BY LAURA HOKANSON
“I want you to be in heaven someday. I want to see you there. The journey will not be easy. So be careful.”
The plaintive words struck Esther’s* heart like an arrow. For the last three years, she had watched her parents grow spiritually after being introduced to Bible truth through an Adventist radio ministry in a closed country. Although she had followed her parents as they began to worship on Sabbath and accept other Bible truths, she had never accepted Seventh-day Adventism as her own faith. Now her father lay dying. His parting words challenged her to grip the truth for herself. “Right then,” Esther says, “I made the decision to love the Lord and never forsake Him.”
When her dad passed away, Esther lost a great mentor in her life. “There was no one to help me study the Bible in depth or to understand it well enough to teach others,” Esther reflects. “Then in 2014 an ASAP Bible worker, Sister Lydia,* came to our area to teach the Bible to young people.”
Esther was a diligent Bible student. Soon she was accompanying Sister Lydia in personal evangelism ministry. “Sister Lydia taught me the fundamental beliefs,” Esther explains. “She had me memorize them, repeating them again and again until they were in my heart.” Sister Lydia taught Esther how to share the gospel, how to distribute literature, and how to survey an environment before sharing gospel-related material. “Before learning these skills, I shared literature at a policeman’s house and was arrested,” Esther says. “But with Sister Lydia’s instruction, I learned to work smarter under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Her patient mentorship was such a gift to my life and ministry.”
Today Esther is married with a young son and another baby boy on the way. She remains active in friendship evangelism, visiting homes regularly to encourage others with prayer and Bible stories. One teenage girl so valued Esther’s visits that she invited her to keep sharing the Bible stories with her, despite the abuse she suffered from her parents after each visit. Esther had no idea of the persecution this girl was suffering because the parents were always hospitable when she visited. “Whatever our daughter wants to do is fine,” they told Esther. However, she later learned that the girl’s family often beat her, forbade her to eat food, and threatened her life in an effort to discourage her from accepting the Bible teachings she was learning from Esther.
Today this teenage girl is married and safe from her abusers. Her husband is taking baptismal studies, and she is leading a Bible study group using My Bible First lessons under Esther’s mentorship. Just as Esther was taught by Sister Lydia, now she is teaching another young disciple to share the gospel of Jesus.
This story illustrates how ASAP missionaries are trained not only to share the gospel but also to disciple others in successful ministry. Please pray for these faithful workers as they carry the gospel forward under difficulty and persecution.