Diana looked up at me from behind her veil, the long garment covering her clothes swaying in the light breeze: “I was born into my religion, my family, my culture, but now I can call myself a Christian, because Christ gave me His name.”
During “Global Student Launch Week,” our team was searching for students in whom God had already been working. Students who can get the Truth to the millions who are perishing in this extremely unreached part of the world. We navigated quickly through conversations, asking students if they had been reading from the Bible or seeking a connection with God. About 99% of the time, they said no, and so we kept searching. We had already talked to and walked away from many students before we met Diana.
One minute into our conversation, Diana confided that she had been reading on her own from the Bible for two years. As she put it, she was not searching for religion, but seeking “a connection with God.” We went through the Knowing God Personally booklet, and in awe I watched the Father bring the pieces from her reading over the past two years together. At the end, Diana looked up at me, eyes sparkling with tears that hadn’t yet overflowed: “I believe. I want Jesus.”
For me, this was a holy moment, after my own two-year search for a student from this part of the world who was already seeking and ready upon clearly hearing Truth, to move from death to life.
As Diana invited Christ into her life, I was overwhelmed by the “things hoped for but not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:1), coming to pass in front of my eyes. It was a powerful and beautiful eternal moment.
I asked this young woman if she felt God had a special purpose for her life. She answered: “Yes, that God would use me to help others see the truth about who God really is.”
After talking a little more, I challenged Diana to write down three people she desired to bring into the Kingdom with her. She asked curiously: “Is it ok if I write down groups of people?”
A few days earlier, I had written friends: “I can’t come up in my mind with how what our team is trusting God for this week will happen. But I’m learning that’s the best place to be, because it brings us to a place of complete surrender and dependence, giving our Father the room to do what only He can do — which is far beyond anything we could ever imagine!”
Diana was one of three students from that campus who moved from death to life that week. And, our second day on that campus, my teammate Andrew met a student named Lawrence, whose family is from a different part of the world. Lawrence is a strong believer who had already been thinking and praying about how God could use him at his university, but had never been equipped to share the gospel. Two days later (again on that same campus) we met three more students, also believers with families from other countries, who had visions to be used by God to reach the campus. All four accepted the challenge to take action and be coached!
Over this semester, God has done everything we were trusting Him for and abundantly more. He has shattered our boxes. With the breakthroughs, the coinciding spiritual battle and oppression has been intense and overwhelming at times. We realized from the beginning in this journey of engaging students in three new nations that we couldn’t move forward without extended time in prayer every day (usually about an hour as a team). The five of us also felt led to cover every week in fasting, each taking a day Monday to Friday. As we come before the Lord, He gives us promises from His Word to claim, and shows us and our student leaders a way forward where many have said: “Nothing is happening here. That’s not possible.”
We had no connection to any of the students we met that week last month. We went to campuses searching for them. It seemed radical and absurd. It stretched my faith.
In the past 12 weeks in this specific nation, where before this year we have never had a presence, God led us to 11 students who accepted the challenge to lead and take steps of faith toward their visions to reach their campuses. Three of the 11 are new believers! Six students accepted Christ (some through our current student leaders), and six key student leaders representing four different universities in the capital have formed their own team, led by a student, and begun meeting together.
What’s clear is this: these nations may be some of the most unreached and where it may seem most unlikely to find God at work, but it’s in the darkness that His glory has undeniably broken through, piercing hearts — including mine. I have no words to adequately describe our Father’s faithfulness and love, and the gift of being invited into His powerful work. He is here in the darkest crevices: pursuing, restoring, giving people His name and raising up students with hearts on fire for Jesus, to stand and reach out with the Truth.