Written by a Reaching & Teaching missionary preparing to deploy to Southeast Asia
My friend, Alex*, picked us up from the airport hotel in Jakarta in one of those small, grey compact “vans” that are all too common in Asia. Our church’s team that my wife Elisabeth and I were with had just left for home after 10 days on an island in Southeast Asia. We extended our trip to spend some extra days in Indonesia with Alex’s family.
I sat up front with him on the long ride as we caught up and discussed where God was leading us. At that point, we didn’t know. My wife laid down in the back seat most of the way. We think she ate some bad fish. We had been overseas before, but this country was new to us. The night before, however, two of our pastors sat down with us and asked if we would consider moving there long term. Most people don’t ask questions like that.
Can the church direct your call?
As my friend navigated through the river-like traffic, we talked about how God was leading my family to serve as missionaries. We didn’t have a people or place we were especially burdened for. Maybe Nepal. Maybe England. Maybe even Canada.
“I mean, it would make sense,” I admitted, slightly confounded, as I told him about the night before. For years our church had directed resources and personnel towards one this particular island. And in that conversation with Alex, it first made sense that God could use our church’s burden to direct our own.
Southeast Asia: The Need
As a part of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, this island’s people desperately lack gospel witness. Operation World states that “of its 49 unreached people groups, 29 have no indigenous church and eight have no known gospel workers.” The gospel has advanced significantly among some tribes on the island, but among others there is little or no witness at all. It makes sense why our church is making such an effort to see this island reached. How could we not at least consider our pastors’ request?
Southeast Asia: The Vision
Our conviction is that the Lord wants to display His wisdom and glory through the power of the gospel to unite all things in Himself (Eph 1:10) and all peoples in the church (Eph 3:10). Therefore, we aim to go to this island, learn the language and culture, so that we can share the gospel, make disciples, and strategically train pastors and church planters in anticipation of a global harvest.
A little while ago, I was in South Asia with my friend Clyde training pastors to teach and preach the book of Ephesians. As one of our teammates taught through Ephesians 5, he challenged the men to honor and serve their wives by letting them eat first. The men are used to being served first at every meal in their culture. The next day, a local pastor came to the training and with a glowing smile testified, “I served my wife this morning!” We want to see that kind of life-transforming work multiplied on the island. Moreover, we want to see God raise up local pastors to preach that life-transforming Word in their local churches all over the island.
We desire to see people sing praises that echo the glory that the humid jungles, colorful fruit trees, and salty ocean tides pour out continuously to their Creator (Rom 1:20). We want to see young people more concerned with their eternity than their Instagram following. We long to hear Indonesian brothers and sisters pray more earnestly to the Lord than their neighbors who stand behind loud-speakers, crying out to Allah at 4:00 AM, just to be heard. Taking the training we’ve received and the examples of healthy-church life we’ve experienced, we are burdened to multiply what we have seen and heard in a culturally appropriate way so that the peoples of this island might know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy of their worship!
However, this is not just our vision. The Lord has already been at work through both seen and unseen labors. It’s in that vein that we want to fall in line with what our local church has already been doing for years. We want to find our place among the local and international believers already working to see the gospel advance on this island.
Reaching and Teaching
Searching for a like-minded sending organization can be difficult. One may be too theologically broad, the second appears methodologically compromised or narrow at best, and the next requires a certain eschatological position you didn’t see coming and couldn’t agree with. Finding like-mindedness can seem more like a boxing match, dodging millennial left-hooks or jabs of ambiguity that leave you more confused than confident that you’ll be a good fit for the team. And so it goes.
We read through a number of organizations’ statements of faith and philosophies of ministry before finding Reaching and Teaching. We loved their confessional foundation, methodological forthrightness, and unwillingness to compromise the health of the church or mission to see so-called “results.” We joined the team because we cannot accomplish this alone. We need the Spirit, the church, and other like-minded brothers and sisters to see this work accomplished on this island. He is faithful, He will surely do it!
*All names changed for security purposes.
If you or someone you know may be interested in serving in Southeast Asia, please download our Career Missionary – Southeast Asia Island flyer or visit our Career Opportunity page here.