We sat gathered around in a small room in her house. Worship and teaching were happening in the next room over. We couldn’t all fit and so those of us who weren’t teaching let other have our place. The church leader joined us and instead of sharing our testimonies, we had the honor of hearing hers.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about how she became a Christian as much of her story has to do with what came next. The abuse and beatings… by the hands of her husband. Any time he found she had gathered with Christians or went to another prayer meeting, the beatings ensued. For years this went on, sometimes worse than others. Her young daughter would even blackmail her saying that if the mom didn’t give her what she wanted, she would tell Dad she was at another meeting. One day he got so mad that he got out a knife. As she told the story, she lifted her shirt to reveal a 12-inch scar down her side.
Her local church graciously took her in and helped her get out of this dangerous situations. Years later after forgiving her husband, she sensed God working to restore their marriage. She prayerfully hoped in the process He would help her husband see the grace and forgiveness of Christ. Shortly after her return, the husband was arrested for theft and spend 3.5 years in prison. This gave her even more time to grow in her faith and pray for her husband.
He is out of prison now and while he is not a believer… YET… we were sitting, gathering, worshiping God in their house. He was there as lunch was served. He was present, listening intently as one of our translators shared the gospel with our bus driver, assuming the husband was a Christian, and realizing later that while the bus driver ignored him completely, the husband was listening to every word. He is not a Christian yet (or at least not when we were there a year ago), but I can’t help but wonder what God did in him that day as we sat in his home.
The wife had been praying and praying that God would send foreign believers to come and encourage them, despite the risk of spending years in prison by having us there. She recounted a time in the recent past when her husband mockingly said, “Do you really think that by your loud praying God will send foreigners here?!?” She laughed and continued her story, “This morning I told my husband: ‘You see! God answers prayers!’
A friend of this woman went on to tell us that the believers of her village all became followers of Christ because of this woman’s testimony! And the community continues to be radically changed!
“They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink to death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell there in.” Revelation 12:11
I wish I could show you a picture of this woman I took as she finished sharing her story and let us pray for her. Pure JOY is the only way to describe the look on her face. Please continue to pray for her and believers just like her all over the world. Pray they would have grace and strength to stand firm in the faith no matter what comes against them. Pray for protection, peace, and continued overwhelming joy!