Asia (MNN) – This story comes wrapped in a shroud of mystery. It involves a mother and her children, but because this person is a person of considerable influence in the nation in which she lives, keeping her identity under wraps ensures her safety.
The unnamed nation is in Asia and is known for the persecution of Christians and nationalism that drives its government. Because Christian congregations can’t build a church structure there, the body of Christ meets in smaller venues, gathering in something more like a house church. The government ties national identity to its dominant religion, and it works to eliminate groups perceived as threats.
For such a time as this…
Now, consider a parallel in the Old Testament; ancient Persia, about 100 years after the Babylonian captivity. The king of the Persian Empire is Xerxes I. Esther is his queen. An imminent threat faces her people with a pogrom-styled campaign headed by one of the court’s highest officials, Haman. Esther’s cousin Mordecai urges Esther to use her influence to persuade the king to stop the campaign, using these words in Esther 4: 13-14.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house, you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
God used Esther to deliver her people.
More women training to influence
Bibles For The World’s John Pudaite recently returned from a tour through Asia with some of the ministry’s partners. While there, he observed more women joining the ranks in seminary training. “My eyes were opened fresh, (to) the importance, the influence, the impact, that these women will have. This ministry focuses on children, youth and families in the church planting process. And they were training some of our students at the seminary, where now over 10% of the attendance is female.”
He says as he considered the shift, it’s important to note the potential impact reaching the women could have in Kingdom-building efforts throughout creative access nations. “Certainly a woman who is well-equipped, well-versed in the scriptures– it’s something that she can live by.”
Even if she can’t share the message directly with a husband, it can still change the family. “It’s something that she can share with her children. It’s certainly something that she can start instilling biblical values and principles into her children, and always be able to point (out) that it comes back to the Word of God.”
Esther is in the house
The next visit underscored that idea. At one house church stop, he says, “I was told that there’s a woman in the audience who’s in the congregation. She’s been attending there for a couple of months. She’s definitely a person of influence.” This woman chose a small church so she could avoid the security fuss of attending a larger church. She was there to learn and grow in her newfound faith. She stayed after the services to attend the Bible study, led by the local pastor. Then she approached Pudaite with a request.
She asked him for a study Bible so that she might be able to share her faith with her loved ones. Considering the country, that’s a bold and dangerous request. Pudaite says, “Our commitment is to do whatever we can, despite the sensitivity of the situation, to be able to provide the resources, the encouragement and support directly, or through some of our partners who have more immediate contact with her. That’s something that we will continue to pray about and look for opportunities as Lord opens those doors.”
In the meantime, he’s asking us to, “Pray for this woman. As I said, ‘She’s an ‘Esther’ in the house.’ I know that she’s going to play a very influential role in the spread and the growth of the Gospel in this country.”
Headline photo courtesy Bibles For The World