Watton? Who's ever heard of Watton? Most people in Norfolk haven't, but God has done things in this town in the last few months to reveal his awesome power and majesty, that have taken our breath away
It all began in early September, when a lady, Rima, came into the small church where I am Pastor. She was from Lithuania and could speak no English, except to say "I love Jesus!" I invited her to stay to the service and afterwards found that we could communicate through the Bible.
The next week after church, she took us to the house where she lived and we were totally appalled at the conditions. Altogether, there were ten people, all from Eastern Europe, in the house. A man who could speak some English, asked us not to complain to the authorities, because they knew ultimately that they would be the ones to suffer.
We decided we could do nothing but pray, and befriend them. One evening, a few weeks later, our door bell rang and Rima came in with a friend, Renata. In the hallway, she held out her Bible and pointed to John 1:2. "As many as received Him, these He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." She pointed to her friend. She then found Romans 10:9. "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Again, she pointed to Renata.
I took them into the living room where the lady promptly got onto her knees and, with tears in her eyes, began speaking a long stream of Lithuanian. She then took out a book, which I recognised by the cover, and turned to the back and read the sinners prayer. Angela, my wife, Rima and I prayed with her. Although we could understand no Lithuanian and she no English, we knew her commitment was real.
On her return to Lithuania, her marriage, which had been on the verge of divorce before she came to England, was restored. She and her husband are now both attending a live church in Klaipeda where they live.
A short while later, Rima brought two more people to church and said to me "I want you to say, 'Jesus, come!'" I realised she wanted me to make an altar call and had to mime Come to Jesus, while Rima sang a lovely Lithuanian hymn. They too came to the front and knelt down while we prayed with them. Rima was obviously a great evangelist!
By mid-November we became aware of great numbers of Lithuanians in our town. We longed to tell them of God's love, but could only communicate very superficially. We had started going out on the streets once a week, giving away filled bread rolls, always spending some time in prayer first. One Wednesday, we cried out to God for the ability to communicate the Gospel to them.
As we walked down the street that night, two men were walking up the street on the other side. We crossed over to talk to them and found that one was an evangelist, Valeri, from the Ukraine who spoke fluent English! He was as amazed to find out that there were Ukranians in Watton as we were to meet him! We decided to hold a party on the Saturday night. Rima was to bring her friends and Valeri and I went to find some Ukranians. We could find only one, Boris, but we invited him and told him to bring his friends.
When Saturday arrived, we went to collect Boris. As we walked down the street, I looked behind me and saw at least ten people following me. That night we squeezed two dozen people into our living room. As we praised God and shared testimony, the Lord moved in power. Nine more people repented of their sin and knelt and asked Jesus into their hearts.,
The next day Valeri translated the service for us into Russian, the common language of these people. However, he had to leave for Swansea on the following Monday. Where could we find another Russian/English speaking Christian? Silly question! If God could provide one translator he could certainly provide another.
By the Thursday, Daniel arrived. He stayed with us for three months and threw himself into the work. He soon made many friends amongst the Eastern Europeans as they found that here was an English person they could trust. He worked tirelessly and was a great blessing to us. Russian-English services became the norm, and it became common for people to come to the front and, with tears in their eyes, surrender their lives to God.
All the way along we found that the Lord provided the perfect tools we needed for the work. Russian tracts, videos, books and Bibles, not only in Russian in fact, but also in their native tongues, which greatly blessed them. This blessed them so much so, in fact, that we had others knocking on our door and asking if they could have one too.
David and Rose, a couple from our church, worked with us. Many were led to the Lord at video evenings in their home and the fact that they were prepared to have a room full of strangers around their table on Christmas day touched many hearts.
David and Heather, Christian friends from another church, rang and offered to pay for the Bibles we were giving out. They also offered hospitality which was gladly received. This was all a great encouragement.
At the end of December, Rima returned to Lithuania. We had grown very close to her and we were sad to see her go. However, we thanked God for the opportunity of meeting one who so radiated the joy of the Lord.
The need for discipling was quickly apparent, so Daniel began Bible studies and translated "Alpha" into Russian. We had to work where we could and when we could because the people were constantly moved to other places. Some were only in Watton for a few days, others weeks or months, they never really knew. We often had to trust that the Lord would continue the work in them He had so obviously started.
New people were constantly coming in too, and we by no means met all that were in the town. Those we did have contact with, however, were just as open to receive the Gospel.
In late January, Eduard, who had been saved at an earlier video night, came to an English lesson Daniel was holding in our house. He complained of a bad pain in his chest which he had had for several days. While Daniel was busy talking to someone else, we offered to pray for Eduard. The Lord instantly healed him. He looked upwards, held up his hands and shouted "Thank you, my God!" The next day, through Daniel, he told us that he went outside afterwards and told his friends, who said we must have hypnotised him. He explained to them that this was not possible as the only word he had understood was "JESUS".
That night we showed a video about the Ukrainian revival and three more made a commitment including Grigory. He had been Eduard's friend in the Ukraine, but had been living in Watton for about six months. He was amazed to find out Eduard was also in Watton. They had met again that night in Rose's kitchen! He found it hard to believe the healing he had seen on the video, then Eduard shared his testimony and, of course, Grigory believe and was saved. The Lord told us earlier on that this harvest would only be a window in time. New laws came into being at the end of January, which meant that to get work was much more difficult. Many drifted off or returned to their own country, though a few remained in the area. We still saw some saved after this, even though Daniel had returned home too.
What a privilege it was, to know and work with these lovely people, and to watch the Lord move so miraculously. So far we have seen forty saved, and many others touched. It is thrilling to receive news of what the Lord continues to do in their lives. I am just aware that this was a sovereign move of His Holy Spirit and to Him be all glory and honour and praise and thanksgiving due.
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