‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). A modern-day take on this well-known verse may read ‘and you will be my witnesses to your neighbours, to […]
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).
A modern-day take on this well-known verse may read ‘and you will be my witnesses to your neighbours, to your country people, to people you do not like and to people living in places you don’t want to go’.
The disciples lived in a culture where there was much hatred between the Jews and the SamaritansJesus challenged them to leave their homes and go to a people who might despise them.
For us, leaving beautiful and blessed Australia was, at times, difficult to understand. Not because we didn’t want to go, but because living on the other side of the world, far from family and friends, is tough. We now live in a place filled with much Christian history, yet at times feel despised.
While visiting and seeing such historic sites has been an incredible experience, more importantly, we have seen some of the few believers in this land declare with tears and boldness that they now follow Jesus.
In this country, turning from the majority religion is a rare occurrence. Twenty-five years ago it was estimated that there were as few as 500 Protestant believers in this whole country, which today has a population of more than 75 million. It is considered highly unreached which, put simply, means most of the population will live their whole lives without ever meeting a Christian. This is one of the reasons we are here.
But the Protestant church is growing. Today the number of believers could be around 7000, however the local churches are still small and face persecution. This can range from not being given a job because you are Christian, to being kicked out of your family.
One of the local believers was sharing her testimony during a women’s Bible study in our home. After she explained that she now follows Jesus, one of the non-believers present said: ‘So you are not one of us anymore then?’. The family and social pressures to remain with the majority religion are huge. Turning from this is often seen as rejecting your nationality.
More than two-and-a-half years ago God put on our hearts to pack up our lives in Australia and move here. We spent the first part of our time here learning how to do everyday things, to speak the language, how to adjust our behaviour so we do not offend others and, ultimately, how to share our faith.
An important part of our role is to change the negative perception people here have about Christians through tangible love, humility and service. We have been involved in distributing clothes and food to refugees, making new discipleship resources available for children and the local church, and encouraging the local believers in their faith. To pray, read the Bible and talk with local Christians gives them much encouragement. And they have blessed us abundantly.
We thank everyone who has partnered with us to serve in this way. By the time you read this, we will be back in Adelaide for six months. If you would like us to share with your church or small group, or to meet you individually for a chat about what God has been doing in this part of the world, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This story was also published in the December 2018 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you would like to hear more about this family, support them financially in this ministry or learn about Interserve and its partnership with the LCA, you are invited to phone Nevin Nitschke on (08) 8267 7300 or email email@example.com.
Names and places have been intentionally omitted.