Pastor Ratna knows that faith and hope are often cultivated slowly. His life and his church bear witness to this. Twelve years ago, while Ratna was in school, he was introduced to the way of Jesus. After school, he eagerly returned to his village with new found faith. As he shared the message of Jesus, a small fellowship of believers emerged.
However, they soon discovered a problem. “There was no leader,” Ratna reflects. “I was the one who explained to them about Christianity even though I didn’t know a lot about it. But slowly the people grew in faith.” Together, the church learned what it means to follow Jesus. Soon, Ratna partnered with ServLife to receive pastoral training, and officially became the pastor of their church. What started with an encounter with Jesus led to an entire community of faith.
The slow cultivation of hope can be seen throughout their community. Tara came to Jesus, and Ratna’s church, after her son fell ill. At the age of two, he mysteriously began shivering, shaking and falling down frequently. Local doctors tried treating the symptoms, but he found no relief. When medicine failed, Tara turned to a witch doctor, who offered them only bad news. “He said the reason this happened was because a god is angry with us,” Tara recalls. “After he told us that, we did everything the witch doctor asked us to do but nothing changed, nothing helped.”
Running out of hope, Tara heard of a small community of Christians in the village, and brought her son to Pastor Ratna’s church for prayer. “He didn’t suddenly heal, but the situation changed,” she remembers. “We could see that the boy is different.” Slowly, his symptoms lessened and he regained strength.
The experience led Tara to Jesus, and showed her that, contrary to the witch doctor’s advice, she and her son are loved deeply by God. She can look back and see how far they have come. “Life also changed very much because of my child’s improvement. I am a Sunday School teacher now and serving the Lord in this church.”
Twelve years after Ratna first brought the message of Jesus, hope is still being cultivated.Ratna, Tara and the rest of the church continue to faithfully shine light in dark places, offering love, healing and community to all who seek it.