Abbi Webb, Assistant Editor
Two missionaries, present at the North Greenville missions conference, have witnessed God open up the hearts of young believers and non-believers in an area that is becoming more closed to hearing the Gospel.
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, missionaries-in-residence, James and Hannah, spoke to a group of North Greenville University students about their mission work in a Central Asian region where, because of the increase in Muslims, Christians are being driven out and the Word of God is becoming more hostile.
The couple has asked that their last names be kept confidential so that no danger may come to them, their family, or their team as they continue to witness in a region where Christians are becoming less welcomed.
James and Hannah look like two normal middle-aged Americans, but the work they do is considered extraordinary. The couple is working as Christian evangelists in a large, primarily Muslim, region. It is expected that this region will be a majority Muslim country by 2050, James said. This country was once very accepting to Christian missionaries, but has recently become very intentional in keeping them out.
"We live in a very Muslim area that is very focused on peace and status quo," James said. "It is a very post-modern society, where they believe that different paths lead to the same God. Missionary Visas are very restricted and in most areas there is no talking with Muslims allowed," James added.
Restricting missionary visas is becoming more common among the nations. Mauritania, Libya, and Kuwai have completely stopped granting them according to an article in "Missions Frontiers." In the same article, Greg Livingstone said, "Getting locked out of the house means checking other means of entry…. It is not enough simply to get a job overseas and hope to have a witness. To accomplish Gods purposes, we must be disciple makers who are determined to become insiders by learning the language and serving the people by whatever means is most conducive to meeting their needs and sharing Christ."
James and Hannah are doing just that. James works in Central Asia as an English teacher and Hannah has a goal to always have one believer and one non-believer that she is investing in. The couple spends countless hours learning two new languages that are spoken in that region.
"You're always two seconds away from looking like an idiot," James said referring to the struggles of learning two new languages in Central Asia.
James and Hannah shared stories of young believers and non-believers that God has brought into their lives.
Hannah said, "God is continually putting people in our path."
One of those people was a 28-year-old Muslim woman who invited Hannah into her home. This woman had a child named after one of the prophets in the Bible, Joseph, but because she had never heard the story of Joseph, Hannah saw an opportunity to share it with her through a children's Bible book in her language.
Another young believer came from a people group where there were only 50 believers. For three years, this young girl hid her faith from her non-believing family in fear of persecution. After she shared with her family her belief in Jesus Christ, her brothers threatened to kill her. Other Christians helped her escape and she found a safe haven in the city where James and Hannah are working.
"She's blossomed, she's filled with the Holy Spirit, she loves The Word, and she's not afraid," said Hannah.
Eventually, this young girl's sister became a believer as well.
Abigail Tinkler, a sophomore at North Greenville University, said she considered herself another young believer whose heart was opened through James and Hannah's obedience to God's calling.
"James and Hannah's speech gave me more of an insight into the real life of a missionary," said Tinkler. "Sharing the Gospel is not always easy, but it's rewarding."