1 John 4:9-12

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:9-12)

Encounter with Two Monks (Myanmar)

“It’s quite frustrating that I’m not supposed to kill a mosquito sitting on my arm. Sometimes I find it difficult to control myself. And, I love to play soccer but, as monks, we are not allowed to play sports.” One day we were walking in the park near a Pagoda in Yangon when a young monk started a conversation with us. He wanted to practice his English. At some point, he began to share his troubles and frustrations over trying to keep the countless rules for Buddhist monks. In order to reach Nirvana, monks need to keep 227 rules – one of these being that they must not kill any living creature. They also must be detached from all desire. “It will be impossible for me to reach Nirvana,” he concluded. Then he asked if we were Christians. And thus God gave us an open door to share about Him. The monk, proud and confident, smiled encouragingly at me. Every morning, tourists came to his monastery to see one thousand monks receiving breakfast. He was on duty for sharing the Buddhist road to extinction with westerners. We talked a bit more, and he confided that he was superior to those villagers who donated the food today. Giving alms is just the beginning. Meditation is the true way! He meditated most of the day; at times, for months far away in the jungle. We chatted some more, and I asked him whether he thought he was close to achieving Nirvana. Silence, a sigh, and then he said softly: he would need another 1000 lives to reach that faraway goal.

Pray for this young man and other monks who are faced with their weaknesses; pray that it will urge them to start looking for the Truth.

Pray that God will bring people across their path who can share the Truth with them.

Pray that God will open their eyes and hearts to understand and believe His Word.

I trust Jesus

A young christian myanmar woman recently recounted how her Aunt was demon possessed. Violent and self-harming the family was desperate. She began visiting once a week to pray and share the word of God with her. She also helped her Aunt repeat truth from the scripture. She kept her eyes always open for fear of what her Aunt was capable of. After many weeks her Aunt spoke out of her confusion, “I trust Jesus.” Suddenly the dogs began to go wild outside. Later this woman understood why. Two days later her aunt passed away. God’s grace had protected this troubled woman until she met her savior and God’s grace remained to take her home.
Praise the Lord for the faith of this Christian woman. She has been a faithful servant within the church.
Pray for Myanmar believers strengthened in hope and confident in Christ’s power to defeat the works of the evil one.

We Want to Sacrifice

Mima’s hands grasp the grains of rice, letting it spill from her fingertips as she sets apart a portion of food for the day. The same hands rise in worship and prayer. The same hands make soap; share literature; and help the poor, the widows and orphans. The same hands tenderly care and tend for her family. In Mima’s heart rests this hope: The fruit coming from her hands is something eternal.

We Want to Sacrifice

Every Friday, Mima and other women from churches all across Myanmar meet for a day of fasting and prayer at their Women’s Fellowships. They pray for their families and lift up the needs of the local church. They read God’s Word and go out into their communities to encourage their female neighbors in the Lord. Their sole desire is to know and love the Lord more, and they have seen the Lord work powerfully.

These women find joy in sacrificing their possessions for the Lord. 2 Corinthians 8:3–5, For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Not Your Everyday Women

Beyond your average women’s meetings, there is something profoundly unique about this particular group of ladies. Much like the example given in Proverbs 31 in the Bible, these women stretch out their hands and resources to the poor and needy around them.

Like Mima, each woman in the fellowship raises funds for their fellowship and for the kingdom of God. They set aside a handful of rice from the daily portion they cook for their families; they make soap and sell it; and they also sell vegetables in the market. By doing so, Mima and the other Women’s Fellowship ladies sow into the kingdom and their church with the finances they raise. They are not afraid they will go hungry by their sacrifice—to them, it is a sacrifice worth giving unto the Lord.

We want to participate, we want to give, we want to sacrifice what we have, even if it is small things, Mima says. It gives us strength to give for the Lord.

Through Mima and the other women’s efforts, they are able to support three local Bible college students. Last year they were able to provide a few flood victims in their area with rice, clothes and drinks.

In my thinking, fundraising is very important, Mima says. If we don’t have funds, we cannot do any mission work or sponsor any items or activities. So fundraising is very important.

The women also help each other out with hospital bills when one of the women in their fellowship gives birth. Through their fundraising and fellowship, they have seen a strong bond of unity form among them.

Whenever we make an arrangement for fundraising, Mima says, we can have more fellowship at that time, and also we have good relationships with each other . . . also, it gives more happiness to our heart when we participate in activities.

Along with their fundraising, they remain active in sharing their personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness in their lives. For Mima, it hasn’t always been easy to share her faith. There have been times when she simply had no courage. But she would pray, and the Lord would give her strength and boldness to comfort those in need and share His love with her neighbors. Along with these house visits, Mima and some of the other women make it a point to invite women in their community to come to their prayer and worship gatherings.

Blooming and Growing in Christ

Over the course of the years, Mima has seen her Women’s Fellowship come to life. It has grown and bloomed as the women themselves grow in their fellowship and in their love for one another, for God and for others who need to know Him.

Cheerfully and willingly, Mima and the Women’s Fellowship give and make sacrifices. Their efforts have a great reward, for their eyes are fixed on eternal things as they aim to serve God in every area of their lives.

Their hands will always toil with hard work. They will sacrifice a daily meal so others may experience the Bread of Life for the first time. They have joy knowing their efforts, small or large, are making a difference. They walk together in unity and fellowship, all with one purpose in mind—to love the people around them with all they have found in the Lord.

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/gfa-world-we-want-to-sacrifice/

Sanjushree’s Testimony

Sanjushree can’t easily hide the fact that she once had leprosy. Her gnarled hands and toes display the effects of a 40-year battle with the disease. The 100-year-old woman remembers the day it began.

Sanjushree was 9 when she first noticed her fingers had started to curl inward. She didn’t understand why—neither did her parents or the doctors or the witch doctors they visited in search of the answer.

Years passed, and the young girl’s fingers didn’t straighten out. Embarrassed by her disfigurement, Sanjushree kept to herself, interacting only when necessary.

There were times when she traveled with the village midwife, watching and learning how to help pregnant women deliver their babies. But beyond that, she tried to separate herself from the community, afraid others might catch whatever it was that was crippling her fingers.

When Sanjushree was 22, she married and eventually had two daughters. Five years after her marriage, skin lesions appeared on Sanjushree’s body. That’s when she knew it was leprosy.

Her husband stood by her, continuing to love her; so did her children. There were some in her community who became fearful and cut off all contact with the young woman. But others didn’t let the stigma of leprosy interfere with their friendship, choosing instead to see Sanjushree as the kind woman who had once helped them deliver their children.

As Sanjushree’s body suffered with the lesions, her heart ached with the emotional pain the leprosy caused. She wasn’t sure what to do, but she was determined to continue on with her life. While her husband worked as a carpenter, she worked by making brooms and cane baskets, catching and selling fish, and farming. She didn’t let her gnarled fingers or the other symptoms of leprosy keep her from helping provide for her family.

One day, a carpenter friend told her about a nearby church that had a small hospital where people with all sorts of health problems were treated.

For the first time in years, Sanjushree found a reason to hope and began to believe she might actually find healing.

It was here where 30-year-old Sanjushree first heard about Jesus. Doctors treated her and then sent her to another small hospital that was connected to a church. As Sanjushree attended the church, she learned more and more about Jesus. She discovered He could heal people afflicted with leprosy—and a deep faith took root in her heart. She knew, without a doubt, Jesus could heal her, and she depended on it.

Throughout the following year, she grew in intimacy with the Lord as the pastor taught her from God’s Word. Even though she was illiterate and couldn’t read the Word herself, she engraved what she heard in her mind.

When her husband died a year later, her trust in Jesus sustained her.

Sanjushree continued to trust and wait on God to heal her for 20 more years. Finally, when she was 50 years old, she experienced the healing she had prayed and longed for! Filled with overflowing joy, Sanjushree decided she wanted to spend the rest of her life helping others who were suffering with sickness.

Able to understand their affliction and heartache like few others could, Sanjushree spent the next 50 years praying for those who were ill. She’d share with them about her own struggle with leprosy and about God’s miraculous healing and love in her life—and the Lord used her.

God freed people suffering from spiritual oppression or various sicknesses after Sanjushree prayed for them.

She eventually joined a church led by a GFA-supported pastor where the pastor and the Women’s Fellowship have been a source of encouragement and help to her. It was here, too, where she learned more about sharing the Good News with others.

“I was touched by [Sanjushree’s] love for the Lord,” says Julia, the regional Women’s Fellowship leader. “Our pastor . . . said that every week when she comes to church, she will bring at least one person to the church. That is her passion for the Lord! I am so amazed by the boldness she has. She doesn’t fear anyone. … When we asked [her] how she is able to do all these things, she replied, ‘I am like a lion. When Jesus is with me, why should I fear anything?'”

Through her boldness, God has used 100-year-old Sanjushree to show people His saving grace as she travels to different places, praying for people, helping with childbirth deliveries and proclaiming the excellencies of Him who healed her.

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/gfa-world-leprosy-patient-to-lioness-the-100-year-journey

Love on Fire

A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.

Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”

People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.

“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”

Independently Ministering

Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.

“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”

And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.

Following Like Jesus

Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.

The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.

He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.

Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.

Forced Out of Community

In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.

“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”

People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.

“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”

Turning of Hearts

Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.

The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.

The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.

They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.

God’s Most Powerful Weapon

The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.

“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”

After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.

“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”

The Galilee Boat

The river was busy. It was always busy during high tide. Boatmen competed with each other to ferry people and belongings from the market to villages and back. Some boats were so weighed down that the tops were only a few inches from the water’s surface.

This was the way of life for people living near the shores, where channels of water sliced through the ground and boats helped people get around from village to village.

But the Galilee Boat was different. It was just Pastor Myo Zaw and his disciple, Nyein Shein, on this boat. They traversed through the river together. Myo Zaw stood toward the front of the boat, a handwoven bag slung across his chest and packets of information about true hope in his left hand. Nyein Shein was at the stern, bending this way and that as he navigated the vessel through the murky waters, careful not to collide into other boats.

For Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein, traveling through the waters was less about getting around and more about meeting people.

“Galilee Boat is like a second life for us, which is very important for our [ministry],” Myo Zaw said.

The boat was a means to minister. It created opportunities for Pastor Myo Zaw to talk with fishermen or the men waiting to ferry people from the market. He’d also go to villages that could only be visited by boat.

Through the Galilee Boat, people who had never heard about the redemptive love of Christ could finally witness it. They’d see it in the life of the man who traveled in the boat just to see them, and they’d hear it in his voice when he’d speak words of life found in the Word of God. And something would happen inside their hearts. They believed that still, small voice that whispered to them, “I am the living God.”

Three fellowships and 16 other smaller fellowships grew in villages that Pastor Myo Zaw visited via the Galilee Boat.

The boat has become “famous,” Myo Zaw said. But not because it’s constantly traveling through the channels of water, looking to meet new people. It’s become famous because of the timely help it’s provided.

The region where Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein serve is known to flood during monsoon seasons. When it does, they use the Galilee Boat to bring relief supplies, like food and medicine, to stranded villagers and to rescue people by transferring them to safer regions.

“I believe God gave me this boat to help the community in the times of difficulties,” Myo Zaw said.

And that’s where you’ll find him and Nyein Shein, out on the Galilee Boat, navigating the busy river to help people in their community.

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/gfa-world-love-on-fire/

https://www.gfa.ca/gfa-world/2017/march-departments/#mf-0317

Munay’s Testimony

Tears freely tumbled down Munay’s cheeks and spilled onto her already soaked pillow. It was so hard. Cancer raged inside her body even though Munay had underwent surgery and eight chemo injections. Now radiotherapy attacked her cancerous cells. Too sick to move, Munay lay on her bed. Thoughts raced in her head, moving her past the physical pain—her heart was breaking. She couldn’t die now, not yet. There was so much work yet to be done, and if she didn’t do it, who would?

Munay grew up going to church and knew the Bible well. Her pastor even appointed her to be a Sunday school teacher, but she felt something was missing.

“I never committed myself freely into God’s hand,” she said.

Because of this, she had no peace. She searched for it by going to different prayer meetings, but “I always came back empty handed,” she said. “Yet there was hope in my life that one day God would touch me and fill my heart with His divine peace.”

That revelation came while attending a Christian convention. She was inspired by the believers and their passionate worship. It seemed they loved Jesus deeply. After hearing a message from Isaiah 44:22, Munay understood for the first time that Jesus had willingly laid down His life for her. When she took this to heart and personally accepted God’s love, everything changed.

“Peace and joy filled my life in abundance,” she said.

Munay was now entrusted with a deep yearning to help those who didn’t know Jesus, her Savior. She cried out to the Lord to use her, and He answered. After she graduated Bible college in 2006, she began serving the Lord in her home state. Munay, there on her knees, would find true victory amidst years of controversy.

During her ministry Munay didn’t experience an easy road. Because she was not an eloquent speaker it was difficult for her to convey to people the message of hope she carried. The individuals she served were highly educated and thought little of Munay, especially as she stumbled through her words. The youths also threw stones at her house as an attempt to scare her off. But no matter how much the locals looked down on her and treated her as lowly, she would not become discouraged. Munay was convinced she was called by God, and she was prepared to face all kinds of adverse circumstances on her knees.

It was an uphill climb, but the more difficult the situations Munay faced, the more she was willing to bow her head. As a result, the Lord in His mercy answered her prayers and blessed her ministry. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, she established a prayer fellowship with eventually 10 believers. The local people mocked them in their new journey with Jesus. They tried to discourage them with sarcastic remarks, but Munay encouraged the believers and fixed her eyes heavenward with them. Munay well understood what they were facing.

After five years of serving in this community, Munay’s life weathered yet another difficult season. In 2014, Munay found out she had cancer. This devastated Munay, but not for herself. She cried out to the Lord day and night, asking God to spare her life.

“Lord, please heal me, as I have much work remaining to do,” Munay prayed through her sobs. “I must do the work.”

However, even in sickness Munay was not deterred from loving and trusting Jesus. She believed God would heal her body. Her ministry didn’t stop either. Munay encouraged her brothers and sisters in God’s Word while on her sickbed, praying and longing to be with them daily.

After a time, the Lord answered Munay’s faith-filled prayers and brought her healing. Munay came through her terminal illness as one tried through fire, and her testimony in Christ appears golden.

“When you are in good health, do as much as you can for the Lord. Do not take your life for granted,” Munay exhorted her brothers and sisters, managing to stand before them as her body grew stronger. “Let us not grow weary, but let us be zealous in serving the Lord. And may the Lord not have to put you in a position to make you realize how little you have done. We must do the work. If we do not do it, then who will? Make the most of the life that God has given us.”

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/when-cancer-tries-to-take-over/

Berki’s Testimony

Berki, a member of the Hamer community of southwestern Ethiopia, was a slight child. His father said he was too weak to look after the cattle, so when Berki was 16, he sent him to school. There Berki met an evangelist, who told him about Jesus, and he became a Christian.

Berki completed school and returned home to teach. When Berki told his family about his new faith, his father dismissed the notion. His parents stopped supporting him financially. After eight months of teaching and family tension, he sensed a strong prompting to leave his job and go to Dimeka.

Berki resolved to work full time in ministry. Soon, he accepted a church position.

Berki returned home for a visit. To his surprise, his family welcomed him warmly. He hoped they had softened. Even Berki’s older brother, Gadi, seemed to set aside their differences.

‘Brother, do you want to go with me to cut the honey?’ Gadi asked. Berki loved honey.

They set out the next morning, walking far from home. At dusk, Gadi and Berki walked into a valley. Gadi told Berki to rest while he walked a little way to see where they were.

What Berki didn’t know was that his family had told his brother to kill him.

As heavy rain began to fall, Berki realised his brother had left him. He climbed out of the valley to see if he recognised any landmarks.

Terrified, he sat in the mud and cried. As Berki tried to stand again, he realised a river of sand and mud had swallowed his right leg like concrete. Exhausted, Berki pleaded with God.

Lord, if you don’t take me, help me sleep. I don’t want to be awake if the wild animals attack me.

Sleep overtook him. As dawn broke, he opened his eyes. Praise God!

Berki tugged to free himself. Hyena tracks everywhere but they had not attacked. Berki climbed to the top of a nearby mountain and breathed a grateful prayer. With renewed strength, he began the long walk home.

Later, Berki attended a workshop where he’d learn to tell accurate Bible stories. Today, as a full-time evangelist, Berki wears traditional clothing and rides his bicycle to nearby villages to tell Bible stories where people welcome him.

The grass-cutter and his stone

God never discourages any seeker after truth by saying that he or his beliefs are wrong, but He so orders it that by degrees the man himself learns to recognise his errors and distinguish the truth. The story is told of a poor grass-cutter who found a beautiful stone in the jungle. He had often heard about diamonds, and thought this was one. He took it to the jeweller’s shop and showed it with delight to the jeweller. Being a kind and sympathetic man, the jeweller saw that if he were to tell the grass-cutter that his stone was not a diamond, either he would not believe it, or it would be such a shock to him that his whole hope would be brought down to the dust. The jeweller, therefore, laid his plans so that the poor man might find out the mistake for himself. He gave him some work in his shop, and kept him there till he began to be able to distinguish the varieties of diamonds and their prices. Then the jeweller told him to bring along his stone. Up till this time the grass-cutter had kept it carefully hidden away in a box. He now opened it out, and saw with amazement that it was worthless. He turned pale, and came and fell at the feet of his kind master, and said, “I am very thankful for your goodness and sympathy. You did not destroy my hope, but made such a plan that I now know my mistake without any one’s help. Now I want to stay always with such a master, and spend the rest of my life in your service.” This is how God brings back to the way of the truth those who have wandered away into error, so that when they learn the truth for themselves they will follow Him, and give Him the service of their whole lives.

– Sundar Singh

Following the Lord in South Sudan

Onesmas Muchesia had been particularly busy organizing basic logistics for training workshops at SIL Sudan’s center in Juba, South Sudan, as well as facing unexpected challenges including week-long cuts in city power, a dysfunctional backup generator, a lack of cooking gas in the market and complications to booked accommodations. Nevertheless, Onesmas handled the almost-hourly challenges with grace and professionalism as he put others ahead of himself.

“When people are happy that is my joy,” he said. “When people are not happy, that brings me a lot of sadness. My greatest joy is to see the success of others and to make sure people excel in what they are doing and are comfortable.”
It was not always that way for him. At one point, Onesmas was looking for a way to escape life.

I Can’t Go Back to Christ

Onesmas Muchesia Shilisia was born in 1971 into a Luhya-speaking family in the western Kenyan village of Shinyalu. Onesmas and his five siblings were raised as Christians in the Quaker tradition. When it was time for college and finding his place in the world, Onesmas’ faith soon gave way to more worldly pursuits.

Evangelists often came to the area around Shinyalu to hold open air meetings to share the love of Jesus Christ. At the end of one campaign, the evangelists were gathered with Onesmas and his family. They offered to pray for any in the family who had not yet entrusted their lives to Jesus. Onesmas said yes to the offer. Almost immediately, he sensed something was different.

“I didn’t understand why, all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like smoking, I didn’t feel like drinking. I realized, Maybe those prayers have done something in my life. I told my friends, ‘I think I’m born again.’ They started laughing and said, ‘You!? Born again?’’” he explained.

The initial changes he felt, however, quickly disappeared as no plan existed for discipleship in the village. He moved to Nairobi and lived with his brother, who is a pastor. While his brother prayed for him daily, Onesmas thought, He is wasting his time. I don’t think I can be born again, and I can’t go back to Christ. Onesmas soon was at the point where he decided life was no longer worth living and he went into a nearby forest.

I Just Picked up and Continued

“I went to that forest hoping to die,” he shared. “I was expecting that a vehicle would come, I would jump onto the road, and it would kill me. I waited for about an hour, and I never saw a vehicle on the road. Then I went deep into the forest hoping there would be a snake or a wild animal, and I would just provoke it so I would die. But it never happened.”
Defeated even in his attempt to end his life, Onesmas walked out of the forest and immediately encountered a church group holding a street outreach.

“Until today I cannot explain how I found myself amongst them. When my eyes opened, I wondered: How am I here? Where am I? I didn’t even know what was happening. I found I was surrounded by people praying for me,” he shared.

This time was different. This church had a strong team that continuously surrounded Onesmas with encouragement, fellowship and teaching of the Word.

“From there I just picked up and continued,” he summarized.

In Pursuit of a Vision

Mary Wambui Muchesia was born in September 1977 as the second of five children born to her Kikuyu-speaking parents. She was raised in the urban environment of Nairobi and committed her life to Jesus at the age of 17.

Soon after becoming a Christian, God began to show Mary His plan for her life by sparking a passion in her for sharing the gospel with people groups that had not heard it. While attending college in 1999, Mary had her first exposure to the ministry of Bible translation.
“I was seeking direction on what I wanted to do,” Mary recalled. “Some people [from Bible Translation and Literacy, a Kenyan organization] came to our college to share about Bible translation. I was interested, though I did not make up my mind until 2000.”

In pursuit of that vision, Mary worked on a BA in Bible Translation at Pan Africa Christian College. She then took a two-year break to volunteer with a local Christian organization before starting MA studies in Bible Translation at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST). During that two-year hiatus between study programs, Mary reached another important milestone. She met a man named Onesmas.

Onesmas, who had studied accounting in college, was working as an accountant for a local organization called Calvary Production (CAPRO), which specialized in gospel outreach to least-reached people groups. Mary discovered that CAPRO’s emphasis was communicating the Good News to people who had never heard it and became interested in joining them. Soon she found herself working alongside Onesmas. He handled the organization’s accounting; Mary was a cashier. They began sharing their vision and then their lives. They married in August 2008, and Mary continued with her Master’s studies at NEGST.

I Just Followed Her to This Place

One day John Bendor-Samuel from Wycliffe came to NEGST to speak to the students about Bible translation. This sparked a deep sense of calling in Mary’s heart to become a part of Wycliffe’s work. She shared this growing passion with Onesmas.

“When I saw her passion was so strong, I said, ‘Let us pray, because my heart is already in missions and this is what you want to do. I don’t know what I would be doing in a Bible translation organization, but let us just pray.’ For me, I thought it was just people coming together to do Bible translation [only]. I didn’t know there were other things people could do,” he recalled.

After Mary completed her MA studies in 2009, things began to fall into place. A series of meetings, letters and emails concluded in their acceptance as members of Wycliffe Africa in February 2010. Just two big questions remained: Where would they serve? What would Onesmas do?

While Wycliffe Africa sought out assignment possibilities, none of them included a way for Mary to be mentored as a Bible translation consultant. Then one day SIL Sudan’s director, Elizabeth Newport, visited Nairobi.

“When Elizabeth came, I think Edwyn Kiptinness [personnel director for Wycliffe Africa] said to her, ‘We have these people. Do you have a place in Sudan for them to go?’ Then Elizabeth said, ‘Yes! Bring them!’” Onesmas remembered.

In the meantime, Onesmas was still in a dilemma. What could he do? How could he contribute? Since Mary’s role was quite clear, he came to a rather unique conclusion.

“I told her, ‘As much as I feel so free in my spirit to work in a Bible translation organization, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. If you go, I think maybe we shall reverse roles. Instead of a lady following a man – a wife following her husband – I am going to follow you.’ I just followed her to this place,” he shared.

Heartfelt Desires in God’s Hands

After their arrival in Juba in September 2010, Onesmas and SIL began to explore job options. SIL gave him plenty of room to try different roles to see how they fit with his gifts and skills. Two areas of service emerged: language programs management and coordination of Luke Partnership workshops in half a dozen languages of South Sudan.

“The first (workshop) I did, by the grace of God, was very successful, and the administration felt that now I can fit in,” he said about coordinating the logistics for his first Luke Partnership session.

“I find fulfillment when I see people holding and reading Scripture in their language and this motivates me,” Mary shared.

The success of others. People holding and reading Scripture in their language. These are two people’s heartfelt desires that can be multiplied and maximized in God’s hands. He who called Onesmas and Mary into His family is blessing their service for the benefit of the people of South Sudan—and for His glory.