In this series of posts, our Founder and CEO, David Johnson, highlights some of the incredible works of God he has been able to see in his over 40 trips to the mission field over the last 9 years. Read on.
In 2010, I took my first trip to India with our partner in Central/Southeast Asia, Big Life. Their main strategy is not to evangelize large cities, but to visit villages around the country where people have never heard the Gospel preached before.
On our first day, we went to a village outside the city of Kolkata. Whenever we would enter a new village, we would start playing games with the children. As the children would come and play with us, their moms would start to join us, and the fathers would join us shortly after on the outskirts of the circle.
After teaching the children new games that taught the Bible stories of Abraham and Noah and the Ark, the teaching would turn toward the moms. After the men saw that there was no harm being done, they would join in towards the end of our time together. As I often do when I am in the field, I began to take notice of the leaders participating in the outreach efforts.
One young woman, probably in her late twenties, dressed in the traditional Indian dress, caught my eye. It was as if I was staring at the cover of an international travel magazine. Just by looking into her eyes, you could tell the existence of her sweet, genuine spirit.
A few days later, we were in Kolkata participating in some training of our church planters and I saw her again. On our last day, I was in the home of one of our regional leaders in India to preach at the house church that meets there. For the third time during our trip, I saw the young woman again. After finishing up the service, I knew that I had to get a picture with her. Rarely do you see the same person that many times in a country while traveling. Being over 6 feet tall myself and her under 5 feet, it was quite the contrast!
After getting our picture made and saying our goodbyes, one of the other church leaders came up and asked if I knew the story of the woman with whom I had just had my picture taken. Of course, I knew nothing more than the short introductions that we exchanged. He began to tell me her story.
Her name was Tapashi, and she was a village prostitute. Her husband was the one who was responsible for selling her into prostitution.
It was during one of the visits of our church planters to her village where we were showing the Jesus Film, that they had met her for the first time. Tapashi had spent some time with the church planters that morning, watching the games with the children, and decided that she would come back that evening for the film.
That night, during the Jesus Film, Tapashi heard the Gospel presented and knew right away that she was a sinner in need of a savior. Right there, in the middle of the Jesus Film, Tapashi came to know the Lord.
The Consequences of Conversion
Immediately, she left the Jesus Film and went back to her husband to share with him that she could no longer be a prostitute. Here was a woman who had just heard the Gospel clearly presented for the first time and did not own a Bible, but she knew that after coming to faith in Christ, she could no longer go back to her old life. While she didn’t know the verse that proclaimed, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come,” in her heart, she did know that truth. She knew something was different.
Upon hearing her confession of faith and rejection of the lifestyle that they were living, Tapashi’s husband beat her and took her before the tribal council. The council’s judgment was to affirm the decisions of her husband and require her to obey him. If she chose not to do so, they would shave her head and she would become a village outcast.
Upon hearing this, she found other believers in her village and she asked the church planter to come and pray with her for her husband. After spending this time in prayer and seeking wisdom from other believers, Tapashi went back to her husband a second time.
With her scars still visible from the last beating he gave her, Tapashi faced him and told him that she could no longer be a prostitute. She again confessed that she had fully given her life to Jesus Christ, who had lived and died for the sins of the world. She was ready to take whatever worldly consequences he had for her, including becoming a village outcast. She also shared with him that the same Jesus that had saved her was willing to do the same for him.
This conversation was different than the last. You see, the Holy Spirit had gone before her and prepared the soil of her husband’s heart. That day, her husband accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Together, they are church planters whom the Lord has used to plant churches in some 15 different villages.
Isn’t it just like God to use a pimp and a prostitute to advance the Kingdom?
Stories from the Field: Powerful Reminders of Truth
What a beautiful reminder that no matter where you have been or what you have done, Jesus is standing and waiting to provide forgiveness. There is no sin so bad that it cannot be covered by the blood of Christ. No matter what your past looks like, God can use your future to advance His Kingdom around the world.
If you would like to support church planters like Tapashi and her husband, or you would like to share these testimonies of faith with your business or church, please contact me at [email protected]