IMB worker perseveres while waiting on a harvest

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Road leading into the village of Laza, in Azerbaijan. IMB PhotoShe has traveled a lot of rough roads. She has dealt with spiritual warfare. She has persevered through years of planting with lean harvest – one of the most discouraging things for a missionary to write home about.

Yet she is trusting God to bring about His harvest in His time. And that trust is, slowly, paying off for Molly Petry, an IMB worker among an Unreached People Group (UPG) in a hard-to-access valley in Central Asia. She and her team of national partners who serve among this group are partnering with Send Relief, the joint compassion ministry of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, to bring clean water to the area.

“God really got my attention when I was studying in college about how He has created us as physical, emotional and spiritual beings,” Petry shared. “Oftentimes we separate those things out. But He desires to transform all those areas of our life.”

Petry said she loves that the focus of the ministry among her UPG is also multifaceted. Her team brings clean water to those who need it most due to a plethora of lethal waterborne illnesses. They also bring “the Living Water because, without Him, they will die for eternity.”

A bonus for Petry is getting to share this physical water and Living Water alongside national partners. “They have insights and understandings and are able to communicate in ways that I am not able to,” she added.

As her team goes to this remote UPG, like they’ve been doing for the last five years, they’re working closely with one believing family and have seen one new believer, Sally, who lives in the capital city, come to faith.

Sally’s people group numbers 28,000 souls. Many, like Sally, have left their remote mountain valley to find work in larger cities. But they still consider this valley their “homeland.” It’s inaccessible for months of the year due to weather conditions. Petry’s team must travel six hours from the capital, going as far as the road will take them. In what Petry describes as “tough physical conditions,” they travel on foot to the villages to bring help and hope.

A few months back, Sally’s extended family, the only believing one that Petry’s team is aware of in the remote valley, was celebrating a wedding. Sally traveled home with Petry’s team. Petry joked that Sally was a “captive audience” of sorts, and during travel, the team shared the love of Christ with her. By the end of the trip, Sally made a profession of faith. Now, going back to the capital city after the wedding, she can plug into a church and be discipled.

During the midst of this victory, Petry’s team of national believers were experiencing relational conflict that Petry recognizes as spiritual warfare. Petry was discouraged, to put it mildly, she explained.

“Anytime someone comes to faith, it’s a miracle to see the work of God in their life,” Petry shared. “But to be able to be part of that, as our team was going through this relational conflict, was a gift from Him.”

“We were reminded that He’s at work in faraway places and using His Church and His body to make a difference and to bring His kingdom to come,” Petry reminisced.

Sally’s story was a reminder to Petry that sometimes a missionary can labor for years before seeing people respond to the gospel. It reinforced in her that her team is in the planting years. But soon enough, whether it be months or years from now, God is going to bring about a great harvest.

Lydia Pettus, who lived with Petry in Central Asia, shared that often she’d see Petry sitting “at her desk, writing out and practicing the best way to share the gospel in the local language, so that she can communicate in a way that her people can understand.”

“Molly’s perseverance is seen in her razor-sharp focus on getting the gospel to the dark places at the cost of her preferences or strength. She lives a rhythm of life that relies on the Holy Spirit’s power to help her to do what she cannot do.”

Some names may have been changed for security reasons.

Myriah Snyder writes for the IMB.

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