From One Locked Door to Countless Open Hearts
Updated: Mar 2
Lying down on a desk with only a projector as a pillow, Timo Shely wondered what God’s plan was in all of this. The only certainty he had was he knew God called him to Central Africa to share the Gospel. What he did not expect was to end up being held in a detention center.
24-year-old Timo likens his call to full-time ministry to the story from Luke 10. Prior to answering God’s call, Timo had been working in the entertainment industry and studying at the same time. It was then he dropped everything to serve the Lord with all his heart, mind and strength. Since that day, God has called him to minister to the lost in over 30 nations from the US to Southeast Asia. He reached out to “the least of these” at every opportunity, teaching about repentance. Those who know him today, say he’s like a modern day John the Baptist.
“For all my travels,” says Timo, “I go without money or food, without a plan for accommodation or the backing from a ministry or church. Each time, God has provided all that I needed.”
In 2020, Timo and two of his friends had a desire to do missions in Africa. They traveled to Ghana and from there, they were invited by the local church in the Central African Republic (C.A.R) to minister to people on the streets and proclaim the Gospel.
However, this is when the unexpected happened; their entry was rejected and Timo and his friends found themselves stuck in a detention center.
Timo found comfort in the words of his father who had reminded him that many times, when the Lord calls us to something, He puts us through the fire to test and purify us and our motives. It might not look like what we had planned, it might even look ugly but it's for a much bigger purpose.
This bigger purpose was revealed to Timo in prison where they met a man who worked for the French secret intelligence. He had been a hostage for 3 months and was brutally tortured while in captivity. Timo and his friends eagerly shared the Gospel with him and he repented of his sins, finding forgiveness in Jesus and became able to forgive others.
“God brought us all the way from Ghana and allowed us to be detained for this one man, so that he can know the love of God, repent and receive the Holy Spirit!”
After 5 days, they were released and sent on a plane back home. Even though physically they were confined and stuck, spiritually, they were stirred with a passion and eagerness and they told the local church that they will come back.
A year later Timo was the only one who went back to C.A.R however he did not return alone. This time he was accompanied by his new wife, Marie and was more prepared with the backing and support of Renewing Hope International (RHI). Again, the Lord opened up the doors for them to minister in amazing ways.
Together they visited the most dangerous prison in the Central African Republic, which housed nearly 1300 prisoners, many of whom were murderers, rapists, bandits, and corrupt politicians. Many were serving life sentences, but all heard the message of repentance, the judgment of God, and the hope of salvation that is found only in Jesus Christ! Fifty-four of these prisoners repented and were allowed to leave the prison in order to be baptized in the Oubangui River.
Timo and Marie also shared the love of Christ to christian orphans who, sadly, witnessed the loss of their parents who were killed by the “Séléka,” a violent muslim group.
They also had the opportunity to share with tens of thousands of students at nine different highschools about addictions, relationships, and the purpose they had in following Jesus.
Timo had the opportunity to speak on national TV and radio as well as the biggest Christian radio station in C.A.R, where many heard the message of repentance. A few listeners called after the broadcasts declaring their repentance and wanting to be baptized.
The Lord also opened up doors to reach out to the least of the unreached, the Pygmies.
Living in a prehistoric state, these individuals don’t have a calendar and don’t experience time like we do. Due to their short height, they have become victims to racism. The only thing they have ever known is to hunt and gather food. They live in huts with no beds, no access to electricity or clean water and many suffer from leprosy.
With God’s help, Timo and Marie were able to provide them with clothes, soap, salt and most importantly, they brought them the Message of Hope. With the help of a few translators, thousands of Pygmies heard the message of repentance in the simplest way. One hundred and seventy-seven chose to repent and were baptized!
Timo and Marie are going back to the C.A.R, but this time they are bringing their 4 month old son with them, which will present a new and exciting challenge.
They plan to follow up with tribes they met previously and also go deeper into the jungle, where there are other tribes that are unreached. As gifts, they will bring clothes, salt and soap but most importantly they are also bringing solar powered audio Bibles for the Pygmies to listen to the Bible in their heart language.
Timo expresses that he is extremely thankful for the support and partnership with Renewing Hope International (RHI). Now, he has a team to back him up in planning and strategizing, as well as with finances and resources. He is now able to bring in humanitarian work together with the mission that God has given him.
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