Nothing stirs the spirit to praise like seeing God’s hand in history and being able to observe up close where that plan intersects someone’s personal life. This summer in SEND China, one of our national workers had the privilege of experiencing the lasting fruit of faithful missionaries who had served in China as early as 1910. Many people are familiar with the stories of J.O. Fraser and John & Isobel Kuhn and their work among the Lisu tribe. According to Operation China before the Lisu embraced Christianity, they were “described as utter savages.” It was difficult soil to penetrate with seeds of the gospel, but through deep prayer and perseverance Fraser, the Kuhns, and many that came after them reaped the benefits of those early years of painful labor among this formerly unreached people group. By the Chinese government’s own records, in the 1990s over 90% of the Lisu tribe was still Christians! In the story that follows you will see how the seeds of the gospel that were planted over 100 years ago have sprouted and continue to be sown by the Lisu into the hearts of other unreached peoples in China.
For those of you who remember hearing or seeing Melody’s story, this will also serve as an update of how God is using her to reach her family and friends in the Yi community.
I had been waiting for a long time for an opportunity to tell my family more about Jesus. When I heard about a Christian summer camp that was happening near my home village I invited many of my young cousins to attend with me. I was excited when three of them agreed to come with me on the trip. They had never taken the train before so when I told them we would sleep on the train they tried to picture how there could be a guest house or hotel on the train! This made us all laugh once they were on the train and saw the small sleeping compartments!
The journey there was hard. After our first leg on the “hard sleeper” train, we got off in a small town to find our bus. We had to transfer to different buses so many times I couldn’t even keep track of how many different buses we took! Despite the fact that we had all taken medicine for motion sickness, between the long train ride, the bumpy roads, and changing buses, every single one of us was car sick. The farther we went, the narrower the road. We transferred from a bus to a motorcycle, then the road was so narrow and bumpy, even the motorcycle couldn’t go further and we walked the rest of the way. You would think after all of the different vehicles and motion sickness, we wouldn’t be in a good mood, but somehow through it all, we were able to laugh. Even the students felt the journey was funny!
When we arrived in the village, we discovered it was a Lisu community. I found out that the sponsoring church is over 100 years old and the people told us it was because missionaries from Europe had come back then and told them the good news. As I looked around the village, I really admired this people group. They live in harmony with one another and there is a very friendly spirit among them. They have a registered church, even though it is not Three Self. The environment where they live is incredibly difficult, but they live simple and humble lives. They were extremely generous to our group and continued to give us good things our entire time there. I found myself thinking “They are a very blessed minority. I have faith that someday my people and my village will be like them.”
During the camp, a blind Christian teenager from a large city gave a testimony. He said that even though he couldn’t see, he still had ears to hear and a nose to smell. He challenged the group: “The Father created your eyes so that you can see, have you ever given thanks to the Lord for that?” His testimony was so moving and convicting, all three of my cousins decided that day to become followers of Jesus! I was so encouraged and full of joy! All of my cousins are from my people group, most of who do not know about Jesus at all! Please continue to pray for A Fu and Yi Dong who are both Nosu, Xioliangshan people, and for Yan Bin who is a Yi minority. This was their first summer camp experience; I pray their faith stays strong when they return back to their villages and are not with any other Christians.
To see these three young cousins believe in Jesus, gives me faith that one day my people group will experience the same blessing of God’s grace as the Lisu People in southwest China.
What a privilege for Melody to see the work of J.O. Fraser, Isobel Kuhn, and many others come full circle in the lives of her family. What an amazing testimony to the enduring power of God’s Word as a previously savage tribe spreads the glorious gospel to their neighboring unreached people groups. What an encouragement to our SEND workers who have discipled Melody since she was a young English student, new in her faith, to now see her bringing others into the kingdom. Just like the difficult journey to the camp, the journey to the unreached is not an easy one. The road is bumpy and the path is often narrow. Join Melody and SEND China in prayer that one day her village and her people will be just like the Lisu!
Week 1: The NoSu, Xioliangshan People are still one of the neediest unreached people groups in China. Classified under the YI minority, over 95% of this sub-group has never even heard the gospel. Please pray for spiritual breakthrough among this very dark and needy people. Pray for the faith of Melody, her cousins and some of her other believing family members to be strengthened and for the strongholds of the enemy to be torn down.
Week 2: Please pray for A Fu (middle school boy) and his sister Yi Dong (high school freshman). A Fu is shy and sensitive; please pray for his faith to grow and for it to last beyond just hearing a moving testimony. Pray for Yi Dong as she enters high school. She is a very intelligent girl; pray for her to be able to receive a good Bible, Christian books, and a mature Christian to disciple her along.
Week 3: Yan Bin just graduated from middle school and does not have a mother or father. His experience at the summer camp caused him to start thinking about the true meaning of life and how he can make sense of his past experiences. Pray for growth into maturity and a reliance on God as His Father.
Week 4: Pray for Melody and the other workers that serve with her. Pray for team unity and for a clear vision and strategy as they plan continued outreach into this minority people area in China. Pray for open doors and for spiritual stamina as they are all headed into enemy territory. Pray for God to continue to “open a door to our message that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3).
*names are changed for security reasons