Mala* attended the church plant alone. Like many of the other ladies who were part of this small fellowship of South Asian believers in the Netherlands, she came without her husband, Niten. God had called her out of Hinduism to faith in His Son, but Niten had yet to believe.
This church had started meeting weekly for worship in 1996, seven years after Christar workers began ministry in the community. For years, it was comprised of only women, and the Christar team that had planted it faithfully asked the Lord to expand this small fellowship to include men as well. They prayed that entire families would come to Christ, worship together and eventually cultivate Christ-honoring transformation among others in their community.
The team would wait a long time to see the Lord answer their prayers. But God was already bringing about the answer, and He was working through the women he’d brought to the church to accomplish His purposes.
Finally, nearly 15 years after the church plant began, a men’s group started to meet with three people in attendance. Niten wasn’t among them, but the team continued to faithfully bring him before the Lord, asking that his heart would be open to the good news.
Ramesh, however, was one of those three. He had begun coming to the fellowship with his mother, who had been part of the church from the beginning, when he was 12. Though he stopped attending in his teens, the Lord drew him back years later.
Over the next few years, the team saw Ramesh grow immensely in Christ and watched God shape him into the church’s first South Asian leader. He began teaching in the fellowship, and when Christar worker Keith left the country temporarily for home assignment, Ramesh took on additional responsibilities in the church on top of his leadership duties in the local police department. In May 2019, he became the fellowship’s first elder.
Meanwhile, God hadn’t ignored the team’s steadfast prayers that Niten would find hope in Christ just as Mala had. For nearly two decades, he heard the gospel from his wife and witnessed Mala’s godly example. Though the fruit of her faithfulness long remained invisible, the Lord was at work through her.
Finally, in 2015, Niten accompanied his family on a church outing to a replica of Noah’s ark, and during this trip he shared with Phillip, a member of the Christar team, that he’d been wrestling with depression. Phillip prayed with him, lifting up his struggle to the Lord.
“A light came on,” recalls Keith, explaining that Niten seemed to have no interest in the gospel until Philip prayed with him. After Niten had a dream that greatly frightened him, he told Keith he thought it was time for him to come to know God. Of course, Keith agreed, and invited Niten to begin meeting with him for a weekly Bible study.
At the first study, years of prayers were answered: Niten accepted Christ. In a text to Philip shortly after, he wrote, “I was lost but am now found. Every day I experience His presence in the most little things.”
A few weeks after he placed his faith in Christ, Niten shared during the church’s annual day of thanksgiving that Mala was the main reason he had come to Christ. “I have always thought Mala was a perfect example of 1 Peter 3:4: ‘a gentle and quiet spirit,’” Keith shares. “In all the time I have known her, she has never put her husband down or shown a lack of respect for him.”
Niten has been growing in Christ, regularly shares his testimony with others and has a hunger for the truth. Keith is hopeful that he will eventually become an elder as well. “I am encouraged with his great attitude, and he takes his faith very seriously.”
Since its start in 2010, the men’s group has doubled in size, and the church is on its way to becoming an independent fellowship—in part because God used the faithfulness of the women who began attending decades ago. Like Lydia, who was the first in her household to accept the gospel (Acts 16:11-15), these ladies have been a powerful influence for the gospel in their homes, and their godliness is having a ripple effect as God uses those they’ve impacted to build the church.
Although new believers from least-reached backgrounds often trust in Christ against the wishes of their families, God frequently uses their witness and example to draw others in their households to him. Philip explains, “We encourage new believers to maintain family relationships, if at all possible, as it is often these people, so opposed to this seeming act of betrayal, who are the next to trust in Christ.”
How can I get involved?
- Praise God for using faithful women from least-reached backgrounds to draw their husbands and children into His family.
- Ask the Lord to continue to bring both men and women from South Asia to faith in Him and fellowship with others.
- Pray for wisdom for Christar workers and local believers in reaching out to the growing Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist populations in the Netherlands.
Your gift to the South Asian Mobilization Project will help recruit and equip believers to be sent out to share the gospel and plant churches among the least-reached.