By Benjamin Arnold …
Our team of 13 from Hope In The City spent 8 days over the summer in Southeast Asia amongst one of the unreached people groups of the world. Our goal was to identify people that were hungry to truly know God and Truth. Ultimately, we were asking the Lord to lead us to people who would be receptive to the Good News, and also that they would gather others so that they would have the opportunity to hear as well. We refer to these as People of Peace (POP).
Our base leader asked three of us if we would be willing to go on a 3-day trek with a translator to try and find a POP. We said YES with enthusiasm, not really fully understanding what we were saying yes to. We were basically saying yes to rely and depend completely on the Lord to lead us to a POP not knowing where to go or stay.
The next morning the three of us (Benjamin, Eric, & Alaina) met our translator for the first time and began to pray and seek the Lord together on where He wanted us to go. We were given a general region where unreached people groups lived, but essentially had complete freedom to seek the Lord where He wanted us to go. We looked at a map and had peace about going to a village a couple hours north of the main city we were in.
We ordered a taxi and got dropped off in a small village in the middle of nowhere. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting dropped on the side of the road having no idea where we were going or even which way to walk. It dawned on me that I had not thought this through at all. I was so excited at the idea of a rural adventure and about trusting the Lord to lead us, but that’s as far as I had thought ahead. It was a holy moment. A moment we all acknowledged, just how utterly and completely dependent on our Father we were. Jesus lives and thrives in us in these holy moments. We all four proclaimed out loud our dependence on Him to Him. We asked the Lord which way to walk and believed that He had actually prepared our way. He so faithfully led us every step of the way. First, He led us to a widow and her grandson. She invited us into her home which had no electricity and we sat on the concrete floor as she prepared us a meal which we ate with our fingers. We spent several hours getting to know her and shared stories about Jesus and prayed for her. It was an awesome start to this journey.
Next, we walked a couple miles to another small village. We stopped and sat down on the curb to rest. We asked the Lord to show us what to do next and I read a psalm the Lord gave us. A few moments later, a lady stepped out of her place from across the street and signaled to us asking if we would like tea. She received us with such warmth and hospitality. Turns out she recently lost her husband. She had a beautiful family and talked about her husband a lot. We could tell she truly honored her husband and family well. It reminded us of the Proverbs 31 woman, and we asked if we could read it to her. She said yes and beamed with joy as we declared it over her. We also told her the story of Elijah and the widow and then prayed over her in Jesus name. She was so delighted and then took us on a beautiful walk through rice fields and around her village. She knew we needed a place to stay and took us to another house she owned where her daughter and husband lived. We thought she might offer it to us as a place to stay, but she didn’t. We blessed her in Jesus name and said our goodbyes. We still believed God had a plan, but the sun was starting to go down and we still had no place to lay our heads.
We left there and walked a bit until we felt like the Lord said stop and wait (not exactly what you want to hear when we need to find a place to sleep but we are His sheep and we know His voice and that He is a trustworthy shepherd). We sat down on the edge of a field and watched it get dark as we prayed and listened to worship music.
What the Lord did next was a fulfillment of what He had placed in my heart just days before departing from the United States. Our translator was really quiet, and we asked her how she was feeling. She began to tear up as she verbalized how she had been in such a season of comfort. She kept thinking that if this trek got too difficult, she would just go back home. But the Lord was saying to not look back, but rather, keep looking forward with her eyes fixed on Him. He was impressing on her heart that He was absolutely trustworthy, not only with this 3-day trek but with the rest of her life. We began to pray Holy Spirit inspired prayers over her, and Lord broke the idol of comfort and removed her anxiety, and peace filled her eyes. The Lord did a transformational work in her heart right then and there. She was so at rest and there wasn’t an ounce of concern in her anymore. I now understood what the Lord was saying when He told me he was going to transform the hearts of translators. I was so overwhelmed with the goodness of the Father at that moment and how our team got to partner with His heart for our translator! He is such an amazing Daddy!!!
Now it is pitch black dark, and we pulled out our headlamps and started to walk again with huge grins on our faces. We felt like the Lord was telling us to walk towards a village Denver. On the road to Denver, we meet some people that asked where we were going. We told them we were looking for a place to stay and headed towards Denver. They looked at us funny and told us we should go to a village (I’ll call it TB) about 5 miles north. Now, this was the fifth person we had come in contact with that day that told us to go to this particular village, but we hadn’t seriously considered it because it would require a taxi (not available in these rural areas) and it went against our preconceived ideas of what this trip was supposed to look like. We had in our minds that we would work our way back towards the big city we came from instead of going further away. Also, we heard this village was kind of touristy and had places you could pay to stay, which was a turn off because we envisioned staying in someone’s home. So, we thanked the people kindly and continued heading towards Denver. About 300 yards down the road Alaina verbalized a profound thought, “How many times are we gonna have to hear go to TB before we go to TB?” We stopped and considered, wow the Lord might actually be speaking through these “random” people to go to TB. We stopped and asked the Lord if this was in fact where He was leading us. He reminded me that we had given people plenty of opportunities to offer us a place to stay and that no door had been opened. Also, He created us to need rest, and He had things for us to accomplish the next day that we would be much more equipped to enjoy and partner with Him if we had good rest in a bed instead of on the side of the road. How was sleeping on the side of the road going to bring Him glory? I’m willing to suffer for His name, but I refuse to partner with suffering without cause (that kind of suffering is rooted in pride). Paying for a place to stay is not shameful or a lack of trust. After this 30 second dialogue with the Lord, I had peace about TB, and so did everyone else. So, we turned around and headed back to the last person, Z, that told us to go to TB.
Z was still hanging out where we had left him, and we told him that we thought he was right about TB and asked if he could take us there. He said sure. He was not a cab driver but rather a physics teacher that the Lord has appointed to drive us the 7 miles to TB. Don’t you just love how the Lord works all things together for the good of those who love them and even for those who will love Him (pray for Z’s eyes to be opened to Jesus’ love). We really connected with him and then days later met with him and his wife which is another awesome story. ALL THINGS! Our DADDY is SO SO GOOD!! Z dropped us off at a homestay in TB that served food and had $7 rooms available. We enjoyed a great meal and fellowship and then got good rest.
The next morning Eric and I screamed like little girls while taking ice cold showers but praised the Lord for a new day! We then enjoyed the amazing coffee and breakfast with the Alaina and our translator. We all acknowledged just how dependent we were on the Father to lead and guide us and so we figured the best way to spend the morning was to worship and pray. It was so awesome! Total dependence on Jesus is such a freeing place to be. We prayed simple but radical prayers, like “Lord, open our eyes to how you are providing for us today”. He totally did. His presence was with us. It was like we could do no wrong. When you are a little kid and your eyes are fixed on your Daddy, all you can do is be in awe of Him and intimate with what He does. We walked up to check out and the guy that ran the place asked us “what are you doing today?” We said, “we have no idea, we are just going wherever the Lord leads us”. He said, “no plan is the best plan”. We couldn’t have agreed more. It was total confirmation that our dependence on Jesus was the best plan EVER.
The next decision was right or left out of that place. All four of us heard right, so that’s where we went. 300 yards down the rural road, a man was just hanging out – it was like he was waiting on us. We began to engage him and he told us we needed a guide. We agreed, and he invited us to his home. He spoke English and he had a guitar! This encounter was the Lord’s favor. Our translator didn’t have to translate and we got to sing songs with him like, Let it Be (Beatles) and Sweet Home Alabama. We just had fun! Then he let Alaina play the guitar and we worshiped the Lord which was awesome. After hanging out for a while, we felt led to ask if he would take us to the village where his family lived. He said yes and took us on the most beautiful path to get there. We just enjoyed the goodness of the Lord and His face shining upon us as our new friend taught us how his people grew rice and made bricks. As soon as we got to the village and we saw all the little children running around, he pointed to the place where they taught the local religion of these people, my heart was overwhelmed. We all looked at each other and said PRAY! My heart was crying out, Lord reveal yourself to these children! I felt like He said this is so my heart and I brought you here to release a spirit of prophecy in this very place where truth is sought. It was this profound moment where I felt the Lord’s anointing on me and I believe He was releasing it into the atmosphere and into each child I made eye contact with. There was a shift in the Spirit realm as we invited heaven into that village. What a privilege to walk and intercede in places that likely no believer has ever walked! What a joy to partner with the Father’s heart for these people at that moment! Don’t you just love the Kingdom! Everyone wins. Our team got to enjoy a beautiful walk and learn about the culture while experiencing the Lord’s presence and partner with His heart for these people. Win # 2, the testimony of Jesus’ life and teaching was released in that place! There is no doubt in my mind that eyes will be opened to the truth in that village. Partner with me in prayer for that. We have authority over the ground we walk on and the Lord was impressing upon my heart the significance of this gift we have as His children. From there we went to P’s sister’s house and met his family and then he led us back to the place we stayed the night before.
The moment P departed, it began to rain. There was a place across the street similar to the place we stayed the first night, and we decided to eat there and get out of the rain. We ordered food and spent time debriefing about our day. The food was amazing, and it was accompanied by life-giving fellowship and conversation. The rain was so cool, peaceful, and soothing. We shared the excitement in our hearts about the things we saw and the children we encountered, and we believed and declared victory over those people and places. We began to discuss what we should do next. Alaina asked what we thought the Lord was saying about P and whether we should stay at his house that night, which he had offered for a small fee. I confessed that I hadn’t asked the Lord about it yet, but said I would while I headed to the toilet. While I was in the toilet, I felt like the Lord said I am going to send others to P and I want you to stay here. I said, “Lord, if this is what You are saying, confirm it through others because we so badly want to go and strive to be productive for Your Kingdom, and just chillin’ here is not what we had in mind”. I get back to the table and Alaina goes to the toilet then comes back and the question comes up again, what are y’all sensing the Lord is saying about P? I wasn’t dying to share what I heard but everyone else was quiet, so I shared what I felt the Lord said while I was in the toilet. Alaina starts freaking out and exclaimed she heard the Lord also say He would send others to P while she was in the toilet! I shared how I had asked the Lord to confirm what I had heard, and this was obviously confirmation which gave us total peace that the Lord had a better plan. We spent the rest of the night receiving revelation in the toilet! Just kidding 🙂 With this fresh encouragement, we began to boldly pray and ask the Lord to send a POP to us. We confessed our desire to share testimonies of His goodness with someone that was hungry to hear. They were simple but powerful prayers that lacked doubt. I remember thinking this is so the Father’s heart! and then we just started declaring His heart, saying, Lord, we know it is in Your heart for us to share testimonies of Jesus with a heart You have prepared! Your word says when we pray and agree Your Will, it will be done. We chose to believe.
The rain continued as did the joy, presence, and peace of the Lord. There we met some other guests and natives hanging out underneath another shelter and I remembered Alaina had some cards. I mentioned, maybe we should ask some of them if they want to play cards? Alaina said I was thinking the same thing! So, we waved at one of the natives and he came over and we asked if he and or his friends would like to play cards. He said he would love to play cards and sat down. We got to know K over the next 2 hands of Remi. He spoke English and was such a fun guy. He used to work as a mechanic on a cruise ship so he was well traveled and culturally educated.
He began to share about these children that he teaches every Friday. I could tell he was extremely passionate about teaching these kids and that he cared deeply about them. I saw wisdom in K and I was stirred to call it out. I told him that him teaching those kids reminded me of the story of Jesus hanging out in the temple when He was 12 and how everyone was amazed by His wisdom. I said I see that kind of wisdom in you. K’s face lit up and he said I LOVE that story! We said, you know that story!!? He said “Yes, I know lots of stories about Jesus and I’ve been studying His life to determine if He is the right way!! WOW! We talked about Jesus the rest of the night! K began to describe the differences between his own beliefs and Jesus and how he struggled with the fact that the leader of his own religion murdered so many people. How could that be the right way to God?! He said. Jesus, on the other hand, was so kind and He never killed anyone or anything. I said, well Jesus did curse a fig tree and killed it. K looked at me and said I love that story too!! We were amazed at his knowledge of the new testament! The Lord even used the cards to reiterate what K already knew in his heart. He was using 2 cards that were face down to compare and contrast his own religion and Jesus and when he flipped over the card for his own religion, it was a #2. Then he flipped over the Jesus card and it was a #1. K exclaimed, see Jesus is the right way! He is #1! He must be the right way!! We were overwhelmed with unexplainable joy! Not only had the Lord led us to someone hungry to know more about Jesus, but he was a disciple maker! We soon found out that K has been teaching those children every Friday stories about Jesus! He said if I can get them to understand who Jesus really is, they will tell other kids and eventually their own children about Jesus!
It was without a doubt a Divine appointment in a village that we would have never gone to if the Holy Spirit hadn’t lead us there. K saw it as a Divine appointment as well because he was so hungry to better understand how to follow Jesus. We spent time explaining how to follow Jesus and told him that we could connect him to local people that could help teach him and encourage him moving forward. He was so grateful and excited about the opportunity to be connected to other believers. He described how he was drawn to us from the moment he saw us and was trying to figure out a way to hang out which is why he was helping his friend, the manager of the place, bring us food earlier. Isn’t our DADDY AMAZING!!!! He loves His children so much! He led us to a needle in the haystack and the journey to get there was full of joy, adventure, trust, and transformation.
We are believing the Lord to use K to make disciples in this region. Ask the Lord to release His favor and blessing on this man and that he make Jesus known to many!