In Hoi Taht village, 24 families accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This means no more animal sacrifices and fear of offending the spirits. Today, over 200 Akha in Hoi Taht are walking the “Jesus Road” and learning not to walk in fear, but to trust in Jesus.
Salvation among the Akha is very different than our Western approach. In the West, salvation is an individual decision and commitment. For the Akha, the head of the household makes the decision for the entire family. In some cases, certain members of the family have desired to become Christian for a long time and receive the news with joy. In other cases, the family is not sure if the head of their household is making a good decision. They are consumed with fear that the spirits are going to come and torment them for turning their backs on spirit worship. In most cases, given time, these doubters will come to embrace a relationship with Jesus as they see and experience His love.
As Dr. Aje spent time with leaders of this group, he heard many stories about how God has been moving on the hearts of the people for a long time to bring them to this point. One old man from the Yaebyangu clan shared with tears in his eyes that he had wanted to hear more about Jesus ever since Aje’s father, a highly respected Akha leader, became Christian over 12 years ago. Yet, there was a lot of hostility towards anyone in the village who expressed a desire to forsake spirit worship. He kept his desire to know Jesus a secret for over ten years for the sake of his family and to keep peace in the village. Little did he know that there were many other heads of households who were also beginning to have the same desires stir within them. Their very beings were crying out to worship the God of the universe who created all things.
At last, three leaders secretly met in a Christian Akha village to discuss what they should do. They feared being persecuted and forced to leave the village. They did not know if their families would survive if they were made to leave but decided that, no matter what, they wanted to become Christian. As they began to make plans to ask someone to come and help them become Christian, word spread and they quickly discovered that 24 of the 90 families in the village wanted to become Christian as well.
Several of our staff, pastors and Bible students went with Aje to help. Buzi said, “When we arrived in the village, there was a spirit of fear and darkness that hung in the air. Yet after the first hour, when we started helping each family pull down their spirit alters and began praying with them, the spirit of heaviness lifted. The people started smiling and laughing and then joy seemed to be overflowing. It was a beautiful thing to watch such a transformation take place before our eyes. ‘The truth will set you free!’”
The village asked us to help put down a deposit on a piece of land for a church. We helped with the initial payment and are believing that the next three payments will come in. They are going to start building a church this Saturday. They’ve decided to build it themselves and each family is responsible for buying six panels of the roof tile. We appreciate your prayers for these families as they begin to build their foundation of faith and grow in their understanding of what it means to walk the “Jesus Road.”