INDIA: ESTHER—YOU MUST BE A CHRISTIAN

As we stepped into the back of the auto-rickshaw, the driver asked, “Where are you coming from?”

“We are coming from under the bridge," I replied.

Eyes wide, the driver turned around and said, “You must be a Christian. No one else would dare go down to those filthy street children.”

His words replayed in my mind. There are nearly half a million street children in India, each with a tragic story, but all with the same result: abandoned, malnourished, uneducated, and often sleeping in a cardboard box or under a piece of plastic. At night, they rummage through the garbage in search of enough food just to survive. Girls are especially vulnerable.

I knew God was calling my husband, Peter, and me to trust Him and do more... but what? The taxi driver's comment increased my burden for these children. I cried out, “God, what do you want us to do? What does it mean for me to truly live as a Christian?”

Two years later, I sat witnessing God’s answer to my cry. I gazed across the room at 63 beautiful children living in one of our Alpha Homes, laughing and calling out to us, “Mom! Dad!” One of those who became my daughter was Swapna. She tragically watched her mother die after a water truck pinned her against a wall. Swapna was just five years old at the time. Three years later, her father also passed away. Suddenly, she and her younger brother found themselves orphaned and alone. Heart broken by their story, Peter and I adopted them both.

Like all of my daughters, Swapna is special. She is an overcomer with a quick wit, a fierce devotion to her brother, and greatly loves Peter and me. She excelled in school and recently completed a bachelor degree with honors in nursing.

Sometimes I wonder, what if we had closed our eyes to the plight of the street children? What if we had not obeyed the vision? What if we had not trusted God? What if we had not defeated fear and dared to ask? I praise God that I never have to wonder what might have been.

Swapna is now a nurse who enjoys the attention of her parents, Peter and Esther Pereira. She gave her entire first salary to God’s work. With her second paycheck, she bought her mother a new sari. Peter serves as the ILI International Director for South Asia.


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Dare to Ask is available now! Order your copy today!

 

Dare to Ask is an inspiring collection of stories and vivid images from men and women who put their trust in God and dared to ask Him to use them. Over and over again, these leaders took significant risks as they earnestly sought God, and He was faithful to honor their cry.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  — Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV


We hope these stories will encourage, challenge, and inspire you to ask God for great and mighty things. God promises He will answer. Walk by faith. Live boldly. Dare to ask. Experience His presence and power.

ERITREA: PAULOS—REFUGEE REDEMPTION

After hours of questioning and physical abuse, the soldier yelled out once again, “Deny this Jesus as your Savior, and you will go free.”

A faint and simple response fell from my lips, “No.”

The blows of his fists and kicks were excruciating. Grinning as though he had figured a way to keep me from sharing my faith, the sergeant said, “If you promise to never meet with other Christians, you may leave here today.”

My head pounding and my body aching, I unapologetically responded, “I cannot make that promise. Christians always meet together.” They dragged me outside, threw me into the back of a truck, and drove for a long time. Finally stopping, there was complete silence, just a faint wind and the almost unbearable heat remained. My cell was a shipping container in the middle of the desert. The soldier shoved me inside and secured the lock. I had no idea when or if he would ever come back. Suddenly, the grim reality sank in: I was going die in this container.

The next day, a soldier returned with a cup of lentil soup, some bread, and a cup of tea. Day after day for the next year, this was the routine. The pain in my stomach became agonizing. I was so weak I could no longer sit up on my own. Shockingly, the sergeant released me to go home as he saw my death nearing.

But God had other plans; for the next two years, I laid in bed and became stronger. Eventually, I gained enough strength and confidence to escape Eritrea. I planned my route through the mine fields guarded by soldiers who were given the order to “shoot and kill” anyone attempting to  flee. It was my only option for freedom. By God’s grace, I made it to a refugee camp in Northern Sudan.

As I finished sharing my story with Al, he sat in silence for a few moments, eyes fixated on something in the distance. Finally, processing the brutal realities, he looked at me and asked, “What did Jesus ever do for you? You lost your family, your country, and almost your life. Why didn’t you give up on Jesus?”

“Oh, I could never give up on Jesus,” I replied. “He is too deep inside of me. In a moment of tremendous pain, I cried out to Him, ‘Jesus, I need to touch you.’ With full assurance, I heard Him say, ‘You don’t need to reach out and touch Me. I am holding you.’ Because Jesus never gave up on me, I will never give up on Him.”

Paulos attended the National Conference in Sudan for Eritrean refugees, where 30 men and women were equipped to spread the Gospel. Al VomSteeg, ILI Senior International Director, served alongside the national faculty to teach and mentor participants.


ORDER NOW

Dare to Ask is available now! Order to get your copy today!

Dare to Ask is an inspiring collection of stories and vivid images from men and women who put their trust in God and dared to ask Him to use them. Over and over again, these leaders took significant risks as they earnestly sought God, and He was faithful to honor their cry.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  — Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV


We hope these stories will encourage, challenge, and inspire you to ask God for great and mighty things. God promises He will answer. Walk by faith. Live boldly. Dare to ask. Experience His presence and power.

CUBA: MARIA—FROM CUBA TO THE MIDDLE EAST

“Maria, come stand next to me.”

I was not prepared to hear those words from Tony Vasquez as he was preaching on the Great Commission at my church to nearly 800 women in Havana, Cuba. I was sitting on the platform behind him with the other pastors.

He turned and smiled at me and said, “Maria, yes, come quickly!”

As I walked forward, he reached beneath his Bible on the pulpit and pulled out a large cloth map of the world. He unfolded it and looked back to the congregation, “As you all know, God has called Maria to be a missionary from Cuba to the Middle East. Although you are a 4,000-member church, you have never sent a missionary from this congregation, and she has a call from God on her life!”

Tony held up the cloth for everyone to see the map of the world. Then, he wrapped the cloth around my shoulders. My heart was racing as I heard him say, “Maria, God has called you. Now is the time for us to pray for God to open the door so you can go. Go stand in the middle of the aisle so the women can lay hands on you and pray.”

I walked to the center of the church wearing the map of the world like a shawl. I felt the hands of my sisters on my shoulders as the entire sanctuary erupted in prayer.

The next morning, I met with Tony and ILI President, Wes Griffin. I looked them in the eyes with deep conviction and said, “I am a Cuban woman. I know how to live on nothing. God has called me, and I will go to the Middle East to share Jesus with Muslim women and lead them to Christ.”

One week later, God opened the door, and soon I will be sharing Christ with women in a closed nation in the Middle East.

Maria is an ILI Cuba alumnus under the leadership of Tony Vasquez, ILI International Director for Latin America. She accepted the call to be a missionary in the Middle East where she plans to lead women to Christ.


ORDER NOW

 

Dare to Ask is now available! Order to get your copy today!

Dare to Ask is an inspiring collection of stories and vivid images from men and women who put their trust in God and dared to ask Him to use them. Over and over again, these leaders took significant risks as they earnestly sought God, and He was faithful to honor their cry.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  — Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV


We hope these stories will encourage, challenge, and inspire you to ask God for great and mighty things. God promises He will answer. Walk by faith. Live boldly. Dare to ask. Experience His presence and power.