2015 Bangladesh – Gina Kim

Garments of Salvation

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothes me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness. – Isaiah 61:10

This missions trip was marked by God’s grace and filled with His glory! Our trip was not easy at first, especially with the complicated visa application process. The current political unrest between the two rival parties in Bangladesh made it harder for us to go as well. But our team kept standing in faith and pressing in to believe that nothing could hinder us from ministering for God’s kingdom. These challenges thus ended up making our team more united and stronger in the Spirit. Our expectation and prayer for this trip was to be able to minister out of knowing God’s heart for His people, through being led by the Holy Spirit. Our God is so faithful. He gave us not only all we had asked for, but He gave beyond all we could ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

It was such a privilege for us to see how God at work through our ministry partnership with Pastor Ishan, our local contact. He is truly a man of God who manifests the Father’s heart, shepherds his sheep, and raises them up as Christian leaders and pastors. We witnessed God’s kingdom multiply, the unreached areas getting reached, people hearing the Gospel for the first time and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We also saw communities transformed by the power of Christ’s truth. The native pastors shared with us that when the first New Philly team visited in 2011, there had been no churches planted in the area. But now there are five churches that have been planted since 2011, five pastors raised up, and two more churches soon to be planted in this year alone. Thus we had the joy of ministering not only to non-Christians and new believers, but Christians who are also growing in their faith.

My personal highlight of this trip was ministering to women and children. I was especially blown away by how powerful it was to minister through simple hugs and embraces to the women of Bangladesh. Both physical and inner healing took place through these interactions. At our first church, there was a welcoming ceremony and the children greeted us with garlands of flowers. I was reminded of Isaiah 61:10, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothes me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” Little did I know that this was the foreshadowing of my personal theme for the trip.

On our third day we ministered in a village called Gobindopur. The villagers saw us and gathered around us. They were mostly women and children because it was during the day and many men had gone out to the fields to work. It was not a coincidence that we ended up ministering to so many women and children. They were the ones who needed to hear that God loves them and cares for them. There is strong gender discrimination in Bangladesh’s socio-cultural environment. Girls are often mistreated and seen as financial burdens. From the time of their birth, their health and education is often overlooked. But the truth of the Gospel can transform this social ill, and we were there to spread that truth.

God had given me a specific heart for the people- a heart to share the Gospel and His love for them, and He had also given me a verse for them, Genesis 3:26, “the Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” The garment of salvation was the theme of my sermon in the field. Even during my short prayer and sermon preparation time, I was so overwhelmed with God’s love for the people of Bangladesh and shed a lot of tears. Even though it was my first time preaching in the mission field, there was no room for fear or anxiety. I was zealous for these people and couldn’t stay silent. I spoke loudly and boldly about the love of God. Perfect love indeed drives out all fear. An animated Gospel message was preached and numerous people responded to the salvation altar call. We found out later that 107 people out of 170 received Christ as their Lord and Savior. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first, but witnessing the hunger of the little children all the way to the elderly people was confirmation in itself that God was moving.

Our team then travelled to another Hindu village. There were also so many villagers gathered around us, young and old, men and women, single and married. The entire village was there! Our team was intentional to make eye contact with the crowd and speak in the heavenly language of beautiful smiles :) We gave a very attentive smile to each individual. God sees them, God knows them, and He loves them. They display such beauty as God’s creation. We respected the local culture, but I did sort of an unconventional thing while ministering. I was helping the VBS (children’s dance ministry) time by trying to get the people engaged. We usually bring some kids up to do VBS worship dance moves in front of people and we did. But I felt led to ask female adults among the crowd to do the same thing. Pastor Ishan told me that culturally women don’t do such things in public because it’s considered shameful. Trying to respect the culture, I was almost changing my mind, but guess what happened? One woman started walking out of the crowd. Another saw her moving and did the same. Another one, after another… Five women suddenly stood next to me with beautiful smiles on their faces. This was a very bold act for them to do. I was so blessed not only to see the women walk out in courage, but also to see God clothing them with garments of salvation and praise. There was no shame, but rather joy and confidence. As God’s pleasure and glory was released, many salvations also naturally followed.

The next day our team went to a Muslim school, and this was where we were instructed to be more careful with the vocabulary we use because of the strong Muslim presence and their hostility toward Christians. This was my very first time going to a Muslim school. All the recent headlines about Islamic State (IS) had started to affect my impression of Muslims. I felt restricted and was a little concerned about how we were going to present the Gospel in this area. Upon our arrival, I looked around the classroom packed with over 200 children aged from 5 to 16. They were all staring at me with curiosity. And the moment I met their eyes, my concerns vanished and I saw that they were just precious to God’s eyes. I was reminded that I am clothed with Christ, and thus I can boldly speak His word with love.

After VBS songs, I got to share my testimony at this school. I shared of how insecure I was, not knowing my true identity and value but how Jesus unconditionally loved me and changed me. I talked about my childhood and as I was about to share of how I was deceived into thinking I was unwanted and unloved as a girl, tears started to well up. I couldn’t say a word for five long seconds, and neither could Pastor Ishan, who was translating into Bengali. This was when the Holy Spirit helped me to minister to these children with compassion. Holy Spirit is a person who has emotions and gives us beautiful hearts for God’s people. I learned that ministering to people knowing God’s heart is not about head knowledge or ministry experience. Rather it is the heart that matters more to Him. I even looked at the female teachers, nodded saying, “God knows your pain and hurt. He loves you so much and your Creator designed you faultlessly. He said it was very good when He created you.” We didn’t have an altar call. We did not lay hands and pray, but the place was filled with the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. This is what the people needed more than anything.

God is not done with Bangladesh. In fact, this is just the beginning. As Philippians 1:6 says, He who began a good work will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Our team saw not only male pastors raised up as mighty ministers, but powerful female leaders rising up and getting ready for the transformation of this nation. It was such a privilege to be part of “His story” and empower His people, knowing that God will use them to shine lights for Jesus and for His glory! Please continue to pray that God’s kingdom will prevail and more people will encounter Jesus. Thank you for your partnership and prayer. May God bless you all the more!

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