Week of Prayer missionaries take gospel light to dark places
The Indian bride wore blue silk, trimmed with gold. Rich fabrics in brilliant hues are traditional for wedding saris in this megacity.
But the guest list was anything but typical. Among those celebrating this day were 20 prostitutes—women who were like family to Shanti.* She knew them from the years she shared their heartbreaking lifestyle as a prostitute. That was before the ministry of a Christian activity center rescued Shanti from her former life. She is now a believer and has a good job to support herself. And on this day, she even married a Christian man.
International Mission Board missionaries Rodney and Helen Cregg* have partnered in establishing the activity center that offers prostitutes a place to learn basic skills in the middle of a notorious red-light district.
The Creggs are supported by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, an annual offering facilitated by the International Mission Board and Woman’s Missionary Union in partnership with Baptist state conventions. Many churches will mark the Week of Prayer Dec. 4-11.
“This is why we do what we do, to see these ladies—and other people in [this city]—realize the hope in the gospel and then find victory in freedom,” Rodney says.
Another woman at the center agrees: “Being involved at the center, I am finding the love I didn’t get from my family from people who know the Lord. Through Jesus I am experiencing love. I am blessed.”
Finding home again
Missionary Layla Murphy* was shopping in a vegetable market in Southeast Asia when she heard phrases she understood. Two women were speaking the language of the Buddhist country from which she had just been expelled, after laboring for years to share the gospel.
Soon Layla learned that hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and refugees from her former country lived in this sprawling urban center. God’s providence had set her right in the middle of the gospel-hungry people that she’d felt called to serve. Then, a national pastor asked her to stay right there to teach, train, and disciple new believers from the country that she can’t live in but calls “home.”
On the first day of class, she planned for 15 students but 50 showed up. “God had put hunger for his Word deep in their hearts and this was the first time that they’d ever had the chance to learn [the Bible].” Though she would rather serve in the country she loves, “this deepened my trust in God.” Her students tease her that she is also a refugee—the American refugee, Layla says.
“That sort of binds our hearts together.”
– From IMB.org