Have you ever experienced storms in your life where it looked like everything was going wrong? How many of those storms turned into a breakthrough? I recently spoke with my good friend Leif Hetland, a missionary known as the “ambassador of love” in Pakistan, who experienced his own storm and miraculous breakthrough. In a matter of days, Leif went from weeping on the floor of a damp, smelly hotel room to sharing the love of Jesus with the Muslim president of Pakistan.
Leif shared his story with me on the “Strang Report” podcast, which you can listen to here or in this article. It started when Leif took six months to plan a huge evangelistic crusade in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority nation rife with violence. He wanted to focus on a region that was largely unreached with the gospel.
“For 2,000 years, there’s never been anyone who has brought the love of Jesus to these people,” Leif tells me. “But as soon as I made those plans, I had an attack with my ear clogging up, then I started to get ringing tinnitus and vertigo. So I knew it was strange. As soon as I said yes, these storms seemed almost like Goliath was there just mocking me.”
The attacks continued and got more intense. Huge rainstorms and violent battles between Pakistan and India threatened to shut down Leif’s event before it even began.
“Just as I’m about to travel, I get a text from Qatar Airways saying, ‘All flights have been canceled,'” he says. “Two suicide bombers bombed themselves in India, and India retaliated—300 people killed in Pakistan. Pakistan took down two of the airplanes. So this was right in the middle of that, when I was supposed to fly in.”
But Leif knew he received a clear call from the Lord to bring the gospel to these people. So he spent the whole night in the airport in Atlanta and eventually got a flight to Qatar. But the next 36 hours proved to Leif that getting into Pakistan would be difficult if not impossible. Then God opened a door for Leif and provided a flight to Pakistan.
“Now when I landed there, this storm came in,” he says. “And it was strange because it wasn’t even the rainy season. But this storm continued to follow us, and for the next 10 hours, it hammered down until eventually we got to … a hotel there. It was smelly, damp, wet. I’m pretty much exhausted and about to give up when I got the news that they had to cancel the whole event.”
At this point, Leif broke down weeping on his hotel room floor. Every door of opportunity seemed to be closing. While he wept, the Muslim call to prayer blared outside his window.
“Then eventually I remembered I had a Scripture before I left,” he says. “It was when the disciples were in a room where they were stuck after the crucifixion, and they were all hiding. … And Jesus just came—He didn’t have to knock down the door because He is the door. And He just filled that room. I remember in that hotel room, I just cried out for Jesus, and I started to pray, and eventually the presence of Jesus came into that room.”
In that moment, Leif says Jesus told him, “Thank you for joining Me. And thank you for not giving up.”
Leif soaked up that time with Jesus and decided not to let the spiritual Goliath that was attacking him have its way. He had been invited to a wedding in Lahore that many influential Muslim leaders were attending. He was a guest of honor, so it was an opportunity for Jesus to shine. Leif knew he had to leave his breakdown behind and press on for what God had in store.
And even though the storm continued to rage all throughout Leif’s seven-hour trip to Lahore, he says there was no longer a storm raging within his spirit.
“I had peace in the middle of my storm,” he says. “So I could speak to the storm that was on the outside, and that’s what happened when we came to the wedding.”
The rain was pounding, but as Leif approached the wedding area, the rain stopped. He describes a circle of clear sky surrounding him at the wedding.
“So they saw it as a sign,” he says. “When the ambassador of love came, the rain stopped over the wedding. And they watched it—there was rain around but not in the tent area where we had the wedding. And amazing favor came as a result of it.”
From that point on, Leif’s trip was marked by miracles and favor. Several Muslim imams were healed in the name of Jesus, and he was able to speak in one of the largest mosques in Pakistan. The Lord even opened the door for him to meet with the Pakistani president and visit Parliament.
“What the enemy meant for evil, God is now using it for good,” Leif says. “[During the meeting with the president,] I just got to honor them for standing up for the persecuted church and for minority groups and had a phenomenal time with the president. And he says, ‘Yeah, you are the ambassador of love coming to this country. Thank you for loving this country.'”
Leif says the love Pakistanis have noticed in him is the same love that gives him authority in the Spirit in that nation. He says Christians can’t expect to win the lost if they don’t love them first.
“I really do believe we have authority over what we love,” he says. “I think we have authority over what we weep over. So we get broken over the brokenness in people’s lives and hearts. And that has given me a phenomenal platform, including being able to speak in the largest mosque during Friday’s Jumu’ah prayer and being able to release the message of love that was televised to the whole nation in the middle of it.”
I hope Leif’s story of going from a breakdown to a breakthrough encourages you in whatever storm you’re facing. Like Leif said, God takes what the enemy means for evil and uses it for good—and He can do that for you.
Be sure to listen to my full interview with Leif in the podcast here or at the top of this article. I believe it will greatly bless you.