• Jeff & Julie Sanders

The Power of an Innocent Friend's Story

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

When we share how we came to Christ, both of us start with our families. Before we were, God was working to put us on a path to His truth. We are not the only characters in our story.

Do you know your faith story?

On the last night of the Soura Retreat, leaders planned a “Culture Night.” Our new friends sat around the room’s frame, with our seats reserved for the best view. Like many cultures where literacy flounders under the lack of resources and written language takes second place to diverse spoken languages, oral storytelling thrives. Their gift to us was to share who they were that led to who they are and who they hope to be. It was drama, musical, and storytelling with a full cast of characters.

Repeatedly, partners described this people group as “innocent,” meaning they are trusting, honest, genuine, and open. This people knows what matters most and keeps it before them as a group and as individuals.

A translator whispered as we watched with awe. It began with a backdrop of animal sacrifice, idolatry, alcoholism, demonic dancing, animistic priests, and chaos. Intensity built in times of disease and desperation to find help and hope where none was found. Confession came as they acted out the coming of the truth from a distant messenger. They resisted, shunning any who dared follow him. The story, the whole story, played out before us.

Poor health and hardship made fertile ground for the persistence of the messenger who kept coming. Once the Gospel gained a foothold, idol priests began to see the true God’s power as He heard their prayers. Over time they began to receive the Truth, learning what God says. Now they sing and dance in worship of the real, one God. If the story ended there, it would’ve been a beautiful story, but then it got personal.

At their request, we prepared teachings on “God’s Design for Family.” In our time together, our “innocent” friends shared how they were struggling in their own households. In the final act, they portrayed this in open confession, showing children falling into temptations of mobile phone use, pornography, alcoholism, rebellion, and disrespect. Husbands were gone so much that they ignored leading their own families. Wives were unengaged and didn’t see godliness as their responsibility. God’s Truth wasn’t in their Families.

They had complete Bible since 1992, but they only now understood it applies to our private and personal lives. The retreat had been a pulling back of the veil. As the drama drew to a close, the leader repeated the big ideas of our lessons. The father repented publicly to his wife and children, weeping in sorrow, asking forgiveness. Together, the family of the pastor wrapped their arms around each other in prayerful commitment to let God use His Truth in their Family to equip His Church to reach the world.

We sat in stunned gratitude. God is moving in great ways among national partners and indigenous peoples. What an honor to join in what He’s doing. Thank you for praying that God’s word would do what it does best – move in a living, active way that divides and reveals truth. You’re in the Soura story.

Today's salvation begins with yesterday’s story. What a beautiful reminder from our innocent friends.

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