Twenty bicycles. Twenty eager men of God. I was in Hyderabad, India, and part of my reason for being there was this big moment. It was the kind of day that makes me love my job with Heaven’s Family.
As the first name was called, a beaming pastor stepped forward to accept his new bicycle, provided through gifts to Heaven’s Family’s Mobilize a Minister Fund (now merged with our National Missionary Fund). Within a few minutes, twenty pastors and evangelists were standing beside the most expensive gifts any had received in their lives. To say that they were grateful would be an understatement.
Those twenty men of God were selected by one of Heaven’s Family’s long-time trusted Indian partners, Joab Lohara, who works with hundreds of pastors within his network. As I got to know him that week, Joab told me his extraordinary story.
Joab’s father and mother were life-long Hindus who found Christ when he was a teenager. Watching them endure harsh persecution for their new faith didn’t fill Joab with a desire to follow Christ with them. But at 18, he found himself suffering a severe case of malaria that lasted more than six months. “I was bald and very thin; nightly fevers left me so weak that I needed constant care,” Joab told me. “I was angry at God,” he continued, “Why didn’t He hear the prayers of my family…why was I dying?”
From his sickbed, Joab picked up a tract left by his parents on a table next to him and began reading about heaven and hell. He knew he was dying, and the words of the tract spoke to his heart. At the end of the tract was a prayer. Joab crawled out of his bed to fall on his knees. Tears of repentance flowed as he thought about the sin in his life. He repented, asked God for forgiveness, and put his faith in Jesus. Within a week Joab was strong enough to walk.
Joab enrolled in college, and after graduating he worked as a journalist. An assignment took him to a remote tribal village to investigate a story about their struggles to survive. When his interviews were completed, Joab prepared to leave, but found himself surrounded by men with spears and bows and arrows. Considering him a “rich man from the city,” they told him they would not allow him to leave unless he gave them food or money to buy food, as they were starving.
Later that night, Joab heard God calling him to help the desperately poor of India. Three years later he returned to that same village, not as a journalist, but as a servant of God.
Now more than twenty-five years later, Joab is still serving the Lord and the people of India. Through our partnership with him, we’re not only mobilizing church planters, but we’re also meeting many other needs among the “least of these.”
As I watched those twenty devoted men of God ride their bikes away, I thought about how, just a few months from now, I’ll be receiving testimonies of salvation, healing, deliverance, and more. Thanks for being part of the chain of blessing through your gifts to the National Missionary Fund.
How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:14-15)