Ministry Update - Global Missions - Nov 19, 2017
Last month, October 12-22, four men from Summit Woods travelled to Central Asia to visit one of our International Mission Board Workers with the purpose of encouraging him and his family in their work; so that we could learn how we can better come along side his ministry to help engage the lost and support new believers and growing churches; and so that we could encounter lost nationals so that the gospel could be articulated and distributed to them in written word.
Our experience was extremely encouraging and eye-opening in a number of ways. Our recommendations follow from what we learned about the area, and what we learned from the Worker about his needs and the needs of the churches in this region of the world.
We visited three churches in three different cities in Central Asia: the largest of these cities being 930,000, the smallest of these cities being 600,000 in population. The churches in each, as far as we were told by the workers and by the nationals in these churches, were the only Protestant churches in these cities. Each church was attended by no more than 20 to 25 people. Other major cities we visited - some over half a million in population - had no churches and no known believers. There is overwhelming opportunity for growth of the gospel in this region of the world as it is nearly void of gospel influence!
The Worker with whom we visited the most and by whom we were graciously and adeptly served, has been in the country for 13 years. He shares the same perspectives of the centrality of the church in missions and evangelism as we do. With the help of Jackson’s interpretation, we were able to personally converse with and engage with the gospel a number of people who received from us copies of the Bible in both written and audio form, the “God’s Story” film, and “The Jesus Film” in three different middle eastern languages - all of which was contained on a single micro SD card!
Each national pastor we met was greatly encouraged by our visit; was eager to see us return; and each sincerely desired our constant prayer for their ministries to be effective in reaching the lost, and that believers within their ministries would grow in maturity and courage to live distinct lives in the face of opposition and increase in their loving attitudes toward other believers.
Our initial conviction is that we should work to build relationships with the Workers that are currently in place. We have made connections with two of these Workers and we intend to maintain regular communication with them that we might know how best to pray for them, to learn of new needs that might arise for them and their families, and that we might reconnect with them at least annually in-country to assist with their ministries.
Teams that could be employed for travel would, at least initially due to need for interpreters and requirements for travel, be small. Activities would be those that would be recommended and directed by our Workers, ranging from conversational evangelism and distribution of the written gospel to those with whom we are divinely appointed to interact, English speaking classes given in the contexts of these local churches which would spawn gospel conversations, support of these local churches through training and biblical teaching, encouraging our Workers and their families with our regular connection and potential biblical teaching and shepherding, and, of course, specific prayer for these ministries as directed by communication with our Workers.
The New Day Initiative conference is being held February 5-7 in Memphis, Tennessee which will be attended by our Workers and many others who are ministering in Central Asia for the purpose of exposing supporters to the work that is being accomplished in that area: how evangelism is being performed, how the gospel is being received, highlighting the challenges of evangelism, and revealing the great opportunities and methods being used to reach the lost. This three day conference will offer insight through personal testimony of our workers and will include times of more intimate settings where one-on-one conversations can be held as well. We would greatly recommend that any and all those interested at SWBC consider attending the NDI conference in February.
We are also very excited to have made a connection with these Workers who are so closely aligned with us in their theology and methodology - that is, making the church central in missions-evangelism and discipleship. Jackson and his family plan to be Stateside in July, and it would be our pleasure to introduce you to him, if possible, at that time. We are also excited to expose other SWBC members to the people and work being accomplished through future trips. It would be a joy to continue to be a participating part of the work of the Great Commission in Central Asia. Great challenges do exist, successes seem small and develop slowly, and determination is needed to reach these people both physically and spiritually, but the potential is massive and the need is unparalleled! Pray for the people of this region, that the hold of Islam would be broken, that our Workers would daily be meet for the spiritual and physical challenges, and that we at Summit Woods would maintain a focus for the lost in our own surroundings and for the world abroad.