It was noon and I was meeting my new friend Musa* for an hour over my lunch break. We’d decided to meet at our favorite coffee shops to connect. I’d first met Musa when he had reached out looking for someone to practice his English with. He’d had a lifetime of classroom instruction in his home of Cairo, Egypt* but had few native English speakers with whom he could practice.
The first time we met we covered the bases of getting to know one another. Where are you from? What is your family like? What do you like to do in your free time? The sounds of Arabic were all around him in the busy Cairo coffee shop where he sat.
I then asked Musa what he did for a living. He is a young guy, in his early twenties and had just gotten started working as a mobile phone app developer.
Then he returned the favor and asked me what I do. I’m in full time ministry so this is always an interesting question to answer. But I dove in.
I help people in churches in America understand and follow Jesus. That is pretty broad but it involves teaching, training, coaching, encouraging and casting vision with leaders and regular people. I'm not going to get rich, but I do find tremendous fulfillment in doing the things that I believe that God has made me to do. I bet that sounds a little crazy, but that's what I do and really it's who I am.
I could tell He didn’t completely understand what I was talking about so he asked a few more questions but then moved on, wondering if I’d been to Turkey. He’d recently visited Istanbul and loved the city. I told him of our four and a half years living there and how much we loved the people we knew there.
We meandered in and out of topics and then he asked a serious question, “I hope to hear an emotional situation you have been through?”
I thought for a few minutes and then told him about a recent struggle I’d been facing and about how our family had spent time praying for God’s wisdom and healing. It was good to be transparent with my new friend even though it felt a bit hard and I wasn’t sure he was following everything. Musa’s English is good but he hasn’t had a lot of experience talking about personal topics.
When I was finished, I said, “What about you? Have you been through any hard situations in life?”
Musa was contemplating his answer when he looked at his watch. He gave me a wry smile. “I’ll have to tell you next time. I’ve got to go now. But let’s make sure and meet again.”
As Musa left, I wondered about our conversation. Had I said too much about what I do? Should have I asked more questions about his faith and beliefs? Should I have offered to pray for him before he left? What if I had said something wrong?
I spent some time praying for our time together asking the Lord to use it for his glory and to reveal himself to Musa.
And then I removed my headphones and shut down Facebook Messenger on my laptop computer. I got up from my seat in the corner of my coffee shop in South Dakota, grabbed my mug and headed up to the counter for a refill.
Though we were half a world away, Musa and I had enjoyed a great cup of coffee and better conversation.
We continue to connect regularly, oftentimes just texting back and forth, sometimes hopping on a video chat to say a quick hello and at other times, setting aside an hour to grab a cup of coffee for an extended talk.
To my surprise, Musa had quickly moved into questions of faith. I’ve introduced him to Discovery Bible Study and we are slowly working through a creation to Christ story set. We read a passage of scripture - I paste it into Messenger and he reads the Arabic and I read the English. We then ask some simple questions to help us discover what the story says about God, about people and about how we should live our lives.
It’s been slow because Musa often brings up his own questions - questions that are stretching me and forcing me to dig into my own faith and theology. We started with his questions about the Christian idea of a triune God. We’re now pressing into the validity of the Bible. And those conversations are packed in between talk of family and culture and food and movies and dreams for life.
It’s a whole lot of fun.
I am the only true follower of Jesus that Musa knows. I’ve been able to pray for him and continue to pray for him regularly. Musa is one of many young guys that I am connecting with online all across the Muslim world and someday, I hope I will be able to meet all of them in person, if not in this life, then in the eternity of heaven. That is my prayer for each of them.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today and collectively, Christians are sending one missionary into the Muslim world for every 405,000 Muslims.
This has to change.
John Stott has said, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
Because of advances in technology and the globalization of our world, millions of people throughout the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animistic and un-religious worlds are working to learn English. They are going online to try and find people with whom they can practice speaking.
A new door of missionary activity has opened and it is open to everyone who is a follower of Jesus and has an Internet connection. Geography is no longer a barrier to your relationship with a Muslim like Musa.
C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Will you sacrifice an hour a week to invest in a relationship with a young man or woman in the Muslim world who is looking for friendship and someone to practice English with?
*For security, names and places have been changed.
1 - http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats
Let Us Help You
How Many Loaves Do You Have?
It is an interesting question that Jesus asks his disciples. After all, they are standing amidst a crowd of 4,000 hungry people who have been with Jesus for three days and don’t have any food. They find themselves in a remote place, far from any eating establishments or bakeries.
But Jesus has something he wants to accomplish and so he asks them, “How many loaves do you have?”
It’s a familiar story, one of many similar stories recorded in the gospels. Jesus takes what resources the disciples have, seven loaves and a few fish in this case, and miraculously multiplies it to feed the whole crowd, leaving seven basketfuls of leftovers for them to deal with when the day is done.
This story reflects an important principle in the kingdom of God. The resources are in the harvest.
Think of the parable of the growing seed. Where did the seed come from that the farmer was scattering in the empty field? It came from last year’s harvest.
Think of Jesus giving his disciples the great commission. One of his greatest Apostles was not there with Jesus to hear the commission. He was still in the harvest. He was Saul but God would use him in mighty ways after he came to faith.
Jesus demonstrates this principle when he sends out the disciples. In Luke 10 he sends the seventy two into every town and place where he was about to go. First he instructs them to pray for more harvesters.
Where are those harvesters going to come from? From the harvest!
Then he instructs them to find the house of peace and stay there. Don’t move around from house to house. My thinking would say, “I’m the Christian. I have to be the one to tell everyone about Jesus.” It seems however that Jesus is asking me to take off my superman cape and realize that the one he will use is in the harvest. So he instructs the disciples to stay.
Stay and invest in this household. They know the context of their village. They have the relationships. They will be the ones to plant the church in their home.
The Apostle Paul also sees the resources in the harvest. He doesn’t take teams of twenty believers to plant an already functioning church. He and a few of his guys enter a town, preach the gospel, invest in new believers and then leave. He encourages them from afar through letters, sends back his young Timothys to equip and encourage and comes back for a visit to encourage and help appoint elders.
Everyone in the churches that Paul plants come out of the harvest.
Dependence on our own giftings, calendars and resources always limits our vision of what God can do. When we move into new or challenging contexts with the confidence that Jesus will provide all that is needed to see his Kingdom expand, we are able to enter into the God sized vision of making disciples among all nations.
And so we have to learn to look for the resources for completing the great commission out in the harvest.
Because who knows, your next church planter might be a crack dealer.
In John 4, Jesus and his disciples were walking toward Galilee and were passing through Samaria. Tired from the journey, Jesus sat down by a well while his disciples scooted off to a nearby town to pick up some food. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water and Jesus spoke to her saying, “Will you give me a drink?”
There is all kinds of background and context to this exchange but in the course of the conversation between Jesus and this woman, she comes to realize that Jesus is someone very special, the long awaited Messiah.
Once she realizes this, she leaves her water jug where it is, hurries back to her town and says to the people there, “Come, see a man who told me everything I did. Could he be the Messiah?”
And the people respond. They come out to the well to meet Jesus for themselves where they eventually are lead to say, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Making disciples begins with telling others about the good news of Jesus; the gospel. As we train people to make disciples, we find it helpful to answer a few simple questions to help people get started.
This story helps us answer the question of who. Who should we share with?
Who did the Samaritan woman share with? She went back to her town and shared with the people who knew her and by whom she was known. There is a relationship already established. And this is the place where we are all called to start making disciples.
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul is speaking at the Areopagus in Athens and he says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
Have you ever thought that you are where you are, that you have the neighbors and co-workers that you do because God appointed you to be their neighbor or co-worker or friend right where you are? Paul continues by telling us why this is so: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
Like the Samaritan woman, we have neighbors, friends and acquaintances who need to hear about the the good news of the Kingdom of God.
And it’s no mistake that you are in their lives!
God wants to use you to introduce them to Himself.
Our lives are busy! Too often we get going through our days and weeks and, without some intentional effort, we easily miss the opportunities that God is putting before us. I too often find myself with my head down and it’s go, go, go.
At our E2E events one of the training strategies we use is to have everyone take five minutes to pray about their life and think about the people in their life. We then have them make a list on a note card of everyone they can think of who they think is far from God. I’d like to challenge you to do this activity right now for yourself.
Here are the four steps:
If you can do this; if you can begin to pray daily, I can almost guarantee that God will begin using you. You’ll find your friends suddenly asking questions about God. You’ll find that you are more readily transitioning to spiritual conversations and that you conversations are more fruitful than you would have imagined.
God delights to answer these kinds of prayers for our lost friends and family members.
And then they won't believe just because of what we have said, but will believe because they have met the Lord Jesus!
Zume is a small group training module focused on helping small bands of Jesus followers learn how to obey the great commission and to multiply.
And in that, it is not your average small group study.
Zume is an online training that has ten lessons of roughly two hours each.
Zúme means yeast in Greek. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus is quoted as saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who took yeast and mixed it into a large amount of flour until it was all leavened." This illustrates how ordinary people, using ordinary resources, can have an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom of God. Zúme aims to equip and empower ordinary believers to saturate the globe with multiplying disciples in our generation.
Gather a group of like minded friends and get started today!
Driving through Mcpherson, KS on my way back from an Everywhere to Everywhere training event in Wichita, I pulled into a gas station to fill up for the drive back to South Dakota. Mcpherson is a small midwestern town of around 13,000 people with a small Christian college, a strong economy and a lot of churches.
But there behind the counter was an olive skinned man whose heavy accent belied the reality that he was not born in the U.S. With curiosity and expectation I asked where he was from and he told me his homeland was India.
I inquired further, "So if you are from India, you speak both English and Hindi, but you also probably speak a third language as well, is that right?"
Surprised by my interest, he smiled and said, "Yes, I also speak Gujarati."
While he was telling me this and ringing up the sale, I pulled out my smartphone and opened the Jesus Film App. Clicking on the "map" tab, I showed him the map of the world that opened up on the screen. Zooming in on India, I tapped the little red flag that opened up a list of over 200 languages that are spoken there.
I pointed at what looked like the language he had mentioned and he said, "Yes, that is it. That’s my language."
Ten seconds later the Jesus Film began playing in his native tongue - a language spoken by nearly 57 million people. The man smiled then and nodding his head happily said, "Yes! Yes, that is my language."
The Gujarati people are an unreached people group at less than 1% evangelical Christian. And there he was right behind the counter selling me gasoline and a coke as we listened to the beginning of the Jesus film in his native language.
But then he caught me off guard as he asked me a question.
"Are you a Christian?"
"Yes," I replied, "I am a follower of Jesus." I was giddy with anticipation, thinking that this was one of those God prepared moments, that perhaps he'd had a dream of Jesus and was going to ask me to tell him how to become a Christian.
It was indeed a God prepared moment, but the the lesson was to be for me.
Reaching beneath the counter and pulling out a magazine, the man said, "Another Christian was here a few days ago and gave me this." He held out the magazine for me to see.
It was a pamphlet from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The least reached from the world are here. They are immigrating to our cities and towns. They are coming to our universities. They are looking for friendship and hope and truth and if we don't reach them, someone else will.
If it’s not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’ll be the Mormons or the American dream or secular humanism or radical jihadists or atheists.
Someone at some time will reach them.
The only question is who it will be and with what message. Let us not neglect God's call to reach the nations locally, nationally and globally.
We all have a role to play in God's global purpose.
We had been in Bang Chalong for months, and while we clearly felt God leading us to serve there, I often faced many feelings of inadequacy.
I had never planted a church before. In fact, I barely finished two years of Bible College! I don’t play guitar, so I couldn’t even use music as a way to draw people in. There were so many gifts that I lacked, so much that I could not do. Then God showed me that there was one thing that I could do. I learned this from the Book of Nehemiah. I saw that Nehemiah spent a lot of time in prayer before he ever built anything. I thought to myself, that’s something I can do! I can pray! So I began to do this.
We would rise early, at four in the morning, so that we could stand on a high bridge and see everyone going off to their jobs. We prayed over each person that we saw. Then we would walk the streets of Bang Chalong, praying for opportunities to meet people, to build relationships and to share the Gospel.
>>> read the rest of the story here
As we head out into diverse neighborhoods in our city, we often run into new Americans, people who've just recently come to North America and who have yet to master the English language. Like first generation immigrants from years past, they'll probably never master English, working rather to earn a living and give their children a chance at a better life than they had.
As someone interested in sharing the good news of Jesus with these new neighbors, this poses an interesting challenge.
Technology offers a way around this challenge. There are some amazing apps that you can use to help share the good news of Jesus with the nations among us. These can be found by searching for the apps below on either your iPhone or Android phone.
Here are seven smart phone apps for reaching the nations among us that we have found helpful. As always, if you know of others, please share them in the comments below.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
Bible.is has a number of features that are helpful. If there is an audio version of the particular language, you can use it to listen to the language. I know a friend who was doing a creation to Christ Bible study with a Somali family and he'd simply place his phone in a bowl on the table (for amplification) and play the chapter of the Bible they were exploring that week. The family would listen in Somali and then they'd discuss the passage.
Learn more here: http://www.bible.is/
Every fourth Saturday of the month, a group of Jesus’ disciples gather in Sioux Falls South Dakota for what we call Sent Saturdays. We spend some time training through Luke 10, do a little role play, pray together and then head out into the city to knock on doors, offering to pray for people. After about an hour in the harvest, we return for a time of debrief.
We are not wanting to do door to door evangelism with Sent Saturdays.
We are looking for persons of peace.
At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was the conviction that, since the Father is Lord of the harvest, he will provide the workers. God alone initiates the mission. So in each location the disciples’ assignment was to find the people that God had prepared. In this way Jesus laid the foundation for a missionary movement that would reach the world.”
A person of peace is a God prepared person. Troy Cooper, in the video below, defines a person of peace as someone who:
The woman at the well (John 4), the demoniac (Mark 5), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), Cornelius (Acts 10), Lydia at the river’s bank and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16 ), Jason in Thessalonica (Acts 17) and Crispus the synagogue leader (Acts 18) are all examples of people in the Bible - persons of peace - who received the messenger, the message and the mission.
God had prepared them to encounter the gospel witness and when they did, they became the conduits of the good news in their families and communities. They, not the apostles who shared with them, become the main vehicle for the spread of the gospel in their regions.
The person of peace is not the only strategy that God uses to expand his kingdom in families, cities, nations and people groups but it was one strategy that we see Jesus training his disciples to use.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
Jesus sent the “seventy two others” out on mission. These aren’t even his closest disciples but “others” who’ve been hanging around, learning, growing, observing. And Jesus sends them out on mission. They are to go into the villages of the region, sent as sheep among wolves. They’re not to take anything with them but rather to depend on the hospitality of strangers. They are to find the peaceful person who will accept them and feed them and listen to them. They are to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom. If they don’t find the peaceful person, they are instructed to brush the dust off their feet and leave.
Who does ministry this way? . . . Jesus does.
Think of it this way. You may be the person of peace in your neighborhood, the person through whom God will work to introduce your friends and neighbors to the life of faith in Christ. You know these people. You have regular chances for interaction. You understand their culture, language and history.
But you probably won’t be the one to reach the apartment complex on the other side of town. The harvesters are in the harvest. The person of peace living in that apartment complex, who knows the culture, language and history of those living there is better positioned to naturally share the good news of Jesus with everyone in the apartment complex.
Jesus commands his disciples to pray for harvesters as they are going into the harvest. Why? Because the harvesters are in the harvest. And so when we go into neighborhoods and apartment complexes and new communities, we are not looking to evangelize the whole area. We are looking for the person of peace and, when we find them, we don’t leave. We invest there. We cast vision. We train them to be disciples of Jesus so that they can disciple their friends and neighbors.
This is the basic idea behind the idea of the person or house of peace. Again, it’s not the only way that God works to expand his kingdom but it is an important principle that we see again and again in scripture.
I want to encourage you to explore this principle more. First, study Matthew 10:5-14 and Luke 10:1-11. Read the book of Acts as well. Look for how and where the person of peace principle shows up. Take notes and ask what it would look like to apply the principle in your context.
Next, take some time to look through the resources in the links below. I’ve added approximate times to read or watch each. In it all, be like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) and examine the scriptures to see if what we’re talking about here is true.
Learn it - Apply it - Share it - Today.
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER LEARNING
The Person of Peace by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine
(article -5 minutes)
Kingdom Kernels by Steve Smith and Nathan Shank
(article - 15 minutes)
Testimony of a person of peace at Movements
(article - 3 minutes)
Searching for a House of Peace in the U.K. at Movements Podcast
(podcast - 30 minutes)
House of Peace by Jeff Sundell
(youtube training - 12 minutes)
Four Fields of Kingdom Growth by Nathan and Kari Shank
(training manual - 2-3 weeks)
Are you using "Shema" statements to start spiritual conversations?
One of the tools that I was trained to use to help start spiritual conversations with non-believers was the "Shema Statement".
The Shema is the passage of scripture found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
If we follow the example of scripture and believe that God is drawing people to himself (John 6:44), then the more shema statements we make with strangers, the more likely we are to discover the people that God has been preparing to hear the truth.
The basic idea of the Shema Statement is to make statements in our conversations with the people we meet each day that naturally lead to spiritual conversations. The idea is not to share the full gospel but rather to say things that lead to conversations that lead to sharing the gospel.
It is through making shema statements that we can find the people who are seeking the truth.
Here are some examples of Shema Statements:
Again, these statements are not said to share the full gospel. We say them prayerfully and then listen prayerfully for the response of the person we say them to.
Some will not respond at all. Some might respond negatively.
But others - those God has been preparing - will respond in ways that lead to further conversation and opportunities to share about Jesus and what He has done in our lives.
Learn it. - Apply it. Share it. Today.
Shema Statements are one of the tools we train everyone at Everywhere to Everywhere events to use and then we go out and practice using them. Come to our next E2E event or bring it to your city. [learn more]
All good people agree
And all good people say,
All nice people, like us, are We
And everyone else is They;
But if you cross over a sea,
Instead of over a way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!
When my son was six years old, he returned from his Turkish kindergarten class one day singing a new song - it was more of a chant really.
"Ataturk yoktu, dushmen choktu. Ataturk geldi, dushmen yenildi!"
It was a chant celebrating Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and someone who is reveared in Turkish culture. It was a chant celebrating Ataturk's guidance as a general during the first world war in keeping the Allied forces of Britian, Austalia and New Zealand from conquering Istanbul and gaining control of the Bosphorus Straight.
It was a different view of the history I had learned in school.
The words in essense say, without Ataturk our enemies were many but when Ataturk came he drove them out!
Wait a minute! My home country - the United States - were on the side of the Allies. We weren't the enemies. Were we?
Should I set my son straight? Tell him how history really happened? "We" were the good guys and "They" were the bad guys, right?
If you begin to serve or live cross culturally, you will need to get used to these sorts of interactions. It seems that not everyone in the world views history through the same lense as the American history teachers who wrote my text books growing up.
You'll meet Australian friends who will insist we've been using upside down maps our whole lives.
You'll meet many from the Middle East (why is it the Middle East and not Middle West?) that believe that the Crusades were the work of greedy, blood thirsty crusaders and that the invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s was only about taking control of the oil.
One Sunday morning at our very international church in Istanbul, when one of my American friends bemoaned the loss of influence that the U.S. was having on the world, one of my British friends let out a hearty "AMEN!"
Outside of those that grow up in cross cultural experiences (like my son) , most of us grow up learning about the world through a very particular lens, one that, in general, paints "us" as the good guys and all of history moving toward "our" present reality. It's a narrow lens.
As cross cultural ambassadors for Christ we must be prepared to humble ourselves and let go of our need to defend or promote our version of history.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20; NIVUK)
We are Christ's ambassadors and we can leave the ambassadorial work of representing our country to the U.S. diplomatic corp. Humility recognizes that, while I may not see it through the same lens, other people in other cultures might just have another view of things.
There is a pride and an arrognce that tends to have us placing our group at the center of history - or of maps.
Maps made in the U.S. during the cold war always seemed to put the U.S. square in the middle and then cut the U.S.S.R in half, relegting the largest country in the world to the fringes.
Germans made maps for ages that placed them squarely in the center of the page - even though they are 60 degress north of the equator. This required shrinking Africa(20% of the earth's surface) and enlarging Europe (7% of the earth's surface) until they were nearly the same size.
And Australians printed maps that put them front and center at the top of the world!
Is one map right and the others all wrong, or are they just maps of the same earth from very different perspectives?
If we want to be Christ's ambassadors in a lost and broken world, it is helpful walk humbly into these sorts of conversations, recognizing that, right or wrong, everyone has their own perspective and that, when it comes to history, there is a lot more grey than we probably realize.
And that is okay because while I may feel uncomfortable with my son learning a little different version of history than I did, the kingdom of God is not in trouble.
The people you meet will most certainly view the world differently than you do. Will you be ready to hear their story and recognize that there are other perspectives than your own? Are you willing to learn? To place yourself in their shoes?
For the sake of the gospel are you willing to see the world through their eyes?
Philippians 2: 5-11 Discovery Bible Study
Instructions: Read the passage 2 - 3 times and then answer the following questions.
The E2E Community
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.