Inspired with Praise
How often do you thank God for the common miracles He gives, like the food on our plates three times a day; clothes on our bodies; and perfectly formed and functional hands, legs and feet? Did you know that 80% of the world’s population tries to survive on less than $10 a day?1 If able-bodied people around the world struggle to survive, what about the disabled in poor countries like Laos? How do they eke out a living? What do they have to thank God for? What hope do they have?
Laos, the country of my heart, has been one of the most bombed countries on Earth. The scars of war still run deep in many forms. During my frequent travels to Laos, I often encounter people who were born with defects. Sadly, these people experience severe rejection and short, poverty-stricken lives filled with misery and despair.
It is hard to know for sure why Nuy was born deformed and paralyzed from the waist down. Her condition may have resulted from the Agent Orange that was sprayed during the war. Whatever the cause, Nuy is one of many disabled people in Laos. Although she lived a very sad existence for many years, her life and outlook changed from hopeless to hopeful after she met Jesus Christ through a church planter called Racha Si.2
Ms. Racha oversees three worship groups. Every day she goes out visiting people, looking for opportunities to share Christ. She tells everyone she meets that Jesus is the only way to find true happiness and that He alone can give them real help for their problems and worries.
One day while Racha was visiting with new friends, she noticed her friend’s sister, Nuy, lying on the mat in the corner of the room. Racha felt impressed to go over and talk to her. “Sabai dee bor?”3 she asked with a gentle smile. A dark cloud of silence hung over Nuy, who did not even look at Racha or respond. When Racha noticed how thin this lady was, her concern for her grew deeper. Jesus loved this woman! What could she do to help her?
From then on, Racha made a special point to speak with Nuy every week when she visited the home. Eventually Nuy started opening up, and Racha discovered that Nuy’s disability made her feel like a burden to her family and to society. When Nuy confided that she could not see a reason for living, Racha seized the opportunity to share about Jesus and how He came to Earth a long time ago to seek out people just like Nuy who needed healing for their bodies and their hearts. She told many stories of Jesus’ love and healing power and of His great plan to die for Nuy so that she could be restored to full health and happiness in Heaven someday.
After two months of listening to Racha tell about Jesus, Nuy accepted Christ into her heart. Jesus gave her hope. He gave her energy and joy she had never had before. Life no longer seemed meaningless!
Soon after her conversion, Nuy had the idea to try selling water in the market, so she asked her relatives to take her there each day and help her set out her merchandise. To keep the operation simple and practical, Nuy decided to allow people to help themselves to the water and to put the money in a basket next to her. Every day she prays that God will send her customers, and God hears her prayers. Nuy brings in a steady income of 100,000 kips ($12–$13) a day. Her life is now filled with purpose, hope and joy. She no longer worries about her life; instead she trusts that God will take care of her. She is full of gratitude for the value God has given to her as a daughter of the King of kings.
People in the market see how thin and frail Nuy is. One day one of her customers asked, “What will happen to your body after you die, since you are a Christian?”
Nuy answered, “The Christians will come together to pray and sing. We don’t need the monks to come and chant because as Christians we believe that the dead are peacefully asleep and will be resurrected to go to Heaven when Jesus comes back for us. We have everything we need from Him.”
Without the loving efforts of Racha Si, Nuy may never have had a testimony to share in the marketplace; yet thanks to Racha’s witness, Nuy is now a witness herself! Racha faced difficulties sharing with Nuy. At first, the family did not want Racha to help her. One of Nuy’s sisters is a fortuneteller who did not want her sister to become a Christian. The whole family was protective of Nuy, but after seeing the changes in her, their hearts have opened. Now Racha shares the Bible with Nuy’s family every Sabbath afternoon. She hopes and prays that each one will accept Jesus into their hearts.
Now Nuy, once hopeless, is full of hope, looking to the future with confidence that the Lord will lead her. Most importantly, she knows that when Jesus comes back, her disabled body will be changed into a glorious body with no defects. Nuy is full of praises to the Lord, like the psalmist who wrote,
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7.
There are still many people in Laos living without hope—some who realize their hopelessness and some who do not. Praise the Lord that ASAP Ministries supports many church planters who, like Ms. Racha, work tirelessly to reach out to the unfortunate and the hopeless. Will you help ASAP sustain the workers in the Lord’s vineyard in Laos?
By Samphanh Vannaseng (a pseudonym). Racha Si is a church planter for ASAP Ministries (Advocates for Southeast Asians and the Persecuted). P.O. Box 84, Berrien Springs, MI 49103. www.asapministries.org.
1. See www.globalissues.org/ article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.
2. Name changed for safety purposes.
3. “How are you?” in Lao.