Pastor Austin Gardner, VBM Director Jeff Bush, and Missionary Stephen Underwood continue their discussion of his ministry in South Africa.

  • Stephen Introduction
  • How did your family react when you told them you wanted to be a missionary?
    • My dad tried to talk me out of ministry when I first felt the call to preach
    • After they saw that I was serious, they didn’t try to talk me out of it
    • After I let them know that I felt called to be a missionary, my dad was very vocal about not being able to see his grandchildren
    • We didn’t know at the time, but the Lord called him home before they were born
    • My mom didn’t want to let us go through security
    • She is now extremely proud and supportive of us
  • What is the most influential book that you’ve read outside of the Bible?
    • The Deputation Manual by Austin Gardner!
    • A book that I’m reading now is called Spurgeon’s Sorrows 
    • Pastor Gardner highly recommends reading the book Steal Away Home
  • Who is someone that the Lord has really used to influence your life?
    • Mark Coffey was very instrumental in helping me see the need for world evangelism 
    • Mark is an excellent encourager 
  • What would you do differently if you could go back?
    • I would not have left my internship early like I did
    • Every time you take a shortcut, it turns into a long cut, so quit taking shortcuts!
  • What is a misconception that you had as a missionary?
    • That everyone would remember you and think about how great you are
    • Stephen has found that the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Is pretty true!
  • What is one of the funniest things that has happened to you in ministry?
    • I was preaching in Alabama 
    • In the middle of my preaching, Peyton stands up in the pew and started dancing 
    • The pastor saw me turning read and tried to help Peyton sit down 
    • The pastor was very gracious and tried to encourage me not to hurt Peyton!
  • What has been the hardest thing for you in ministry so far?
    • Working with young people in who you see real potential that they don’t see in themselves
    • They make poor decisions and end up wasting their life
    • In ministry, you are going to deal with people who are going to turn their back on you and hurt you
  • What advice would you give to a missionary getting ready to go to the field?
    • No matter how prepared you are, you will still experience culture shock
    • You need to read Culture Shock by Myron Loss
    • If you can get over the hurdle of dealing in another culture, it will make you 10x more effective than those who can’t
  • What is your favorite missionary biography of the past?
    • David Livingston 
    • He did some work in South Africa 
  • What part of being a missionary do you enjoy the most?
    • Seeing people saved and growing in the Lord
    • Seeing them go from being lost to serving the Lord with their lives
  • What has the Lord used in your life to overcome discouragement?
    • God’s Word
    • The Bible is full of men who have dealt with struggles like we have
    • Having a group of men who have poured into my life that I can turn to who will give me sound Biblical advice
  • What strange custom is there on your field that people might find interesting?
    • The right of passage into manhood
    • Young men, when they turn 18, they go into the bush
    • There aren’t many bushes, but there are no houses
    • They get wilderness, and stay in this hut they build while they heal
    • They are taught what it means to be a man during that time
    • All of this teaching is totally unbiblical 
    • We don’t want to change the culture, but we wan’t to change what isn’t biblical
    • They come back and burn all their boyhood, clothes
    • They go and buy a totally new wardrobe
    • They’ll paint their faces with clay
    • There is one young man who came and stayed in camp rhino instead of the bush
    • We had a real doctor come out and circumcise him
    • He was taught the Bible instead of witchcraft
    • He was the very first one that we have given an alternative to the bush
    • Typically, instead of a regular doctor, it’s a witchdoctor that does the circumcision
  • What does your schedule look like in South Africa
    • I would get up and spend several hours working and studying in the language
    • I would do my Bible and sermon preparation in the language
    • Then I’d have a lunch break
    • After that, I would spend the rest of the day working on practicing my language
    • That might be going out and going door knocking
    • That’s how I met the young man that I discipled
    • I would spend as much time with him as I possibly could
    • He really was my first son in the faith
  • What are some misconceptions that people have about what you do?
    • We don’t have lions or elephants wandering around our backyard
    • Language learning is a lot of listening, practicing, and having casual conversation with people
    • There are lots of opportunities to preach and teach the Word of God
    • Especially with a team our size, something is going on every week
  • Is Xhosa hard because so many people speak English?
    • English is a trade language and is one of the official languages of the nation 
    • The English came and actually helped liberate South Africa from Apartheid
  • What is Apartheid?
    • It was a system of government that the Dutch settlers put into place
    • The blacks had very little rights and were very poorly treated
    • Nelson Mandela was the very first black president of South Africa after Apartheid ended
  • What is something that you would tell a young person who is interested in missions?
    • Go to your pastor and tell him what you want to do with your life
    • Go somewhere that you can get the training that you need for ministry
    • The Our Generation Training Center is an excellent place to receive that training
  • You have one minute to challenge a young person to surrender their lives for South Africa
    • If you want an opportunity to snatch people from the flames of hell, South Africa is the place for you!
  • Closing Remarks
    • We’d love to invite you to visit our youtube channel
    • We’d love to invite missionaries and lay people and anyone who is interested in missions to come to the World Evangelism Fellowship in November
    • You can find more information at wefellowship.com or visionmissions.com
Leave a comment