Elijah was in a car in a South Asian country when the locals riding with him asked, “Can you tell us a story?” They had already discussed baptism the night before, so Elijah shared the story of “Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch” (Acts 8:26-40).
The men Elijah rode with were a former Sufi Muslim leader and his follower, who now trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. As their car proceeded down the road they came upon a pond. Like the Ethiopian eunuch said to Philip, the men exclaimed to Elijah, “Let us get baptized!” This was not the cleanest of ponds, so Elijah said, “Let’s go to the river.” Another local believer explained what baptism was to the men while they drove to the river.
“Yes, this is what we want,” they said. “We know the consequences of what this could mean for us and our social status.”
So, Elijah baptized them, and this experience was the highlight of Elijah’s Pathways Texas Internship.
“There’s not a movement [among unreached people groups] going on [in America],” Elijah said. “But we go overseas and we’re able to share with a few people, see them come to faith, see them get baptized, and see them reaching others. That’s the missionary dream.”
“We were building off some movements that were already happening in the area. It gave us encouragement that someday we could see something like this happen in America.”
As a seminary student, Elijah needed a two-year overseas missions practicum with his mission organization to fulfill a requirement for earning his master’s in divinity (MDiv). But he and his wife Bethany were not able to immediately serve overseas because of a young baby and another on the way. Global Gates’ Pathways Texas internship provided an alternate route to satisfy his seminary’s requirements and provided mentorship from experienced practitioners.
Their long-term goal as a family is to serve overseas, and this training gave them a taste for what the Lord might have in store. They lived in an apartment complex in southwest Houston. Most of their neighbors were Bengali Muslims and a mosque sat across the street.
They took advantage of their strategic location. Elijah often stood by the street waiting for his neighbors to return from their prayers at the mosque. He greeted them, and before he knew it, they would be in a three-hour conversation about Jesus, Christianity, and Islam. This gave him opportunities to visit their homes and share the gospel with them.
Bethany, who grew up on the mission field in South Asia, is fluent in Bangla. Her proficient language skills along with being a mother helped her connect with Bengali Muslim women. Elijah received more respect from the men since he is a father. Having a baby drew people to them, which made it easy for them to strike up conversations and share the good news.
Pathways Texas blessed them with a learning and supportive community with mentors and fellow interns.
But the most vital takeaway from the internship was learning to mobilize others to live on mission and engage the nations around them. They accomplished this through temple tours. They took Christian groups to where Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs worship and taught them bridges to Christ.
“We’ve had our church come out and share,” Bethany said. “We pushed them and trained them how to have conversations with people. They can take that to the places they work, because Houston’s one of the most diverse cities in America.”
Pathways Texas empowered them to encourage other believers to not be scared to share Christ’s love with people who are different from them. Now, they invite others to join them where God is at work.
-Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org