Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Sacrificing to Spread the Gospel

Episode Resources

Learn more about Compassionate Hope.

Leslie Basham: Susan and Al Henson tell the story of a persecuted woman in Southeast Asia named Ly.

Susan Henson: She found an abandoned old hut within the edge of a village. She wanted to share the gospel there. While she was gone, she heard screams. She turned and ran back towards her house and saw the whole hut engulfed in flames . . . with her babies inside.

Al Henson: Her home was set on fire because of her Christianity.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for July 30, 2019

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you missed yesterday’s program, you need to push pause or whatever you can to stop this program and go back to ReviveOurHearts.com and listen to yesterday’s program with Al and Susan Henso, my long-time precious friends. They’ve been such wonderful encouragers and prayer supporters and friends to me—and now to Robert and me.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: We go back decades. 

Al: We were young kids almost.

Nancy: We were all much younger, yes It’s been a sweet thing to see what God has done in each of our lives and to be able to uphold each other. You have started a ministry. Al, you pastored for many years in the Nashville area, but God had expanded ministry for you. It’s now called Compassionate Hope. The website for that ministry is linked on our website, so if you go to ReviveOurHearts.com, you can find a link to Al and Susan’s ministry, Jesus’ ministry.

Al: Yes.

Nancy: God’s doing as you are available to serve Him. We talked yesterday about how through a series of circumstances, the Lord opened the doors for you to minister to the persecuted church, martyrs, widows, and children in Southeast Asia. We’re not going to name the name of the country because we don’t want to endanger those families, their loved ones. 

Revive Our Hearts for a number of years has been sending some funds each month to help support the widow of one of those martyrs, who is now being used of God in a significant way to minister to others. Out of her own hurt, out of her own loss, God has raised her up. You know, you can’t keep the gospel down; you can’t keep Christianity down. 

Some of these countries worry that if Christianity grows it’s going to overthrow the government. But what you’re helping them to see is that if Christianity grows, it’s going to bless that country. When the Christians are killed, it’s inevitable that others are raised up. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. You can’t stop Jesus. The gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Susan and Al: Amen.

Nancy: We’ve talked some about your burden for the persecuted church, but there’s another part of your ministry. We want to talk about that today and tomorrow. You’re extending compassion and hope to the least of these. A lot of them are children in some of these countries in Southeast Asia. Tell us how you started to discover these children and what their needs are. Some of this is really hard to relate to sitting here in this first-world country. But Susan, do you remember how the Lord first began to put these children on your heart? How you began to come across them?

Susan: I think that any time that you go and live life together with these believers, first of all, it stirs your own faith. We talked about that yesterday. But you also see the needs of the children. These children live in a very very dark culture, where the light of the gospel has not been. The children and the women are the first to reap the consequences.

Nancy: They are the vulnerable ones.

Susan: They are the vulnerable ones, and so when you are there, you see what’s going on around you.

Nancy: So paint that picture for us because we haven’t been there. You have help us see what you have seen.

Al: When you walk in the streets of the cities, Nancy, I can talk you on a fifteen-minute walk. You would pass ten-thousand boys, girls, little ones, older ones who are being sex trafficked. Just bar after bar after bar—buildings that are five stories high and deep. There are hundreds out on the streets. So you watch this and see this. Even out in the villages, because of the darkness, it’s rare to find a young girl among the poor who hasn’t been sexually abused. It’s the abandoned ones. A lot of the tribal groups have cultural customs that a girl is expected to be married by twelve or thirteen years old, and she becomes a target for an older man.

Nancy: A child bride.

Al: A child bride, especially a man has some funding, because he, in essence . . . they would call it a dowry, but it’s not a dowry. Really, he’s purchasing a young wife. In a year or two she’s just an object of his lust and greed. He may disregard her after a child or two. There’s just so many parlous things that come against the children. The boys even with young men. And there are young boys getting a sex change. In that country they would call them lady-boys. There are thousands and thousands and thousands every year that are being pushed into that kind of evil and darkness. We’ve watched it for years. Actually, one of my spiritual gifts is mercy and my heart just wept.

Nancy: You were over there originally ministering to pastors, to help train and serve them.

Al: Yes, we were thinking in terms of what we would call now disciple making, church planting movements. God was blessing that. As I said earlier in yesterday’s program, this is God’s kingdom that He’s building through nations. I went to them and just gathered some of our key leaders together. I just shared this burden with them, and they just started weeping with me.

They said that they have been burdened about this for years too, but they just never thought that they could do anything.

Nancy: Yes.

Al: They said, “We didn’t have the money or the wisdom to know how to go about that.” Out of that is how the Homes of Hope were birthed, in that kind of way before the Lord.

Nancy: Tell us about the Homes of Hope. There are now forty-four of them, is that right?

Susan: There are forty-three homes, and we’re in twenty-eight different locations and in three different countries. We’re in the undisclosed country, in Thailand, and we’re in the Philippines.

Nancy: So if we were to travel with you . . . and I know one time I tried really hard to go on a trip with you, Susan.

Susan: We’re still praying about that.

Nancy: I haven’t been able to do that yet, but I’ve seen the pictures and reports. Al, it seems that any time I see you on Facebook, you’ve got little children gathered around you. I know that some of these are some who have been rescued. They are being provided for, and it just reminds me how our God is on a search and rescue mission. That’s what the gospel is about.

Al: Matthew 25 speaks about us before the throne of God. He says to some “come in.” And to others He says, “No, you cannot.” 

They asked Him, “Why us?” 

He says, “When I was thirsty, you gave Me water to drink. When I was in prison, you visited Me. When I was hungry, you fed Me. When you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me” (see vv. 35–36). 

So we picked up that heart to care for the least of these. In our minds and hearts, we don’t have orphanages. These are not orphanages; they are not halfway houses. These are homes.

Nancy: That’s what Psalms says, “He puts the solitary in families” (Ps. 68:6).

Al: Yes that’s how we view every young man, every young girl we take in. They become our sons and our daughters. Not my sons, but our sons and our daughters, because they belong to the Lord that way. I’ve been involved in orphan work in different kinds of ways over decades, but deep inside, Nancy, I had this question: It’s wonderful what we’re doing, but we’re just not doing enough.

God put it in our hearts that we would take these as sons and daughters, and we would give them the spiritual environment, the home environment, the family environment, the educational environment. We would stick with them until they are twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three—until they’ve graduated from the university or graduated from vocational school or Bible school. 

We’ve been involved in this now for seven years. We now have young men and young girls who have graduated from the university, and it’s just wonderful. Some are nurses, and some are accountants. Some are in God’s kingdom work and working back in the Homes of Hope and Villages of Hope. (These homes—we call them homes.)

Just think about homes full of hope. It’s the hope that the love of God and the gospel can bring to them.

Nancy: I asked you when we were talking earlier today about how you find the kids you bring into these homes. You looked at me like, “They’re everywhere!” 

Al: Yes.

Nancy: You said, “That’s no problem finding kids for these homes.”

Al: Yes. We just saw a recent study that in the country of Thailand, which is a country of seventy million people, that in a report done by the government said that there are eleven million children that are at high risk in the country.

Nancy: Wow.

Al: Eleven million!

Nancy: You can’t help all of those, but you’re saying, “We’re going to do what God allows us to do.”

Al: I’m often asked that question. We have approximately 750 in our forty-three Homes of Hope. I don’t think that way anymore. I really believe that Jesus would have died, and did die, for the one.

He died for us all, but He died for the one—for us individually. I believe it’s the same way in ministry. I may not ever be able to reach the million or even the hundred thousand, but together we can make a difference in the life of one, and then a second one, and then a third one, and then a fourth one. Over a period of time as they become disciples of Christ, this multiplies in the period of ten, fifteen, twenty years. There could be tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of lives that are touched.

Nancy: And that can really transform a whole culture, a whole country.

Al: That’s the power of the gospel, yes.

Nancy: Okay, I want to hear some stories. I know you guys have lots of stories, but we’ve got time here. Susan, you wrote and told me about a young girl named Ly. Tell us a little bit about this girl.

Susan: Ly came to Christ when she had two children. So she was a little bit older than some of our other ones that we’ve rescued. We are there for the single mom as well as the widows and the children as well. 

She came to Christ, and her husband was very angry at her. She wanted to go to church, and he just would not allow her to have any form of religion outside of their own social religion of their country. Eventually, he just kicked her out of the house with the two babies. 

She had no place to go. She finally found an abandoned old hut. She was within the edge of a village. She wanted to share the gospel there. Then the people in that village got upset that she was sharing Christ. One morning the babies were asleep, and she left to go out to the wooded area near her home to find anything to go with the sticky rice that she had fixed for the children. While she was gone, she heard screams. She turned and ran back toward her house and saw the whole hut engulfed in flames with her babies inside!

I can’t imagine as a mom what that would be like. But Ly loved the Lord. We were able to bring her into one of the Homes of Hope to give her a place of healing.

Al: I think it’s important to note that her home was set on fire, but they didn’t know that the babies were in there. But they set it on fire because of her Christianity

Susan: We were able to get her in the Homes of Hope. Actually, two of your Life Action staff, the Lovings, adopted her and sponsored her to be able to go to Bible college. This was another way that Revive Our Hearts and Life Action Ministries have been a part of making a difference—especially in this dear, precious, young woman’s life at such a crucial time.

She loved the Lord. She loved the Word of God. We took her through Bible college. She was able to come back to the Homes of Hope, and she’s a mom in the Homes of Hope. Now she has many children. 

She’s also helping the girls become entrepreneurial. She’s teaching them how to make quilts and pillows and bookmarks and all kinds of different things. She’s created a bakery for them that they can make goods and take them to the market. To watch her go through this and still cling to the Lord in the midst of this is such a beautiful, beautiful picture.

Al: When we brought her into the Homes of Hope, she said that she was thinking, What job do I have? And we just said, “We’re here, and we love you. You’re in a family now; just heal.”

So for just three or four months she served around. There’s a girls home there which has about fifty-six girls in it, and a boy’s home with about twenty-six boys. They just took her and loved her. I remember at that time that there was a missionary there by the name of Dorothy, who’s now gone to be with the Lord. We would go back and forth in messages concerning Ly. She said, “What should we do?” 

I said, “You should ask Ly what she wants to do.” 

When she asked, Ly said, “I’ve never been loved like this. I want to love others the way that I have been loved.”

Dorothy said, “Well, you should learn the Word of God.” 

That’s how she ended up going to Bible school. And like Susan said, One of the Life Action families adopted her and supported her for four years. They put her through Bible college. Now her life is being invested back into the lives of those fifty-six girls. When Susan says that she has children, she has fifty-six daughters now.

She also wanted to be able to communicate with me, so she taught herself some English. So probably five days out of the week I’ll get this message, “Dad, you there?”

Nancy: Aww . . .

Al: For her, we’re the only family now that she has. But she has been able to reach back. She goes back to her village, the very village in which her children were burned. She’s ministering the gospel. There are Christians there. She has led those who had brought suffering, unbelievable suffering into her life to Christ. As we told yesterday, we see the power of the gospel to not only save people but to heal them. They grant forgiveness, and they go back to those who persecuted them to share the love of God and minister the love of God to them.

Nancy: This is almost incomprehensible.

Al: Yes.

Nancy: To us who haven’t seen things like that, how appropriate to call them Homes of Hope. Because this is not just a hand out to make them survive. They’re becoming, they’re thriving, and they’re becoming fruitful missionaries themselves.

Al: Yes. Our statement at Compassionate Hope is, “Rescuing the least of these, one leader at a time.” Our vision and our mission and our goal is that each of these young men and young women that God brings to us, that we see rescued; that the stories of rescue would come and they would fulfill the potential that God had in mind for their purposes. 

We have one home where the girls in a home have babies as a consequence of rape. Those babies are two, three, four years old. Watching these girls now who know the Lord and their children are growing up, I wonder in sixteen to eighteen years who they will be—what this young man or young girl are they going to be like?

Man had his purpose. Man meant it for evil, but God has a good purpose. Thing that I want out listeners to understand is that these things don’t happen apart from believers being the hands of God, the voice of God, and the feet of God. 

Ly’s story or these girls’ stories, these are all possible because people give and pray and do a part of laboring with God. We’re co-laborers together with God and the kingdom of God.

Nancy: Do you have time to tell us Tad’s story.

Al: Tad, yes. He’s from the unknown country that we can’t speak about. Eighteen years ago, his dad was the first Christian in his providence. His dad led his mom to Christ and his older brother to Christ. Tad would have been nine or ten years old then. 

His dad was sharing the gospel and the police had thrown him into prison a couple of times. He’d come right back out and share the gospel. They didn’t know what to do because they put him in prison, and he shared the gospel. If they took him out, he shared the gospel. They beat him a few times.

Nancy: Sounds like the apostle Paul.

Al: He just kept sharing the gospel. Then one day his dad heard about a place that he could go and study the Scriptures. He and his wife and older brother were going to go for five days to study the Bible with others. This was sixteen years ago, and no one has ever seen them since.

We know somewhere out in the woods they are buried. So in our Homes of Hope, we took Tad into our Homes of Hope. Now he’s twenty-eight years old, and he’s graduated from the university there in the capital city. Because of his intelligence and excellent grades, he could get any job that he wanted to in the city. Recently I asked him, “What are you going to do?” 

He said, “I’m going back to my providence.” He is now back in his province. I chat with him from time to time. At a lot of our Homes of Hope, we try to teach them some English. He can talk with me. The other day he said, “Papa.” He calls me papa. “Papa, please pray for me because they’re watching me.” 

He wants to go back. There are twenty-six churches there now, and he wants to talk to them about youth departments and children’s departments and how to reach young people. He’s very musically included. He can play seven or eight instruments. He’s going from church to church teaching them music and helping them to establish youth groups. He also was trained vocationally in motorcycle repair, so we were able to give him $1,200, and he’s opened up a motorcycle repair shop. So he’s self-sustainable.

So here is the son of martyrs now back following in his dad’s footsteps: life at risk, self-sustaining. Wherever he’s going, the children and the young people are just pleading to him because of his heart and love. It’s just a beautiful story—one of hundreds of the significance and the difference we are making in the lives of the least of these as we rescue them one at a time.

Nancy: Susan, you sent me a verse by email the other day as we were just talking about these stories. It’s from Isaiah chapter 1. I wonder if you would just share that verse with us, because it is the heart of God that you are expressing in these Homes of Hope. Why don’t you read that verse for us?

Susan: It’s Isaiah 1:17, and it says, “Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, and plead for the widows’ cause.” I think that when I see this, Nancy, I think that we get the privilege of being able to bring justice to these widows and to these fatherless children. We get to put right the wrong that has come against these children.

Nancy: Yes.

Susan: We get to stand up, and today we get to be their voice. There are days that we get to be their hands and their feet and our arms are around them. But we get the privilege, and it is a privilege, to stand up and speak for these children and try to put back a little bit of hope into their hearst and lives for a future that they would have never had before. With the Homes of Hope, we promise that we will take them all the way through, not just through high school, but all the way through college so that they can have a secure future ahead of them.

Nancy: You and I may not be able to do what Al and Susan Henson are doing in Thailand and the Philippines and this undisclosed country in Southeast Asia. God may have some of that kind of work in store for you.

Al and Susan, if anyone had told you a few decades ago that this is what you would be doing, Al that you would be spending a third of a year traveling in these hard places with the physical challenges you’ve had yourself. You might not have believed them, but you just said, “Lord, I’m available.” You let God touch your heart with what’s on His heart.

We probably have some listeners that God may want to use in the ministry of Compassionate Hope or something similar or something else that He opened your eyes and your heart to see His burden. But even if we never leave our home area, our community, our desk, our workplace, if God keep us there, He still has put people around us who are maybe invisible to everyone else. People who are hurting in ways that we don’t know until we open our eyes, open our ears, and listen to their heart cry and love them. 

They don’t have anything to offer us, but they need us and we need them. God has people in our paths, people sitting in our churches on Sunday—maybe just down the row from us—for us to start to be sensitive and alert to. 

“Lord, who are You putting in my path that has a need that has a burden that out of my availability You want to reach.” Ask the Lord who that might be for you, and then ask Him to give you His compassion so that you can be an instrument of His hope in the lives of those people.

Leslie: Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Al and Susan Henson, founders of the ministry Companionate Hope. They’ve been telling us about some of the suffering that our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through. They’ve been showing us how God is providing hope.

If you missed any of that conversation, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com. The reason that we are able to share this kind of hope with you is thanks to our listeners who give to make this ministry possible. 

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this month, we’d like to say “thanks” by sending a new Bible study. It’s called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan.

Imagine being taken captive to another country, and then imagine being captured and placed in the harem of a king who was probably an alcoholic and was subject to fit of anger. That’s what Esther went through. When you examine her life in the study, you’ll get valuable perspective on your life situation. 

When you donate any amount to help make Revive Our Hearts possible, we’ll say “thanks” by sending you this Bible study. The web address is ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also call 1–800–569–5959. 

Tomorrow, we’ll continue to hear from Al and Susan Henson, they’ll show you how abused women are finding hope in Christ. Here’s Nancy to wrap up our time today with Al and Susan.

Nancy: Well, I’d love to come back tomorrow and hear some more stories. There’s one in particular, Susan, that you’ve been telling me about for a long time. I want to tell that story, so if we can get you here one more day, I’d love to hear just a little bit more about what God is doing through these Homes of Hope.

Susan: I’d love to be back.

Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth is providing true hope. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.