Have you ever gone to church on an ordinary Sunday night, expecting a normal service, with all the regular attenders, a few songs that you have sung before, a good Biblical message and a few minutes of visiting afterwards? Imagine that you arrive at your church with that mindset, but something unexpected happens. A group of guests arrive, 14 people in all. You and your church family welcome them, of course, and ask who they are. Some of them turn out to be missionaries, whose home base is in your city. But the rest of them are Neno believers, from a native ethnic group that is hungry for more of God’s Word.
This happened tonight here in Ji-Pa. We visited a regular church, which had an order of service and a scheduled preacher, but he invited one of the missionaries to share instead.
Before preaching, this missionary shared a bit of the story of the Neno people. Forty years ago, they lived in the jungle, constantly at war with other people groups, living in fear and conflict and grief. The missionaries working with nearby peoples didn’t even know that the Nenos existed. This ethnic group didn’t have electricity or cars or clothing, even though they lived less than 150 miles from a city. They didn’t know who created the world or what their purpose for existence is. They had their theories and explanations for who they were and how it all started, but different accounts disagreed. Worst of all, the Nenos had no idea that a man named Jesus, who was also the Creator God, had come to the earth nearly 2,000 years before. He had died on the cross to pay for the sins of all mankind, to set people free from sin and fear and death. But the Nenos didn’t know, because no one ever told them. Generations died, without Christ, and without hope, in a lifestyle where killing and murder was commonplace. How would you like to live that way? They didn’t like it either.
Thankfully, things have changed. Just a few short decades later, many of the Neno people are believers in Jesus Christ. They are excited about God’s Word, and want it in their language. Three missionaries (you know one of them!) are in the beginning stages of language and culture learning, with the goal of teaching God’s Word, and discipling our brothers and sisters.
Tonight in church, one of their chiefs shared, in Neno, translated by one of the others who speaks Portuguese. He lived in the “bad old days”, experienced the many changes, and said that now, his people have a better life. And it’s not because of clothes and cellphones and cars. That wasn’t even mentioned. The chief gave glory to God and to Jesus Christ for His salvation. And, contrasting native peoples with “white people” (not racist – just what they call the rest of us), he said that we used to be far, apart, separated from each other, but not anymore. Because…NOW. TODAY. And FOREVERMORE. We are one people in Jesus Christ.
Afterwards, one of the church members expressed his excitement about what happened this evening. Even though he has seen native peoples in the city, and knows some are living nearby, it was the first time he had met them personally. Hearing their testimony impacted him greatly. His enthusiasm, in turn, impacted me. These are exciting times to be alive, my friends. God is doing big things all over His world. Would you be part of His work, through your prayers?
Please pray for the Neno people.
- Pray that they will grow in the knowledge and understanding of the One who is calling them out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
- Pray that we missionaries will disciple the Nenos through living with them and loving them.
- Pray that we will learn the language as quickly as possible so that we can also disciple in word, teaching the Bible clearly.
- Pray for the Zeno who do not yet know Christ.
- Pray for the nearly 2,000 people groups who are waiting to hear the Gospel.
- Pray that God will send more workers, people who know Him and believe that He sent Jesus for everyone.
And, one last prayer request, which I used to pray, if you dare to pray it:
- Pray that God will send YOU to one of these people groups. It’s easy to pray for God to send others. But if everyone thinks it’s someone else’s job, who will ever go?
Don’t worry. If it’s not God’s will, He could always say no, right? On the other hand, He might take you up on a prayer like that. But you want to know a secret? If you dare, and if God sends you, and if you obey, you will not regret it. Not only will you have unique stories to write on a blog someday, of other ordinary-nights-turned-incredible, you will be part of the Big Story God is writing. This Story isn’t just for and about English speakers, but involves people from every tribe and language and people and nation. And perhaps you could be part of reaching one more language group with the Gospel; don’t risk missing out on what God might allow you to do.