The day that the missionary ship Logos ran aground off the tip of South America was devastating. But what the enemy meant for destruction and discouragement, God worked for his good purposes, and Ava’s story is part of that good work. Many missionaries from different nations who were onboard that ship spread throughout Latin American countries, including Chile, Ava’s home. She attended a retreat that they offered and they shared about the need for missionaries around the world and Ava heard the voice of God, calling her, “Ava, I need you in India.”
Even though she had many reasons that it was impossible, Ava believed and began to learn everything she could about India. She prepared, launched her own business to produce income for missions and through prayer, God healed her from asthma. There were many challenges, yet when doubt began to enter in, God reminded Ava that he had called her to India and he would be the one to send her there.
Years later, Ava had her first opportunity to serve in India for seven months. She learned everything she could while she was serving there and made a plan to return and serve long-term. Upon her return to Chile, she trained as a paramedical nurse and began working in medicine. After ten years, Ava was able to obtain a five year student visa for India and entered into communities as a medical worker, especially serving those with leprosy. One lady’s leg was so badly infected that she was set for amputation at the local hospital. They prayed for her and the next day, when the doctor unwrapped her leg, it had been completely healed, like a brand new leg! Many came to follow Jesus through her testimony.
Through the mobile medical unit they established, they extended their reach and entered many villages, always applying both medicine and prayer. One woman was in the last stages of kidney failure, was quite swollen and yellow, and she wanted medicine for her fever. They prayed with her and days later her family said she was healed. They sent her to a specialty hospital for further testing and they could no longer find any signs of kidney failure! Another woman from Andhra Pradesh was paralyzed in her right hand. She had seen many doctors and had undergone many treatments but nothing had helped. Her family brought her to Ava’s medical camp where she was simply given a multivitamin syrup, but the prayer team prayed for her paralyzed hand. God healed her hand completely and now she is able to work again! God`s name was glorified and people invited them to their homes enabling them to share the gospel with many families.
In spite of all these joyful ministries, Ava faced challenges in Indian culture as a single woman. Her pastor shared with her that he had a vision of her marrying a man with brown skin from a Hindu background and having the same call as Ava. Then, through friends, Ava met her husband Ravi who had the same heart for sharing the Gospel. It took three years for Ravi’s family, who is Hindu, to agree to the marriage. Their’s was the first Christian wedding inside their Hindu community and many people heard the gospel for the first time. Now, Ravi and Ava are the Country Coordinators for India, have mobilized field partners in 4 states of India and are preparing for more!
As Ava continued her ministry in India, she had the opportunity to work with Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, always focusing on how to spark a movement to Jesus, instead of just focusing on one individual, so that entire villages and people groups might be reached. One day Ava meet Aamir, a Muslim background Christian from a village in north India. He had been an Imam and as he studied the Qur’an, he had come across this in Surah 3:55:
“˹Remember˺ when Allah said, “O Jesus! I will take you and raise you up to Myself. I will deliver you from those who disbelieve, and elevate your followers above the disbelievers until the Day of Judgment…”
He was astounded to read that the followers of Jesus would be superior! He asked his fellow Imams about this and other Surahs that pointed to Jesus as being more than a prophet, as being the only one without sin, and they told him these were not important and not to trouble himself over them. He began to seek after Jesus more and more, even turning to church leaders with his questions, but they were reluctant to answer him, afraid it was a trick. He made a decision to follow Jesus. Well meaning church leadership advised him to quit being an Imam, leave his village and family and join a Christian community. When Ava met Aamir, she was so excited. After learning how he came to follow Jesus, she asked him how many of his family and other villagers were also following Jesus? He was surprised by the question and said none of them because he had left for his own safety. Slowly, Ava began to share with Aamir about another way, a way where you stay in your family and village and mosque while you follow Jesus, living out faith in a way they can see it. The Qur'an's teachings, in many places, support the importance of the Bible and permit Muslims to read and learn from it, so starting with the Qur’an, he could invite his Muslim family and friends to study the Bible with him to discover more about Jesus.
This stirred up hope in Aamir for those he loved. Ava invited Aamir to a gathering in another country where there would other Muslim background believers so he could ask them questions and hear their stories. After a week of intensive, all day Bible studies and lively conversations over many meals, Aamir felt empowered to go back and build relationships again with his family who he had not seen in five years. Many of his family members are now followers of Jesus! He began a Bible study with members of his local mosque and more came to believe. It has not always been easy. One time, he realized he had moved too quickly when he handed out Bibles to everyone that showed up at his study for the first time, and shortly afterwards he was severely beaten. This did not stop Aamir. He built a strong relationship with his Imam and shared with him how we wanted to do a translation of the Injil in his language so that Muslims could trust what they were reading. He asked for the Imam’s assistant to work with him on this project and the Imam said yes. As they worked on this translation, the Imam’s assistant came to believe and follow Jesus! Now there are many followers of Jesus in his family, in his friends and in many villages. And now there is a translation of the Injil in a language and style that is reaching many in Muslim communities. Ava from Chile heard a call from God to go to India, and among many other miraculous things, was used to spark a movement to Jesus in Muslim communities there.
This year, the India team has set goals to reach seven new unreached people groups in three states of south India. They are developing agricultural, business and education platforms for entering and sustaining this new work. We thank God for Ava’s nineteen years of faithful service in India.
“My dear friends, trust and obey what God called you to do and do not doubt Him. Surely, He will fulfill His call upon your life. May God bless you all and keep you all safe.”