I’m packed into a car with a bunch of strangers, bouncing down the road on the final leg of my journey to “River City”. The cigarette smoke, a ubiquitous part of life in Asia, swirls around me. It is almost unbearable. But my heart is at peace - I’m going to visit the people I’ve come to love over the past 10 years of serving in the plateaus of this vast country.
These are the Bonba people of Central Asia. They have lived here for centuries. Despite numbering more than one million, you won’t find a single church in their native language.
As a foreigner I can’t live among them, so I frequently make the 13-hour bus trip to visit the study center startups we are partnering with. I pray for God to give me words of encouragement for these brothers and sisters.
Culture and spirituality go hand in hand among the Bonba. We have prayed for years that the older generation would be open to considering Christ, but this has not happened. Over time our focus has shifted to the young people who are more open. The study centers represent a bridge, as we help the young people with education that is often scarce. As a result we have the opportunity to share our faith as we teach and read with them. Over time we have built meaningful relationships with Bonba children, their parents and even grandparents, who thank us for teaching the little ones.
Sometimes during the reading lessons, we are able to share Bible stories. The kids listen attentively, sometimes asking questions. Little by little, God works.
When I walk into the bare classrooms of these centers, I see the beautiful faces of Bonba youth and my heart is filled with hope. They have the unprecedented privilege of learning about Christ in their native language. Perhaps, through God’s help and our coworkers’ presence among them, a new future for the Bonba might be established.
It’s been more than 10 years since my family and I arrived in Asia to work among these people. We have learned much – language, culture, new ways of dressing and how to cope with a constantly changing security situation. Our prayer has always been the same – to see a Bonba church planted among these people. At last, it seems this could become a reality among the young Bonba who are open to the gospel.
Later, as I’m waiting for my ride out of River Town, several men address me in the native language. I know what they are saying but don’t speak for fear they would know I’m a foreigner. Security concerns are ever present. They notice my local clothes and talk among themselves that I must be from a different Bonba tribe. I rejoice that God has helped me to blend among them. But my heart wishes I could live among them too, speaking to them daily of the amazing love Christ has for their people. One day perhaps we will be allowed to live here and we will be ready for that day.
The growth is slow but God is with us. Now our prayer is for more workers to join in this urgent ministry.
Immediate personnel needs:
-Workers of all skills, ages and backgrounds
-Special need for business expert/entrepreneur
-Team focused workers
-Long term and short term placements