PERSPECTIVE: God is not silent
The 6426 Project challenges Sunday School classes and churches to pray for an unreached people group (UPG). According to Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist who has developed this prayer emphasis, we have had 1,907 people groups adopted by 1,907 of our churches. Some of you may wonder if praying for people you have never seen really makes a difference. Well, read the testimony shared with me during my trip to Hong Kong by one of our East Asian missionaries. He tells of the efforts of Pastor Donny Crittendon and the Paradise Valley church near Lawton. Be blessed and start praying!
“God is here on this Earth, and He is not silent. May His people continue to hunger for His will to be done.
A book came out in 2004 called People of the Buddhist World: A Christian Prayer Guide by Paul Hattaway. In the introduction, he lists the 10 most unevangelized and unreached Buddhist peoples. In the number one slot (as the largest and least evangelized) is a sub-group of Northwest Asia called the Oirat (or Torgut) with a population of 200,000 having no known missionaries engaging them and no known Christians amongst their thousands.
God called my wife and me, through the International Mission Board, to this people in 2006. I was not surprised to find that God was already at work, but “how” God works is always beyond my imagination.
Through some young college students from Georgia, we “stumbled” upon a small, rural Asian house church in an out of the way area near Kazahstan. The statistics showed that Torgut Mongols lived in the area, and those students were sent out to try to find if there were any believers. When they bumped into this rural house church and asked them if they knew of any Torgut Christians, the church responded, “Yes, we have eight who attend our church”—the first Torguts known to believe in Jesus.
We began a relationship with them, as secretly as possible, to provide resources and training. I was then contacted by a pastor in rural Oklahoma, Don Crittendon, asking if he could come and bring a few friends with him to visit the Torgut areas, because they had adopted them as a UPG and had prayed for the Torgut people. In the end, only the pastor was able to come out.
When he arrived, we immediately bought him a local hat so that he could almost pass as a local Russian. We took the train (two 12-hour, overnight trips to get to that rural church from where I was living) and arrived in the village at 4 a.m. After arriving at the house church, which was the base of their worship and outreach activities, Don and I sat down to breakfast and tea, and we began sharing the life of Christ with each other. Don mentioned that his church began praying for the Torgut (or Oirat) about four years before. The house church pastor (with a few others in leadership) stopped and asked, “How long ago? When did you start this?” “About four years ago.” “That’s very interesting! It was four years ago that the Lord touched our hearts with the burden of reaching out to the local people of another ethnic group!”
There was electricity in the air, and we all smiled. God had clearly wanted to begin the redemptive work of the Torgut people at this time, and called a small rural Oklahoma church to pray and moved the hearts of the Asians into loving action to serve the needs of the Torguts as a way of sharing the Gospel. At the time of Crittendon’s visit, the Torgut believers had gone from eight to 40, with whole families coming to faith.
In the autumn of 2008, my wife and I were expelled from the country as undesirables because we had shared Jesus with the Torgut people. At the time of our leaving, there were about 120 Torguts who believed, as well as a number of Kazahks.
God is in this world, and He is not silent. We, however, need to choose to join Him, don’t we?”
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.