Betty and I just returned from a trip to China and Taiwan. We have several missionaries from our church serving in Asia. Most of them met in Taiwan for a time of fellowship and learning. I wanted to share with you what God is doing.
Philip Bassham and his family are serving in Thailand. They are coming to the end of their language studies and will soon start a church. I am very excited to see what God is going to do there.
Jim Roberts and his family are serving in India. The Roberts are also at the end of their language studies and should be starting a church in the next few weeks. God has already given Jim about 15 young men that are studying the Bible and desiring to be used of God.
An intern from our church, Eric Elrod, just arrived in India where he will serve for the next 6 months. This will be an exciting time for him. He will be able to begin learning the language, adapting to culture, finish his studies and be prepared to start deputation soon after returning to the USA.
Paul Taube and his family will be arriving in India in just a few weeks. They have finished deputation and will start learning the language soon.
We also have two families that are doing all they can to help reach India with the gospel. Jim Roberts and Kevin Page both work with Voice in the Villages to India. This is an important ministry that will help reach past the cities to those in the villages that are so far from gospel preaching churches.
As you read this article you might want to ask yourself what you are doing to prepare to go somewhere and serve God. The training center just might be the option for you. It might be what you need to learn how to do what you believe in your heart that God wants you to do.
We first went to China. We landed in Beijing and then flew on to Dalian. There we visited our missionary, Mark Tolson. God is using him greatly. They have started a church and we were able to take part in the organization of this church. What a privilege to see 10 Chinese believers stand up and say that they were decided and wanted to form this new church.
Ben Johnson was on the trip. He and his family should be arriving in China before the end of next year. He needs your help to get the rest of his support. He is greatly needed to help reach this country with the gospel.
After organizing the church I was privileged to meet with the young men in Dalian that are preparing for ministry. They are excited. They have only been saved a short time and are already reading and studying their Bibles.
One of the big lessons for every missionary is that they should get their disciples into the Word of God. Too many want to jump to a theology book. We should teach our people to be people of the book. Theology can get in way of the Bible if you are not grounded in the book. I spoke with a young man who told me that his generation is just excited to read the theology books. He said that the emphasis had been on other books and not on reading the Bible. That is backwards. Don’t fall into the trap of reading about the Bible when you can read the Bible.
I am for reading all the books that you can. But God wrote a book. That book is far more important than any book written by another person. Most students that I meet that have graduated from Bible College even have not read the Bible through unless it was a college assignment. How can we really be teachers and preachers of a book that we never read. How can we read about the Book God wrote instead of reading the Book He wrote. Get your priorities right. You have no business in the ministry if you have not read your Bible through at least 10 times. Read the Bible. I shouldn’t have to say that. It should be an understood but I have found out that it is not!
After spending time with the students in Dalian we bordered the speed train to Harbin. The train is impressive. It is like being on an airplane without all the picky rules. It travels at nearly 200 mph. It is comfortable, clean, and a great way to travel. The seats turned around where we could sit and converse all the way there.
In Harbin we met with the churches and ministry that Jake Taube had left behind. There are 3 churches and some great young men preparing for the ministry. What an exciting time to sit with them and plan for the future. You will remember that Jake Taube and John Walz were deported from China for preaching the gospel. They did not quit. They quickly regrouped and are now in Taiwan. They are preparing to start their first church in this very need country.
Here is another lesson for you. No matter where you go train men. Our goal as missionaries is to train men. That is our priority. The reason something is left in Harbin is that hundreds of hours was invested into the lives of men. They were trained to do the ministry. They continue having church. They continue training men themselves. This is the lesson to be learned.
As a missionary you will not be staying. No man ever stays any where. We all die. So we must train others to do the work.
We not only train them but we train them to train others. A big mistake made by most missionaries is that they do the work. They know how to preach. They know how to invite people, get them saved, baptized, build a church but they never teach others to do just that. The missionary proves how good he is. He does the work but when he is gone the work will be gone.
Train men. Train men to do the work. Teach them how to do it alone. Let them do it. That way the ministry will still be there when you leave.
Get a process started. Win them to Christ. Baptize them. Train them to do all that He told us to do. Then train them to train others also. Do not abandon them. Stay in touch. Paul did exactly that before the days of the internet. He wrote letters. He made visits. He helped them. He sent others to fix the things that he had not done as well as he should have. Remember Titus was to go and set in order the things Paul had left out of order.
None of us ever get it all done. Do not be territorial. They are not your disciples. They belong to Jesus. You are just one of the teachers along the way. Don’t feel threatened by others that can help those that you love so much.
I am excited to see how the team will work together in Taiwan. Lord willing, they will launch a church by Christmas. Please be in prayer for them. Pray that God will touch hearts. Pray that they can find the place to meet and have the money needed to get the church set up.
Here comes another lesson for all of my missionary friends. Teams of missionaries can be dangerous. If you can do everything without the nationals then you might just be guilty of doing that. Remember that you are all coaches. Your job is not to do the job but to train others to do the job. Teams can be great but only if they are able to not get jealous of each other. We are all here to serve. We must not be worried about who gets the credit. It must be about His kingdom being spread.
Also as a team be sure that each of you are trying to work yourself out of a job. The last thing a missionary needs to worry about is job security. Once we get one work going there is always room for more. We are not trying to get us something to do. We have a Great Commission. Our job is to teach them to do the job and then move out of their way so that they can do the job.
Just still be available. Let them ask questions. Be quick to communicate. Good leaders communicate. They answer their phone, they answer emails. They are available. The ministry is not about them it is about their disciples. So they work at helping them.
A good missionary knows that he is not a success unless he makes others a success. If you are one of a kind then you are a failure. Teach others. Teach others to teach others.
I would love to talk to you about these lessons. You might not agree. I understand that but would love a chance to discuss it with you. I hope you will listen to all the podcasts from China and Taiwan. I believe that you will enjoy hearing the missionaries and the nationals talk about what God is doing.
Get involved in the discussion. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you right here in the comment section.