"Why do you read that outdated book?" he asked.This story is representative of millions. There are millions of people all over the world whose lives have been changed for the better - if you were to ask them the reason, the answer is the same: Jesus Christ.
"Do you see that heap of ashes with bones there?" the black man replied.
"Your bones would be there by now were it not for this book. I was a cannibal until I got this book and it changed me. I used to kill people, cook them at that spot and eat them until I came to know Jesus Christ my saviour through this book."
Gawin Kirkham, 19th century British preacher, writes of his visit to Holland:
"My first visit to the Continent was in August, 1867, when, in the providence of God, I attended the Fifth General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, held for ten days in Amsterdam....though threatened with imprisonment if I attempted street preaching, yet on my second visit it was allowed by the authorities, and taken up by the Dutch themselves, led by Mr.Isaac Esser, of the Hague. Such a complete change was wrought thereby, under the blessing of God, in a bad street in the Hague, that the Burgomaster declared, "One good street-Preacher is worth ten policemen" — a saying which has since become famous."
[Page numbers refer to John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, An Autobiography Edited by His Brother (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, orig. 1889, 1891).]
John G Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), writes about the transformation of the natives:-
"...about 3,500 savages [more than half the population] threw away their idols, renouncing their heathen customs and avowing themselves to be worshipers of the true Jehovah God" (p. 77)
"Recall . . . what the Gospel has done for the near kindred of these same Aborigines. On our own Aneityum, 3,500 Cannibals have been lead to renounce their heathenism . . . In Fiji, 79,000 Cannibals have been brought under the influence of the Gospel; and 13,000 members of the Churches are professing to live and work for Jesus. In Samoa, 34,000 Cannibals have professed Christianity; and in nineteen years, its College has sent forth 206 Native teachers and evangelists. On our New Hebrides, more than 12,000 Cannibals have been brought to sit at the feet of Christ" (p.265)
What were these heathen customs?
The natives were cannibals and occasionally ate the flesh of their defeated foes. They practiced infanticide and widow sacrifice, killing the widows of deceased men so that they could serve their husbands in the next world (pp. 69, 334). The image shows Captain Cook landing at the islands.
Paton's testimony is particularly important because it was given at a time when atheists were citing primitive peoples as evidence of evolution. Only the power of the living, true God can transform cannibals as he did through the work of John Paton.
[The information in this section has been taken from Vishal Mangalwadi's book, The Book that made your world]
The Hmar were a head hunting tribe in North East India. When the British came to India, they found the Hmar to be ferocious warriors. One day in 1870, the Hmars killed five hundred Britishers in a single raid on a tea plantation. After that, no British officer went into their jungles without a large armed guard.
How did the Hmar live? Their lives were miserable: poor hygiene, lack of proper sanitation, violence, illiteracy, and malnutrition ensured a very high mortality rate. Alcoholism wreaked a havoc with adults. The Hmar lived in fear of spirits. Medicine was unknown. Demons were thought to bring disease. Revered priests and witch doctors killed endless number of chickens, goats, and pigs as sacrifices to appease the angry spirits. If you're happy that the Hmar killed the British imperialists, note that they were as violent with each other.
As you can see, there was nothing "pristine" in their tribal life. It would be inhumane to leave such a tribe alone. If you approach them, your head may end up decorating one of their huts. How can these savages be emancipated?
In 1909 a mail runner brought a book to the chief of the village of Senvon in the state of Manipur. It was the Gospel of John written in the Lushai Language, in the Roman script. The chief could not read but he thought that the book was important. He found a traveller passing through his village and asked him to help. Although the traveler could read the words, he could not understand them. But he found the address of the sender at the back of the book. It was Mr. Watkins R. Roberts, a businessman from Wales.
Chief Kamkhawlun sent for Roberts to explain the meaning of the book. Roberts needed the permission of Colonel Locke, the superintendent of the Lushai Hills district. Colonel Locke's reply was as stern as it was concise: "The Hmar are the most savage head hunters in the world. They will lop off your head and make a big celebration over your dead body. When we go there we take at least fifty soldiers to guard us. I can't spare even one for you."
Undaunted, Roberts trekked about a hundred miles, accompanied by some young men, reached Senvon, and tried to explain the message of the Bible to the Hmar. He left after promising to return and start a clinic and school, but he could not keep his promise because he Colonel Locke expelled from the district. But The Main Message that Roberts narrated captivated the Hmar. Chawnga Pudaite became one of the first Hmar Christians. Along with his friends, he learned the Lushai language so he could memorize the Gospel Of John and share it with their people. Gradually, many Hmar became Biblical Christians. The community was transformed. Several schools and one college were started. The lieutenant governor managed to get the college a grant of a hundred thousand rupees from the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India. So great was the impact of the Bible in transforming the Hmar that when the UGC demanded that they stop teaching the Bible in their "government funded" college, the Hmars chose to close down their college instead.
The Waodani are a tribe in the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador. They were formerly called the Aucas (savages). They lived naked in the jungle. The hallmark of the Auca tribe was spearing - you speared anyone you had a quarrel with (from the same tribe) and any stranger you met. By the 1950s, centuries of violence had brought the tribe to the verge of extinction. However, the Waodani heard The Main Message from American missionaries. Many of them responded positively and the entire lifestyle of the tribe changed. For the first time, a significant percentage of males began living long enough to become grandparents. Spearing was abandoned. It was decided to make a movie based on the whole story. The publicity-shy Waorani initially refused. Guess what got them to agree: the school shootings in America! These “savages”, who had been changed by Jesus Christ, learned with astonishment, that the same decadence that characterized their former lives was becoming prevalent in America, land of the foreigners who brought the good news with them, a land that used to be Christian, but was now turning its back on God just like they had done thousands of years earlier! The image shows Steve Saint standing with the changed people who killed his father, missionary Nate Saint.
Mitsuo Fuchida was one of the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor.Nicky Cruz (1938-): This Puerto Rican was sent to New York by his parents when he was young. He got into bad company, and eventually became one of the most dreaded gangsters in New York. A prison psychiatrist once told him: "I have seen many criminals, but no one like you. You're an animal. There is no hope for you." But Nicky Cruz underwent a sudden transformation when he committed his life to Jesus Christ. Not only did he leave his gangster lifestyle of crime and delinquency, but he also became an ambassador for change with the Teen Challenge ministry, reaching out to thousands of troubled youngsters
Gulshan Esther was a Pakistani from a Sayed family, and thus a descendant of Muhammad. She was paralyzed on he left side. When all the family efforts to help her (including the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca) failed, she became despondent, crying out desperately to God. The Lord Jesus answered her prayers and miraculously healed her. She became a Biblical Christian despite getting death threats from her family and having to forfeit her huge inheritance. She narrates her story in The Torn Veil. Bilquis Sheikh narrates her similar story in I Dared To Call Him Father.
Daniel Shayesteh was an Iranian leader in the militant Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement, closely supporting Ayatollah Khomeini. However, after falling out of favor with Khomeini’s political group, (and the consequent arrest, torture, harassment) he escaped to Turkey where he became a follower of Christ. From a Muslim terrorist who hated all non-Muslims (especially Jews) and wanted to force Islam on the whole world, he became a Christian who loved everyone, even Jews. See Daniel Shayesteh, Islam: The House I Left Behind.
Purushottam Chowdhury- One day, this Hindu found small torn page of Bible on road and got inspired to read the Bible and became a Christian. He wrote a large number of Christian hymns in Telegu (an Indian language).
Klaus Vollmar, German atheist came to Christ and led hundreds of Germans to Jesus Christ.
James Simpson, discoverer of chloroform, to a query on what was his greatest discovery, said, "The greatest discovery I ever made is that I was a great sinner and Christ a great savior"
Charles Darwin once lent a hall to some Christians in his village. There the message of Christianity was preached regularly. The results amazed Darwin - he wrote to the preacher: "Your services have done more for the village in a few months than all our efforts for many years. We have never been able to reclaim a drunkard, but through your services I do not know that there is a drunkard left in the village"
Here are some entries from George Muller's diary about his early life. They are taken from The Diary of George Muller; Selected Extracts by A. Rendle Short, London, Pickering and Inglis Ltd, 1972.
"Though I was punished on this and other occasions [of theft], yet I do not remember that at any time when my sins were found out, it made any other impression upon me than to make me think how I might do the thing next time more cleverly, so as not to be detected. (p 7-8)
He says his high school days were spent in "gross immorality" and sin.
"The night [my mother] was dying I, not knowing of her illness, was playing cards till two in the morning, and on the next day, being the Lord's day, I went with some of my companions in sin to a tavern, and then we went about the streets, half intoxicated." (p8)
His father brought him up in Heimersleben (Prussia/Germany); he got into a relationship with a girl from Brunswick. When he was sixteen, he went to Brunswick to spend time with her. He overstayed in hotels and inns; in one case, he managed to escape by giving his best clothes to the hotel as security. In another case, he tried to run away and was arrested. He was released in a month's time, when his father paid his dues. (pg 9-11)
His father put him in Halle Classical School where he continued his immorality: drunkenness, lying, stealing, running away from creditors, etc (p12). He then entered Halle University as a theology student with the Lutheran church. "I renewed my profligate life afresh, though now a student of divinity". He was not without desire to change. During the 1825 holidays:-
"I determined to live differently for the future. Once more the Lord showed me what resolutions come to, when made in man's strength. I was different for a few days….but soon all was forgotten"
However, in November 1825, Muller went to a Christian meeting. There he heard The Main Message and responded to it. What was the result?
"Now my life became very different, though all sins were not given up at once. My wicked companions were given up; the going to taverns was entirely discontinued; the habitual practice of telling falsehoods was no longer indulged in, but a few times after this I spoke an untruth. I no longer lived habitually in sin, though I was still often overcome, and sometimes even by open sins, though far less frequently than before, and not without sorrow of heart. I read the scriptures, prayed often, loved the brethren, went to church with the right motives, and stood on the side of Christ, though laughed at by my fellow-students." (pg 17-18)
Anita Hydes was raped as a child, beaten and as a result ran away from home. She became involved with prostitutes, drug addicts, and subsequently became a heroin addict herself. After 18 years on drugs, sentences in Young Offender Institutions and Holloway Prison she eventually hit rock bottom.
Through a lady called Joan Askew who would distribute sandwiches and soup to drug addicts in London, she came to know about Tony, a person who had left drugs and eventually became a Christian. Through Tony and others in his church, she came to learn The Main Message and committed her life to Christ. She was transformed powerfully, and began ministering to others who had been in her own old lifestyle.
She ends her testimony like this:
"For those who do not know Him, my dearest hope is that you will turn to the one who loves you far more abundantly than anyone else could ever love you - the Lord Jesus"
She narrates her story in Snatched from the flames, Anita Hydes with Michael Tony Ralls, New Wine Press, 1985.
Dramatic transformation in the lives of millions of individuals is evidence that God exists - He not only exists, but is at work among humanity. Even if you think you're doing fine right now, you have a real need that only God can meet.