Agnes Biakudia entered a Sheraton hotel ballroom in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia. The native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been invited to the celebration of International Women's Day, sanctioned by the United Nations to honor the achievements of women.
Women Today, Campus Crusade for Christ's ministry to women in Canada, has organized an evangelistic outreach around this annual day for the past three years.
Before the event, Women Today staff members trained women to lead those who would come to the outreach and respond to the gospel. Gigi Koul invited her nanny, Agnes, who's affectionately called Mom Agnes and who speaks very little English.
The ballroom was transformed into an international marketplace. Agnes nibbled on finger food like bibinka (a spicy bean concoction from Ethiopia) and borborchacha (a sweet Singaporean dessert made from coconuts and sweet potatoes). Women dressed in zebra-pattern cloth, grass skirts and other native garb mingled among the crowd.
On a stage flanked with flags, three different speakers told their stories of growing up in cross-cultural environments. Polynesians danced in muumuus, and a mother/daughter duo played piano and violin.
The final speaker, a mother who grew up in Mexico with her Mexican mother and German father, recounted the value and the struggles of growing up in a bicultural home. She told how her faith was her strength. She also told the 300 women from more than 30 countries who attended how they, too, could begin a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Agnes was one of 16 women who indicated making a decision to receive Christ that night. Afterward, each woman received a gift bag with a JESUS video in the language of her choice. Agnes chose Lingala, the national language in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).
"This year we were impressed to train a leadership team with the goal of beginning Bible studies," says Janet Fierbach, director of the event. "Fifteen women want to be in Bible studies and 28 are interested in leadership training."
Janet's goal is to build a movement of evangelism and discipleship among women from the international communities in Canadian cities.
Three days later, Agnes showed up at Gigi's house to babysit her two daughters. Before Gigi left for work, Agnes was already watching her JESUS video.
When Gigi returned home at 4:00, Agnes was sitting with Kasmiro, a man from DRC, and both were watching the video. Kasmiro cried as he watched Jesus being crucified. At the end of the movie, he asked if he could take the video home to show his wife. Agnes wouldn't let it out of her sight, but said she'd come to his house the next day.
The next day, several people watched the video at Kasmiro's home, and three received Christ. One was Kasmiro's daughter, a children's doctor in Vancouver. She had seen the video in English and French before, but never in the familiar tongue of Lingala.
Now Agnes wants to send the JESUS video to her daughter back in DRC and have her show it in their church. Gigi had thought that Agnes already believed in Christ because she attended church. But since Agnes doesn't understand English very well, she had not understood the concept of receiving Christ.
"Praise the Lord!" said Gigi. "Mom Agnes became a Christian! Mom Agnes became a missionary!"