The Bible begins with Spirit of God hovering over. Where there was darkness and void, He commanded light. This truth continues to be evident in our world today. There is light shining, testifying of God’s goodness. May you be encouraged and reminded of God’s nearness as you read the latest testimonies from the field. Each worker has been called by God and has seen the unique and beautiful manifestations of the Creator drawing His creation to Himself.
—Victoria Ninaber, Associate Executive Director for Mission Global—Communication, Development and Technology
“I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:36b, NKJV).
Matthew and Amber Price, Thailand
It was a cage on wheels, driving down our street, packed full of people. We would learn that this prison truck was transporting refugees to Bangkok’s largest Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). Rounded up during early morning raids, refugees would be detained indefinitely as a deterrent to others who might seek asylum in Thailand. As a non-signatory to the international agreements surrounding refugee rights, not even UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) refugee status would protect people from confinement in the IDC system. The centres are brutal places with cells so crammed that detainees take turns sleeping—there isn’t space for everyone to lay down at the same time.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you could visit detainees. We visited weekly, loaded with bags of food, water and hygiene supplies, spending up to 40 minutes per detainee. The visiting space was a covered courtyard with 100 visitors yelling across a fence to 100 detainees on the other side of it. The two-metre gap which separated the two groups was actively patrolled by guards. Despite the chaos, having a visitor meant a detainee could leave their cell. This allowed them to see their own families, as they were often held in separate cells—a father held in one cell could talk with his son held in another.
The first time we went, we met a man who had been in the IDC system for over five years. As Christians, they fled persecution in their home country only to find themselves unwelcome in Thailand and unable to leave. His wife and children were released on bail, but he was held to ensure they did not cause problems. Earlier this year, through a string of miracles, he was released from the IDC and, as a family, they were resettled in Canada. Last summer, we sat with them in their home in B.C. Their journey is still challenging, but they have not lost sight of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Jeanette Shaheen, Sub-Saharan Africa
When I signed up to be a full-time global worker two years ago, to serve as the administrator for Villages of Hope Africa, at the end of the interview, they asked if I had any questions. My only question was about how I would fill the gap between my financial needs and my anticipated contributions from donors. The math simply didn’t add up. The answer I received stuck with me. They replied, “It will never add up. You have to leave God-room.” I made an Excel sheet of my budget with the estimated donors I had times monthly giving, and added a row named “God-room” for the difference.
Two years into my mission journey, I now know what they mean. I’ve seen “God-room” demonstrated time and again. I had a car dealership cover a $10,000 repair cost after warranty. Acquaintances I had known 30 years before and new churches I had never been to became faithful monthly financial and prayerful supporters. Difficult work permits got approved, and recently, God brought a wonderful refugee family to rent my home. These are just a few examples of the “God-room” He created.
God cares. God provides. God has room.
He fills the impossible gaps in our lives through His provision and love for us. I see it in our work in the field, too. God opens doors for people and makes a way where there seems to be no way.
I encourage you today—when your math doesn’t add up, or when the way ahead seems blocked or unknown, make God-room. Give it to Him and watch Him show up (Philippians 4:19)!
Training and Equipping Leaders
Pierre and Marielle Paradis, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Since February 2007, we have been working on the African continent to help the Lord’s workers carry out their ministry. We worked for seven years at the Biblical College of Lubumbashi in DRC as directors, academic dean and professors for the theological training of the Congolese. Then we ran the MET (Missions, Exhibition and Transformation) missionary formation centre in Pretoria, South Africa. For seven years we have trained several hundred African missionary candidates.
Now the Lord has made us want to maximize the time we have left on this earth, and help church movements in West Africa with their missionary structures. The Assemblies of God in Senegal were the first to show interest in this. A first exploratory visit was made in February/March 2022 to evaluate their reality and conduct interviews with members of the National Executive Board. A second visit in the autumn of 2022 made it possible, by means of a questionnaire, to further target their challenges and opportunities regarding the cross-cultural mission.
The aim of all this work is to provide them with autonomous missionary structures adapted to their cultural, social and economic context. If all goes well, the Assemblies of God of Senegal will soon be able to stir up and identify the missionary call in its members, train them for the transcultural mission, and send them with financial support. Ultimately, they will contribute to the great world harvest. We believe that this may be the answer for the evangelization of the Muslim-majority countries of North Africa, so this will be our missionary strategy for the years to come.
Beauty for Ashes
Peter and Patricia Dewit, France
We were still in the same city, the same apartment, yet we found ourselves at the ends of the earth. We were virgins like Mary, with child by God’s Spirit, giving birth to Christ in godless places where it seemed there was no room.
There may be nothing new under the sun, but new things—new to us—were being born during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not elegant. We have lived through colossal shifts before, but none of them took as much as this one did. Involuntary Lent was imposed upon us.
While the outward expressions of our faithful traditions stopped, we saw a revival of all that is unstoppable. Donations poured in like never before. People prepared food and delivered it to our door. Church closed. We could no longer offer lodging to refugees in the coldest weeks of winter. Thanks to the creativity and the generosity of a few friends, we were able to rent rooms at a youth hostel. Every evening our volunteers served hot, home-cooked meals on the rooftop of this hostel, and we became like a family.
People who were homeless were overlooked during the lockdown. We felt it was imperative that STCP (Serve the City Paris) find a way to help. With a special permit from the government, we were able to distribute food and provide masks and hand sanitizers.
Isn’t it just poetic to find the familiar face of God in the seemingly “godless” place at the ends of the earth? Isn’t it fully God and fully man to find solidarity, instead of survival of the fittest? Beauty for ashes? And all of that paradoxical discomfort being born, through us, in a Covid-lined manger?
This article appeared in the January/February/March 2023 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2023 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo of the barbed wire by Markus Spiske on Unsplash. Photo of a sunset over the Loire River in Paris, France, by Bruno Abatti on Unsplash.