Standing on a hillside in a large country in East Asia, I scanned the horizon at dusk and could see the smoky home fires of six million unengaged people. To my knowledge, none of them had a relationship with Jesus. The Christian worker beside me asked what I would do to begin widely sowing the gospel.
Here are some ideas that I regularly share with volunteers who are getting ready for a cross-cultural missions experience.
Encourage volunteers to plan on more than one trip. Embracing a people among whom you work on a multi-touch long-term basis is important. Encourage them to be a learner on their first trip. Encourage them to listen carefully to what people are saying and pray over each insight in a daily debrief. If they truly are an unreached people group (with less than 2% saved and no new church started within the last two years), be extremely careful of the DNA that the volunteers inject into their Christian walk. You know the drill! If they carry in an iPod, they’ll have to have one. If they carry in a Bible, then everyone in a new church plant will need one. Wait, that could be a good thing! If they arrive in a car, they’ll have to have a car. However, if they show up on public transportation, eat the food they eat, and convey God’s stories in a way that they can do it, then the volunteers will be used of the Lord to remove serious barriers to reproducibility. When God is ready to start a church planting movement, then they will move out unhindered.
Think of volunteers telling Bible stories to be like an oral gospel tract. Many are simply getting a hearing for the gospel – a holy movie trailer of sorts. And don’t forget that each volunteer’s testimony (before, during, after) is powerful both to the unsaved and to encourage believers to develop and share their own intimate walk with Christ. You can track the volunteers who story where you can watch for responses. Which stories do the people react to in some emotional way? What bores them? What is the Holy Spirit doing here?
Among that people group in East Asia, I praised God to learn that among the first converts was their chief medicine man. God had used His Word shared over many meals by consistent contact with Christian workers to reveal His truth at the heart level.