Preachers often answer the difficult question about peoples in isolated places or third world countries that do not have a church and a copy of God’s Word to read. How can they be saved? Are they condemned then to eternal damnation for never having heard? The brief but Biblical answer to that honest question is that natural revelation (“the heavens declare the glory of God…so that they are without excuse”) (Ps.19:1ff. and Romans 1:19,20) is enough revelation to leave all of mankind without excuse but it takes supernatural revelation (revealed truth, by His Spirit through His Word) to save a person for “…except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) If a person born anywhere in the world responds to the natural revelation given freely to all men everywhere, then God will in His own providences give to that person more revelation and more as he responds and if that person responds to the Spirit’s call and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, confessing Him as Savior while repenting of his sin, then that person will be saved. How does that work itself out in real time? Read the following testimony of BIMI missionary Garland Cofield as one instance of God seeking that lost, remote sinner:
“Northern Ontario in winter can be a cold, white world. Little, widely-scattered settlements are separated by miles of frozen lakes and forests. The only roads are century-old trails connecting the water routes. Who could ever forget the smoke of each cabin rising into the still, frosty air-catching the light of the fading smoke?
Oil lamps begin flickering, doors open, and figures step out in the vanishing light to pick up an armload of firewood for the night. Voices are heard, and their tones are mixed—some happy, some sad—for joy and sorrow are the lot of all mankind.
It was to several such settings that an Indian brother in the Lord and I had flown before. Sometimes a few days can seem like weeks, and that trip was one of those times. We held gospel services at the villages and were on our way home when the weather took a turn for the worse.
My friend had a wife and baby waiting in his village and I had a family waiting for me so we were both a little homesick. We were 80 miles from my friend’s village when the weather made it impossible to go on. I searched the chart for a settlement within our fuel range. Upon locating one, I turned the plane in that direction.
By the time we landed and had secured the aircraft, a full-fledged blizzard was blowing. That night, after the storm, the temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero! In a sheltered area we built a fire, ate, then unrolled our sleeping bags. My mind was filled with questions: ‘Where will we get fuel to fly on? What am I doing here when I could be somewhere else preaching to crowds? What if we cannot get out? or get sick? There’s not a phone or a doctor withing 360 miles of here!’
Then I checked myself. ‘I am a child of God’ I thought, and remembered the words of Paul to the church of Thessalonica. ‘In everything give thanks,’ he had said: ‘for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ (I Thess. 5:18) Just then my fellow laborer said we should try to hold a service in the village.
Moments later, we pushed open a cabin door. There sat the oldest Indian woman I had ever seen. She was alone and blind. We proceeded with the ‘service’ and explained the gospel of God’s grace to our ‘audience’ of one. Two hours later she had received Jesus Christ through faith in Him and we began to sing: ‘Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see!’
We learned that she had heard the gospel before the turn of the century from a traveler and that all those years she had longed to hear more. God had granted two men—one white, one Indian—the privilege of finishing that story of hope which had begun so many years before! Her loneliness, blindness, and poverty, mixed with misery and guilt, were intensified that night by the fury of a white blizzard.
But my friend and I know that the God of heaven and earth had sent that storm to change the course of a little airplane with two preachers aboard and brought us to the very village, to the very cabin, where He, from before the foundation of the world, had chosen to save the soul of a dear Indian woman who had waited 70 years.”
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)
Thanks to J.B. Godfrey, Vice President/Executive Director of BIMI, for permission to share this story. You may read it and other accounts by going to www.bimi.org and look under the online magazines tab, then go to The Nations Magazine.