I'll admit, when we came to the field at the age of 22, my idea of Wittnessing generally consisted of door to door visitation, once a week with our church. I would also pass out tracts occasionally and spend time with my bus kids discussing salvation. That was just about all the experience I had with Wittnessing. You walk up to a door and after some pleasantries, pop the question.
"If you died today, do you know 100% for sure you will go to heaven? If not, please let me show you about 5 verses from the Bible that can tell you how you can know for sure."
I was blessed to be raised in a country founded on Christian values and principles. I was raised in a Christian home and had spent half of my childhood in the Bible Belt of America. As I am frequently asked in the country where we serve,
"Is everyone in Amercia a Christian?"
No, for sure not. But I'll admit the longer I spend in our little Buddhist/Hindu country I can see why outsiders may imagine that. Does everyone in the south go to church? NO! Even though they will promise to be there if you ask:) BUT, is their Bible knowledge and belief in the little they know a million times higher than those who have been devoid of the message of Christ for many years? YES!
You may think, hah! You haven't met ole Bubba who lives down the street from me! He sho don't know his Bible and doesn't believe a word in it! I do agree, that in the last couple of decades the moral and religious fiber of our country has deteriorated but I urge you to understand that even to the degree it has deteriorated it still supersedes many countries' knowledge and trust of scriptures.
I'll give a disclaimer for what I'm about to generalize, that it is based on someone who has lived in the south. I do understand there are areas of the states that have large masses of people completely devoid of any knowledge of the Bible or Christ.
However, I would wager that thousands of people in America, if asked if the Bible was Gods Word, would answer, yes.
Thousands would accept Gods idea of creation.
Millions have heard the name of Christ and accept that he is indeed a god or the God.
Millions would ascribe to the belief of heaven and hell.
Millions would believe that they have one life time to figure out where they will spend eternity.
While there are many followers of other religions in the States, I would say the vast majority do not bow a knee to any graven image. They don't live in fear of what that image or picture might do to them if they don't follow certain rules laid out.
As a rule, everything I just mentioned above is completely un-accepted where we serve. So when the American gets off the plane they are in for a rude wake up. After a few weeks or months, they are excited to find someone who knows enough English that they can wittness to them. You whip out your 5 verses and are super stoked to jump in. You aren't speaking more than a few minutes when you realize you are in the deep end of the pool without a paddle. The conversation may go like this:
Missionary-"Let's turn to John 3:16"
National- "John? What's John?"
Missionary- "It's a book in the Bible"
National- "A bible?! What's that?"
Missionary- uhhh.....(regains composure) It's the book Jesus wrote to us."
National- "Whose Jesus? Where did this book come from?"
Missionary- Jesus is the man who created the world and came from heaven to save us from our sins.
National- Blink...blink...this white person is a little crazy:) but I'll smile and nod.
And the American mind begins to turn. Solution..... Find a solution.....Finish the story. You explained it, they understood and accepted Christ, right? I mean it's a very simple truth. Anyone who hears it explained properly should be able to understand Gods sacrifice and love, right? We as Americans love things done quickly. We love finding a solution. We are by nature free thinkers (trust me on this) who will think till they find a solution. But the truth is, our American minds came to a screeching halt soon after we moved here. We realized that small tracts and tiny conversations in a door step weren't going to win this country to Christ. We all know the verse,
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17
This verse is miraculously true. But in a place where their knowledge of Christ is so minimal if any, it takes a good amount of hearing to build their understanding. But as it does, have FAITH, God WILL work. So as the title says, we had to re-invent how we witnessed. Houses and culture isn't really set up here where you can go down a street and knock on every door and hand out tracts. So, what do we do? A couple of things.
1.) Learn to explain the history of Christ and the salvation plan thoroughly in an easy to understand way. We learned a WHOLE lot more about sharing Bible facts that are pertinent for someone here to understanding salvation. The Lord helped my husband as he spoke to many people to understand more and more how to help them understand salvation. He wrote a 5 lesson plan explaining salvation thoroughly. It goes over Creation, Sin, How do I know there is 1 God?, Who is Jesus?, What is his plan for salvation?" This plan generally takes 6-10 weeks to complete. Does everyone who goes through this plan get saved? No, but I can say the many of them do completely understand salvation. After this they can make a decision based on the truth whether they will trust Christ.
2.) Make friendships and spend time with people. This culture is relationship based. They aren't worried about appointments or time schedules. But they love to fellowship and don't understand someone who never has time for that. Our visitation program generally consists of 1-2 visits a day where you spend 30 minutes- 3 hours with a person. We spend this time either wittnesing, answering questions or just loving on that person. You do not have to have a wonderful deep relationship with someone for them to accept Christ but it can be very helpful. In a country where they have generally never heard of Christ and sure haven't seen a Christian live out his truths, they need time to watch, learn and soak it in.
3.) Learn to Wittness in any and every situation. One of the most frequently used technique, I believe, is this one. When you many times can't get people to commit to learning about this foreigners religion, your best tool is witnessing through anything you can. Did you know you don't need a tract to witness? I'm being facecous but I admit I felt like that a little when we first arrived. When we began to see the obstacle of witnessing to people here we began to pray that God would open up any opportunity to plant a seed. You would be amazed at the doors He will open if we seek to share the gospel first and foremost. A great example, is the picture below.
Our church just had their first baptistery made. It was a monster of a tank. And in true national style, they all came out to get a good glimpse of this beast of a box we were moving in. This beast also had to be heaved up 4 floors. The beauty of the sense of community and relationships here is how they will all jump in to assist a friend. Every male in the vicinity jumped in to heave this giant box over the railing of the roof from the ground. As it came in, many neighbors and passer-bys began to ask questions. What is this? What is it for? Our church members were only to willing to use this small open door to get as much of the gospel in as they could! Even a Buddhist nun walking by on the road got a little dose. There is hundreds of examples just like this. You wouldn't believe the opportunities that fall into your lap to witness to others about the gospel or Gods goodness and power, when you pray and seek the Lord. Sometimes they even do the asking!
4. PATIENCE!!!! Man, if I could type this a million times I would. Because that's how much patience you need when bringing the gospel to a completely un-reached people. Most people we have seen saved, we personally dealt with them 6mo-3 years. And we hopefull have some record breakers on the line. We continue to patiently share Gods love and salvation plan and pray along the way and daily remind ourselves to TRUST God is doing a mighty work in hearts that we cannot see.
I know that it can be hard sometimes for people in the states to understand the process it takes to win someone to Christ in a foreign land. I also know, it is difficult many times as an American to learn a new culture and figure out how to reach those whom you have given your life to minster to. We have in no way mastered anything. But through Gods grace we have re-invented our previous idea of witnessing and continue to sow and water that seed. Gods word truely is a mighty sword. It does so much more than our arguments or words could accomplish. It does miraculous works in the hearts of every man, woman, boy and girl in every country and every culture but some DO need a lil more time and educating than others.