by Crystal Martinez
As I prepared for my first trip abroad accompanied by two friends from church, I expected that we were going to Ethiopia to bless and give practical support to poor ladies who needed encouragement. But oh my goodness, I had no idea what God had in store for me!
We met with the wives of missionaries serving in rural areas dominated by the M*slim faith. Dinah encouraged these amazing women with God’s Word (read here about that) and then we prepared to wash their feet… feet that have brought the gospel of peace to areas with intense resistance.
As I washed calloused, hardened feet, the women were praying with tears streaming down their faces. I learned later that they were blessing my hands, saying they were the hands of God touching them. I have prayed for years, “God use my hands for your work,” but to actually be told that my hands were the hands of God? I can’t explain how that made me feel knowing God was literally using my hands as His caress, His sweet touch to these humble servants of His.
They told us, “We stand in our huts caring as best we can for our families; we are forgotten. And then you come from the other side of the world to bless us with God’s Word and God’s hands. You have no idea how much this means to us.” These women think they are forgotten and that no one, sometimes not even God, sees them or knows they are there. It is their husbands who are missionaries serving the Lord; they are in their homes, insignificant. We were there to let them know that they are known, are not forgotten, and deeply loved and valued by God (and us). It was a privilege and honor beyond anything I have ever experienced to shower love on them powered by Christ’s tender love for me.
God, I give you all glory because you are able, through your power at work within me, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 5
Several days later we did an all-day women’s conference for 100 recently converted women. (read about it here) And oh, I got to see the joy of the Lord expressed in unfettered worship of the King of the universe! It overwhelmed my heart and brought me to a place of reflection and deep awe for what God is doing in this humble out-of-the-way place. These beautiful ladies who have nothing walked miles to come and sit on hard benches for hours (all day!) to hear the word of God.
God has given me a heart for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Lord and for unreached people groups of the world. I have been reading stories about the struggles of the church and individual Christ-followers in persecuted areas and I never knew quite what to do with the information. I would pray, “Lord, what is it that you would have me learn from this? Why is it you are giving me this burden? What would you have me to do with this information?”
I saw the work going on in Ethiopia through NewLife and I met the missionaries and pastors. They are the persecuted brothers and sisters I have been reading and hearing about. They and their wives have given up so much to follow Christ. Can I do less?
My heart was particularly broken for one group of people that just now are getting the bible translated into their language. The one convert from this tribe is discipling seven other men who will join him in reaching their tribal culture for Christ. It has been an uphill battle for these seven to come to Jesus, but they are now radically committed and confident the Holy Spirit will open doors for the gospel to spread. (read about this people group here)
The vision of my church is to support ministries who work with indigenous missionaries, who plant churches, teach and disciple converts. Indigenous missionaries (same language, same culture, same village in some cases) have a greater impact and response increases in contrast to someone outside their culture coming in. The philosophy of NewLife’s evangelistic outreach echoes these same parameters and I saw first-hand the fruit of their endeavors.
Would you lend support to one of these seven new missionaries? $75 a month will ensure they and their families have daily food so the Good News can penetrate the hearts, lives and culture of this area.