God, Google, Gratia and Growth
by Laurie Lind, Entrust staff writer
“Forgiveness is a choice of the mind and the will.”
Growing up in a fatherless home with eight siblings, Gratia felt bitter toward her father. An Entrust women’s training module not only led her to understand the miracle of completely forgiving him but equipped her with increased effectiveness and courage in her many ministries.
Gratia found Entrust through a Google search. Eager for help in ministering to women in her home country in Asia, she “stumbled upon Entrust,” applied to take part, and flew a few thousand miles for an Entrust Equipping Women training module. Cold. Not knowing a soul at her destination. She made friends and found the content of Facilitating Relational Learning to be so foundational and practical that she had to return for more.
This autumn, Gratia will fly a few thousand miles to take the fourth and final of Entrust Equipping Women’s core modules, Equipping Women to Serve. But this time, she won’t be alone. She’s bringing her daughter along to begin the process in module one. Gratia is sold.
“I grew up in a broken family,” Gratia says. “My father left us when I was a baby, so I grew up with a single parent. My mother was a teacher, and she had to take care of nine children. So, I grew up in hostels.” Life was hard. One of Gratia’s older sisters died in a fire, and a brother succumbed to jaundice.
Gratia’s family was culturally Christian; they identified as Christian as opposed to the predominant faith in their country. “We knew we were Christian but rarely had the opportunity to attend church. Never read the Bible. Did not know a lot about prayer.”
Gratia noticed a large church building along the road on her way back and forth to junior college. “That reminded me of who I was, a Christian. I started going to the church with a huge Bible that was in our house, which had the records of all the births and deaths and anniversaries [in our family recorded in it]. I sat at the back of the church. I did not know how to navigate through the Bible. I looked through the index and tried opening the Bible. I wanted to open the Bible correctly and quickly like everyone else, so I’d practice at home late at night, and week after week, I got better.”
She attended church regularly, sometimes traveling there by bicycle, sometimes by rickshaw. Two of her married sisters started to attend with her.
When the pastor announced a need for 200 Sunday School teachers to receive training “to take Bible stories to every street in the town, I don’t know why, but I felt drawn to that,” Gratia says. She signed up.
“This changed everything for me. I started reading and studying stories from the Bible and understanding them. I read the stories multiple times (a minimum of eight to ten times) to be able to tell the children the right way because I did not have prior knowledge of the Bible.
“As I started reading the Bible and listening to the sermons in the church, I realized I was a sinner and needed Jesus as my Savior. l needed peace and comfort through him. That is how I started believing in him and trusting him. In 1989, I dedicated my life to the Lord.
“After my college, the Lord specifically, through the Bible, called me to serve him. I was excited to do his ministry because, as a child, I never had the opportunity to go to Sunday School and church. I lacked the love of a father. I did not want any child to go through the same. I wanted to bring that love of God [to children] through Sunday School.”
Eventually, Gratia married. Her husband is a pastor. She continues in children’s ministry. “We travel to different villages and tribal areas to hold Sunday Schools. I train Sunday School teachers and conduct Vacation Bible Schools.” In addition, she serves in women’s and counseling ministries.
Gratia’s church provided her with fellowship and Bible teaching. Intense Bible reading led her to faith and growth as a disciple of Christ. She availed herself of further training opportunities through Child Evangelism Fellowship in her country and Haggai International in the U.S.
Still wanting more, specifically in the area of women’s ministry, Gratia began searching Google and found Entrust. She’s just the kind of person Entrust desires to serve: one who knows Jesus, is in or is called to be in ministry leadership, and who may lack access to or legal opportunities for Bible training.
Entrust Equipping Women’s first two core modules — Facilitating Relational Learning and Developing a Discerning Heart — are Gratia’s favorites so far. “FRL laid the foundation, taught me to focus on people, and to ask open-ended questions. DDH helped me to develop a wise spirit and concern for people.”
In DDH, Gratia experienced that “ah-ha moment” about forgiveness. “We learned that ‘forgiveness is a choice of the mind and will.’ I realized that being able to forgive my father years ago was [due to] the strength that only God could give me and it was never me. I learned that it was an emotional benefit. Forgiving my father was hard, involving many emotions, tears and reasons. But God! He was the only reason.”
Gratia says her Entrust training has led to more fruitful prayer cells. The cells are organized through her church and grew out of Gratia’s childhood.
“I remember seeing my mother struggle in various ways and the sacrifices she had to make to provide a good life for us. Even when her husband left her, she never married again and lived only for her children. I know there are a lot of women like that even today, married and struggling, separated and struggling. As a Christian woman and, most importantly, a pastor’s wife, I wanted to be a counselor to them through God’s word and prayer. I wanted to provide a platform for them to talk and pour out their hearts so we can all pray together and find comfort in the word.”
One of the prayer cells has ten members from varied faith and denominational backgrounds.
Another, launched online during the pandemic, involves thirty people from across the country.
“There is another prayer cell where I am invited to preach the word in a government office by the believers that work there,” Gratia says, adding that people from several religions come to those meetings.
Gratia says her Entrust training has improved her leadership of these cells. She’s grown in her ability to “listen to people keenly and understand their issues and problems on a personal level, by asking apt and deeper questions and being able to comfort them.”
Prayer and thanks
Asked how we might pray for her, Gratia reminds us that her country is not unlike most countries of the world.
“The life of each person has become very mechanical,” she says. “Students are too focused on studies. Youngsters are career-oriented, and job holders have become workaholics. Jesus and their relationship with Jesus have taken a back seat and become secondary. Stay-at-home women or working women struggle with family, financial and health issues.”
Gratia is thankful those women can “join our prayer cells where the word of God and counseling are a major concentration.
“I would like you to pray for a strong and powerful revival where people run back to Jesus and for me to be strengthened and deep-rooted in the word as I lead these prayer cells where women from all around join.”
Let’s pray for a powerful revival in Asia, with people running back to Jesus. Let’s intercede on behalf of Gratia’s ministry to women and children. And let’s thank God for using Entrust to equip Gratia (and soon her daughter and maybe more women) even further for all the ministries he has for them.