“God, help us,” we prayed as we approached the village. “Only you can open a door!”
We had no idea of how God would do it.
Our team was made up of both locals and foreigners, a mixture of seasoned leaders and excited newcomers. We walked for about four hours to reach the village, carrying our supplies, including heavy Bibles! By midday, the temperature had soared to forty degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). We found ourselves in a school, sitting in front of about three hundred children with sweat dripping down our backs and necks. There were no fans and we were struggling to keep smiles on our faces. But the excitement in the children’s eyes was contagious.
A generous woman from Canada had donated three computers and printers to be given to three very poor schools. We were about to pass one set of them on to this school. These children had never seen a computer before! The principal welcomed us, and then the leader of the community made some opening remarks. One of the pastors with us named Isaiah was invited to speak to the children and to encourage them in their educational pursuits. As he was speaking, we began to hear men on motorcycles outside revving their engines and shouting. Suddenly, a group of six monks came bursting into the schoolroom yelling.We all took a deep breath.
The monks went straight to the principal and teachers and said, “Why are you accepting this computer today? Didn’t you receive the letter we sent to you three days ago, forbidding you to take it? Didn’t we tell you that we would buy you one?”
Little did we know that the monks had spread a rumor in the village that people would be forced to convert to Christianity if this donation was accepted.
The principal answered, “Yes, we received the letter. But we have many needs, a roof, desks, supplies and you have never helped us. I have permission from my superiors to receive this computer. You have no right to stop me!”
With that answer, the head monk turned to the children and parents and yelled, “You must chant, ‘We refuse this computer!’”
Then he took out a book and slapped it down on the table in front of the children and declared that anyone who wanted to receive the computer had to write their names in the book. At that moment, some of the children obediently chanted, “No computer!” The rest of the children looked scared, sad and uncertain.
Meanwhile, one of the monks brought his iPad right up to my face and started recording video. His hand was shaking – I tried to smile. Praying silently, I took authority over spirits of fear, intimidation and jealousy. Then I asked Pastor Isaiah if I could address the monks. After he agreed, I walked directly in front of the angry monk. Through a translator, I said, “We are sorry for upsetting you. This donation of a computer today is given freely, no strings attached. We only desire to see the children have an opportunity to develop their education.”
After I spoke, I prayed that my eyes and smile would communicate Christ’s love and peace to this man. Immediately, I felt a calmness come over us and some of the tension release. “Why have you betrayed your country and become a Christian?” the monk asked Isaiah.
It was an open door to share his testimony with everyone present. Afterward, the monk responded. “Do you mean to say that your God can help everyone?” “No,” Isaiah said, “only those who have faith!”
The monk looked surprised. “Well, I just want you to know that you are forbidden from going to the next village!”
“I’m going, and I’ll see you there!” Pastor Isaiah spoke boldly, knowing that it was not the monk’s place to restrict his movement within his own country.
Suddenly, there was nothing more to say. The monk and his cohorts quickly turned and walked out of the school.
The next day, we trekked into another village where we were welcomed by a small group of believers and the local principal, who happened to be Isaiah’s aunt. She advised us immediately not to go into the school, knowing that the monks had amassed a larger group to oppose us.
We all agreed that we didn’t need another confrontation. Instead, we decided to present the computer to the principal at her house. Although we missed seeing the children at the school, our time with the principal was very powerful. She shared with us how deeply discouraged she was by the attacks of the abusive monk, so much so that she had resigned from her position. We shared the message of Christ’s love with her and her family, explaining that God asks us to forgive our enemies while also affirming that God is able to work all things together for good.
We left the village quietly. As we walked, we felt subdued and anxious, wondering what would come of the monk’s threats to report us.
Then the principal called and said, “You’ll never believe what just happened!” She herself was shocked. Apparently, someone had told the head monk that the photographer on our team was a foreign news reporter. “Now, he’s feeling deeply convicted by his bad behaviour!” she explained. “The whole village is angry with him because he didn’t treat your team with respect. He’s afraid that people overseas will see what he did and he’ll get in trouble! He sent his junior monks to ask me if he could come and apologize!”
The principal went on to explain that everyone in the village was talking about how kind and forgiving the Christians were. “Your good name and your kindness to the monks has already spread to every village in the district! Now many people are inviting you to come to their village. One man has even taken your preaching CD and is playing it on the village loud speaker!”
Pastor Isaiah responded immediately, “Tell him we’ll be back and we’ll be happy to stay with him and tell him more!”
We had prayed for an open door, and God answered beyond anything we could have imagined. The people in these villages have opened their homes and their hearts wide to the Gospel. Fear is being replaced by the wonder of the love of Christ.