One year after a quiet, unassuming new believer was baptized in the Holy Spirit, he and his wife left the USA for Indonesia—without any church support, without any training in missions and being sent by any mission organization. Over 9 years they preached the gospel fruitfully and planted churches in unreached regions.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
A most salient element generally missing today is: the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the best example of this, take the disciple Peter. In the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was crucified, Peter feared for his life and three times denied knowing Jesus. But on the Day of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit came upon him, he boldly preached the gospel to the crowd which had gathered. The result was a harvest of 3,000 souls.
The change in Peter before and after being filled with the Holy Spirit was nothing less than extraordinary.
Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
What Peter experienced at Pentecost I have experienced myself. I feel the great majority of our foreign missionaries and gospel workers today are missing this boldness which comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Allow me to share a bit about myself. My parents immigrated to the United States from China in the 1930s. I was born and raised in New Jersey. Being Asian back in those days one naturally stood out. I was actually the first Chinese baby born in the hospital where my mother gave birth to me, even making the news in the local newspaper. Growing up in Middlesex County, New Jersey, my two sisters and I were the only Asians in the local elementary school.
Naturally I tried to assimilate into American culture. Asian-Americans did that by being very quiet. Back then we didn’t do anything to draw attention to ourselves (except excel in our studies of course). We didn’t want to stand out from the crowd; we just wanted to blend in. We didn’t rock the boat or make waves. I was the typical Asian-American—shy, quiet, and unassuming. And that of course spilled over into my life as a Christian. I was not witnessing to the lost about my Lord Jesus; I was just going to church faithfully.
I received Jesus Christ in 1976 at a Billy Graham Crusade in Southern California. At that time I was within about a year of receiving my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of California. After receiving Christ, I began going to church faithfully, even to the point of being elected and serving as Chairman of the Board. There I served doing my best to be a good Christian—like most church-going Christians today. I even felt a calling to go into full-time ministry, perhaps to become a pastor. I made plans to go to Seminary. But my life as a witness of Jesus Christ according to Acts 1:8—as lived out by the early disciples—was absolutely non-existent. I was simply trying to be a good person and serve faithfully within the four walls of our church.
But everything changed the following year in 1977 when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit as the early disciples were at Pentecost. The presence of the Lord and his love for me became so very real. At times He felt so near to me that I felt I could reach out and literally touch Him. His overwhelming love would cause me to break down and weep in His presence. I just had to tell the whole world of His love.
So I felt compelled to go out walking in our neighborhood in Anaheim, California and to witness for Jesus to whomever I met. Eventually I ordered a powerful portable “Bethany Broadcaster” enabling me to preach the gospel to anyone within a half-mile radius. I went to the streets of Southern California and blew people away with the live-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. Once I stood outside in front of a Latino apartment complex where with my trusty bullhorn turned up to full volume I preached the gospel in Spanish (which I didn’t know) by reading outloud from a Spanish Four Spiritual Laws I had picked up. On one occasion I put my bullhorn on the hood of my Fiat 128 Sedan and drove out to the streets preaching the gospel to cars to which I would pull up alongside. Once I went to downtown Los Angeles and stationed myself at a very busy intersection. There for several seconds I preached the gospel to the crowd of people on the other side of the intersection who were waiting for the traffic light to turn before crossing the street.
This was how the Holy Spirit transformed a shy, quiet Asian-American.
The fire within me to tell others about Jesus was so intense that I wanted to preach the gospel to people who had never ever heard the gospel—and moreover had no chance at all to hear it. Overseas especially in the Third World there are billions of such precious souls.
And so in 1978, after having known Jesus for two years, I took my wife and went to Indonesia—the fourth most populous nation on earth with more Muslims than any other country. Through the Holy Spirit the Lord had given me radical faith to trust him to provide for our needs and to open the way for us. And so we left for the mission field without financial support from any church, without the benefit of a missionary organization to train and send us, and without any invitation from anyone in Indonesia. We had no idea of what we were going to do after arriving in Indonesia. We simply trusted the Lord.
And God was faithful to open the way for us to preach the gospel and make disciples over nearly nine years in primitive regions of Indonesia. Through His Spirit the Lord taught us how to heal the sick and cast out demons effectively as irrefutable evidence to the lost that Jesus is the Messiah—just as Jesus promised in John 14:11-12.
All of this was made possible because I had been baptized with the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised Acts 1:8. This is the magnificent grace of God in operation on someone who by nature is shy and quiet.
Today in 2021 we have preached and trained many thousands of disciples in 50 countries—and counting. Through these Elijah Challenge-trained servants of God, millions have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
God is so very, very good.
-Founder of The Elijah Challenge