This Was My Opportunity

Can God Help My Family?

Married when he was just a teen, Asuncion and wife struggled to raise their babies but when sickness became routine, they found themselves unable to purchase medicine. “Our baby got sick a lot,” he says sadly, “and when we couldn’t give him the medicine he needed, we were desperate.”

“Then a neighbor of ours volunteered to take our child to their church for prayer. And, of course, we went along,” Asuncion recalls. This neighbor was a newly trained church planter who used Project Philip Bible studies to reach others in his community—in this barrio there were no churches and no hope for people like Asuncion.

“I just knew this would help my child,” Asuncion says, “and that’s why I started to study God’s Word in a Project Philip Bible study. I needed to find out how God can help my family, so this was my opportunity.”

Training to Help

As he studied, he began to understand how God’s love was his only hope. “I trusted God, and my life has not been the same,” he confesses. “Everything turned around for me and my family.”

Soon, Asuncion was telling others about his new faith in Jesus Christ, “and I needed help and training to do so,” he adds. “In my business, I am able to help other teens here find work, and I share with them how God helped me,” he offers. “When I am able, I lead a Project Philip Bible study myself.”

“Studying God’s Word with Project Philip Bible studies has changed my life,” Asuncion says, “and I am becoming a stronger man and a stronger Christian.”

God’s Word for the First Time

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How to Tell Others

It is another three hours’ drive up into the mountains of Davao, and at the end of the dirt road the eight hour hike begins to reach the tribal village of the Ata people. This isolated village survives by farming fruits and vegetables, they live in Nipa huts (small shelters constructed of vegetation), bathe in the small rivers nearby, and worship spirits according to their traditions.

“I was one of the first people here that God’s Word reached,” says Lablab, “and as soon as I heard the Gospel in a Project Philip Bible study, I believed.” He quickly adds, “But I had no way of going deeper, I didn’t have a Bible, and I didn’t know how to tell others about my new faith.”

What’s surprising is that Lablab was known and feared in the area. “I was a Commander of the Communist Rebels here,” he confesses, “and I lived a horrible life until the Gospel came to my village. It means a big change in my life, and I paid a price when I surrendered, but today I am free and ready to help others believe the Gospel.”

A New Life

“The first thing I was able to do after I surrendered was join a church where I received training as a Philip (a Project Philip Bible study leader), and next I started telling people about the Gospel,” Lablab says. “I listened, I asked questions, and I learned.”

Today, the former Commander Lablab is now Pastor Lablab—leading Project Philip Bible studies among the Ata people in this remote area of the Philippines. “To get us the Bible the people need, it takes hours of hiking, and the help of someone who sees that God’s Word can change me and everyone who believes in this village,” Lablab says.

Changing Lives in Nicaragua

Changing Lives in NicaraguaLearning and Loving Jesus

This struggling ministry is trying to change the children’s lives in a way that will last—through basic education and studying God’s Word. Using Project Philip Bible studies, about 170 students in this Nicaragua school have the opportunity no one else offers them: education and the chance to learn how Jesus can transform their lives.

Diego is one of the students—a ten year old, and he strikes everyone as quiet and shy. That is, until asked what he’s learning. “Before, God was no big deal in my life,” the child says with unusual boldness, “but now I’m learning more and who He truly is.”

He’s eager to tell a curious, wandering story of his young life, but then he comes to a conclusion that leaves everyone impressed. “In the past, he was a savior. Now, Jesus is my Savior,” proclaims Diego.

Reaching a Family

“My family wanted me to have an education, and that I can also learn about God is even better. I love that I can talk about the Bible in school with my teachers,” he adds.

Diego’s family is religious, but part of an obscure movement trying to make inroads among the most vulnerable in the area—something even young Diego understands. “They knew we’d believe anything, and they promised us things they shouldn’t have,” he says bluntly.

“So, when I learn from the Bible, I go home and talk about what I’m learning with my family. I tell my family that learning the Bible saved my life and I know Jesus is my Savior.”

New Life for a Troubled People

New Life for a Troubled PeopleGoing Back to Serve Jesus

The Malleco Province is the center of Chile’s painful conflict over land and resources, and the plight of the Mapuche indigenous people—the main indigenous population. They are an ancient people, and unfortunately, they have long suffered in the fight over land and resources.

Pastor Alberto is from here, and his new life in Jesus Christ began here, but it took a few twists and turns for him to return. “I first learned to study God’s Word right here using Project Philip Bible studies,” he says, “then I went away to study at school until one day a professor told me to go back home—to Angol, back to where I first met Christ, and serve there.”

The Power of God’s Word

“Because of the history of the conflict, the people in the community face a struggle,” Pastor Alberto shares, “and it always takes time for God’s Word to change people’s lives here.”

Quick to point out the sincerity of their interest in the Gospel, Pastor Alberto also knows the hardships they face. “The people here work long, exhausting hours in the fields or forests to make a living. They come to church tired, and need a simple way to learn and beat the fatigue they carry. Long sermons don’t work, but these Bible studies do.”

And he quickly adds, “Here, God’s Word is changing lives like never before. God is saving marriages, transforming the way parents help their children, and even after so much pain with the government and police, the people are forgiving and living in peace.”

“This is the power of God’s Word, and we’re so thankful for everyone who is helping the people find hope in this part of Chile,” Pastor Alberto says.

A Family is Transformed

A Family is Transformed

God Seemed Far Away

The southern Albanian city of Saranda is a beautiful place—tourists flock to its views of the Ionian Sea. But for Hina, her city held no hope. “We did everything we could to get God’s help, and I tried praying every day. But God seemed to be far from us,” she admits.

“One day, some people came to our neighborhood in Albania and stood on the street talking to people about Jesus,” Hina says, “so I went out to hear them. Right away they started talking about a God who loved us and could be trusted.”

“This bothered me because I just didn’t know this God,” she confesses. “They saw I didn’t understand and invited me to a church nearby and a Project Philip Bible study for young people.”

God Can Be Trusted

As Hina attended the Project Philip Bible studies, she learned how God could help her and her family, she was shown love by everyone in the church, and she learned to pray to Jesus Christ because He loves her. “I began to pray to Jesus, and that’s when my life and my family started to change. Then,” she says with a bright smile, “I surrendered my life to God.”

Seeing the change in her young life, her family started to come to church with her, “and one by one, they trusted Jesus too,” Hina says. “Today I am a leader in the Project Philip Bible studies, and I love to tell people how God changed me and my family. And I’m thankful for all the help from the people who make this possible, because there are still a lot of families like mine here that need God’s Word.”

The Life God Wants for Me

The Life God Wants for MeHow Jesus Saves

From his small village in northern Ghana, Jalam is eager to tell his story, “I stopped schooling years ago because we had no money, and I had to work on my family’s little farm. Before we would plant, my family would offer gifts to an idol named Kakpeu—a tree idol that we thought made crops grow and protected our field. We would offer birds and other small animals, and hope we would see no danger.”

“It never made much sense,” Jalam now says, “but that’s because I have learned about the true God from the Bible.” In a nearby church, people gather for Project Philip Bible studies, and after dozens of invitations from the pastor, Jalam finally decided to attend.

“When I started, I was given a Project Philip Bible study book, and one of the lessons was about Jesus as our sacrifice,” he remembers, “and how God gave us His Son to be our sacrifice, and anyone who believes and follows Jesus will be saved.”

Living a New Life

“This is what I needed to understand,” Jalam says, “I only need Jesus, and I don’t need to make sacrifices. So I stopped the idolatry and I stopped the sacrifices, and I gave my life to Jesus.”

How has his life changed? Well, Jalam is happy to say, “I stopped worshipping Kakpeu right away, and instead of spending my money on sacrifices, I use my money to really help my family. And when my mother saw the difference in my life, she wanted to learn about Jesus too.”

Today, Jalam leads a regular prayer group devoted to asking God to save others in their village. “I have been sharing my faith with my friends too and by God’s grace one of them has given his life to Christ,” he says with a smile, “this is the life God wants for me.”

A Witchdoctor Finds Jesus

Witchdoctor Finds JesusShe Heard about Jesus

“I scraped by selling rice cakes, tea, and coffee in the village,” Lally says, “I sold medicines that promised healing also. And when my husband died, I supported my family by becoming a prostitute and had more children. I quit that and went back to witchcraft.”

Then, an evangelist walked into Lally’s village, going house-to-house inviting everyone to a Project Philip Bible study. “I was interested for some reason,” she says, “and it was the very first time in my life that I heard about Jesus. So I attended the Bible study each week.”

“One of the lessons was about how God is always with us and sees all that we do,” Lally recalls, “and that made me think about my life. I began to hate so much of what I had done. I needed Jesus’ help and I asked Him to save me.”

Today I have God’s Word

“That’s when I began to feel a new joy in my heart,” she says brightly. “And each time I read God’s Word, I learn new things about my life and how I can live today. I’ve given up my witchcraft and I’m growing in my faith because I have a Bible in my language of Malagasy.”

When asked if she has more to say, Lally insists on adding a word of gratitude. “Thank you, because I needed this Project Philip Bible study to understand how Jesus could come into my life. Because of Him my life has changed. This is what I tell my children and anyone who wonders why my life is different.” And she adds, “This can change anyone’s life.”

When Life Falls Apart

Only God Can Help

Only God Can Help

“Something happened to my family,” Kare admits, “Our children became afraid and they couldn’t sleep at night,” he says sadly, “it was like they saw evil.” Kare and his wife lost their joy as they saw their children suffer.

Frustrated and uncertain about what to do, Kare heard of a man in his village who was a pastor, “He was a believer in Jesus and I thought that maybe he could help us,” he recalls. “We asked him to come to our home and told him about how our children were suffering.”

“He listened patiently and then told us about Jesus, saying that Jesus calmed people who were troubled, how He healed and helped people, and that Jesus was ready to do that for my family too,” Kare says. “He told us about salvation and giving our lives to Christ. And he said we should start praying for our family because only God could help us.”

Our Lives Changed

Over the next few weeks this pastor returned to Kare’s home, and they started to study God’s Word together using Project Philip Bible studies. “We heard so many great and important things about God and salvation for the first time in our lives,” Kare says with excitement, “and I invited my brother and his family, and then the pastor started a children’s Project Philip Bible study also.”

This is when things started to change for Kare and his family. “We prayed and studied God’s Word and our lives changed,” he admits. “It was amazing for us. It was wonderful. And we saw how God helped us.”

Searching for Hope in Colombia

Living in Paradise

Colombia has the second largest population of internally displaced people (following only Syria), and many have been forced to flee the drug violence, civil war, and natural and economic disasters, to try to settle in Bogota. “I want my children to have a chance,” says a mother named Saida – her husband and six young children fled to this area several years ago and struggle to live on about $3 per day in a barrio named Paradise.

Saida’s home is just a 6-foot by 12-foot wooden shack that sits on short stilts to elevate it above the open ditch of raw sewage, and the tiny kitchen is out back with a butane stove perched on a small table with the only visible food being a small bag of potatoes. The only hope for Saida’s family comes from believers who serve God by sharing His Word in Paradise through Project Philip for Children. Yimmy is here in Paradise every day, teaching children’s lessons and helping them read God’s Word using the easy-to-read illustrated Bible for children.

Lost and Found

“To reach these families, we have church services every Friday and Sunday, and keep these gatherings short so people can return to their households, their children, and their jobs,” Yimmy says. “As adults and children understand God’s Word by using Project Philip, their lives are transformed and they discover hope for the first time.”

Yimmy’s ministry is motivated, in part, by his own experience. “I lost everything in my life not long ago, and at that time I did not believe in God, but then God changed me,” he confesses, “I know God’s Word changed my life, so I know it can change the lives of the people of Paradise.”

Where There is No Church

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Have You Heard About Jesus?

“As I rode along, I talked with people—one person after another—and the Holy Spirit kept lead me farther and farther away from my home,” he reports, “and I stopped to talk with a shoemaker who was sitting under a tree—this was where he did his work, and when I saw him he was busy. After a minute, I started a conversation with him, asking ‘Did you hear about Jesus Christ?’ He said, ‘No.’”

This was the first time anyone in this village in India had heard about Jesus Christ and the Gospel, Saadhin discovered. And that shoemaker, although he refused Saadhin’s invitation to trust Jesus at that first meeting, was willing to continue the conversation—inviting Saadhin back many times over the next 6 months. “And praise God, one day after a long talk, the shoemaker accepted Jesus,” Saadhin says.

Time, Prayer, and a New Church

“We started our first Project Philip Bible study in the shoemaker’s home, and his daughter and wife were the next to receive Jesus Christ after studying God’s Word together,” Saadhin reports with joy. And the next step to building a church, he learned, was to receive the permission of the village’s head, but this man said no, “He said he would not allow a foreign religion in this Hindu village,” Saadhin reports.

“It took time, and prayer—about 2 months of this,” Saadhin says, “but the village head saw the transformation in the shoemaker’s family, and then he heard of other families trusting Jesus and how their lives changed. That’s when the village head dropped his objection and we began to build a church here.” Saadhin adds, “Today, this new church has about 20 believers worshipping together every Sunday, and they are bringing new friends with them, and today we will baptize 4 new believers and all the village will come to see it happen.”