I met R & M through F a couple of years ago during a training trip to their hometown in Eurasia (Old Soviet Block Countries). Since then, we have been meeting regularly over the Internet using Skype. We have been learning how to teach others to tell the twelve stories in our Stories of God series. Providing local leadership to a growing network of house churches throughout their country, the ones R & M are discipling are now learning how to use these stories in disciple making ministries of their own.
The Bible’s big story is comprised of many individual accounts. They are all linked together, flowing unbroken towards the climax of history in the future. They have a direction. If you remove these stories from the big story, the grand narrative of the Bible no longer makes sense.
M’s testimony below, demonstrates the importance of discipling non-believers towards belief of their own by telling the Stories of God in order, from the very beginning. I pray that you are encouraged by this testimony and that it challenges you in how you think about the calling to which all believers are called, to make disciples of people in all the world.
Arlie Francis Disciple Daily – Ezra 7:10
Star (my cousin) and her husband, had not been able to have kids of their own. So, they decided to adopt a child from an orphanage. Adoption is a long and tedious process in Tajikistan! After many years they finally adopted a newly born little boy. They named him Timur. When they took him home, Timur was sick and very weak. His new parents bestowed tons of love on their new son, hoping one day to see him completely healed. It took two long years before Timur started to show some signs of life. What joy it was for Timur’s parents to hear the cries of their child turn into laughter. Sleepless nights turned into peaceful and restful times of restoration. Their joy did not last for long.
Almost two months ago, we heard the horrible news that Star’s 2-year old son had choked on a piece of sausage and died! That day was the most horrifying day in the life of my cousin. Grief and emptiness overwhelmed Star. My whole extended family was shaken by this horrible news!
My mom and my dad, and some of my relatives, began calling me. At a loss as to how to console my relatives, they asked me and R to come home as soon as possible. When we arrived, we found grief, guilt, and total desolation. I focused my attention on Star, and listened. She poured out her story. That day had been the first time she had ever left her dear little son. She left him with a trusted Aunty, who sent her to do some of her own errands. Star had left the house quietly without saying goodbye, so that Timur wouldn’t cry after her.
She had only been gone half an hour, when her phone rang with the news that her little boy was dead. They had tried everything. But they could to save him. Arriving home, his little body, bruised and bloody, was laid in Star’s hands. Through her tears, she screamed at her Aunty. “How could you do this to me? You know I can’t have children of my own!” Star’s Aunty was totally distraught. She had beaten herself, pulled out her hair, even told Star that she would gladly give her three of her own children, or grandchildren.
I was sitting with the women, crying and distraught myself. Star blamed herself for leaving her son. Her husband blamed himself for not being able to protect him. Star’s mother blamed herself for not being there. There was shame and guilt all around.
It was then that Star told me about the terrible nightmares she was having. In these dreams, she was all alone in a desert when a snake came to her saying, “You killed your child. You are guilty. You did this to your son!” Terrible guilt, on top of the grief. I thought to myself, “What if it had been one of my children! Oh God, what to do, what to say?” After listening for a while and sensing the deep despair in the room, I knew what to say. Despite the room being full of relatives who don’t believe in Jesus, I knew I had to speak up. My cousin was suffering so badly and the Lord was now giving me a connection to her.
Asking God to guide me, I said to Star, “I know your nightmare, I am familiar with that snake”. Star wanted to know what I was talking about. How could I know the snake in her dreams? I started at the very beginning. Way back in the Garden of Eden, there was a snake who came to a woman and lied to her. Both she and her husband fell into sin and guilt followed immediately. It was then that God stepped in to provide a way for the guilt to be removed… through a sacrifice. God promised that one day One would come who would destroy the snake and remove the guilt of those who believed. He would do this by being Himself a sacrifice, the final sacrifice ever needed. Then I stopped.
Star wanted to know more, what could she do about her terrible guilt. I explained that the snake is Satan, the Accuser. He is the one who weighed her down with accusation and guilt. But from the story I reminded her and the other women that God had promised a Savior! His name is Jesus. He came, miraculously born of Mary to live a perfect life. Jesus gave His own life as the complete and perfect sacrifice for cover our sin and remove guilt.
One of my Aunts piped up. “How come you talk of Jesus as God?” The only answer for her question came from John 1:1-18. I recited from it from memory (Thank you, Arlie, for pushing me with this!). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of all mankind. That Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“Yes”, Star interrupted. “I feel that grace over me now”.
I told Star that if she wanted, God would speak to her just what she needed for this moment. We went into another room where it was quiet. I told Star to simply close her eyes and wait for God to communicate. Star wanted to know how God would communicate. I said, “Maybe in words you hear, maybe something you see, or strong feelings”. Star said, “But isn’t that just my own imagination?” I reassured her. “No, you will know it is not from yourself, but from God.”
A minute passed, Star said she only saw blackness. With a roomful of women relatives waiting next door, I was feeling a little anxious myself. “God you need to speak to Star, please, my words are not enough for her, she needs you God”. I reassured Star, and encouraged her that if she wanted God to speak to her, He would. Another pause.
Suddenly Star started crying. I asked her what was happening. “I see my dear little boy, he is so beautiful, all whole and clean and soft. He is ok. He is telling me that I need to let him go while pointing upwards.” Star put her arms out and drew her son to herself, she told him how sorry she was that she left that day without saying goodbye, and sorry that she left him at all. They said goodbye and she let him go. Star saw the most beautiful colors – heaven. Her face lit up as hope filled her heart. For the first time in all of those horrible days, she smiled. She opened her eyes, and she was different. She ran into the room next door telling her Mum, “I saw him, my little boy! And he’s ok. He is with God. Timur wanted me to let him go, and I did. I said goodbye. It’s not my fault, it’s not your fault.”
Star is surrounded by those who genuinely and devoutly try to find God through the works set out in the law of Islam, but Star wants to know more about this God of grace. Since then we on the phone each day. I am visiting her once in two weeks, traveling from my home to the capitol city every other Friday. I talk to her through the Scriptures. Both of us are experiencing great times of sharing and storytelling. Both of us feel so close to each other, and to God Above us!
Star has not yet walked away from Islam. Please pray for our further steps of getting to know HIM. Please pray that she would find Jesus to be her only Savior, that she would find total peace with God Keep praying for my Dad and my mom and others in my family. They are watching!
Today, all my relatives, including my mom and my dad, are experiencing something new and different through this death and through the best ever comfort my cousin got from the Lord. She keeps sharing about it with EVERYONE!. All of them were witnesses of the grace of our God. There is still a great war within their hearts. But heaven is so much closer to them. My prayer is, “Come into their lives, Lord Jesus. Come!”
Love you all,
M, R with M, Y, Y, M, and S-N!
P.S. – Keep praying for my little Y (10 years old). She witnessed her faith to her teacher. When her teacher asked her, “How do you guys convert people and make them believers?”, Y answered: “We don’t convert people, we share the ‘good news’. Then they choosing if they want it or not.” Her teacher asked her to share the ‘good news’. My baby did! She recited the whole passage of John 1-1:18. We don’t know what happened next! But God knows! But I am sure impressed with my girl. We are so proud of her!
The Story of the Fall is the story that M told Star and her family. You can learn to tell it too!