“The gospel that Paul and the other apostles preached sharply challenged Caesar and his kingdom. Their message was radical, subversive, and treasonous—fomenting a revolution. Note these words in the book of Acts: ‘These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus’ (17:6–7 NASB). When the kingdom of God is announced, things happen. The heavenly realm is moved. Fallen men and women repent. Hell is awakened and incited. Those who herald the gospel are criticized, attacked, and persecuted. The kingdom of God calls all the kingdoms of this world to account. It confronts the temporary powers of this world system. Hence the backlash” (Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, by Frank Viola).
So, what’s happening here?
Recently, one of our sisters in the village shared with us how she had been praying that her husband, who is Buddhist, would stop drinking. Our sister works hard in the fields while also caring for her family and her home. She wishes that her husband wouldn’t get drunk and lie around all day.
She was surprised when he took a vow not to drink alcohol for the three-month period of Buddhist Lent. She shared that when she came home from work one evening, he had already cooked dinner. She is happy to see that he is trying to help her more at home and is a nicer person to be around. After years of thinking that things would never change in their marriage, she sees a ray of hope.
Things are happening.
Near the end of last year, a large group of children from a neighboring village began coming every Sabbath to our Kids’ Church. An uncle of one of the kids faithfully transported the whole group in the back of his Toyota pickup truck. This new group of kids was starting to form a bond of friendship with our existing group, and we were excited to be able to share with them about God’s love.
Then, suddenly, they stopped coming altogether. We later heard from some friends in our village that some of the children’s parents had been warned not to send them to our learning center because we were just trying to change their religion.
A few months ago, we approached the main government school in that neighboring village to talk with the principal about the possibility of us coming to teach English classes. We talked with her about the creative learning center and our work in the community, and she was excited to have us come. However, she told us that she would first need to discuss the matter with the parents’ association for the school.
A week later, the principal contacted us to let us know that the parents were fully supportive of having us come, and that the parents’ association would cover all the monthly expenses for us to teach English classes at the school.
The heavenly realm is moving.
Since we started teaching English at the school in the neighboring village, there is one small boy, a first grader named Gaow, who has latched on to Jared. Even when Jared is trying to teach the older students, Gaow will sneak into their classroom and disturb the class just to get Jared to pay attention to him. Jared has to stop class and carry Gaow to the school office just so he can continue teaching.
One day after Gaow had to be carried to the office yet again, the first-grade teacher came to talk with Jared. It was clear that she was feeling a bit embarrassed about the situation with Gaow. She explained that Gaow takes medication for hyperactivity disorder, and he often disrupts her class as well. She opened up to Jared about the challenges she is facing trying to help Gaow. Jared told her that he understood how hard her job is, and they agreed to work on a plan together to help Gaow. She appreciated Jared’s understanding and eagerness to support her. The teacher also shared with Jared about how Gaow lives with his grandmother, who is the lone caregiver for her three grandchildren. We are hoping to visit Gaow’s grandmother soon at her home and talk with her about how we can provide extra support for her grandson at our learning center. Sometimes just knowing that someone else genuinely cares and is there to help can provide a spark of hope.
Things are happening here. The heavenly realm is moving. Because of our work and our ministry here, we have also faced persecution, attacks and criticism. At times, the attacks and criticism have even come from those we thought would be supportive of our efforts. Our friends and family here have felt the backlash as well. Yet we remember the promise in Romans 8:33: “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself” (NLT).
So, is preaching that Jesus’ kingdom has come into the world worth the trouble of facing the fiery darts? Is upsetting the order of things worth all the heartache and pain? When we see the kids and our friends here forming real relationships with Jesus, finding peace in their lives and truly beginning to understand that there is a God who loves them, we know it’s worth it.