I was in Florida a few weeks ago to attend the Hope Celebration with our long-time friends and ministry partners OneHope. OneHope is a wonderful organisation which is reaching millions of children and youth around the world with the Good News of Jesus. They produce a lot of resources, including Book of Hope and the Bible App for Kids, which has been downloaded over 10 million times.
The Hope Celebration was a time for leaders to gather, pray, fellowship and hear what God is doing through the ministry. One of the speakers was Pastor Andrew, who works in the Sahel region of Northern Africa. The team there is working in a very difficult context where the practice of Voodoo is very common and the terrorist group Boko Haram also has a lot of power. Boko Haram is the group which kidnapped over 270 young girls in 2014 and is regularly involved in horrific violence across the region. Despite these many challenges, God is working powerfully, and the Good News is still being shared in many creative ways.
Pastor Andrew shared a story about a day he came face to face with some terrorists deep in a forest while he was travelling. Ahead of him, he could see a group of heavily armed men advancing toward his car, and so he started to pray. Eventually the group surrounded him and demanded that he drive them to the nearest town. As some of the men got in the car with him, Pastor Andrew said he felt the presence of God come and (very boldly) he decided to give each man a Book of Hope. There was silence, but Pastor Andrew could see that each man was reading the book. After about 10 minutes, he asked the men if they understood what they were reading, and they said they did. He then asked if they would like to give their lives to Jesus! The men agreed and they stopped the car right then and each prayed to receive Jesus as their Saviour.
When the group arrived at the nearest town, Pastor Andrew was able to show them a nearby church – and today (over a year later), those men are baptised and part of a church.
Stories like these fill me with such hope as I hear how God is moving around the world in extraordinary ways.
As I wrote recently, it can be easy to look at the world’s headlines and think that God is silent. But I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John 16 where He says:
‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
Praise God that no matter what our newspapers say, we still believe and know that through His death, Jesus has indeed overcome the world.
Please do pray for the vital work of OneHope in reaching children around the world.