The torch of faith is passed from believer to believer

“When they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27, RSV).

The major concern of evangelism is winning souls for Christ, “bringing many sons into glory” (Heb. 2:10). The Book of Acts—the book of great events and mighty movements of the Spirit—is the least theological of all the New Testament writings. We find that the apostles advanced no theories of evangelism but shared their experiences when they had gathered the Church together. In that same spirit and conviction I also speak to you (2 Cor. 4:13).

A missionary doctor from England came to the northern tip of Pakistan on the border of Afghanistan to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the followers of Islam. Although the people were illiterate, bigoted, and wild, he labored among them for more than fifty years. The first two converts to Christ were murdered. The next were also martyred. Despite such discouragements, this faithful servant of Christ continued his work until a hospital and chapel had been established in this border town. Today there is a church here of nearly five thousand souls.

Each clay the Gospel was faithfully proclaimed from the hospital. Among those reached was a Muslim businessman who, after his cure was completed, came daily to the out-patients’ ward. Told that he could return home, he indicated that while he knew his body had been cured, he was looking for the cure of his soul. It was my privilege, after instructing him, to baptize this man into the Body of Christ.

After his baptism, this convert from Islam lived by the conviction that if someone came to his door—be it even a postman or tradesman—it was Christ who had sent that person so that he might share the good news. When he went to live among the people of his own tongue, I was very fearful for his life. Several months later he invited me to visit him and, to my amazement, I found in that area a great interest in Christ. The Holy Spirit was truly at work and had gone before us.

Returning home I challenged thirty-four other workers to unite in team evangelism in that area. After four weeks of teaching, sixteen villages signified through their head men that they were prepared to accept baptism. We now have several thousand Christians in this region, and every month more are being brought into the fellowship of Christ’s Church.

Very near my country lies the mystery land of Tibet, fast in its superstition and little known in the outside world. A traveler from Germany returned home and told the story of this vast, mountainous country that had no witness for Christ. Two missionaries from Switzerland were challenged and decided to go there as witnesses. Since they could not gain entry, they settled on the border on the Indian side to wait for God’s time.

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About that time, because of political unrest in Tibet, a cultured and educated Tibetan migrated from his country. He chose not the usual routes through Sikkim or China, but an unknown route toward India, and settled on the border. Here he met the two missionaries. At their request he began teaching them the Tibetan language, and the missionaries started a translation of John’s Gospel.

The manuscript of this Gospel fell into the hands of the eleven-year-old son of the Tibetan teacher. Light dawned on the soul of this lad. He accepted Christ as his Saviour and resolved that after his education he would dedicate his life to translating the Bible into Tibetan, so that his people could hear about Christ. He labored for thirty-five years, from the age of twenty-one to fifty-six, until he had completed the translation of the Old and New Testaments.

But there was no type or press to print the Bible. So this elderly man undertook to write the entire manuscript on sensitive paper in his own handwriting from which litho-copies could be made. He worked so hard that his health began to fail. I begged him to employ some scribes, so he chose two men to help him in the writing. Both these men accepted Christ as they read the Bible. Later it was my privilege to publish the Tibetan Bible. Today there are several hundred Christians on the borders of Tibet.

Copies of the Bible, the new Testament, and Scripture portions were sent into Tibet through traders. One of these Bibles got into the hands of the Dalai Lama. Recently he wrote from his exile in India and asked for another copy: he had to leave his Bible behind when the Communists overran his country. We wondered, too, at the unusual demand for Bibles from Tibet. On making inquiries we found that the Communist Chinese were learning the Tibetan language by comparing the Chinese and Tibetan Bibles! “My word shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please” (Isa. 55:11).

I myself was not brought up in the Christian faith but accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour when I was twenty-seven. I was born in a Hindu family. My lovely mother would gather us around her and tell us the stories of our gods and goddesses, our heroes and heroines. When I was seventeen, she asked me if I would like to go with her on some pilgrimages. I was thrilled to be invited to travel with her to all the sacred places of India—to the place where Shiva told the eternal tale to Parvati, where Krishna met with Arjuna and the dialogue of Bhagavad Gita was enacted, where sacrifices are offered to the Kali Mata, where Buddha did his meditations; or to the sacred Ganges, where the Yogis have worshipped for thousands of years; or to the place where the god of duty, Ramchandra, performed his penance. I was thrilled. But as I traveled from one holy place to another, I became conscious of an emptiness. I did not sense the presence of God; I had no communication with him.

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When I asked my mother about this, she replied, “I know you miss reality, and I miss it too; but our holy books say that if we do these pilgrimages we shall have a reward in the next life.” Mother was in the evening of her life and passed away within eighteen months of those pilgrimages. I remained dissatisfied. I searched for communion with God in Hinduism, which offered me a million lives in which to work out my own salvation. Knowing I had no merit, I found this a terrible prospect. I studied Buddhism only to find that it was an atheistic philosophy in which there is no hope of communion with God, only an agnostic belief in nirvana. I searched Islam, which believes in salvation by works: on the day of reckoning our good deeds will be weighed against our evil ones to determine whether we merit heaven or hell.

Christianity was a foreign religion about which no one had spoken to me, although I had lived in the city of Karachi for seventeen years. For nine long years I wandered in the wilderness, seeking for the reality of God. Then a Christian friend of mine had trouble with his eyes. His doctor told him he would operate in the hope of restoring at least some sight.

As can be imagined, my friend was very much perturbed at the possibility of losing his sight. When I visited him, he said, “I may never be able to read again, to read my Bible again. Will you read it to me?” I took his Bible, and it opened to the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. As I read aloud, I was amazed at the claims of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”; “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” And then I read the promise in verse 14: “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

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I turned to this Christian friend and said, “This Jesus of yours makes such amazing claims—why don’t we ask him about your eyes?” My friend and I both knelt by his bed and spent most of that night in prayer. That night I became conscious of the reality of God. I turned to my friend and said that when he returned from the hospital seeing, I would follow Jesus. My friend grasped my hand and asked, “Do you believe I will ever see again?” I replied that I believed God had given me my sight and his, too.

We went to the hospital the next morning, a well-known hospital in Simla. A Scotsman was to do the surgery. When the doctor first of all applied some instrument to measure the tension of the eyes, he found the tension reduced. Thinking something was wrong with the instrument he sent for another, only to find that the tension was indeed reduced. Seeing me outside the room the doctor called me in and asked, “What did this man put in his eyes last night? When I examined him last evening, the tension was so high that I decided to do the surgery this morning. Now the tension is greatly reduced!” Then I knew that Jesus truly was alive. I told the doctor about our prayers and how we had felt we were in the presence of God. The doctor shook his head and said, “We don’t believe in miracles.” After thinking a while, he asked, “Were many tears shed while you were praying?” “We were very conscious of the presence of God and of being in his presence,” I replied. The doctor decided it was the tears that had reduced the tension. He would not do the operation then, he said, but should the tension return, the operation would be necessary.

The tension has never returned, and my friend’s eyes cleared up gradually. We both know that Jesus is alive. He is a minister of the Gospel and so am I. But my heart was not satisfied even then. My mother had died, and five million people who spoke my language were without Christ and without the Bible. So I entered a theological college to prepare for the ministry. After ordination I was sent to work in Karachi. But for the first nine months of my ministry I did not win a single soul for Christ, for the college I attended had destroyed the authority of the Word for me and had put all sorts of doubts in my mind.

One day a lady approached me and asked if I believed what I preached. I resented the remark and said, “How dare you ask such a question?” She answered me very humbly, and when I finally confided that I had doubts about the Scriptures, she patiently led me back to my evangelical faith. Since then no week has passed that I have not been privileged to lead someone to the Saviour. We now have more than 30,000 Christians in the Karachi area.

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I could cite many more conversions from different backgrounds and show how each person in his own way has been instrumental in “bringing many sons into glory.” But let me close with the story of a convert from Sikhism.

I had been very much concerned because seven million Sikhs had no Bible in the Gurmukhi language. The New Testament had been published, and six editions were sold out. So I started praying that the Lord would indicate who was to translate the entire Bible. As I prayed and shared this burden with friends, everyone seemed to mention one man who was a convert from Sikhism. He lived eighty miles away. I went to see him, only to discover an unkempt creature in a dirty home. There was no evidence of spiritual life or joy. I came away feeling my guidance was wrong. As I continued to pray, the conviction grew that this indeed was the man to be challenged. So I went to him a second time. This time I was even more repulsed and realized that the man was a drug addict.

I returned home without indicating my mission, deeply disturbed in spirit. When I prayed the heavens seemed closed. When I went to see him a third time, the man asked, “Why do you come to see me when you do not love me?” I then told him why I had come; I wanted to challenge him to translate the Scriptures into the Gurmukhi language. But since he was a drug addict, how could I do so? Quiet for a time, he then said, “You believe the Lord has sent you. Go home and pray this night, and I will also do the same. If the Lord guides you, come to see me in the morning.”

I spent most of that night in prayer; the joy and sweetness of prayer returned. When I went to see the man the next morning, he was smiling and his face was shining. There had been a transformation. He was radiant and said, “You have returned; I will do it.” So he undertook the task and in seven years completed the translation of the Old Testament into Gurmukhi. The drug habit was broken. He was liberated, and through his testimony many pundits and gianis (learned men) have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour.

A convert from Islam, a convert from Tibet, a convert from Hinduism, and a convert from Sikhism: the Lord used each man in his own way as an instrument to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. It was the Lord who gave a passion for souls together with an open door of access and who proved the power of the Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May the same Lord give each one of us a vision of the souls in conflict and reveal to us the resources for life abundant.

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