Asia Report – Naomi & Helen
Helen’s Asia Report
At the beginning of June, Naomi and I set off on our Asian adventure to volunteer with a mission organisation whose main aim is to provide Christians with a copy of God’s Word. The work involves volunteers carrying backpacks filled with Bibles across a border in order for them to be distributed to places and people who are known to be in need.
I have volunteered with the organisation many times before but was very thankful for the new experiences of this trip – it was refreshing to try new approaches to the work, not relying on the familiar- or what had been done before, but rather, relying on our ever-faithful, all-powerful God to get us through. Collectively, we carried approximately 470 pieces which included Bibles, Study Bibles and other material and we later found out that some of these were destined for as far away as Outer Mongolia!
I have so many highlights from the trip and so much to be thankful for. I loved being back in the country, renewing fellowship with workers who are there long-term. I enjoyed the times of prayer during the trip- whether it was during the crossing or on my own or at the prayer meeting arranged by the organisation, it was so good to pray and pray expectantly. I also appreciated being away from the busyness of life and using my time to reflect on God’s Word. One such passage which I loved being reminded of was Jahaziel’s prophecy (2 Chronicles 20v14-19) “..for the battle is not yours, but God’s “ (v15) I found it so encouraging knowing that God was making a way for us and that He was in control.
Being back definitely renewed a passion for the work – and helped my understanding of the need that still exists.
Naomi on my trip with Helen to Asia to discretely carry Bibles.
I had been praying for an opportunity to serve God on a mission trip for a while when Helen shared about an opportunity to go to Asia with her. As I was preparing to book, the flights had rocketed in price to around £800. Helen and I got to prayer and God blessed me as the flights miraculously dropped to £360 on the day I was booking them!! God’s Good.
In preparing for the trip I found waiting for my Irish passport to be a real challenge. We prayed and it arrived the day before I was due to leave. Again, God’s good and He gave the assurance that everything was in His control.
Prior to my trip I had limited knowledge of Asia. We traveled to a communist country, where Christians are persecuted and face many restrictions in church and worship. And I knew I could be arrested for trying to take Bibles over the border. Potentially it could mean be being detained and asked a lot of questions. I felt a call from God to Go and that he would keep me safe.
We couldn’t talk freely about God or faith in parts of Asia. But it was fun making up random ways to express what we wanted to say to each other using code.
I was stopped immediately on my first crossing. I felt deflated. My heart sank as I was told to put my bag through the scanner. I thought I was arrested, I had no fear and was ready to witness to those that stopped me. However, all that happened was they took my bibles and gave me a slip to collect them the following day along with my empty bag. Later I found out the whole team were stopped that day. But I was delighted to find out that a Bible was in a separate compartment in my bag. One copy of God’s Word was passed onto the underground church, It was a small but mighty victory.
Each day after that was a learning curve. We prayed every day for invisibility to anyone watching us, that the guards would turn a blind eye. Helen and I began approaching customs separately. Some days took longer than others to get through. I used this time to pray for the people around me, that somehow the Bibles would reach them and their families through the people who would receive them, especially the children. I also prayed that we would get through unchallenged.
The following four days were unbelievable to me as I had 4 successful trips. One day, at least twenty people were ahead of me putting their bags voluntarily onto the scanner. I felt if I tried to break through the crowd and bypass this, I would stand out a mile and get caught. I said a quick prayer, broke through the queue, put my passport into my bag and no one stopped me. I was delighted and continued on to the meeting point. I felt victorious as I knew God was protecting me and had answered my prayers.
The first Sunday we went to a big hill in the city and at the very top I noticed an unusual shop named ‘Double Portion’. It reminded me of a story our pastor Gary spoke of in 2nd Kings 2:9. I took a photo and sent to Gary for amusement, but didn’t enter the shop.
The next Saturday morning Proverbs 16:9 came to my mind.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
I prayed, ‘Helen and I have made plans today, but if you want us to do something different, then show me.’ Minutes later Gary sent me the Double Portion photo and asked what it was about, where it was etc. Then Helen said that she’d read the 2nd Kings story that morning in her chronological bible- we knew we had to visit the shop that day.
After a long journey we arrived. Inside I found a plaque with ‘God is Love’ on one of the shelves. Stunned, I took a photo. The shop owner asked me if she could help. I asked questions and she was suspicious. I explained everything to her and to my surprise she told me it was a praise centre and a hidden ministry and that the shop name was from 2nd Kings! I fully felt led to make that prayer and for God to reveal Himself to me that day. I was left in complete awe. Again God is GOOD. He hears my prayers and he answers. Thank you to all the church who prayed for us while we were away.