Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Accelerating the Movement in Southeast Asia

Leslie Basham: Susan Henson spends time visiting women in Southeast Asia who have been persecuted for their faith.

Susan Henson: Why? When I am with these women, I tell you, my faith is challenged to the core. What would I do if I were in that situation? So their faith just challenges my faith. They are heroes.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

If you were headed to a women's conference today, think about all the details you'd have to think through. Well now imagine this: In order to visit a biblically based leadership conference, you have to travel in secret, cross borders without gaining attention, and think about getting back home without persecution.

That's what some women did face not long ago. Our guest will tell you about this special conference. She spoke to Nancy Leigh DeMoss during a chapel service for our staff. I know you'll be encouraged to hear how God is working in what seem to be desperate places.

Here's Nancy to introduce our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, we are so blessed today to have my long-time friend, Susan Henson, with us. She's here with us live, and twelve hours later in Bangkok, Thailand, is her husband who's joining us by way of Skype.

Susan, would you like to say hello to your husband?

Susan: Hi, honey.

Al Henson: Hey, sweetheart. Love you.

Nancy: Okay, that's enough. (laughter)

Al, I wonder if you would just give us first an idea of what Compassionate Hope is, and then we want to unpack some of what God is doing through that ministry and a way that Revive Our Hearts has been able to partner with that ministry. We'll tell you a little bit more about that later, but first, just explain what the vision is for Compassionate Hope.

Al: Yes, thank you, Nancy. It's a joy to do so.

We minister specifically in the region of Southeast Asia but more uniquely among a thirty-three million people group (that we will not disclose where that is because there's a lot of persecution that takes place there). I've been involved among this thirty-three million people for approximately thirty years.

We are leading and developing and equipping disciples that make disciples, and then with those disciples, planting churches that plant churches—a house church movement as well as a regular church movement.

When we first entered into this thirty-three million people group, there were less than a hundred churches and around 25,000 believers. Now over the last thirty years, those hundred churches have grown to be almost 2000 and about 360,000 believers now. Last year alone there were 187 churches planted. I will get final statistics in the next week as I travel into that region, but we're estimating somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 people have come to Christ in the last forty days through these 2,000 churches and Christmas celebrations and festivals and all that they have done.

Nancy: Wow! Praise the Lord!

Al: But along with these church planting movements and these godly men and women, we focus also with the expression of the compassion and love of God fulfilling the Great Commandment, specifically to five great needs in this region. The first of those is to the persecuted, and that is one of the areas in which Revive Our Hearts, which we've been so grateful, has been able to for years come alongside us to help us care for the persecuted.

As you're listening to a brother, nineteen of those that I have equipped and loved and I call friends have shed their blood and been martyred for the gospel. Hundreds of families have been exiled even as we're talking today. Seven men and women of God are in prison at this very moment.

Also, secondly, this is the number one region in the world for human trafficking. So we are also addressing the human trafficking. We also help with the orphan and the widow, with a special emphasis upon the widow of martyrs, and then, poverty situations.

We have ten homes. Seven of those homes contain young people and children who are children of persecution. Ten of those homes contain a lot of teenage young ladies, but some young men and some children who are very high risk or have been abused. A few that have been rescued out of the industry. A large number of these young teen girls—twelve, thirteen, fourteen—who were in the position to be child brides, we have been able to rescue them out of those situations.

Nancy: And Revive Our Hearts has a commitment not just to minister to women in this country and in the West, calling them to freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ, but one of the things we've tried to do since our inception is to dedicate a portion of what God provides for our ministry to helping women in other parts of the world where there's oppression or persecution or injustice or particular needs.

So Compassionate Hope is the primary ministry that we have partnered with, giving on a monthly basis, but then also for special projects. Al and Susan and the people that they have discipled, the national leaders and ministry people, are the hands and feet of Jesus and of this ministry in that part of the world.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: When I hear these reports, I'm always wishing we could add several zeros to the amounts we're able to give. But it's amazing how the Lord takes loaves and fishes and multiplies them and feeds multitudes.

But, Al, you were telling us last night that there are in those homes how many children combined, and what it's costing monthly to just provide food for them, to care for them?

Al: In the seventeen homes, there are 365 young people now in those seventeen homes. It takes an average of $60 per child to take care of them on a monthly basis. So it's around $18,000 to $20,000.

I've been a part of partnering with and working with orphanages and homes for decades, but we've made a commitment to these young people. Most of them we're keeping until the age of twenty-one. So we're carrying them beyond high school, anyone who wants to go to vocational school, we're underwriting that. Some are going on to Bible schools and even universities. So many of our young people are not leaving the home until they're twenty-one years old—fully equipped spiritually, academically, and the development of character where they can truly be a warrior and go out and rise above the culture and live a real blessed life before Christ and before others.

Nancy: And actually, this year you and Susan have brought several of those young people into your home in Nashville to help with their education. So you're parents again, caring for them. There are some really special stories about those young people and how God's at work in their lives.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Al, Susan, and I had a chance to have dinner together several months ago, back in the fall, and they were telling me about a conference that was coming up. I was the first time anything like this had been done—a conference for women in North Thailand, but with a focus on reaching some of the women in this undisclosed country who would never have an opportunity like this. They could come together as women of influence—pastor's wives, widows of the martyred pastors.

Their vision was to bring together a group of women, to train them, equip them, encourage them. Al and Susan looked across the table at me and said, "Can you come?" And by the end of the evening I said, "I have to go; I have to go; I have to go."

And, as we looked at our ministry schedule after that dinner, there was just not a way that I could do that. But it was on my heart to see this happen and to say, "How could we somehow help with this?"

So I contacted Al and Susan and said, "After talking with our team, we would like to partner with this conference and provide scholarships to help these women with transportation."

Tell me what it actually provided to help the women, Susan, to get to the conference.

Susan: Well, transportation was huge, because in their region their average income is about $4 or $5 a day. Back then the gas prices were very high. There was no way they could have afforded to even travel, so their transportation in even getting there was the big one.

Getting VISAs and lodging, for four days, and for food and special gifts and all those different things, we could not have done it without there being someone who'd come alongside us and say, "Yes, we will make this happen with you."

Nancy: Susan just asked if she could come and share with us a report, she and Al, on what God did and how God answered prayer and how that investment is being multiplied in that region today.

So give us a little glimpse of who came to the conference, how many there were. Susan, you went with a team of eight from the states. You joined Al over there.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Just give us a little picture of how many women were there, what it was like.

Susan: Well, there were eight women that traveled with me. They were all the way from Alaska to Texas, all over, but it was such a blessing for us to be able to go. It was very intimidating to know that you're going to be the one that's going to try to share and teach someone who's willing to walk out their faith knowing that their life could be endangered and be imprisoned for their faith. So it was a real challenge, first of all, for those that were going.

But it was beautiful. We had women that were wives, like you said, of martyrs, wives whose husbands had been in prison. There were fifty of these precious women that came from an undisclosed area. We brought them into a place in northern Thailand, and there were about thirty-plus women from that region that joined in with these women.

All I can say, Nancy, is it was a holy week. God did so much in each of our hearts. These women were saying, "We've never ever had anything like this before."

And even the men who came along, they joined in. They were so excited that the women were finally going to be able to have something together. They said, "We've had meetings. We've been disciples, but we have neglected our wives. We have neglected our women, but we are thrilled that they get this opportunity now."

So they rose up, and they came in, and they cooked every meal for these women. It was amazing! And we saw them, they would slip in and try and find a place to come in sometimes as well.

Nancy: Wow!

Susan: But it was a beautiful day. We just started off the whole week with the women being taught by the women from our group. But then later on, we were really asking the Lord to guide us by His Spirit.

One of the things I told the women from the U.S. was, "We cannot take our American agenda of Christianity and teaching and conference there. We have got to go and listen to the voice of the Spirit and move as God's Spirit moved."

So about two-and-a-half days into it, I felt really led that we begin to ask some of the women from this undisclosed country to be able to share their stories. Boy, was that powerful.

Nancy: Tell us about one of the women who was there, maybe you and Al can tell it together, but just in a nutshell, what was an example of what you heard from one of those women.

Al: There are two stories that these two sisters run together. They would be now in their fifties. One's husband was martyred in 2002. When he was martyred, she had a twelve-year-old, a ten-year-old, and a two-year-old. And a part of our help into the families is not only help with her, but we bought her some cows, goats, chickens, and a motorcycle. She's really pretty much self-sustaining now, and that's one of the core values of what we do.

Just to tell you her courage, she has been a part in her province. She's a spiritual leader there now and helping to plant forty-three churches in the last twelve years herself—we're talking about hundreds, thousands of believers.

Nancy: Wow!

Al: Another sister that came, we would call her Sister S, her husband was in prison for fifteen years. When he went into prison, in their province, there were less than two dozen believers. While he was in prison, she would slip Scripture into the sticky rice so that he would have some Scripture to read.

He was very courageous, a very young believer. But he began to share Christ in the prison. Some would come to Christ, some would not. But he would tell them when they'd get out to go see his wife, and she'd disciple them. And we were discipling her and some others.

So in a period of fifteen years, to show you how God blesses in these kinds of regions of the world, in that fifteen-year period, while he was in prison, they planted fifty-one churches, and they went from several dozen believers to almost 5,000 believers. Now he's been out about a year-and-a-half, and it's up to 6,000 believers now in that province, in that region of the world.

But when these two sisters shared their testimonies, what was so amazing to the American team and others, there was no self-pity, no, "Oh, poor me!" no sense of discouragement. They shared with great joy, with great willingness, with great gratitude, and with great thanksgiving. It was just a real anointing on them as they shared their stories. The grace that was upon them was really amazing.

Nancy: And then there was another sweet story about Sister A who had wanted to celebrate Christmas?

Susan: Yes. I leaned over to our translator, and I just kept looking at this woman, and I said, "I know that I know her, but I could not put the story together. I said, "Please ask her if she has ever been in prison for her faith."

She said, "Yes."

I said, "Would you ask her to share her story."

It was Christmas time, and they had been told that they could not meet together in any gathering. But it was Christmas Eve, and she so wanted to be able to worship the Lord.

Now, you think about just what we do at Christmas. We get together. We eat. We celebrate, and we pass out gifts.

But her focus was only on worshiping the Lord. So she invited people to come there in the middle of the night. They put a candle in the middle of the room and quietly prayed and were worshiping the Lord. Then all of a sudden a knock came at the door, and every one of them were placed in prison. And they were intimidated. They were interrogated. They were separated out, trying to find out what was really going on.

They put them in a cold cell room all together eventually, and they just continued to worship and praise the Lord. It was sort of like Paul and Silas in jail. The guards would come in and tell them to be quiet, but she was bold. She would just look at them, and she would say, "You may try to silence our mouths, but you'll never silence the worship in our hearts." She just was very bold in sharing that with them.

The guards started bringing in more people to put in the cell with them, and they started witnessing to them and leading them to the Lord. Eventually the guards released them all.

But it was just the fact that we take our freedom so for granted here. And just the simple fact that we can gather together here and in our home and pray and worship the Lord. And there, they put their lives at risk.

Nancy, when I am with these women, I tell you, my faith is challenged to the core. Their faith just challenges my faith. They are heroes of my faith when I go and I hear their stories.

Nancy: I felt the same way just hearing you tell their stories as we were sitting in my living room last night. I texted someone afterwards, and I said, "I am such a wimp." These people who are poor in so many ways, as the world measures it, are so rich in faith. And, of course, we want the outcome without necessarily going through the hardship. The hard things have brought them to know Christ in an amazingly deep and real way.

You were sharing with me, Susan, that at the end of the conference, you prayed a blessing over them. Share a little bit about that scene.

Susan: One of the things we wanted to do is we wanted them to know that we were going to be covering them in prayer. There were some simple, beautiful scarves that were purchased for each one of those women. We brought the leaders up out of this undisclosed country first, and one by one placed our arms around them and these scarves around them, and we prayed over them and blessed them. It was a holy moment.

When you hear these women wailing before the Lord, as we prayed over them, it was like we were putting our arms around them, and they knew that God had seen them. It was so important for these women who are hidden away, and they feel like they're of no value, no worth. They just needed to be seen. They needed to be loved.

When we put our arms around them, it was like God was doing that. He was doing that through you. And we shared that with the ladies where this gift came from and why they were able to come because of a ministry all the way in the U.S. that loved them, too, that saw them, too. Even though they had never seen them with their eyes, they were seeing them with their hearts.

So thank you on their behalf. They wanted me to be able to share that with you and with your team. So thank you.

Nancy: Well, you're very welcome. And, of course, it all comes from the Lord, right?

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: It's His, and it was such a privilege to invest in this. And in just a moment, I want us to pray for those women and for Compassionate Hope, but, Al, could you just take a moment? You were sharing with me last night some of the other things that the partnership with Revive Our Hearts has made possible in that region. I was so encouraged by that, and I think our team would be as well.

Al: A year ago, through the funds that were given and the gifts that were given, we were able to give them to some church members, and they built a nice little place for her to live, a bamboo house with a tin roof. Simple, but it was like a mansion to her for her and her two children.

Just recently (three months ago), we had another martyr and a number of families were exiled from their villages. Their houses were burned, and they ran away. We were able to take some of the gifts and funds that Revive Our Hearts gave, and we took care of them for a period of two to three weeks until we could relocate them.

Over the years we've taken care of a number of widows, and we've also built . . . There's an area among a tribal group that has experienced tremendous persecution with literally dozens and dozens of families that have been exiled. So God gave them the thought of rebuilding or establishing a brand-new village. We call it Village of Refuge. So that village has now been established. There are about forty exile families that have settled there. A lot of the gifts and funds have gone into that.

Actually, lost families are now coming to live in that village that are non-Christian because of the harmony and the joy they see there. And as they come, then they are being converted and coming to Christ.

Finally, because I think this is important, you mentioned Ying and Yang. Their story represents dozens and dozens of others. They were sisters, thirteen and fourteen, and they were doing a tribal festival, and they were involved in a tribal dance. An older man with some money—who was, like, forty, who already had two wives—just had a time of desire for them. So he approached the parents about purchasing the oldest of the sisters to be his bride.

In that culture, they were considering that, and that's culturally appropriate, but she was brokenhearted. She said, "Dad, please, please, please, Dad. Don't ask me to do this."

The dad was wavering and uncertain. But there was also a cultural practice that even if he said no, the man could come and steal her away for seven days and try to woo her through gifts and all to say yes. Now, during that seven days, obviously she would be violated, and if she came back and said no, then he would simply pay a fine.

So the story came to some of our national workers. They went to the family of Ying and gave them a different option. They said, "We'll take her, and we will educate her, and one day she'll be able to help financially provide for the family."

Ying was so excited. Mom and Dad finally said yes. So our team took her. They got just a kilometer or so away, and she started wailing. They asked her what's wrong, and she said, "I just thought, he will go after Yang now, my younger sister. Please, let me go back and try to get her. Can we get her? Can we get her?"

So the team turned around and went back. And so Ying and Yang came to live four years ago in one of the homes of Hope. They are now eighteen and seventeen, godly young women. Ying is now the spiritual leader of this home of fifty girls. They've broken them up into five groups. They have spiritual leaders over ten girls, and Ying is the discipler of the five leaders of those groups. She is an amazing, beautiful, godly young lady now.

But Ying and Yang represent dozens and dozens of young ladies who have a different future, an eternal future, a future with hope and promise because of the power of the gospel. And the hands and feet of those that partner with us have enabled us and the nationals to reach out to these precious, precious children and young ladies of these that are so high risk for these kinds of just horrific futures without the help that we've received.

Nancy: Well, this kind of ministry, as you might imagine, is not easy ministry. Al and Susan are in a season of their lives where they could be doing something a lot less risky, a lot less demanding and grueling, that would require less separation for them geographically. But they are driven by love for Christ, by the compassionate heart of Christ for these.

Susan and I were sharing last night, Psalm 82:3–4, they're fulfilling this biblical mandate: "Give justice to the weak and the fatherless, maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute, rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked."

Al: Yes, Lord.

Nancy: And, O Lord, how I thank You for my precious friends, Al and Susan. And Lord, I pray a blessing on this couple. I pray protection, spiritual protection, physical protection. We pray for the work that You are doing there in Thailand and in this undisclosed country, this people group of thirty-three million people that's been so persecuted, so in darkness and in bondage. But the light of the gospel is shining in that place. And You are bringing people to faith. You are making Christ known in prisons and in tribal situations. In the places that seem so dark and hopeless, the light is shining, and the darkness will not overcome it.

So we pray for these homes of Hope. We pray for this Village of Refuge. We pray for these seven brothers and sisters who were involved in this work who are in prison today for no other reason than that they love You and want to talk about You and share the gospel.

We pray for the widows of these martyred pastors. We pray for their children. We pray for these at risk young people, these women at risk of being sold into slavery and as child brides. We pray, oh God, for Satan to be crushed under Your feet. We pray for the light to overtake the darkness.

We pray, Lord, for the advance of the gospel. We pray for funds and people to help see this happen. We pray for these national pastors, these national workers, just, Lord, for protection and advancement of the gospel.

And thank You, Lord, that all of this is a reflection of Your tender heart, Your heart of compassion. And it's a reflection of the hope that there is through Christ. So we give thanks for this work that we've heard about today, and we pray Your blessing on it.

And I want to pray a blessing, too, for those women who came to that conference and who have gone back with hope in their hearts and with encouragement and boldness. And we pray, Lord, that You would advance calling women to freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ in this country that we can't even name, but You know the country. You know the places where those women live. I pray that those women would have a strong sense today that You are with them and that You are working in and through them to advance the gospel and the name and the fame of Jesus.

For all of this, we say thank You. We love You, and we bless You, in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She's been talking with Susan Henson about some exciting things God is doing to draw women to Him. Nancy and Susan will be right back to tell you why women in Southeast Asia have been smashing clay pots.

But first, I just want to remind you about the reason Revive Our Hearts is able to invest in the Compassionate Hope Foundation and help them minister to women. We're able to be involved with ministries like these thanks to listeners like you who give to support the ministry.

We're headed into a challenging season financially. Income hasn't been what we've expected for several months this past year, and that's not preparing the ministry for this summer. Typically, donations drop during the summer.

To prepare for this, we're asking the Lord to provide at least $450,000 here in May. The end of May marks the end of our fiscal year. It's when we close the accounting books. So in order to end in the black and not cut back on any outreaches, we're asking the Lord to provide.

We see God at work, and we want to join Him in Thailand, in Latin America, and in communities across the U.S. Would you help accelerate the movement and help Revive Our Hearts during this important time?

Call 1–800–569–5959, or visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, have you noticed people everywhere are craving authentic relationships? There's a reason this is such a universal need. Nancy will explain it tomorrow.

Now, she and Susan are back to tell you more about the leaders' conference in Thailand. Our staff who heard this interview saw pictures from the conference, and some pictures showed conference goers decorating clay pots, and then they saw the pictures of those same pots being broken. Susan Henson explains what that was all about.

Susan: One of our themes was "Turning Brokenness Into Beauty." We took clay pots and had them design the clay pot as if it was their life, with whatever symbols they wanted to, to place those good things, those precious things. And on the inside, even the hidden things that people may not even know about. But it just represented their life.

Then you saw a picture of the women kneeling. At the very end we had that time of, "Yes, Lord," surrender—that there's no safer place to be than in the hands of the Potter. And for Him to take all the broken pieces of our life and place them into Him for Him to mold us into His image and to mold it into something beautiful for Him and for His glory.

So at the very end, they had that time of just surrender to the Lord, everything that was there, and then bringing it forward and saying, "Lord, take all of my broken pieces, all these things. Now it's Yours."

And just the beauty of that. On many of those pieces you'd see little symbols. If you looked close, many were of their family. And sometimes the toughest thing you can do as a mom is place your children on that altar and say, "Lord, they're Yours." It was just a holy moment, just holy.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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