Watching God Move in a Closed Country… What?!?
I shrugged and shifted my weight in my seat, trying to gain a few extra centimeters of wiggle-room and restore circulation to my left leg.
I wasn’t really successful at making myself more comfortable, but I did manage to press my forearm into the tray table ahead of me much more strongly than I had intended, causing the person in front of me to lurch backwards.
“So sorry!” I spoke slowly and enunciated carefully, hoping for at least a basic understanding of English from my fellow passenger. The “economy airline” flight we had booked from Thailand to the tiny Islamic nation of Brunei was stripped down and cramped, but honestly, it had just been too inexpensive to pass up.
I sighed and turned back to the customs form in front of me – I had filled out most of the front of the form in shaky handwriting, and I flipped it over to see if I had missed anything.
The back of the form was blank except for a few lines of succinct text – in all capital letters -surrounded by a thick black square:
“Just a reminder that the penalty for illegal drug possession/sales is death. Welcome to Brunei!”
I may be exaggerating about the wording, but the meaning of the message was pretty accurate. I had known that Brunei was governed under the strict Islamic code of Sharia law, with severe penalties for immorality, and public expression of non-Muslim faith, but this little official warning had somehow made it real.
I swallowed. What exactly were we walking into?
We had been in Southeast Asia for nearly three weeks already, having performed and ministered in Ormoc City, Philippines and Pattaya, Thailand. The events had been powerful – thousands of people had responded to Jesus in the Ormoc City during our three day festival, and thousands more had heard the Gospel on the streets of Pattaya, where prostitution, human trafficking, substance addiction, and brokenness are rampant.
We had been bluffing, stumbling, and praying our way through crowded airports, dusty bus stations, and a wide spectrum of hotels – half of us had been sick, and all of us were bone-tired, and now we were heading into our final country of the tour, more than a little unsure of what we were about to experience.
I shrugged and flipped my form over again, then pressed it hard against the cheap gray plastic of the tray table and signed it firmly – if God had brought us here, He HIMSELF was going to go with us, and it was going to be awesome.
And He did – and it was.
As a whole, the people of Brunei were wonderful, warm, and friendly – welcoming to us as outsiders and genuinely grateful for their country and their king. For nearly a week, we worked with a local underground church – praying and strategizing – and then we ministered for two nights at an in-house youth camp.
We performed with our dear friends from Korea – the K-pop band HISPOP – and then we shared the simple Gospel.
…and watched hundreds of young people respond to the message of freedom and forgiveness available through Jesus.
It was humbling, miraculous, and far beyond our expectations, but God had met us, and done what He does. In a cramped worship space in the heart of a beautiful country full of beautiful people, God had completely transformed lives right in front of us.
And this is why we do what we do.
It’s still hard not to become emotional when we look back on our time in Brunei. We’re humbled to think of underground church leaders who continually pray and labor to impact their community with the Gospel, and the young people who chose to follow Jesus despite the potential cost.
Our mandate is to reach AS MANY AS POSSIBLE with the message of Jesus – every time you pray for this ministry, support the mission financially, or share the music and the message, you help us reach thousands with the love of Jesus, and we can’t thank you enough for your partnership. Over the next few months, we’re scheduled to minister at large outreaches in BELIZE, PERU, across the USA, and possibly in MOLDOVA THAILAND, and LAOS.
If you’re interested in being part of our team, here are THREE easy ways you can help:
1) PRAY: We have countless stories of being strengthened to fulfill our mission overseas as a direct result of the faithful prayer of friends like you.
2) SUPPORT: A large portion of our funding to reach the nations comes from friends with a heart to share Jesus internationally. Click HERE to learn about joining our monthly support team.
3) SHARE: Music is our tool to reach the world with this message. LIKE, SHARE, and SUBSCRIBE on social media if you like it – it helps more than you know!
If you haven’t heard FACING DRAGONS (the latest song from our upcoming CD) you can listen on SPOTIFY, (please follow us if you haven’t already!) watch the official music video on YOUTUBE, or purchase/stream in ITUNES. Let us know what you think!
…AND, click HERE if you’d like to read a first-hand account of our time in the Dominican Republic from Kailah, our youngest member!
God bless you friends – we can’t thank you enough for standing with us!
Zach and White Ribbon Day