SE Asia: A Divine Appointment on a Desert Road

The city at sunset as we are driving into it

The city at sunset as we are driving into it

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” (Acts 8:26-29, ESV)

The passage above gives us a clear picture of a “divine appointment”.  This is a meeting, not coincidental, in which God brings people, or peoples, together to fulfill a divine purpose.  In this passage we see Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, meet with an Ethiopian official on the desert road in Gaza.  We observe an incredible result:  the Ethiopian is reading from Isaiah and does not understand what he is reading so he asks Philip to explain it.  Philip uses this as an opportunity to share the Gospel and the Ethiopian official believes, and makes the decision to follow Christ.

Most of us probably wish evangelism was that easy.  One thing that is easy to miss in this account is Philip’s obedience.  He was prompted twice by the Holy Spirit (to go to the desert road, to approach the Ethiopian official and he obeyed each time.  How often are we prompted to approach someone, stepping out on faith, and ignore that prompting.  Maybe there is a person who will cross our paths like Lydia in Acts 16:14, ready to have their heart opened to the Lord.

Last night two members from our team experienced a divine appointment.  We scanned the crowd, and sat down next to a man named Moses who was from Kenya.  After talking to him we found out he is a Christian, although he has a works based view of salvation and admitted that if he had died that day he didn’t think that he would go to heaven due to the sins he had committed that day.  We tried to walk him through the assurance we have in salvation in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He understood what we said, but didn’t accept it.  We were close to leaving when he was joined by his friend, an Egyptian woman named Maram.  She immediately joined our conversation, interested in the religious discussion we were having.  She shared with us that she was a Muslim, and that her mother had recently passed away.  We clearly sensed that Maram was our divine appointment; she was the reason that we were compelled to sit down next to Moses.

Y proceeded to share his testimony with Maram, which carried a lot of weight since they were both Arabs.  She listened with wide eyes and rapt attention as Y shared the amazing story of how he decided to follow Christ.  Y shared the Gospel, and Maram said she believed all of it!  Praise God that there is joy in heaven because of Maram’s confession (Luke 15:7, 10).

Our team had several other conversations and the Gospel was shared throughout the night, in a variety of locations.  Some members of our team prayer walked through the red light district and our heart was broken by the lostness we saw—particularly what looked like a twelve year old prostitute.  We are praying that God will release the people of this city, and of this country, from the bondage of sin.

Red light district

Red light district

We have continued to study Acts together, each member of the team leading the discussion.  How wonderful it is to do house church together, singing, praying, worshiping, and learning together.  We have also started sharing our testimonies, rejoicing in our stories of God’s salvation.

Jackson leading our Acts study at a Starbucks in the local mall

Jackson leading our Acts study at a Starbucks in the local mall

Over the next three days we have some amazing opportunities in front of us.  Today we met with a national believer who has a heart and ministry to reach out to the Muslim people that we are also trying to reach.  This was a special time because it is rare that people from this man’s ethnicity want to engage this country’s Muslim people group.  He shared with us the many challenges and risks, including “faith re-education camps” for those who convert from Islam to Christianity.  On Thursday we are meeting with an Iranian pastor and his wife to hear their story, and to encourage them in their ministry.  Many Iranians are coming to faith in this country, and we are excited to see how God will use them going forward.  On Friday our team will be going to the house of a believer from the people group we are trying to reach.  Our partners tell us this is unprecedented since Christian believers from this people are so rare in this country, and usually not willing to meet with other believers.  Praise God that we get to experience their faithfulness, and pray that we can be encouragers to this family who are isolated in their belief.

Prayer Requests

  • We are going back to the city center tonight.  Please pray for hearts that are ready to hear and accept the good news of the Gospel.
  • Pray the Gospel will take root in Maram.  Pray that she is the fertile soil we read about in Matthew 13:23, and pray that we will be able to meet with her again before we leave for further discipleship.  We are trying to link her up with another Christian lady in country.
  • Continue to pray for Mihur, the Indian priest who expressed that he wanted to believe in Christ.  When members of our team met with him yesterday he said that all religions lead to Christ, but he willingly accepted the Christian literature we provided, and was reading it when we left.  We hope to meet with him at some point before we leave.