The old shaman’s feet padded silently across the bamboo floor. When he reached the door to our living room, he hesitated, unsure how to proceed. It was a strange sensation to this man who was accustomed to being the pillar of confidence for his clan. He had to see what these missionaries were teaching his people, though, so shaking off his uncertainties, he coughed a polite greeting and stepped through the door.
It was 1995, and my family had recently arrived in the Philippines to work among the Alangan. Barilion was a powerful shaman and patriarch. He had never openly fought us, but he seemed to hold us at arm’s length.
As Barilion tried to slip innocuously into our living-room church service that Sabbath morning, something caught his attention. With a cry of surprise, he shuffled quickly to the picture roll hanging from a nail. Earlier that morning, my dad had opened the picture roll randomly to a painting of heaven. With intense interest, Barilion began studying the scene, his nose almost touching the paper.
When, nearly 10 minutes later, Barilion was still staring enraptured at the picture, Dad went up to him. “What do you see?” he asked.
Barilion looked up with a start as if awakening from a reverie. Slowly a look of determination came over his face. Pointing to the picture roll he exclaimed, “Pastor! I saw that place in a dream last night. Oh, but the real thing is so much more beautiful than the picture can show. I have to go to that place! I have to go there! Please! Tell me how to go to that place!”
A few months later Barilion was baptized. Soon, nearly his entire clan followed him. Today Barilion is in his late eighties, but he is still just as committed to Jesus as the day he first saw heaven.
Sometimes we feel that small gifts to God’s kingdom are insignificant. But because an anonymous donor gave my parents a picture roll back in the early 1990s, Barilion and his clan found Jesus. Never doubt that God will use the smallest gift, if given sincerely, to save lost people.