Editor’s note: For some believers, volunteering for pioneering missionary trips to overseas territories requires a level of spiritual cultivation and servitude not reached by many—this seems like a task for the ordained ministers and most gifted workers of the church. However, if we are committed to spreading the truth throughout the world, we must correct this misconception so that more will rise up to labor in these faraway fields.
The Africa Ministry Committee (AMC), under the administration of the General Assembly of the United Kingdom (UKGA), has made many in-roads in this respect over the past couple of decades. By setting up an AMC Volunteer Team (AMC VT) and conducting annual training seminars, the AMC has equipped many young volunteers to participate in the evangelistic, pastoral and religious education work in Africa. This has also raised awareness of the work being done, and enabled more believers to envision themselves participating in this ministry. The AMC has established a good model for other missionary committees to emulate.
In issue 85, we published the testimonies of three AMC volunteers, who shared on the power of prayer and God’s grace in their ministry on the African continent. Here, we share a further two testimonies that reveal how, despite all difficulties, God accomplishes the work and, at the same time, refines His workers. These are the lessons they learned.
Jonathon Ho—Elgin, UK
Date of Trip: November to December 2015
Country Visited: Kenya
In the name of the Lord Jesus, I testify. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to help with the National Student Spiritual Convocation (NSSC) in Kenya, in 2015. Because I have been so blessed, I owe it to the Lord to share my experiences and testify of His power and love for His children around the world.
I had never envisioned myself participating in the African ministry. Africa seemed too far away, too hot, and completely out of my comfort zone. I could think of many reasons not to go. But, having heard many testimonies from other African ministry volunteers, I also wanted to experience God’s power in its most raw and tangible form. So I decided to volunteer. In Africa, you are away from home comforts and worldly distractions. When these are not around you, your spirituality and reliance on God are heightened. You depend on Him more and your eyes are opened to witness His presence. Throughout my time there, I experienced His guidance, especially with my health, which was not good at that time. I had heard about the effects of malaria and dehydration, and also about the rural places we would visit, far away from healthcare facilities. So I had to put all my trust in God, believing He would protect me from serious harm. I thank God for allowing me to remain relatively healthy throughout my trip.
As well as this, I would like to share three incidents in which I witnessed God’s power.
THE INJURED CHILD
The first incident happened at our church in rural Simerro, when a young girl, a church member, ran into another child whilst they were playing. The child, who had not yet been baptized, was badly injured and had trouble breathing. We suspected that she might have broken a rib, but the nearest hospital was many hours away by car. We were all very concerned; the teachers and workers of God prayed earnestly for her, but to no avail. We contemplated calling an ambulance, but instead we persevered and prayed more. Thank God, the next day, the child was unrecognizable from the night before—she was playful, running around, and full of life. She had fully recovered!
THE DEMON-POSSESSED CHILD
The second incident involved a twelve-year-old girl, a truth-seeker. She had been acting strangely throughout the NSSC. During one prayer, she broke down in tears and, afterwards, admitted her sins and wrongdoings. We were shocked by what she had done, and we soon learned she was also demon-possessed. The preacher and other workers immediately took her into another room to pray. Picture the setting: we were out in the countryside with dozens of students; it was extremely dark at night and we only had paraffin lamps to light the church. Hearing the powerful prayers of the workers, mingled with the child’s weeping, was unsettling at first.
However, we witnessed the power of God; this child repented and was healed. The following day, she was at peace and very attentive in the lessons. The drastic change in behavior really opened my eyes to the power of God and prayer.
THE CHILD YET TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
The last incident I would like to testify about is the one that made the greatest impact on me. One student had yet to receive the Holy Spirit. During every prayer session, he went to the front of the hall to receive the laying of hands, and he never lost heart. One by one, every other student received the Holy Spirit, but he did not. So, for the last prayer of the convocation, we all gathered around this brother and prayed for him. During the prayer, I could hear the sound of praying in tongues. The noise was overwhelming—it felt like a wave crashing down on me. It got to the point that I opened my eyes to see what was happening. Everyone was praying so earnestly for this brother. Tears were shed and voices became hoarse. Thank God, this brother received the Holy Spirit during this prayer.
The main message I want to share through these three testimonies is the power of prayer. It is evident that God is present within our church, even when we are visiting our brethren in far-flung countries. The power of prayer is the same in your own country as it is in any African country. Prayer helps in times of pain. I am grateful to God for granting me the opportunity to personally witness this. He is all-powerful and so loving to His children. He forgives, heals and comforts when they call on His name.
Thank God for my experiences in Kenya.
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.” (Ps 119:17–18)
Rachel Chan—Sunderland, UK
Date of Trip: September to October 2016
Country Visited: Kenya
Some may think that the secret to a smooth and successful Africa ministry trip is to be adaptable and prepared; with this approach, a volunteer would avoid any major problems. But the truth is, without prayer, we would not be able to accomplish anything. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered and directed the disciples in the time of Acts, He also works through His servants today.
During my first trip to Kenya, I experienced firsthand that we can only serve by the grace, power and will of God, not by our own strength or ability. I soon came to understand that “no prayer means no work,” which became my theme for the trip. I can confidently say that if we had not had an hour-long prayer every morning and evening, the work would not have been as fruitful as it was.
GOD’S PRESENCE SHOWN IN PRAYERS AND HYMNS
During the two-week workers’ seminar held at the church in Alendu, one of my duties was to teach hymns from the Hymns of Praise hymnbook. This was so that the participants could teach them to their local church members upon their return home. During a testimony session, two participants testified of experiences they had in prayers during the seminar, both involving these hymns.
Brother Brian was the youngest member attending the workers’ seminar. He was seventeen or eighteen at the time, while most participants were religious affairs officers aged between forty and seventy. Not only that, he had only been baptized for two months. I was encouraged seeing someone so young dedicate his time and energy to travel such a long distance to learn about God. The seminar’s purpose was to equip the workers in servitude through in-depth Bible study—not an event to be attended casually—so I could see how zealous he was for God.
When Brian arrived, he had not yet received the Holy Spirit. But during the first morning prayer, God blessed him with the Holy Spirit and he began to sing To the Work repeatedly. He had never heard or sang this hymn before, but the words and melody came to him in that prayer. Without knowing this had happened, I decided to teach this very hymn to the seminar participants. When Brian heard it, he was shocked and overjoyed—God had already taught him this hymn in prayer!
This was not the only way God showed Brian His presence and grace. Brian shared how he had come to the seminar with many worries and problems, both physical and emotional. He was suffering from ill-health and backache, though on the surface you would not be able to tell, since he had such a happy demeanor. But by the grace of God, his problems were solved, one by one, over the course of the seminar. I believe God could see his genuine heart to seek the truth, teaching him this hymn to recruit and encourage him to serve.
The second testimony is from Sister Jacinta, whom I can attest truly has the heart to serve God. Not only did she take time off from her work as a nurse to attend the seminar, she also accompanied us on every home visitation in her local area. However, she was suffering from kidney failure and, lately, the pain had affected her commitment to prayer.
One night during the seminar, she had a dream. Although she did not elaborate on the content, it made her question how much time she had left to serve God. The dream began to weigh on her mind and she struggled with worry in her heart. During an evening prayer, she prayed about this matter and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, found herself singing a spiritual hymn. This hymn was O Think of the Home Over There.
At this juncture, I should add my own experience. During an earlier prayer session, I was praying over which hymns I should share with the members. At this point, the Holy Spirit inspired me to sing three hymns: At the Cross, Send the Light, and O Think of the Home Over There. As I sang, this medley of hymns blended and repeated throughout the prayer. Although I wondered if I had truly received these hymns from God, or whether it was just my imagination, I decided to teach them in the next hymnal session.
Jacinta was familiar with the first two hymns, but O Think of the Home was new to her. So later, when God answered her prayers with this hymn, she was deeply comforted and full of thanksgiving. The hymn encouraged her to set her sight on the Lord and our heavenly home. While we still have time and life in us, we should use it wisely to serve the Lord.
Not only this, but I was later informed by Jacinta’s niece that her aunt no longer needed to take medication for her kidney failure. Thank God, she had been healed!
Together, these testimonies reveal that God is true and His Spirit abides with the true church. God worked in the lives of three witnesses, and His name was glorified. God knows what is in our hearts, and He gives us reminders, strength, encouragement, direction and hope through His precious Holy Spirit. This is how He testifies to us that we belong to Him. These experiences are not just for the moment, but to give us strength for a lifetime of service to God.
THE SIMPLE FAITH AND SERVITUDE OF OUR BRETHREN
The members I met had such pure and simple faith; their joy in the Lord would overflow from their hearts and be poured out into their actions. At the workers’ seminar, after each morning prayer, we would go around to shake each other’s hands, greeting one another in the name of Jesus and saying, “Praise God.” There was an elderly sister named Bella who was a good example of genuine joy in the Lord—every morning she would give me the biggest hug and widest smile. Her enthusiasm was so contagious that we would stand there happily praising God together.
The members truly love God and are content with whatever He gives them. In more developed countries, our faith towards God may be conditional. It is based on what we can see before us, and the current state of our life—whether it is peaceful, unsatisfied or full of worries, for example—rather than an unwavering love for God. The African members may lead simple and humble lives, but their faith is also simple and humble: trust in God in all things and He will be our salvation. They love to pray, which is a powerful way to show their love for God—to give thanks to His name and to pray for His will.
Not only did I learn from the faith of our African brethren, but also from their servitude. They were very willing to give, even out of their own poverty. They did not have much, but they gave the best they had—their time, their physical strength, their humility and their willing hearts. For example, they provided us with hot and cold water every night so that we could wash with warm water. Bear in mind that without kettles or boiler tanks, heating up vats of water was neither fast nor easy. During our time in Alendu, the same few sisters cooked for us—three meals a day for two weeks. Those with access to conventional ovens, electric kitchen gadgets and supermarkets cannot begin to imagine the labor involved in cooking without such conveniences. These sisters had to build fires and work in the heat all day long just to cook and wash up for us. I tried to help but, believe me, it was not easy. I sincerely thank God for their love and care.
LASTING FAITH LESSONS
Some may have the impression that the work in Africa always goes according to plan. The workers preach, many come to believe, demons are cast out, and great miracles are wrought. This is true, and I have witnessed it myself. But during this trip to Kenya, God guided me to a great realization: the path of servitude is not always straightforward; things do not always go according to plan, but we must always press forward.
It may seem that, in Africa, people simply believe and are baptized into the fold. But like everywhere else, problems arise. Where God is working, the devil is also trying to obstruct the work. People fall due to pride and temptation, and some leave the church. Going to Africa, I did not anticipate that I would witness this side of the ministry.
I heard about situations where individuals had departed from God and, in doing so, decided to bring harm to the church. It made me feel sad and discouraged to hear such things, but I brushed these feelings aside and distracted myself with the joys of spending time with our family in Christ.
However, God knows what is within our hearts. I noticed that, throughout the trip, I would often sing spiritual hymns during prayer. But these experiences were different from previous ones: I was moved to sing hymns from the hymnbook. This made me very self-conscious, and I was unsure whether I was being moved by the Holy Spirit, or singing of my own accord. I would try to suppress it by pausing and speaking “Hallelujah,” but it would instantly come flowing out even stronger. I would sing different hymns, sometimes blending one into another, or the melody would be slightly different. There were times I would sing a hymn I was not very familiar with, and would have to search for it in the hymnbook afterwards.
Upon reflection, there was a running theme between the hymns I was moved to sing. Many were about the cross, the blood of Christ, and about the heavenly kingdom and following God to the end. Even so, I could not understand why I was receiving these hymns and why it was happening so often. I eventually came to a half-satisfying conclusion that it was because I felt weak.
Several months after the trip, I attended the Africa Ministry Training Course (AMTC) 2017 in London. The participants who had already visited Africa were asked to share their experiences during a scheduled sharing session. During the evening prayer, on the day before the sharing session, I prayed and asked God what I should share. I briefly thought back to my experiences of receiving hymns in prayer, but dismissed it fairly quickly. I thought, How could I share something that I still don’t really understand myself? On thinking this, I suddenly felt a strong feeling within that said, “It’s because you were discouraged.” These words pierced me; I felt vulnerable, but at the same time, a feeling of relief and comfort flooded me. At that moment, everything clicked. I realized that, during my trip, I had suppressed these sad thoughts rather than deal with them. But even if we try to hide our deepest thoughts, the Spirit of God knows what lies in our hearts:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8:26–27)
God had been encouraging me all along, so I could continue to serve Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He gave me the message to keep moving forward. No matter what happens in church, no matter who may depart from God, nothing that has happened or will happen can dilute or degrade the sacrifice given by our Lord Jesus. He shed His blood and gave His life on the cross—paying the price for our sins. Nor will anything tarnish God’s glory or impede God’s salvation plan. Therefore, all we can and must do is follow Him till we reach the heavenly kingdom.
 By Fanny J Crosby (1820–1915).
 By DeWitt Clinton Huntington (1830–1912).
 By Isaac Watts (1674–1748) and Ralph Erskine Hudson (1843–1902).
 By Chas H Gabriel (1856–1932).