The Power of Proximity to God's Presence

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Matthew 18:20 NIV

At church this past Sunday, my pastor reminded us all to invite friends to church for the upcoming Easter holiday. It’s the weekend during which people in American culture are most apt to attend church, and therefore a prime opportunity to share the gospel message. “When faced with argumentative refusals,” he encouraged, “challenge them to sit through just one service. Because one hour in God’s presence will wipe away every human argument.

It’s the same in much of the world - Easter is a glorious celebration and often draws entire communities together. Even in cultures that don’t share the post-Christian tradition of going to church on Easter, local pastors make the most of the opportunity. They do whatever they can to draw attention to the occasion of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Palm Sunday often is a day for community outreach events. Good Friday services stretch long into the night. Easter Sunday is a time for feasts and celebration! These events offer high entertainment value in a rural communities in Africa, the Middle East, or South Asia. And the power of the proximity of God’s presence will erase generations of animism and idolatry just as quickly as it wilts our Western logical arguments.

While I was in church last weekend, Bibi* was thousands of miles away in her home in South Asia. She was Hindu, as her family had been for generations. Bibi likely had never heard the gospel before. She knew there were Christians in her town, just as there were Muslims and Sikhs. Everyone kept with their own. At least, they did until Miriam* came. Miriam is an undercover, frontline missionary supported by the Global Advance Alpha Relief initiative. And she’s all about the gospel. She has gathered a team of young, enthusiastic and missions-minded friends to help her go to the unreached throughout her province, and eventually the whole nation.

Last weekend Global Advance hosted a training event for Miriam and her team. Afterward, they decided to hold an open-air worship and evangelism service. They set up some lights and a sound system and began to sing. It just so happened that they set up right next to Bibi’s home. As they worshipped Jesus in the street outside her home, Bibi felt the power and presence of God overwhelm her. She came out to talk and find out what had happened to her. She gave her life to Christ right there, and then she went back inside. Shortly, Bibi came back out into the street with her arms full of talismans, idols, and symbols of her Hindu faith. She dumped it all at the makeshift alter there in the middle of the street. This was no hype-of-the moment emotional decision: in the blink of an eye the Lord overcame generations of Hinduism and Bibi was transformed on the inside. There is power in the proximity of God’s presence.

Miraim's team receives training and resources for sharing the gospel.

Global Advance is tenaciously focused on South Asia for this reason: Hundreds of millions of people in South Asia have never heard the gospel message. It’s not difficult to share Christ with them, but it does take commitment, sacrifice, and boldness. Miriam has been kidnapped before and she has received death threats. But through your support she presses on and her team continues to grow. Thank you!

-Ben

P.S. Remember to invite someone to Easter next week. There is power in the proximity of God’s presence.

*Names changed for security