19 Apr Reaching the nations in your own backyard
I never imagined spending much time in a culture different from my childhood and high school experience. Honestly, I never really put much thought into culture in general–that is until my college friends asked me to plan a day of games in honor of the upcoming Olympics. Sports are a large part of my culture and it turns out that sports are an important part of culture for other nations as well!
The Lord gave my college friend a passion for Chinese students who never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That was great for her, but I did not have that same passion. However, she used my enthusiasm and experience to serve people from various nations that shared my interest of sports. By the end of the day, I had developed a few more friends to call to play sports and I learned a new sport called cricket.
Fast forward eight years later to today. I DJ music for Bollywood Dance Nights in a language I do not understand, I plan tournaments for a sport (cricket) I never grew up playing, I enjoy meals that are more flavorful and spicier than I ever thought I would enjoy, and some of my closest friends were not born in America and English is their second language.
How did this all happen?
For me, it began with an invitation to plan an event from a friend burdened by God for those who never heard the Gospel. It was there I developed friendships with people from other nations leading to deep conversations where I provided a biblical perspective. These meaningful discussions, brought me joy, excitement, and a burden for my friends. Later, I would meet another guy who genuinely cared about the souls who never had a chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus and he shared with me some biographies of missionaries and walked me through some Scriptures listed below.
Talking to His disciples, Jesus informs them that He will use them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The ends of the earth have yet to be reached as there are still tribes and peoples that have never heard the Gospel. But we know God will save every tribe, tongue and nation.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
We know God’s will is that all tribes will be before Him worshiping, but people will only come to know God by the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul is discussing Jews and Gentiles concerning salvation. Here we learn that salvation comes through hearing the word of Christ.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Further we see that God commands his disciples to go and make disciples.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Through these texts and the encouragement from my friend, the Lord compelled me to go to South Asia and share the good news of Jesus Christ. There, I witnessed darkness and hopelessness found in the worship of idols. The Lord gave me compassion for these people enslaved to sin with no knowledge of Jesus. I also developed a burning desire to share the hope I received through Christ and a burning desire to defeat darkness.
I returned to the city of Clemson to a university educating over 2,000 international students from roughly 90 different countries. Some of these students have never heard the Gospel and may come from countries that will not allow Christians into their nation, but students come here to study where there is freedom of religion.
How can I not engage the lost nations in my backyard?
So, I seek cultural overlaps, such as sports, meals, camping, traveling, etc. and build friendships with those whom I grow to love and share the love of Christ in His Gospel that I received. I then discover the needs of my friends and seek to care for them in material needs (car shopping, expressing their culture through dances and sports, furniture needs, transportation to grocery stores) and immaterial (Gospel, biblically based advice, to sharing struggles and celebrations).
My heart for the nations all began with an invitation from a friend who loved people that never heard the Gospel.
Perhaps the nations are all around you. Perhaps you share similar interests with them…at the minimum, we all share an interest in eating food.
So I ask you, will you join me in reaching the nations in our back yard?
- Pray that God will continue to raise laborers to fulfill His will that all nations will gather before His throne worshiping Him.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would go before us to prepare hearts and minds to receive the Good News of Christ.
- Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ with those around you that share similar interests as you.
Generation LINK Resident