Tribal marks are common in Africa. They are used to identify one as a member of the community. They may be a piercing in the ears or the nose, or they may be a marking on the cheeks or chest. Global Mission pioneer, Balaka, though, has a different kind of indentifying mark on his forehead from the community where he serves in Mbuund, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Global Mission pioneers often face a treacherous road when they take the gospel into an unentered territory. Some established faith groups consider the Adventist Church a threat and try to stop pioneers from sharing their faith. Sometimes they are forced out of the community; sometimes their lives are put at risk. Such was the case for Balaka in Mbuund.
One day just after Balaka arrived, he was preaching in the public square when a community member walked up to the front of the crowd and threw a rock at Balaka’s forehead in an attempt to kill him. Balaka fell to the ground unconscious but alive. It took him nearly a year to recover from the head trauma. Balaka now has a distinctive scar in the middle of his forehead.
Although his ministry was interrupted, Balaka remained committed to Global mission pioneering. Today he’s established a vibrant 200-member Adventist congregation, including the converted community member who injured Balaka. The mark on his forehead is a reminder to the community of what he went through to share Christ with them.
The London Asian Church just had its first baptism since it began three years ago. Suraj and Usha Ramchurn, a young Hindu family from Mauritius, where baptized after nearly two years of Bible studies.
Usha started attending this church soon after she arrived in London as a student. Her husband, Suraj, joined her a few months later and took an interest in Usha’s newfound church. He, however, had to work most Saturdays, so he didn’t get to attend often at first.
A year ago the church leader of the London Asian Church, Petras Bahadur, suggested that Suraj and Usha join a small Bible study group at the home of Annie Lewis, one of the church’s outreach team members. Suraj had been a leader in a Hindu evangelism team in Mauritius and was well versed in his scriptures. He had many questions for the small group and would keep probing until he got the detailed explanations he wanted. Suraj took a great interest in the Bible and made careful handwritten notes of everything he read. He then typed them up and made PowerPoint® presentations of the new things that he learned.
Early this spring Petras gave a baptismal call in church and both Suraj and Usha indicated that they wanted to commit their lives to Christ.
Currently there are more young people engaged in Bible studies at the London Asian Church. Petras and the small group leaders pray that many more will be baptized in the near future. Please pray that God will continue to bring people to His Kingdom from the Asian community in East London.
Majok Wal serves as a volunteer schoolteacher in Baliet, Sudan. He is also a Global Mission pioneer and the first Adventist to share the gospel in this Southern Sudan town. Last year Majok started holding Bible studies and small group meetings. Before long Baliet had a regular group that attended his weekly church service.
After three months of holding services Baliet asked the district pastor, Mark Igga, to visit and baptize the 30 people who were ready. Only 18 of them showed up. The other 12 people didn’t come because of threats and persecution from their community.
A week later the group was evicted from the school where they were worshiping. Those who were baptized were harassed by their friends and neighbors. Yet their faith remained strong and they stayed committed to their newfound faith.
Baliet talked to some of the community members who were responsible for the harassment and convinced them, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to stop their abuse. Today, these believers are free to worship without fear. The group wasn’t allowed to go back and worship at the school. However, thanks to the mission offerings, the local mission office was able to help the believers build a new place of worship.
The 12 members of the small group who dropped out came back to the church along with five new believers who are all now ready for baptism.
Although the church is now growing in Baliet, tribal conflicts make life a constant challenge. This affects peace in the region and prevents smooth movement of people within the area.
In spite of these challenges, God is blessing His work in Sudan and it is our hope that the work will continue to advance regardless of the circumstances we may face. Let us remember that with God nothing is impossible.
To connect with people in Manhattan, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established a center of influence called Life Hope Center Bryant Park.
Mission 360° features inspiring stories about mission work.
One day while Rajah was holding a Bible study, a mob approached his house, brandishing sticks and swords.