LMCO: Living out the Book of Acts with the Bedia
Dec 12, 2013
By IMB STAFF

CENTERTON, Ark. (BP)—Shanti* was the only believer in her village. The Bedia woman prayed in secret every day for one year.

The persecution from her friends and family was unbearable. Day after day, she cried out to God in a private prayer room built by her nonbelieving husband, Ashish.* He wanted to keep her safe.

“Lord, how long will I have to pray alone?” She cried. “Help me!”

But Shanti was not praying alone. First Baptist Church Centeron in Northwest Arkansas had been praying for five years that there would be at least one believer from this unengaged, unreached people group who could be the starting point for a church.

Church member Robin Gill was among those who started praying for the Bedia in 2007. Gill suffers from cerebral palsy, yet faithfully hosts a weekly prayer time in her home.

“I knew God would answer,” Gill said. “We just needed to be obedient and pray.”

FACE OF THEIR PRAYERS The first Bedia man that Stuart Bell, pastor of First Baptist Church Centerton, Ark. ever met walked out of a jungle path and greeted him. Bell broke down crying at the encounter. This man became the Bedia man for the church, serving as the face of their prayers for five years. IMB photo
Their prayers prepared the way for Shanti. She became bolder in her witness and shared with her husband about God. He had already heard about this Savior from his brother and sister, who were also believers. Soon, Ashish accepted Christ and Shanti’s private prayer room became the “meeting place” for Bedia believers from five different villages.

First Baptist Centerton did not know all of this, but they continued praying blindly, believing God would prevail. Then, the silence was broken when Pastor Stuart Bell connected with Southern Baptist worker Clifton Melek,* who shared that he had five Bedia—Shanti, Ashish and Ashish’s three siblings—in his discipleship classes, training to be Christian leaders.

A mission team from the Arkansas church journeyed to South Asia to see it firsthand and partner with Melek. They worshipped and cried with the people they connected with through prayer. They witnessed eight baptisms and went to the first Bedia church—all  exactly five years after the church’s commitment to prayer.

“It was like we were living out the Book of Acts,” Bell said, describing the baptisms and joy of worshipping with an unreached people group.

When the team returned, videos and pictures documented names and faces of the Bedia believers for members of First Baptist Church Centerton. The “silent years,” when they prayed blindly, were finally filled in with stories and testimonies of God revealing Himself.

Poster-sized photos of the Bedia now hang throughout the church as testimony to what God has done, what He is doing and what He will continue to do as other Southern Baptist churches simply answer the call to prayer for those who have never heard.  

To date, IMB personnel report that there have been more than 750 Bedia baptisms, with more taking place each month. A centrally located community center has been constructed where Bedia pastors will receive training.

Through IMB’s Embrace initiative, you and your church can take the Gospel to one of these groups. To learn more, go to call2embrace.org. Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program fund the presence and missions outreach of nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist workers internationally. Give to the offering through your local Southern Baptist church or online at imb.org/offering, where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering.

See how others are being Totally His … heart, hands, voice at totallyhis.imbresources.org. Add your story and join the journey.

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