Feature

A Bloom in the Desert

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Even in the desert, seeds can grow strong roots.

In March David Lauffer, assistant vice president for U.S. Alliance International Ministries, and his wife, Merilyn, returned to Israel for a short visit. In Beersheba, David arranged to meet a couple at a Chinese restaurant. There he discovered that, even though he and Merilyn had been reassigned, God had been working in the hearts of those they had left behind.

Years earlier, when the Lauffers were GCF-supported international workers in Israel, they had developed a ministry among Chinese people living temporarily in Beersheba. Many Chinese men had been granted visas to work in construction, but their wives and families had to remain in China. However, the Lauffers discovered that many men seeking PhDs or in post-doctoral studies at Ben-Gurion University had been allowed to bring their families with them to the Middle East.

“The students’ wives were lonely and isolated as they left their homeland and moved to Israel,” David recalls. Most of them were already looking ahead to their husbands’ possible appointments to England or America. With this future in mind, they were eager to study a language other than Hebrew.

Merilyn wed the women’s desire to learn English with an opportunity to introduce them to Scripture. The women were curious about how the passages they studied related to the culture and history of Israel, and Merilyn often wove the gospel into her answers to their many questions. “It opened all kinds of doors,” David says.

In the class were three young women with names that struck a chord with David: Ying, Ling and Ping. At the Chinese restaurant David chose for his meeting this spring, he was surprised when one of the trio from his wife’s class approached him at the table. “‘I know you!’ she said to me. ‘Your wife introduced me to Jesus.’”

Merilyn’s former student told David that she was the co-owner of the restaurant. But that wasn’t all. “She was holding church services in the building for Chinese students and business owners,” David said. The seed that an Alliance worker had planted a decade earlier had blossomed into a community of faith.

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