by Mark Overstreet
Over the last few weeks I’ve enjoying listening to brothers and sisters share stories of how the gospel has impacted the lives of villages in their area through our programs. These partners serve in difficult areas of Asia, sharing the gospel and humanitarian resources with people who have limited access to the world outside their village.
Today, I want to share two key principles I’ve learned from these faithful servants.
Lesson #1: Ask, Seek, Knock (Matt. 7:7-11). In the villages of the north, we met Sony*, an elderly man who’s been working with a translation project for many years. He has labored faithfully to produce a resource his people can share to have access to the Word of God. He’s struggled for years in prayer over how his family would hear and understand scripture without access to literacy or its influence. How would they use the tool he’d spent his entire ministry creating if they couldn’t read? Over the course of our time together, he listened to our partners explain the process of developing gospel content using oral methods, creating narratives, songs, poems, and other tools for his people from the word of God.
God answered Sony’s prayer. Through our program, he was overjoyed to have a place his family could begin, where his village could sing and dance and hear the story of God’s grace in creation, the fall, redemption, and the coming new heavens and earth.
Through years of faithful service in the gospel and prayer, Sony now forms a critical link in his people’s access to the word of God. Don’t ever stop praying. He will be a faithful Father. He will give you the Good Gift.
Lesson #2: Listen, Learn, Change (Prov 1:5). In another nearby region, our partners invited another tribe into our program, reaching into one of the hardest provinces on the continent, one long held away from progress under forceful oppression. Like Sony, Toyo* struggled to understand how the local people would hear the gospel without leaders who had access to useful biblical tools for evangelism, discipleship, and leader development.
But the change hasn’t come easy. Toyo comes from a long line of hierarchy and tradition that discouraged him from allowing into leadership anyone who hadn’t attended formal training or seminary. Over the last year he has witnessed the spiritual transformation of new leaders in the neighboring district. He has seen the power of the word of God spread through local culture, local language, and local leaders—even if they haven’t gone off to formal training school. This month, Toyo will host his first meetings with indigenous leaders, and he can’t wait to see God’s faithfulness proven through their labors together. Please pray for Toyo as he serves local leaders there.
From the relationships Toyo built with neighboring leaders, he heard of new ways God was changing lives through training pastors and planting churches without books. He watched and walked with his partners, asking many questions, wondering about this new way. Through humility and healthy ministry relationships, today Toyo is embarking on a new journey by training leaders through orality, something he never thought possible.
Serving leaders like these reminds me to listen, learn, and wonder what needs to change in my life. Serving leaders like these teaches me the importance of stretching upward toward heaven and asking God to fulfill His will in every area of my life and ministry. If we ask, seek, and knock, He will be faithful to give like His word promises (Matt. 7).
Don’t ever stop going. Don’t ever stop learning. Don’t ever stop asking, seeking, knocking. If you listen, if you learn, He will change you. He is faithful.
What needs to change? What can He accomplish in you through his transforming touch in your life? Will you ask Him to touch you? Will you ask God to change you? Knock, knock. He’s there.
*Names changed for security reasons.
Mark Overstreet (@moverstreet) is vice president of T4 Global and serves fourth world cultures in leadership development and community transformation. He consults with global organizations in areas including healthy partnerships, orality, mission, program architecture, strategy, and evaluation. Learn more: http://www.markoverstreet.com