I was asked the questions recently, “What happens when people come to Christ in a culture where they aren’t permitted to excerise their faith? What happens when discipleship can’t happen because there aren’t churches or communities of believers?” That made me think, “What comes first in a barren land, the disciple or the newborn Christian?”
We have been learning quite a bit lately about contextualizing the Christian faith to the culture it is being presented within. Ideally, there would be mature Christians of the culture to disciple the new brothers and sisters. When there isn’t, hopefully there is a missionary nearby that will seek to disciple locals to become disciplers themselves. What happens in a place where there are only 2 missionaries/million?
These questions made me recall a book called, The Heavenly Man. It is about Brother Yun from China in the 80’s who was in a similar situation to what is described above. He had a Bible. That’s it. How did he become one of the leader of an amazing movement of Christians from China dedicated to reaching the lost between China and Israel? His story is one of reliance on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit for everything. He was ministered to on a daily basis by the Spirit in healing and wisdom. He poured over the Word as if his life depended upon it. In the end, thousands if not millions of souls have depended on His obedience to the work of God in his life.
So, as we look at the Middle East and N. Africa, we see a situation much like China in the 80’s. We can provide the Word via a satellite dish. We know this is true. We know from examples like Brother Yun’s that God can do the discipling. We also know that some of these people who are the first of the believers in a region can become the disiplers of the next generation to come in the prime harvest time. We must not slow or stop our efforts to bring the Word. There may not be a network of disiplers present in this region. No matter! There is One who is greater than all. There is One who can move mountains.
Join us in prayer for those who will become the church body in the Middle East and N. Africa. They are bound to face persecution and struggles that you and I only read about. Let’s lift them up…there are many lives and souls dependent on this.