Friday, January 27, 2017

Ministering Around the World- Part 1 "Southeast Asia"

I would like to devote all of my posts this year to shining the light on what it is like ministering around the world. The world is a very diverse place! Terrain, culture and religions differ greatly as you learn more about all the different countries of the world. Also ministering in each place brings its own uniques challenges, adventures and opportunities. We are very blessed to represent over 800 Independent Baptist Missionary ladies serving around the globe. All have surrendered their life to take the gospel to where the Lord has called them and their families. Many times, I dare say the majority of the time, these ladies serve in places far different then their home country. They have daily striven to understand and adjust to thinking and places that are far from their originally up-bringing to reach people with the gospel who most of the world know very little about. Some serve in places where the name of Jesus has never been heard and others serve where Christianity in some form is highly popular and some serve where religion in any form is avoided, each presents its own challenges and ministry.

I have divided the world into 12 segments. They are not based on continents or countries but on regions that I believe have some commonality.

Canada & America

Africa

South America

Greenland and Iceland

Europe

Middle East

Russia and Siberia

Southeast Asia

Asia

Australia and New Zealand

Carribean

Pacific islands

This month we are taking a glimpse of Southeast Asia. I have had a few ladies help by giving input on their areas of service. Let's take a trip to Southeast Asia.

For our spotlight this area encompasses Nepal, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines. I lived in Southeast Asia for 7 years and I have personally visited 6 different countries in Southeast Asia and I have some friends serving in a few of the other remaining countries. Even in this small geographic area, you will find many differences as well as many similarities.

 

This area is the east half of the area that Christians call the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window is described as the area of the world that contains the most un-evangelized people in the world, aka "Satans stronghold". Not only are the main religions there Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, but it is also the hub and origin of most of those religions. This is where you will find the biggest Hindu and Buddhist worship sites in the world and the 4th largest mosque in the world.

 

For many years, I Iived within walking distance of one of the largest Buddhist Stupa worship sites in the world. This dome is topped with what is called, "the all-seeing eyes of Buddha" and is daily surrounded by thousands of devout Buddhist and Hindus who are searching for merit from these "all-seeing eyes" that will gain them a better after life. Old and young, they come by the hoards with their prayer wheels and prayer beads. They chant a prayer that was written for them by a priest an auspicious number of times. Some of them will prostrate themselves on the ground throughout the entire day as the gongs and chants of monks can be heard in the background. Some just chat with friends as they walk through their routine or accompany an older family member. Buddhist wares and religious ornaments are sold in shops 5ft away, in a circle pattern as people walk and pray. No matter their reason or intent it is indeed a battleground between righteousness and evil. For a Christian, as you begin to walk within 2 blocks of this temple the cloud of spiritual warfare begins to fall and thicken. With every step, you know you are drawing nearer to the devils domain. A heaviness settles upon you as you watch hundreds and thousands of people march to the lie of Satan. No peace is found there. No comfort will be seen. Only broken hearts desperately looking for an answer to the void they feel but blinded by years of deceit by man's religion. They long for release from this bondage but strongly fear the change of trusting something they have never heard of and turning their back on the religion of their family and forefathers, a sin of the highest ranking in many of these countries. But we walk with light and with the message of the one who has the power to break all ties of bondage and enslavement. We share the gospel with all who will listen and we walk back out with a prayer and a weighing burden for blinded eyes to be opened to the truth.

These are some quotes from Wikipedia about a Southeast Asia.

"This region of the world was previously known to Christians as the "resistant belt," as noted by Luis Bush at the 1989 Lausanne II Conference in Manila."

The original 1990 GIS 10/40 Window analysis produced several insights, among them showing that the nations of the 10/40 Window represented (as of the research date):

  • 82% of the poorest of the world's poor (per capita GNP less than US$500 per year),[10]
  • 84% of those with lowest quality of life (life expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy),[11]
  • the hub of the world's major non-Christian religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.,)[27][28]
  • close to 100% of those who were both most-poor and had least-access to Christian resources (two-dimensional analysis)[29]
  • The least Christian resource investment[30] and least sharing of the Christian message[31]

Though economies many are thirld world, faced with poverty and corruption, there are a few that flourish and present a picture of wealth. But also in most all of the countries you will see the "High cast", who have untold wealth. In many places this wealth is gained by years of corruption and lording over the poor.

Not only does the 10/40 window describe places that are highly un-evangalized but also places that are extremely difficult to enter as a foreigner and even more complicated to stay. With every step Christians take to bombard the coasts of forgotten peoples the devil suits up and fights back. HE WANTS HIS TERRITORY! There are a few of these countries where foreigners from the West literally CANNOT live. Only Nationals can enter to spread the gospel. For the others, missionaries fight on a regular basis to find creative ways to stay and fight the system and poor thousands of dollars into visa process' to make evangelism to the dark regions possible. And amongst this battle many fight the belief some have in the west that, "Those hard to win, should be passed over.", "Places without high yearly soul counts can't be worth the investment.", and other such lies the devil plants in hearts. If you could see the hearts of those called to these challenging places shatter and break as you utter these words about people who need so desperately to have the same chance we had to hear about the peace and joy and power in Christ. If you could see the tears fall, as they recall the years they have labored and fought hard in the prayer closet for those deemed not worth the investment. But un-deterred and un-submitted they stand up and say "I will go! I will not let them be forgotten! Though I may never be in the halls of fame in our western churches, I will not water down the message and I will not neglect the cause."

While these countries ferociously fight Bible believing Baptists from entering they are being iniundated by false religion, who the devil and these countries will many times give preferential treatment to those bearing the truth. You see those who come in under the name of one religion but only mix their religion with the nationals rituals aren't much of a threat.

In some places people have the freedom to tract distribute and knock door to door but in the vast majority of these countries outreach will be more based on relationships and much time spent in conversation and explanation of the Bible. Many missionaries will seek any creative opportunity they can to make contacts and reach people with the gospel; teaching english, small business', school programs, etc. Most missionaries won't publicize where they serve and can't afford to have a well-known name so that they can continue to serve where they do. As can be expected most of these countries boast less than 20 missionaries and most of them less than that. In a place where millions of people reside and the reports from missionaries claim it takes 6mo-years to see conversions in each person, the scales are definitely tipped.

I know it's hard to understand why conversions come so slow in these challenging countries. I will try to explain it briefly. When you walk up to a stranger and begin talking about a man they have never heard of who was born of a virgin and lived a perfect life and died for our sins and was resurrected in the same body so that we could have salvation you will see an extremely perplexed expression. This person has most likely never heard the name of Jesus and never read a Bible. They have been taught about appeasing angry gods. They have heard a different account of creation involving their own religious characters. They see sin as killing insects and lieing as acceptable. They believe in multiple lifetimes and see hell as a place that is escapable. These present lots of things to overcome with the truth.

Thankfully there are some places where long term faithfulness has yielded much fruit and change. The Phillipeans is one place where the Lord has done a great work in the last decade or two and the numbers of Christians continues to grow greatly. While there is still much work to be done we rejoice in Gods work and the fruit that has abounded thus far. For the other countries while the numbers are fewer, miraculous testimonies and works are being done for Christ.

Out of the ladies I spoke with I only received one willing to give their personally information in this blogpost. We are thankful for the Williams families investment on the border of Burma and Thailand as they strive to reach both countries for Christ.

http://williamswitness.com/

Please be in prayer for the missionaries of Southeast Asia. Please hold them up in prayer and encouragement. They fight a battle that few are willing to attempt. They go to the un-reached, to those hidden and shackled by the devil. They bring the light of the gospel to an area where they are literally the only light for miles to be seen. They have given up above the comforts of home, the crowd of believers in Christian countries. They stand with the Lord and their family without the Christian peers and encompassing lifestyle many in evangelized countries enjoy. But they do it with joy and with fruit, praise the Lord! Those faithful servants who strive in the Lords fight will see progress and ground taken from the Devil. God will and does give grace, power and abundant closeness. He WILL use his WORD as it is spread and it will NOT return void. Please lift them up in prayer and pray also for the millions who need them to come!

Thank you for joining us on this spotlight trip to Southeast Asia

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to help make these different regions more real to those of us who have never been there. It certainly makes praying for missionaries easier to be more specific. I am very curious: where does the continent of Africa fit into your divisions?

TWayne said...

Such an eye opening blog! My Pastor has traveled to a Southeast Asian country as a "teacher" and the stories he brought home of the challenges to share the Gospel there and the challenges to the believers are so hard to imagine while sitting here safely in the US. Reading this really helped bring that back to mind and my heart aches for the lost souls in these countries. I will pray more faithfully for these wonderful missionaries giving their lives to serve and for the lost souls they minister to, to seek and know the Truth.

April McTague said...

Sorry about missing Africa! Not sure where my brain went on that:) I will correct that.

Sarah LeClercq said...

What a great idea for your blog post. I look forward to reading more. Thank you for the information and bringing awareness to different mission fields.

April McTague said...

Thanks Sarah, I look forward to getting to your area of the world!