Grown-ups, did you know you’re not the only ones giving to the Global Offering this December at Brook Hills? It’s true! Some of our children have been working the Christmas system so that they can give too. According to reports coming in to Children’s Pastor John Tice, parents are hearing unusual things this month like, “Mom, will you spend $20 less than you were planning to on my presents and let me give $20 to boys and girls in Cambodia? Some of them don’t have enough clean water like we do.” Last week, Pastor John asked the kids to stretch out their arms and see if they could reach out and put a hand on Cambodia. To their disappointment, none of the children were able to physically touch Cambodia. But Pastor John explained that the boys and girls really were “touching,” or impacting, homes in Cambodia through their sacrificial gifts. Grown-ups, we all have a great privilege in being connected to individuals around the world who have never heard about Jesus. Keep reading for one recent example from my life—an unforgettable connection to a Baloch man named Khalil.
Connected to Andy
Andy Wood and I first met serving together in Children’s Ministry. (To anyone at Brook Hills looking for friends, start serving somewhere!) After about a year of knowing each other, Andy and I started a small group together.
Connected to Mark
Andy told me that he had led a small group before with a guy named Mark* but that Mark had moved to join our Central Asia Church Planting Team as a Mid-Termer for two years. Our Central Asia Church Planting Team is focused on gospel work among a Muslim unreached people group called the Baloch. When Mark left, Andy told him that he wanted their friendship to continue despite the distance…and it certainly did. Andy talked with Mark on FaceTime almost every Sunday morning and prayed for him daily. Mark says Andy was “one of the biggest supporters of the team.”
As time passed, Andy’s prayers for Mark started to intensify. Amid one of the most spiritually dark places in the entire world, Mark ended up in a serious and understandable battle for joy. I started praying too. At small group gatherings, we would simply beg God to penetrate the darkness around Mark with the hope of the gospel.
Connected to Khalil
One day, at the cash register in a restaurant, Mark met a man who had the same last name as the team’s target people group. His first name was Khalil*. Mark started talking to Khalil, got his contact information, and invited him to play spike ball with some friends. Khalil joined and started asking questions when the team explained that it was time for them to stop playing and go to their church gathering. Khalil wanted to know more about church and actually asked if he could join them sometime. The team said, “YES!”
Andy and I started praying specifically for Khalil. After a few weeks, Khalil had an opportunity to visit the church without his friends and family noticing, and the team welcomed him. Through Bible study, Khalil started opening up to the truth but struggled with a few things like the divinity of Jesus. Still, he never became argumentative, and the Lord started drawing him back to the church gathering week after week. Each week, Khalil would hear the gospel but would just sit and watch when the team started passing the communion bread around.
With Muslims, salvation often feels more like a process than an event. Mark believed that God was gradually changing Khalil’s heart, and the two became close friends. God’s work in Khalil served as a reminder to Mark of God’s faithfulness.
By the time Mark returned home to the U.S., however, Khalil had still not surrendered to Jesus’ rule. On August 1, 2015, Andy threw a party to celebrate Mark’s return. I was there. Mark told us that his teammate Richard* would be able to keep studying the Bible with Khalil. It seems our Central Asia Church Planting Team functions according to a premise that God is at work in the heart of every living person. In other words, giving up on Khalil would make no sense to them.
Over a year later, on August 10, 2016, I sat down for a routine email-reading session. I was in for a grand surprise. Callie, our Global Partnerships Coordinator, had written to cue a staff-wide celebration of Khalil’s salvation! I read, “The Holy Spirit has been at work in Khalil’s life through a series of friendships, events, conversations, and most recently a dream. And this week, God has rescued Khalil.”
In October, I watched Mark stand by Andy as a groomsman in his wedding. I thought about Khalil and just smiled for minute.
Connected to God’s Global Rescue Mission
Grown-ups, I hope that you will smile this December when you hear the stories from the nations and the invitations to give to the Global Offering. We aren’t just dutifully reaching people groups together; we are cheerfully reaching individuals together. You are connected to Khalil too! I consider all of the time and resources that went into Khalil’s conversion worth it. His last name is still the name of his unreached people group, but he now carries the name of Jesus with him. Jesus is steadily ransoming individuals for God from “every tribe and language and people and nation.”
*names changed for security
Nathan moved to Birmingham in 2013 to study History and Religion at Samford University. His favorite thing about living in Birmingham is being a part of Brook Hills where he has served on staff as our Children’s Ministry Intern for over three years. You can find Nathan around Brook Hills working with kids, helping with Collide, sneaking into Young Singles events, going to Prayer Gatherings, investing in Small Group, connecting with College Ministry, exploring town with an Engage Team, or traveling to the other side of the world on a Missions Team.