My local church, Mountain Road Baptist Church, participates in the Lotty Moon Christmas Fund each year in December. This fund supports the work of the International Mission Board. This year’s theme is “Are We There Yet?” This is currently the week of prayer for the ministry, and one of the testimonies shared last night at our church kick-off was that of two women, separated by an ocean, but joined together by a divine appointment.
Eleven years ago, a missionary couple, Mark & Vesta Sauter, were praying for the Lord t open doors in their ministry in Prague, Czech Republic. After three years of trying to minister to the deaf community in Prague, they had not seen one soul won for Christ. With a population of over 50,000 within the deaf community, the Sauters believed “the stakes were too high to fail.” Even worse than that – the speaking community was doing nothing to help them win more souls for Christ.
The answer to their prayers came in the form of a ninety-year old woman, Lillian Beard. Lillian was one of the Sauter’s prayer warriors back in the United States. After hearing of their struggles and speaking with them about the deaf community, she felt the call of God to go to the Czech Republic to help the missionaries.
Lillian’s first speaking engagement with the deaf community was at a Prague deaf club. No one believed that a ninety-year-old woman had traveled from the United States just to speak to their deaf community. But after inspecting her visa and passport, they were all amazed. They welcomed her into their community and began to hear her words. She gave her testimony, signing her story for them to understand.
Lillian, a hearing child, was adopted by deaf parents and immersed in the deaf community. She was the catalyst for many deaf and Christian deaf movements. She found the Texas Society of the Deaf, the National Registry of Interpreters and the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf.
One woman, characterized then as a cold, hard-hearted woman, Anna Smolkova, was in the audience. Anna had always been very hostile toward the Gospel. This was because the Christian community in Czech objectified the deaf community, side-lining those who were different and closing its doors to anyone who seemed “odd.” Anna’s response to the Gospel was, “I want to make [it] very clear to you that I don’t want anyone in my family to know about Jesus or God.”
Anna was unique among the club members. She is known as the matriarch of her family, as they have over sixty relatives, and she’s very well-connected in the deaf community of Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic. From the moment Lillian began telling her story, Anna could not keep her eyes off the woman.
It wasn’t that Lillian had become such an accomplished woman in her time, but “she radiated.” Anna had to know why she was so beautiful and why she radiated so brightly. Lillian said, “It’s the love of Jesus.” Anna could not run from it any longer.
Anna accepted Christ into her life and has become the catalyst for Christ in her own community. She’s lead the way for thousands of deaf souls to accept Christ, including those in her own family, build deaf churches for the community to worship in, and began small group Bible studies in the homes of the deaf.
All of this was made possible because one couple, burdened for a lost community around the world, answered the call to go minister. One woman, burdened for a deaf community around the world, prayed and put feet to her own prayers.
Romans 10:9-15 says,
(9)That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
(10)For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
(12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord overall is rich unto all that call upon him.
(13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(14) How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believes? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
(15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
I love listening to testimonies of the great things God is doing across the world. I hope this has been a blessing for you. I also hope that it encourages you to remain faithful to the Lord. He has so much more for you in this life than to simply live day-to-day.
I will post the second part of our Bible Study Pursuing Christ Through Faith by Wednesday evening next week. The lesson, Faith in Action, will dive deeper into Scripture, help you analyze your own faith, and encourage you to act on your faith.
**PERSONAL NOTE** My family and I have talked extensively about the economic times of our nation and the fact that so many people are struggling to just get by with their necessities. So this coming Christmas season, please, prayerfully consider giving to a ministry that spreads the Gospel – whether through missionary work or giving in some way to help those in your community. We can all make a difference this Christmas – even in the lives of those unknown!