BY BRENDA KIŠ
The history of war in one closed country in Southeast Asia has caused Christianity to be seen as a hostile element and a dangerous influence from the West. Church buildings are forbidden and Christians are harassed. Thomas Xay’s* village was not spared this persecution.
The police, village chief, and unbelieving villagers joined together to demolish the Seventh-day Adventist church building. Thomas and four other church leaders were arrested and imprisoned, and those of the believers who remained faithful began worshipping in secret.
Yet God has a way of turning things around. Thomas persevered in prayer and gradually the persecution diminished. Eventually, he was even elected to be head of his village for a few years! Fearing that Thomas would try to push Christianity in the village, some villagers and government officials protested, and he was barred from holding public office.
But this was not the end of the story. Thomas then went to Thailand for a month of missionary training. In the meantime, the village police, hoping to scare believers out of the church, told Christians that Thomas was back in prison. However, through social media Thomas reassured the believers that he was alive and well, learning more about how to share his faith.
When he returned home, he invited the village chief and unbelievers to join the church members for a Sabbath worship and lunch at his home. Surprisingly, they accepted! Thomas had the opportunity to share God’s Word with them and teach them how to give massage treatments. He gave a gift to the village chief, and the goodwill generated by that occasion has opened the way for Thomas and church members to begin house-to-house visitation where they are able to share God’s Word and pray with the people. He has even taught their children to read the Bible and organized a Bible-reading competition for them, with prizes.
In addition to this house-to-house work, he was able to visit the sick and pray for them. In the hospital he met an old woman who was very ill and unable to talk. A relative was there caring for her and Thomas asked if he could pray for the sick woman. The relative nodded “yes” and Thomas offered up a heartfelt supplication to the Great Physician. Within two hours, the sick woman improved greatly and was able to speak and rise from her bed. Now both she and her relative have evidence that God is real!
Thomas has gone through many challenges and trials, but as he has remained faithful to God and focused on his mission, God has brought about the fruit he so greatly desired. Wherever God puts us to work – in the church, in community leadership, or among the people who surround us, He is with us and will work things out for His glory.