How Grandpa Opened His Village to God’s Amazing Love
Do you ever wonder if you are worthy to be used by God in a big way? Perhaps you think that you don’t have enough money or education for God to use someone like you. God delights in using people who the world thinks are weak, to do His incredible Kingdom work! God spoke to the prophet Samuel to appoint David, though he was the youngest and least likely person to be King. He chooses unlikely people today as well.
A Long Walk
Many years ago, there was a man from an indigenous tribe in Panama. They are called the Ngäbe and have a population of about 300,000. Very few were followers of Jesus.
One day this man walked a very long distance. After an hour he reached a church. When the man heard the beautiful message spoken there, he thought to himself, “One day, I want to be a preacher of this good news! My own community and people need to hear about this too.”
Ten years later, the longing for his people to know God had increased. He assisted his uncle in starting a small church in his home village. The man, his family, and neighbors began to meet together to worship and pray to Jesus. His name was Raphael.
Hungry For More
It was not easy for him because he didn’t understand the Bible well. He had only completed an elementary school education. Writing was also a struggle, but he was hungry to know more about God.
Several years passed. One day a missionary team came to his area. They were from an organization called YWAM. He was encouraged by their message and wanted to know more. The Lord continued to call and lead Raphael and his family. Eventually, he would do some training with YWAM and join the organization.
Seeing Jesus’ Face
In 2007, God responded to Raphael’s growing desire by showing him a dream. In his vision, the Lord lifted him up and took him to a certain place. There he saw a person in white clothes standing in front of him. Then Raphael saw a pool of water. The person wearing white went into the pool and lay down. As Rafael looked into the water, he saw the face of the person in the pool. It was the face of Jesus!
A voice spoke to him and said, “You will be like a water tank. You will take my water to many dry and thirsty places.” Raphael was filled with fear. He suddenly woke up from the dream. It was 2 a.m. He immediately awakened his wife and said, “We need to pray!”
After months of consideration, they decided to go and start a church in the area Jesus had shown them.
Finding a Person of Peace
The people of that area followed a religious practice called Mama Tada. This is very idolatrous. He was not sure if people would be open to his message and at first, they were not. When he reached the village, no one wanted to receive him. It began to get dark and he had no place to stay. It started raining. This was not easy especially with their small baby. They stayed outside under a tree that difficult night.
The next morning, they started to walk to another place within the Tugri region. The Ngäbe villages are often very spread out into clan or family groups. That day he walked to a different parts of the village some distance away. In that new place, they also would not listen to them or their message. On the third day, they continued to walk, believing God would show them where to begin. They saw a house and approached. An old man, a grandfather who was about sixty years old welcomed them!
“You look like you have something to say”, the old man said. “I am ready to listen to you.”
Raphael then shared the message of Jesus with this man and his wife. They put their trust in Jesus and welcomed Raphael and his family to stay with them. He had found a Person of Peace. After a few days, they returned home but every fifteen days they visited this man and his wife.
Each time they went, the grandpa invited others to hear. “They didn’t know me or want to come with me,” says Raphael. “But they knew the grandfather well so they came to listen.”
Before long they had sixty people meeting in that house for regular fellowship. After that, as the church grew, there were many attacks. They were accused and threatened but God’s work continued expanding.
From a Few People to Thousands
Today, this small indigenous tribe has nineteen churches started by this modern-day apostle. There are over 5,500 believers and more than 3000 have been baptized. The churches Raphael has started are beginning to multiply. His disciples are now starting new churches too.
Perseverance, faith, and finding the key Person of Peace made a huge difference in reaching this indigenous tribe. God chose Raphael. He revealed Himself to Him through a dream. Though he was afraid, this bold, indigenous apostle stepped out in faith. He courageously answered God’s call.
Even when he was not well received, he was willing to keep moving forward until God gave him the old man and his wife. They were ready to not only receive Jesus but call others in the community to hear the gospel message as well.
Each one of us has a calling from God to reach those who have never heard the message of Christ. Whether from your own people group or another, He is asking us today, “Who will go with my message of love?”