SIM’s book van ministry in South Asia recently celebrated 35 years of sharing the gospel through literature distribution. Joseph (name changed) joined the team 15 years ago in unlikely circumstances...
I grew up in a village where our family of 12 shared a one-room house – 3 brothers, 6 sisters, my parents and me. We were very poor, a nominal Christian family. I did not get the chance to go to school as my parents could not afford it. But by God’s grace I was taken to our local church.
I remember the day when the SIM missionary attached to our church was helping to set up the Sunday school. She was choosing six of the older teenagers to be discipled and trained up as teachers. I was amazed when she came and said she had chosen me! The other five protested – ‘don’t ask him, he hasn’t even been to school!’ Our Korean missionary just smiled in her usual way, and said to them, ‘God has called him, and God will use him.’
At first it was my job just to set up chairs, but gradually I learned more about the Bible, more about Jesus, more about being able to read and teach others. It was a special time for me.
But there was another surprise to come. A few years later, another SIM missionary working nearby came to see me. He had a twinkle in his eye – he obviously had a plan for my life! ‘I’d like you to join our book van ministry,’ he said. ‘We don’t have very much money to give you for your time, but we think you will be a great addition to the team.’ I smiled. ‘If God has called me, God will provide!’
The other team members didn’t share our missionary’s optimism. ‘Why did you choose him?’ they said. ‘He hasn’t even been to school!’ They tried to persuade me to leave the team, but I knew that God had called me to the ministry. That was 15 years ago.
It is such a privilege to take the news of Jesus to those who don’t know it. In our district, there are 800 villages. Since I have been on the team, we have visited over 250 in our old van, specially renovated for the task.
When we arrive in a village, we open up the back of the van and start playing music through the speakers. It is amazing how quickly a crowd gathers, eager to see the books we have and hear what we have to say. I know what it is like to be overlooked as insignificant, so we are careful not to bypass the little villages! Even if they only have 2 or 3 houses, we go and share the good news with them.
We are also travelling across large parts of the country, taking the book van to other provinces. We meet people from so many different backgrounds.
Many people have heard the gospel this way, in a country where over 90% of people are Muslims, and many homes now have the opportunity to see our Lord Jesus for themselves as they read the books we have sold.
Who knows what God will do as we sow the seeds?