Leading cannibals, polygamists, and naked people to Jesus

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By Mark Ellis

Bayani Leyson holds the sword of a Muslim village chief he led to the Lord in the Philippines (Christian Aid Mission)
Bayani Leyson holds the sword of a Muslim village chief he led to the Lord in the Philippines (Christian Aid Mission)

Bayani Leyson, a native ministry leader in the Philippines, ministers to some of the most unusual people on earth, including Islamic terrorists, members of a communist guerrilla group, as well as headhunters and cannibalistic tribes who live in the jungle, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission.

The Aeta tribe still uses bows and arrows to hunt people, whom they eat. With courage supplied by God, Leyson planted a church among this people group. “We’re teaching them how to grow vegetables and how to fish,” Leyson said. That way, they won’t eat human organs.”

He didn’t reprimand them for eating other humans, but by discipling them in God’s Word, real change began. He showed them the Scripture that says, “thou shalt not kill,” which speaks to these concerns.

The Aeta tribe is gradually making a shift from their old way to a new way, he tells Christian Aid Mission.

Leyson displayed a photo of himself holding a medieval-looking sword that a Muslim village chief gave him after he led the chief to Christ.

Some of the people Leyson ministers to do not wear clothes. He tried to offer clothes to the members of one of the tribal churches he planted, but they were slow to catch on. He got them to put on clothes for one recent church service. But after the service ended, he watched as they immediately stripped down, waving the shirts above their heads like lassos and dragged their pants on the ground behind them, he reported to Christian Aid mission.

Many of the native missionaries helped by Christian Aid Mission work among cultures where polygamy is an accepted practice.

“I never force anyone to give up their wives after they become a Christian,” says James Cuffee, a native ministry leader in Liberia. “I teach them gently with Scripture. God will show them.”

During a recent visit to Christian Aid Mission, Cuffee told the story of a man with three wives who began to follow Christ. The man was thrilled to belong to Jesus and asked to serve as a deacon in one of the churches Cuffee planted.

Cuffee explained to the man that he doesn’t allow anyone with multiple wives to serve in church leadership, and then opened God’s Word to show him the reason why: “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.” (1 Timothy 3:12 NASB).

When the man asked Cuffee what he should do, Cuffee told him that God would guide him. He trusted the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in the life of a true follower of Jesus.

One of the man’s wives was there when Cuffee opened the Bible. Through the story of Adam and Eve—how God created one woman for one man—she realized that her situation wasn’t ideal, and asked if she could return to her own tribe.

Two years later, another of his wives complained that she felt he loved his other wife more than her and she left to return to her tribe.

The man was then able to become a deacon. He didn’t have to send his wives away, and neither did Cuffee.

Many of the ministry leaders supported by Christian Aid are mature enough to realize that the Holy Spirit’s work, in connection with God’s Word, is more than sufficient to transform the most “outrageous” sinner into someone who increasingly resembles Jesus.

Mature Christian Aid Mission-supported native missionaries take gentle care of their newborns. Instead of judging them, they nurture them in God’s Word and make disciples. And they trust God will finish the good work He started in them—including cannibals, polygamists, and naked folks.