For the children at Danville Primary School in South Africa, a Bible is a luxury item. Many of the students come from impoverished areas, and most families don’t go to church. For some of these students, their only meal is at school.
“How can a child’s parents afford a Bible when they can’t even put food on their table?” asks Mrs. Schwarz, one of the teachers.
But now, these kids have the opportunity to own their own Bibles and study the Word using Project Philip Bible studies. Since April, a local pastor has been holding Bible studies in the school and while the teachers had reservations, they have noticed a welcomed change in students’ behavior.
“They are learning to respect the grownups,” Mrs. Schwarz says. “They think, ‘If I can’t respect the human beings standing in front of us, how can I respect the Lord?’ Their way of doing things totally changed, not only behavioral but also in their knowledge.” This change is spilling into their home life, where parents are starting to read the Bible to find the goodness of God that their children have found.
A Difficult Life
Renu was raised in a Buddhist family in Thailand. She regarded herself as a kind person, but her life was full of hardships. “Karma seems to have betrayed me,” she says.
Her parents divorced and because Renu was the oldest sibling, it became her responsibility to care for her mother and siblings, including taking on the financial burden of her brother’s education.
Even though she worked hard to take care of her family, Renu’s relationship with her mother was cold and broken.
“My mother disliked me as long as I can remember,” she says. “Everything that I did was wrong for her and she would always complain that I was no good. She never had a peaceful moment with me.”
Renu struggled with her difficult relationship with her mother and visited a Buddhist priest for help. “I spent a lot of money trying to bring peace and reconciliation between both of us through their mantras and charms, but nothing changed.”
A friend of Renu’s invited her to church and told her that God could help her situation. When she arrived, she was skeptical and unimpressed, but agreed to meet with the pastor.
“I did not understand everything that he said, but I was desperate and wanted to be released from the situation, so I opened my heart to accept Jesus Christ,” she says.
Weeks later, she hosted a prayer group at her home. She had kept her new life a secret from her unbelieving husband, so when he walked in on the prayer group, she was shocked when he accepted Christ on the spot. Renu eventually shared the Gospel with her mother.
“By God’s grace, my mother accepted Jesus Christ, too,” she says. “Our relationship has become much better. Praise the Lord!”
Renu and her husband were trained as Project Philip Bible study leaders and helped share the Gospel in 12 villages in their area. She currently ministers to multiple families and hopes to build a church in the future.
“Thank God for the new life,” she says. “No amount of meditation or medication has provided what Jesus has done for me. I am so peaceful and joyful now.”
Sharing the Gospel from Country to Country
“I was losing faith at that moment.”
Johane grew up attending church with her mother in Port-au-Prince and knew from an early age that she wanted to serve the Lord. But the road was far from easy. Following a devastating earthquake in 2010, she lost her job in telecommunications.
Her family tried to open their own business, but the struggles were just too much to continue. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with 60% of the population living in poverty. Johane and her family were quickly becoming part of that percentage. They decided to leave their home and try for a better life in the United States.
“I prayed to God amid those circumstances. I told Him, ‘If you help me, I will preach for you, I will talk to people for you,’” she says.
The family moved to the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, six years ago. The area has a large Haitian and West African immigrant population. They lived in the basement of a friend’s home and searched tirelessly for jobs. The chaos of trying to survive took a toll on Johane’s evangelism work.
“Here in the U.S., in the middle of all the struggle, my son had a dream. He dreamt that God told him He was going to give us a house,” she says. “Honestly, I was losing faith at that moment.”
Not long after her son’s dream, Johane’s husband got a job. The family moved into an apartment, then eventually a house. Overwhelmed with joy by the providence of God, Johane was reminded of the promise she made.
“After we moved into our house, I had a dream. I was before God, on my knees, asking Him for forgiveness and a second chance,” she recalls. “I remembered my prayers back in Haiti when I promised I would serve Him. After all these blessings, I knew I could not only serve Him, but my job from that time on would be to spread the Good News.”
Johane is a trained Philip (Project Philip Bible study leader) in both Haiti and the United States. She was ministering in Haiti when she moved, and after settling in the U.S., she searched for two years for ministry resources. As a last-ditch effort, she prayed asking for resources specifically from Bible League International.
“One night, my pastor gave me a brochure promoting a Bible League International training in a church nearby. When I saw that, I was screaming, I was so excited,” she says. “I led seven people to Christ from my community when I worked with Project Philip in Haiti!”
Serving in the U.S.
Johane has since shared the resources with her church leadership and members of her church, who are primarily Haitian immigrants. “The program made a massive difference in our church. Now, there is a fire burning in my pastor’s heart for evangelism and discipleship,” she says.