent of the Central Pacific District:

The Chico area pastors met Wednesday to begin to strategize for the long haul in caring for their sister community of Paradise. Everyone involved in this crisis is realizing more and more that this will be a marathon of epic proportions. But while there are no quick answers or fixes here, we are thankful that God promises wisdom, strength, and empowerment as we ask. And we are going to need a lot of it for this marathon!

As we mentioned before, Bayside Church of Granite Bay (Sacramento) is partnering with Paradise Alliance Church and the Central Pacific District in meeting needs especially for the Paradise Alliance Church (PAC) staff. Wednesday morning the entire staff was invited to join Bayside for their staff meeting in which the PAC staff was brought up front, prayed for, and given gift cards. The Bayside family of churches took up a special offering on Sunday for Paradise and raised $112,000 that day with more coming in. A big THANK YOU to Bayside for their Kingdom mindedness in serving the Body of Christ!

Quite frankly we are still figuring things out at this point, but the constant is always the same—our friends in Paradise and Chico need your prayers and God is in control!

As we have shared, of course they need your prayers and financial help. You can give directly to PAC or Neighborhood Church of Chico, sending it straight to Neighborhood Church of Chico at 2801 Notre Dame Blvd Chico, CA 95928, or to the Central Pacific District office, 715 Lincoln Ave, Woodland, CA  95695, as we will be collecting funds for them. You can also give online through Push Pay for NC Chico or Push Pay for PAC.

Read a recent interview with PAC’s pastor, Josh Gallagher, in Christianity Today and watch another on Canada’s YesTV. For more specific information about the progress of the Camp Fire relief efforts and the status of the Paradise and Chico church families, visit the Central Pacific District blogsite.

Source: Alliance News Feed – A Marathon of Epic Proportions

Alliance Workers Reflect on the Thanksgiving Season

Alliance News Feed – Alliance Workers Reflect on the Thanksgiving Season

Norma V. (Mexico)

I’m most thankful for the privilege of serving and being part of [The Alliance], which is all about taking the good news to nations and peoples who have not heard it yet. And I am grateful that I get to tell the stories of the fruit God has produced as a result of His faithfulness through His people.

Connie S. (Balkans)

This year I feel thankful for so many things! I’m thankful for time with family and friends while I’m on home assignment and friends in the country I serve who stepped up to help me move out of my apartment. I’m grateful that God has taken me to new places in my relationship with Him and continues to teach me how to follow Him more fully—even though I still mess up.

I’m thankful for the C&MA family—the sense of belonging that I enjoy when I’m with them and for their sacrificial giving to the Great Commission Fund that enables me to serve.

Kristen Cagwin (Germany)

My husband and I are thankful for how our kids are adjusting and how our family is doing as a whole on our first home assignment. We don’t take it for granted given all the transition recently, so we thank God for His presence and kindness to us this year.

Anonymous (Africa)

I’m most thankful this year that a young believer, Edna*, is now reading Scripture with me. Edna told me she feels that reading the Bible with me is a way for her to discipline herself to read the Bible because she has neglected it. As a bonus, I’m also learning Bible vocabulary and proper pronunciation in this language.

Each time we meet, I can tell that Edna needs a listening ear. On one occasion, after listening to Edna share about her struggles in life, I felt compelled to encourage Edna that we are loved and significant to God even if people do not love us nor see us as important. Edna thanked me and said she needed to hear this truth.

Please pray that Edna will grow in her faith and remember how much God loves and values her. Intercede also for our reading time that we will both learn and grow.

Maritza Cumba (Panama)

This year my three biological sisters and my cousin visited me in Panama. It was a dream come true that my family knew my world, my ministry, and my people, and I’m so thankful to God for it.

Anonymous (Europe)

My wife and I have been privileged to host new worker families who have arrived and have been looking for housing in our city. After language study, they will be starting a new initiative among immigrants. We are thankful to God for providing a great house to host and for the opportunity to get to know these people better.

Anonymous (Africa)

I’m thankful for a baby whom God gave to us when our lives had turned upside down from terrorist threats, just prior to going on the field. She made it through all the complications in the womb and in the NICU. She is such a sweet blessing to my husband and me, her sister, and the entire language school.

I am also thankful for the few good friendships we’re developing in this new place and for such supportive friends and family back home who still allow me to be a part of their lives and see the Father at work all over the globe.

Anonymous (Middle East)

I am most thankful for a team that has worked in unity through many significant struggles this past year with one primary goal: to glorify the Lord and make His glory known. Praise to our Father that in His sovereignty, He handpicked this team for such a time as this.

*Name changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – Alliance Workers Reflect on the Thanksgiving Season

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