Searching for Hope in South Africa

Hope in South AfricaFinding a Way

Amelia’s aunt tried everything in her power to help her—she invited Amelia into her home and helped her return to school. Amelia had missed so much, but she still dreamed of something more—she just couldn’t get herself out of trouble. “I had lost focus—of where I wanted to go, of the plans I had. And I also forgot the struggles that I went through,” she says. “My grades dropped drastically in most of my subjects. The school called my aunt many times, but I continued with my behavior.”

“Until one day, a Pastor who always preached in our school came with a rather interesting approach—better than the usual preaching which was really boring for most of us,” Amelia says. “He invited us to attend a program called Project Philip Bible studies, and it caught my attention from the start.”

A Life Transformed

“This program brought me back to life,” Amelia confesses, “and I started seeing things in a completely different way. I was able to see the difference between right and wrong. I joined the church nearby and found Jesus my Savior.” She continues, “It’s been such a reviving experience to see my life change. My academic achievements have improved and my relationships changed for the better. I see all of this as God’s greatest work and I thank Bible League International for this program. Glory be to God, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Savior.”

Amelia was reached through Bible League International’s Adopt-a-School program in South Africa—a ministry to provide God’s Word for children and youth in the poorest slums—those abandoned in the hopelessness of poverty and crime. Training and equipping believers in under-resourced churches nearby offer the opportunity of learning God’s Word using Project Philip Bible studies to offer hope where it’s needed most.

Lost in Albania

Lost in Albania

Nothing Changed

He felt the pain and pressure of a violent home. “My father was violent to us, his children, and our mother, and I felt helpless to do anything,” Luka says with sadness, “I became an adult without ever having been to school. I was horrible toward my own family—to my own wife and children.”

“We were poor like everyone else here, and everyone in my family lived with us—my father, brother, and sister—because they didn’t have work, and we never had enough money,” Luka admits. “I asked for help, continued to go to mosque and observe my family’s religion, but nothing changed.”

God’s Word Changed Him

Then Luka’s daughter invited the family to a church she had started visiting—for a concert, and since they enjoyed music Luka was happy to attend. “There were a lot of people there and everyone wanted to talk about God’s love and how Jesus will save those who seek help. Those words affected me. I sought out someone who could help me, and that person invited me to a Project Philip Bible study.”

“That’s where I realized this God is the true God, and I gave my life to Jesus because He died on the cross for me,” Luka confesses, “and that’s when Jesus started to change my life. First I felt peace, then I stopped my drinking. I asked my wife to come to church with me, but my family refused my invitation and abused us because of this new faith.”

Even though my family punishes us because of my faith in Jesus, I still talk to others about salvation. Every night my wife and our children read the Bible and pray together,” Luka says, “and I’m so thankful for God’s Word in our lives.”

Literacy and New Life

Literacy and New Life

Reaching Those Who Need God’s Word

Ying’s experience is increasingly common in the region, and it offers an important opportunity for believers who want to reach others—using Philip Literacy™ as a ministry to reach those who would otherwise never hear the Gospel, read the Bible, or visit a church.

“Because I realized English is important in daily life, and I want to teach my son English to help him, I needed to learn for myself and my child,” Ying says. When she tried to help her son, she struggled with simple words. She recalls, “He used to say to me, ‘Mom, you don’t even know the 26 English letters of the alphabet—how can you help me?’” So when Ying heard of Bible League International’s Philip Literacy™ classes, “and without hesitation I registered. I heard about the class from my Christian friend and she encouraged me to join,” Ying says.

A Family Saved

Ying’s story shows how important Philip Literacy™ is as a ministry in this area. Through this class, the Gospel has reached her entire family. Her teacher says, “Praise the Lord, Ying can now read the Bible words and speak some English, and she started coming to our Sunday church service. And the best news is that she accepted Jesus as her Savior as she learned to read and write using God’s Word. She is a new believer.”

And Ying adds this, “I want to thank you for this ministry. The most important thing to me is that I learned English with my kids and husband as well. We learn together at home, because of the good progress, my husband also started to come to Church for the Sunday service. I am so happy.”

From Confusion to Christ

From Confusion to ChristAladaugo’s Story

The religious tensions of Ghana’s landscape are a challenge to ministry. And limited access to Bibles and biblical resources means too many people live in confusion or uncertainty—like Aladaugo did. “My parents were traditional believers, they worshipped gods and brought me up with similar values. When I was around 13 years old, my uncle took me to the southern part of Ghana to stay with him and his family.”

“You see,” Aladaugo recalls, “my uncle is a Muslim and made me become a Muslim too. I had no choice but to surrender to his instructions. So I practiced Islam until I left his place.” Soon, he found work as a carpenter and was surprised to learn that his teacher was also a pastor. “And he talked to me about Jesus as he taught me carpentry. That’s when I gave my life to Jesus Christ.”

He Believed God’s Word

Next came the opportunity to join a Philip Acts 8™ Bible study—to help him grow in his new faith. “He invited me and I learned how to live as a believer,” Aladaugo says, “and I learned that I had a problem with my uncle—I found it difficult to forgive him for forcing me to live as a Muslim.” That’s when Aladaugo learned about forgiveness. “I said I was a Christian but I couldn’t forgive, and that had to change. I had to change,” he admits.

“I learned from the Bible that I was able to forgive my uncle, and today we are on speaking terms. I now live happily without things against people, and I feel free and will continue to live for God alone,” Aladaugo promises.

Transforming Prison Ministry

eNews_1603_story1It’s Already Working

“The rate of re-offense among inmates wasn’t going down,” a Rockford pastor notes. They needed a solution, and they’re finding one with Philip Acts 8™ (Project Philip) training for inmates. “We need to move ministry inside the prison—instead of inmates being served by someone else, we needed to shift the approach from just saving sinners to training leaders as well,” he says.

So earlier this year, there was an intensive training of Philips (prisoners who are believers being trained as Bible study leaders themselves). An inmate named Quincy participated and says, “This training is already working. Just five minutes after our training I started a Bible study in my cell block. It’s already a thing and God is going to do more here.” Quincy adds with a laugh.

Finding His Way—Again

Another one of those newly trained Philips is Aaron. “It’s really hard being a Christian in jail,” he says. As odd as that may sound, Aaron’s story is, unfortunately, common—someone who believes the Gospel lost his way.

Aaron says, “Thank you for showing us that you don’t believe we’re all just a lost cause. You’re showing us how to be accountable, and Philip Acts 8™ will help me reach others. I will use this with my friends and family and when I find a church home when I’m released. And it has helped me see what’s important—being a Christian is about more than just going to church, it’s about being and doing the right thing.”

Today there are over 40 inmates involved in different Bible studies led by these new Philips, using Philip Acts 8™ Bible studies. And the leaders—the inmates themselves—are ready to reach more with the Gospel of a new life in Jesus Christ.

It Was Almost Too Late

eNews_1603_story1Go Back to Church

After a night of troublemaking with friends, Cossa was arrested for theft (someone in the group had stolen some electronics that night and Cossa was implicated alongside others). “I was put in prison because one of my friends stole something expensive,” Cossa says, “and I spent 7 days there.” This got his attention.

“My mom told me, ‘Son, you stopped going to church and now you went to prison instead. Please go back to church,’” Cossa admits shyly. And he did—and that’s where a believer heard his story and encouraged him to join a Philip Acts 8™ (Project Philip) Bible study. “After several Bible studies, I saw the need of receiving Jesus and I did receive Him as my Savior.”

According to God’s Word

“The first thing I felt was peace in my heart. If I’d lived according to God’s Word, I wouldn’t have to fear prison,” Cossa says. “I am a different person now because Jesus transformed my life through the Bible. Instead of getting into trouble late at night, I’m studying God’s Word. I even went to my mom and asked her forgiveness for the pain I caused her. And I thank God for those who provided the Philip Acts 8™ Bible study for me, and today I have my own Bible. Thank you.”

Mozambique is a country facing violent political divides and devastating economic hardship—these obstacles often hinder ministry for the most vulnerable. But when under-resourced churches receive training and are equipped with God’s Word, they eagerly reach those at risk—whether near larger cities or in rural areas. In the face of significant suffering, people’s lives are being transformed today.

Finding a Way to Plant a Church

Finding a Way to Plant a ChurchTraining Philips – Empowering Believers

This is a rural village with high unemployment and little access to education or—most importantly—God’s Word.  Because of the pervasive poverty in Curacavi, planting a church is very difficult because people have to travel great distances for work. “These long commutes to and from work have a negative effect on churches, making it especially difficult for working members to attend church gatherings during the week.” This is a common concern among the many under-resourced churches struggling to survive in this area of Chile.

Pastor Carlos knew these pressures could easily overwhelm his small church, so he needed a creative way to empower believers and found it using Philip Acts 8™ Bible studies. “We trained Philips, and the eager new members are seeing their first results,” he says, “Three home Bible study groups are now meeting and studying their way through Philip Acts 8™ Bible study materials.”

Their Lives Are Being Transformed

“After the Bible studies are done, on the same table where they were reading God’s Word, they eat a meal together to build the community. All are touched by the Word of God and they are witnesses of how their lives are being transformed,” Pastor Carlos says.

These Bible studies have given new believers the training they need to share their faith with others at work and during their long commutes. Equipped with training and their own Bibles now—something they could not afford—this church is growing and lives are being transformed in Curacavi.

God’s Word Reaches Sri Lanka

God’s Word Reaches Sri LankaA New Church Planter and a New Church

Of Sri Lanka’s 22 million population, the great majority are Buddhist and Hindu, but less than 2% are believers. However, in the northern region of the country—among Tamil speaking people—there is an unusual openness to the Gospel, and the few under-resourced churches there are eager to reach places where there are no churches. As one church leader in this area says, “This land is ready to be harvested, and the people welcome Christians.”

Ruby is a new church planter trained with Philip Church™ from Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. She is the wife of a pastor, in her 30s and the mother of two children, and God called her to reach a new area. As she completed her 18 months of training, she says, “I began a Bible study in the village, and today there are 10 Bible study groups. Although some people are not able to attend our church service on Sundays, we have about 50 members coming regularly.”

They are Totally Changed

“Before the church was planted here, the people believed Hinduism and its many gods, but today those who accepted Jesus Christ are totally changed,” Pastor Ruby reports. “They are freed from their old ways, and the lives of many who were addicted to alcohol and members of violent gangs have changed—they are totally changed, and all families can testify to this.”

They meet in a borrowed house, and now they have outgrown that place. “In the last few months we have 28 new members who decided to proclaim their faith and were baptized,” she says with joy, “Hallelujah!” She is starting to train new Philip Acts 8™ (Project Philip) Bible study leaders, and wants to start another new church in the next village. “God has healed this land,” she says, “and I am seeing God will bless our land with more Christians who worship Him.”

Faith and Persecution

eNews_1609_story1

Jesus is Lord

The more she learned about her religion, the more disillusioned she became. “I was devastated,” she confesses, “with the violence. I fell asleep while praying and crying to God to reveal himself to me, and a mighty man stood before me in my dream. I asked ‘Who are you?’ And he said, ‘I am Christ Eissa’” (which is Jesus’ name in Islam).

Lilly hid the Bible she’d received from a friend, “Hidden in my room, along with Bible study materials from Bible League International, and I kept reading secretly, searching for more to learn about Jesus,” she adds. And as she read, she became more and more convinced, “and one night I knew—Jesus is Lord.”

Can’t Stop Telling Her Story

“That’s when my mother found out one day while cleaning my room that I had a Bible and Bible study books,” Lilly says. “My father beat me. He called the police and told them that his daughter had renounced Islam and has become an infidel.” She was abused and threatened, and when finally released she was ordered, “Do not talk about Christianity ever again.”

And what did Lilly do? “I still talk about my Jesus,” Lilly says with conviction, “and now I have a real Father—I was adopted by my Creator and I just can’t stop sharing my story.” This is why Bible League International equips Lilly with Bibles in Arabic so she can keep telling her story. The obstacle she faces today, she says, “is that I run out of Bibles.”

How He Serves God

eNews_1609_story1

Church Planting Where Needed Most

Abera grew up in a rural area, and since he was a child he’s seen how important a church is for people. “I was raised in a Christian family and was always active in church ministries,” he says, “and today I’m happy to help churches in my area with youth ministry.” He is modest about the time and travel he undertakes, but shows how confident he is that God’s Word will accomplish His purpose.

As Abera travels constantly, he always carries Bibles and Philip Acts 8™ (Project Philip) Bible study materials with him. “After a Philip Acts 8™ Bible study concludes, the people go to evangelize others who have never heard the Gospel nearby,” Abera says, “and many accepted Christ as their Savior because of this.”

How They Show Transformation

Hundreds of people in the area are participating in these Philip Acts 8™ (Project Philip) Bible studies thanks to Abera’s hard work and the generosity of those who help provide God’s Word in this region of Ethiopia. “Everyone is always thankful once they learn the Gospel,” Abera says.

And when people learn God’s Word, Abera says, “they practice Christian charity by helping the less fortunate—their collection went to support orphans, clothing was donated to families, and then people went to work on the farmland of several widows and the elderly.” Abera adds, “This is how they show their transformation.”