2016 is drawing to a close. Popular news networks have been filled with tales of man’s inhumanity to man, of political turmoil, social upheaval and people making dangerous journeys in search of a better life. Many hearts and homes are filled with uncertainty and fear. The future is filled with foreboding.
As I reflect on 2016 though, my abiding memory is the joy of witnessing the Holy Spirit at work in some of the toughest places on earth, wooing and winning precious souls into God’s Kingdom.
In West Africa, in a desert country under the pitiless glares of the Sahara sun and Sharia law, the Holy Spirit is raising a harvest of righteousness. Underground women’s Bible study groups are yielding baptisms, and lives are being transformed as the gospel flows through family networks. The groups are led by an AFM Bible worker, herself a recent convert, who lost her earthly family but joined the family of God when she was born again.
In the heart of Shi’ism, in a country where it is illegal and very dangerous for missionaries to serve and for any Shi’ite Muslim to convert, an AFM missionary is discreetly yet diligently sowing seeds of the Word of Life. God gives the growth, and by His grace, precious souls are being born again. To see the joy of eternal life on a formerly Shi’ite man’s face as he comes up from the waters of baptism is life-changing!
In the Balkans, where Muslims and Catholic and Orthodox Christians share a painful, blood-drenched history, Muslims are also turning to Jesus Christ. In July 2016, another baptism was held for new converts coming from Islam to the Light of the World. Such events are risky, but the determination of these new disciples to bear the name of Christ is both humbling and inspiring.
Beyond the struggles of visible earthly kingdoms and nations that dominate our news cycles, there is a more profound struggle going on—a battle for the loyalty and love of humanity. In this struggle, the boundaries do not run along national borders, but through each human heart. As AFM missionaries serve among the unreached peoples of our world, they are witnessing stories of salvation and the unmistakable evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
As 2016 turns into 2017, we are looking forward to seeing the Spirit’s work continue and expand. In February, new missionaries will launch from our new recruiting offices in Brazil and South Africa, each supported by the prayers and offerings of local Adventists. A new project will begin among displaced communities in the Middle East. A new website reaching out to Muslims who are having dreams of Jesus Christ will launch. More importantly, we will be praying for the renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit around the world, calling peoples of all backgrounds to fear God, worship Him as Creator, and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Thank you for being a part of this beautiful story that will echo for eternity!