· Heart for the World

Asking The Spirit For Freedom

July 2022 Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces all contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory …” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NIV).

In early 2001, I sat in a Central Asian hotel lobby, praying and dreaming with local missionaries about the future. Just blocks from us, another meeting was taking place—later, we would learn that simultaneously, terrorists were meeting, finalizing the plans for the September 11th bombing. 

The dear missionary colleague across from me in the lobby grabbed my hand over our cups of steaming tea. Her heart for the women of this region poured out in passion and tears. “Someone has to do something!” God had filled her with a vision to cross seemingly insurmountable cultural and religious boundaries to reach women with the hope of the gospel. The thought of millions of women cut off from the opportunity to know Jesus was too much for her. We asked God to move, joining our hearts with millions of others’ praying worldwide.

Neither one of us could have imagined how God would respond in the months ahead. 

First, in the aftermath of 9/11, borders opened to non-government organizations and missionaries for the first time in decades. Aid, Bibles, teachers and access to the outside world flooded an area long held captive by oppression.

Second, God gave Jesus Film Project® staff the vision and opportunities to produce and distribute Magdalena: Released From Shame. Magdalena, the story of Jesus told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, uniquely speaks to the challenges of women in an honor- or shame-based culture. The film premiered around the region, and thousands of women responded to the gospel.

The Spirit of the Lord brought unprecedented freedoms: the education, employment and empowerment of women. Jesus’ name was privately and publicly proclaimed. 

I didn’t have the faith or vision to ask Jesus for such dramatic answers to our prayers over our cups of tea in the hotel lobby that day, but He knew what was coming. 

And in the same unfathomable way, He knew that in 2022, in a matter of just months, freedoms for women would be recalled again. Today, women face reinstated requirements and barriers. Girls are denied education. The good gospel is forbidden.

God is asking the global church to once again intercede for those isolated behind physical and spiritual barriers. Today’s challenges require fresh strategies and new tools. Brave women and men need to be willing to take outrageous steps of faith. 

As we survey the challenges of this moment, we know that God is more than able to respond. We can ask God expectantly to do again what He has done before and to impart the freedom that only comes from His Spirit.

Want to hear more about how God opened doors through sewing machines and Magdalena? Watch this short video.

Would you like to spend two minutes and 36 seconds with Hadi, a woman whose life is forever changed by being trained to share Magdalena with women around her? Check out this short YouTube video.

Join Jesus Film Project as we pray for God to move in the most challenging parts of the world by clicking here.

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