What should be our model of ministry in a “creative access country?” Simply staying in the country cannot become the filter for which every decision that is made. Many people will remain in a country for decades but due to a lack of initiative in Gospel presentation will never accomplish the purposes they became missionaries..

6 Comments
  • Posted October 13, 2014 6:44 pm
    by Emory Burch

    What are national pastors typically sentenced to when charged with proselytizing say in China? Is it something most police officers shrug off as trivial or are most serious about arresting when they see it since it is a very rare “crime” in a country over a billion? If it’s not treated that seriously than it seems to make more sense for the missionary to devote almost all his efforts on training pastors to reduce his risk of being expelled for preaching himself.

  • Mark
    Posted October 13, 2014 8:05 pm
    by Mark

    Emory, it seems to be different in different places and at different times in history, but from my experience the punishment isn’t much more than threats and the inconvenience of having to be questioned and/or having things confiscated, such as church money etc. There might be a day where the threats of greater punishment will come to fruition, but I haven’t seen that too much. I mainly hear about more severe punishment for those who get politically involved.

    This “crime” probably happens more often than most think and isn’t as rare as many people probably believe.

    The idea of just training pastors is a good one, but it is a little misleading. What I mean is, “train what pastors?” You arrive in the country and don’t know anyone. Who are you going to train? Therefore, evangelism is necessary on the part of the missionary to find those who are willing to be in the ministry and then you can spend time training them. Also, the best type of training is life-on-life or in person. The process is tradition if you are wanting to start new local churches: evangelize, disciple, train.

    If you are wanting to just train pastors already in existence and then you have to ask “what do you really have to offer them” and if that can not be done just through using Skype or another means of online communication. We try to focus on starting new churches and reaching new people and not just trying to re-train Charismatic house church pastors. (Note: Skype classes are helpful and sometimes that last resort but are always secondary to being in person.)

    Lastly, I would say that even though training is the most important step, evangelism is still a required and commanded step for a missionary living in a closed country even if it means the possibility of being expelled. In the right circumstances and with time a missionary can be spending most of his time training pastors, Lord willing, but he would still need to be involved in evangelism (though to a smaller degree). But when you are first starting out, you have no other option than to go all in.

  • Posted October 13, 2014 10:32 pm
    by Emory Burch

    Thank you for the insightful answer brother Mark. As Brother Austin always states, “what would Paul do if he were alive today?” I can’t get away from that thought even though I would dare say I’m even a fraction of how bold Paul was. I’m sure going from English to most Asian languages would take some 3-5 years to even communicate on a half way fluent basis. Because of this, I would imagine you would have to spend time with the people, minister and evangelize first before you ever would think to train pastors (which is the model for any country). I guess what I should of asked is: once you have several churches established and a handful of men you have trained, would it be wise for the missionary to pull the reigns in to a degree and encourage the nationals to push for more church plants?

    Also, as a separate question: in China, even though Christianity is rejected, are most people intrigued by the Gospel, or are they too afraid to get involved with it, or is it about half and half? One video I saw that sticks with me is of about 40 or so young people from an Asian country that received Bibles for the first time. It was the first time they had ever held/possessed one and the reaction on their face honestly made me feel guilty for how much I take for granite about the access I have to God’s word.

    P.S. I always appreciate your questions you submit on the podcasts and the work you do!

    • Mark
      Posted October 14, 2014 2:22 am
      by Mark

      All questions are good because they lead to a better understanding. The question: “once you have several churches established and a handful of men you have trained, would it be wise for the missionary to pull the reigns in to a degree and encourage the nationals to push for more church plants?” is what I am currently asking myself and seeing where the line is or should be. It is obviously going to be different for people and come at different times. So my answers is, “I’ll tell you in couple years.” I am not sure at this point in our ministry, but we are in the middle of this question now. I would like to hear Austin’s thoughts regarding this question though!

      Many people, especially the younger generation are somewhat interested and will at least hear you out. They never really had a clear explanation of the gospel so many are interested just for information sake if nothing else.

      I have seen the video you saw or at least one very similar to what you described and I am afraid that the video leads to dishonesty about the majority situation in China. People are moved by the video, but they have no idea the story behind the video (although everyone makes it up in their head). If the video is true, then it was a very poor village church where individuals didn’t have a local place to purchase Bibles and someone bought them a box of Bibles. If the video is false, someone bought a village church a box of bibles and staged the scene for promotional purposes. I have never heard of a modern church in China that didn’t have Bibles. Yes, maybe not everyone has personal Bibles who live in the village, but every church should have Bibles. Another interesting thing is that many older people and those in the villages can’t read, so owning a Bible isn’t for personal devotions or study but just for…

      I hope that helps, thanks for the comments!

  • Posted October 14, 2014 8:24 am
    by Austin Gardner

    Emory, I am glad that you are talking with Mark. He lives there. I give the theory and he gives the practical. God bless you!

  • Posted October 17, 2014 7:32 am
    by Kanon Bloom

    Thanks Bro Austin for encouraging us to always get the Gospel out anyway that we can. I enjoyed this podcast.

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