On a recent trip to India, I visited with two brothers who are boldly living on mission with Jesus. They come from a high caste Hindu family. Over the noise of the crowded streets just outside their family home, the younger brother shared with me about how angry he was when his older brother became a follower of Jesus. But soon after, the younger brother had an encounter that changed him as well. It happened one night when he was lying in bed and couldn’t fall asleep. He sensed a presence in the room. He could feel the weight of another person on the mattress, someone sitting on the edge of his bed. Then the person stood up and walked around the bed to face him. As he opened his eyes, the younger brother saw Jesus, standing in front of him, full of light and glory. Immediately, he bowed down in worship and asked Jesus for forgiveness.
The result of that encounter was a deep peace in his life and a clarity that Jesus was God. Within months, these two brothers had led dozens of families in their neighborhood to Christ. They also attracted the attention of devout Hindus. On many occasions, a mob would form outside their home when new Christ followers came to pray. The threats of violence grew as did the size of the mob. Eventually, local Hindus hired a leader from a respected temple to confront these young men.
When the Hindu leader, or Swami, came to their home, the brothers immediately invited him inside as people continued to yell and protest outside. But when the Swami heard the Gospel, he told the brothers simply, “This is the path of salvation. Stay with it.” The local Hindus were furious and called in the police. After the police broke up the demonstration, they launched a one-year investigation into the activities of the brothers. But instead of finding fault with the brothers, the police decided to provide the church with legal registration! Jesus said that he would build his Church.
Last Christmas, these brothers hosted a local outreach event in their community and 2500 of their neighbors attended. Our workers have been walking alongside these brothers for several years now and are seeing how the peace of Jesus is bringing transformation. As the witness of this church extends into other communities, there are many more opportunities to partner.
Jesus often proclaimed “peace be with you” as he talked with his disciples and others. His very presence was peace. In places like this where the Gospel is opposed and conflict is prevalent, the peace of Jesus is greatly needed.
In India’s far north, amid ongoing political and religious conflicts, people are finding the peace of Jesus. Mohammed is a young man who was tired of war and became more and more interested in peacemaking. One day, in his father’s restaurant, Mohammed heard the Gospel from one of his father’s customers and decided to follow Jesus. Later, when his father found his Bible, Mohammed was beaten and his Bible was thrown into the river. The man who led Mohammed to Christ was then arrested and put into jail. On my recent trip, I was able to meet that man just after he was released from prison. However, he never mentioned his time in prison, he only wanted to talk about Jesus!
In the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), God’s name is revealed as Jehovah Shalom – the Lord is Peace. In the face of Midianite raiders, family and community idolatry, economic impoverishment and personal fear, Gideon had a revelation of God as Peace (Judges 6:23-24). It wasn’t the absence of conflict, but rather the presence of God in the midst of conflict that brought peace. What kind of peace? The peace that comes when we destroy our idols, surrender our fears and obey God. I recently heard the story of a young Burmese church leader who reminded me of Gideon. He was working in a factory in Thailand when he heard the Gospel and came to faith in Jesus. The team that led him to Christ and discipled him then offered to help him return to his home village to share what Christ had done for him. Like Gideon, this young man feared for his life. He was from a remote part of Myanmar which is known for its violence and conflict. However, in the face of fear, he chose to go with the team. In an effort to build bridges into this community, the team decided to ask the local mayor if they could host an eye clinic in the village. The eye glasses they brought with them are a unique invention with prescriptions that can be custom fitted by a lay person on the spot for a couple of dollars. The clinic and the new eyeglasses were a huge hit! The local mayor was so grateful, he invited the team to conduct a Christmas outreach while they were in the village and many people responded to the Gospel. Ten new believers requested baptism and a church was planted. In the midst of conflict, a witness to peace is now present. His name is Jesus.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus gives peace to us in the midst of a world full of trouble. Sometimes, his call upon our lives creates even more trouble! Are we prepared to live that kind of peace witness?
In this edition of Witness, we’re focusing again on the radical peace that comes from knowing Jesus. My prayer is that you would be encouraged to live a bold, clear and peace-filled life on mission with Jesus wherever you are. Peace be with you!