God is building up a national IFES team in a country in Eurasia – through staff and students from countries halfway round the world. Two national staff members tell their stories of the part non-nationals played in their spiritual development.
‘Madiana’ grew up with an Orthodox mother and an atheist father. While at university she was invited to a Thanksgiving party. ‘I went there, not knowing that Christians would be there. There was a different atmosphere, with people of various ages and backgrounds. It felt very special.
‘Then I took part in a summer English programme led by Canadians from Inter-Varsity. A student invited me to a bible study and eventually I started attending.
'After half a year a staff worker approached me. I had had this obsessive thought that I needed to get a bible, but they were too expensive. On that day she gave me one! It was really a miracle. We started meeting and she became my mentor and I started to grow in my faith.
God is providing national staff workers in this very closed context, who are the fruit of the faithful ministry of people from many countries.
‘My calling to serve through IFES was a slow process. I was involved as a student leader and I liked what I was doing. Another staff worker from the UK came and kept meeting with me. Then I went to a leadership development conference in Poland and there decided this is what I want to do.
‘One of the greatest joys I have is seeing students change. When I first started as an intern I met a girl who said she had come to Christ and enjoying fellowship but we didn’t see much growth or interest. However, over two years we met together, I discipled her, and now she has a servant heart and wants to lead people to Christ!’
‘Alexa’ is another national staff worker who benefitted from the outreach of non-nationals. ‘My parents were not religious but are nominal Muslims,’ recounts Alexa. ‘I wasn’t taught much about religion until the year the Soviet Union collapsed, when missionaries started coming. Every Friday a pastor preached – we had nothing else to do so the whole village came and listened to bible stories. I remembered this image of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart and was afraid he would leave!
‘In the summer of 2000, I attended a summer camp with Canadian team from Inter-Varsity. Local students are always excited to meet different people, and are usually touched by the community feeling and the love of Christians.’
When the next semester started, Alexa went to bible studies, became friends with Christians, and gave her life to the Lord within six months. She was then mentored by one of the non-nationals in her city. With her she also visited Christian medical students in another city and caught the vision for student ministry. At a staff training conference, she learned of a new internship programme and the seeds were sown for her to become a staff worker when she graduated.
God is providing national staff workers in this very closed context, who are the fruit of the faithful ministry of people from many countries. Of course they want more local workers. But as Alexa reminds us, ‘God is in control. He has been faithful and it is his work. We are tools in his hands. He uses us in the ministry and uses the ministry to grow us as well. I am very thankful for all he’s provided.’
NB: Names in this story have been changed for security reasons.