One advantage of living in this part of the world is that I can take a weekend trip to a neighboring country for only a few hundred dollars. This is exactly what I did from April 27 to May 2, flying solo to the capital city, where I was met by a member of the Christian ministry that graciously agreed to host me. Andrew is actually the son of a friend of mine from Austin, and was my connection to the organization. When we arrived at its headquarters, their daily evangelistic English classes were in progress, so I observed and assisted in one of them. The students were lively and excited to converse with me. Afterwards, I accompanied Andrew to an outreach in a poverty-stricken part of the city, where he has rented property with a shack for Christian services. About thirty people attended that evening; they seemed enthusiastic in their singing and eager to learn as they studied the Bible together.
The next morning, I enjoyed getting to know some of the young ladies in whose house I was staying, and hearing their testimonies. I joined them for their daily Bible study and lunch. Then I went with Andrew to a crocheting business he has organized to help women in the slums earn money while simultaneously personally caring for their children. I admired the beautiful toy animals the five ladies had created, and marveled to learn that all five have believed in Christ as a result of the Bible studies that are led by a local Christian woman as part of their employment. (These ladies’ handicrafts can be purchased in Austin at Ten Thousand Villages, Austin Gift Company and Paleface Feed Store.) In the evening, I again assisted with English class, including sharing my testimony and playing violin there; and later I joined a group worship session at the ministry headquarters.
On Saturday, after a restful morning, I visited a tourist site together with Andrew and some of “his” boys. He has taken into his home seven young men, whom he cares for and disciples. I praise God that even though these teenagers are unfortunately unwanted by their own families, they have a Christian environment in which to live and learn about the Lord. They came with us again that evening to the same outreach location where we had gone on the first night of my visit. Once again, I observed the people’s sincerity in singing and the desire to understand the Bible better, as they were taught by a local believer in their own language. I was grateful that one of Andrew’s boys translated the message into English for me.
At church on Sunday morning, I didn’t need a translator, because the sermon was given by an American, in English, with on-stage translation into the local language. He preached from Galatians 1 about the gospel — always a timely topic. In the afternoon, I accompanied several young people from the ministry on an outreach to children in a village across the river. In the past, 60 to 80 children there have attended these weekly meetings, but most of their parents forbade them to return after rumor spread that the Christians planned to murder the children and sell their body parts — which was completely false, of course. The ten youngsters who did come seemed happy to learn about Abraham’s offerings to God, and about Jesus Christ, our perfect sacrifice. Then we moved along to another location in the village, where I rejoiced to share my testimony, with translation, to several young people who had gathered to learn about God.
Monday was a holiday, which meant the girls in whose home I was staying had the day off from school. So we went together to a nearby mall for lunch and window shopping. I was glad to get to know them a bit better. During worship that evening, I played violin for hymns in the local language and style, accompanied by an excellent pianist who works there with the ministry.
The next day, I was up at 5am and left for the airport at 6am. On my journey back to the home I share with my students, I praised God for the work He is doing to build up His Church in that place, and I thanked Him for allowing me to witness a bit of His work there. To God be the glory for drawing people to Himself in every corner of the globe!