As I was sandwiched between two men on a wool-covered motorcycle, all I could do was laugh as we dodged ditches and potholes through the countryside of South Asia.
The aim of our partnership in South Asia is to equip local pastors to plant churches and multiply their ministry. This is done through a reproducible curriculum made to teach them how to share the gospel, how to read and teach the bible, and other essential elements of the Christian faith with the purpose that they also will teach and train others. This is typically done through formal training as we travel from village to village equipping multiple different pastors each day.
However, this time was different. When we arrived, we met at our missionary partner’s house, and he gave us the game plan for the next few days. Instead of formally teaching multiple pastors, we were going to spend time with one or two pastors as they engaged their community in evangelism and discipleship. The two guys on the trip with me were to go with a local pastor and translator by motorcycle to a village where a person was interested in learning more about Christ. My assignment was to ride a few miles down the road in a rickshaw to do evangelism with a translator.
The next day we woke up ready to go. But as is typical in the culture of our host country, schedules are only suggestions, and we waited two hours for our native partners to arrive. After another thirty minutes of chatting with the pastor at his house, we told him we were ready to go to the villages. He then proceeds to get his wife to cook a traditional meal for lunch. They kept bringing more and more food, so we kept eating. Another two hours later, it was finally time to go.
Because of transportation limitations, I ended up being the one on the forty-five minute motorcycle ride squeezed between our native partners while my teammates hopped on the rickshaw to do evangelism in the other village. The pastor balanced himself on the metal bars on the back of the motorcycle and the translator who was driving was sitting so far up the motorcycle he wasn’t even on the seat; I held on for my life in the middle.
When we arrived in our destination village, we walked to a common area, the pastor said a few things to the locals, and we were quickly invited into a house. They went to gather more people and within twenty minutes we were surrounded by about eight to ten more villagers. The pastor made a few introductions, and we then proceeded to train them to share the gospel using the Romans Road. They had never heard the gospel before and were eager to learn more, so we went through the story of Creation in Genesis 1-2. We needed to get back before dark, so we encouraged them to share what they learned with others in their community, promising that we would be back to share more.
The next day our translator and myself went back and were quickly surrounded by about eighteen to twenty people eager to hear more about the God of the Bible. We shared the Gospel with them again, reviewed all that we taught the day before, and then shared with them the story of the Fall in Genesis 3; the stories of Jesus calming storms, washing his follower’s feet, healing the blind; and eventually, the story of the cross. They were eager to hear more, but we needed to get back before dark. We once again encouraged them to share with their community all that they had heard, and we again promised we would be back the next day.
Our translator had never experienced anything like this before as a new believer, and to be honest, I hadn’t either. I was excited, but he was thrilled. With the language barrier, it was hard for me to gauge their understanding, but he told me they were close to following Jesus and insisted we show them the Jesus film. The next day we carried a laptop out to the village and showed the movie to a room of about twenty-five people, most of whom were women, children, and older men who couldn’t work in the fields. We engaged them in further conversation about the movie, they asked questions, and the wives then asked us to come that weekend to share with their husbands. Unfortunately, we couldn’t because we needed to get home to our families. The pastor who initially led us to the village later followed up with them and, over the past nine months, they have been meeting weekly to hear from God’s word and to meet in fellowship. By God’s grace, a church was planted that week.
I wish I could say we did something special, but we didn’t. We just went, shared a message, and God moved. This was just one of 55,000 villages in the state where we partner. The task is huge, but God is moving in South Asia and delights to use messengers to make his Name known. Will you pray for the young church is this village? Will you pray for the native pastors and believers? Will you pray for the gospel to get to the thousands of other villages in South Asia that have never heard?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).
The harvest is plentiful, will you pray for more laborers?
-Eric Hovis (Sermon Research Team)