OM EurAsia Support Team (OM EAST) worker, Inger*, joins an outreach with a local OM worker in the country of Georgia. Bringing God’s truth into marketplaces, Inger considers how God uses His Word and His people to be part of someone’s journey to faith.
“Look!” Jana** uttered quietly but fervently. “I see the books! They are reading – it’s so exciting!” I sensed her thrill. We had entered the area of a market in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, where other OM workers had already offered literature to sellers. There, under the shade of a large corrugated metal roof, surrounded by displays of vegetables and the aroma of fresh herbs, a man stood paging through the children’s Bible storybook he just received.
“When I offered the children’s Bible to an older lady,” one of our group told me afterwards, “she looked puzzled at first, but after I explained it was a Christian book, she kissed the cover, touching it to her forehead and to her heart - she was delighted!”
Carrying bulging backpacks and strained plastic bags, four OM EurAsia Support Team (OM EAST) workers and I helped Jana, an OM worker and translator in Georgia, to distribute resources produced by our media ministry. During our week-long visit in August, we gave out children’s Bible storybooks, illustrated New Testaments, DVDs sharing faith stories, and cards promoting free downloadable eBooks, to individuals from a minority group working in three markets.
Earlier in the week, Jana, Robert* and I made our way through long uneven stone-paved passages of a bazaar that boasted hundreds of shops. I had never before distributed evangelistic materials to strangers in an unfamiliar culture with linguistic limitations. But, confident I held an important gift, in a country that still has few Christian resources, I followed Jana and Robert’s example, initiating conversation with a smile.
One young woman greeted me first. With smiles, gestures and faltering Russian, our only common language, we chatted. She happily accepted the copy of Bible stories and a DVD about Jesus’ life in her native language. After friendly goodbyes I moved on, encouraged by her openness and thankfulness.
“What do you think of these glasses?” Jana asked, holding one up to inspect its gold patterned trim. Taking time to look at items, she did not rush opening up conversation. Watching her interact, I could clearly tell that Jana loved being out among the people, inviting them to read about Jesus for themselves. Her passion for our joint literature ministry was beautiful to see.
Later as we retraced our steps, we stopped at a family business where the father gladly took a Bible storybook from Jana. Meanwhile his son, appearing from the back shop, seemed to recognise Robert. Seeing the book in his father’s hands, he thanked us, holding his hand to his heart in sincere gratitude. “I offered it to the boy earlier,” Robert explained eagerly as we walked on. “He was on his own then, but when he saw it was a Bible he smiled and politely declined, telling me he couldn’t take it because he is Muslim, but now his father was happy to receive it; may God use this!”
We left shopkeepers tending their wares. I thought about what I had seen and heard, wondering how God would use these small encounters. “Seeing those big smiles when people received the literature - that was really special,” Robert enthused. “The Word of God is quick and powerful; we trust that some are on a spiritual journey and that God is at work.” Jana, too, expressed the potential for it to prepare someone’s understanding to follow Jesus and to prompt deeper dialogue when she returns.
I appreciated afresh how God uses His Word and His people to be part of someone’s journey to faith. In different ways at different times, we can each help point others to His invitation to walk along a new path, a path which leads to life.
We cannot know who will respond. In my mind I still picture one woman sitting between stacks of patterned pots, who put on her glasses to read the illustrated New Testament, and the man selling Persian rugs, oblivious to his neighbour’s attempts to claim his attention because he was already engrossed in the children’s Bible. Or the lady who stood behind a small table of vegetables and asked us, “how much does it cost?” surprised to discover we were holding out a gift. May God’s Word be a lamp for their feet and a light on their path.
Please pray individuals will discover Christ as they read God’s truth and access the range of downloadable Christian eBooks in their language. Pray for Jana as she goes back to follow-up and continues to build relationships and share the Gospel in Georgia.
Could you use your skills in graphic design or web development to help share the Gospel in Georgia and among people groups throughout Eurasia? See opportunities to serve: OM EurAsia Support Team.
* Full name not included for security reasons