Show Me A Closed Door, and I’ll Show You an Open Window
Getting locked out of the house means checking other means of entry, right? Its the same way in missions.Any serious follower of Jesus Christ realizes that he or she is not left on this each merely to survive; God has a job for each to do! Our Lord commanded us to follow him in his rescue operation and to accomplish his will by making disciples of all nations.
However, many of the churchless nations live behind the borders of countries like Mauritania, Libya, and Kuwait, whose governments do not grant missionary visas. Very few visas are available to evangelize Hindus or Muslims in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, or Indonesia. Certainly, the Soviet Union and China are not granting such visas.
Some Christians call these "closed" countries. 'There's nothing we can do about it," we shrug. But Jesus didn't tell us "Go and make disciples of all nations if you can get a missionary visa'! Brother Andrew ('Gods Smuggler") says, 'There are no closed countries, as long as someone is willing not to come back out?
Our obligation is not cancelled simply because missionary visas are unavailable. But is it ethical to go into a country to preach Christ without declaring it as your primary purpose? Of course! Making disciples is to be our primary purpose whether were working for IBM in Memphis or teaching English in Morocco.
Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to hang a sign around our necks that says "missionary," But we are told to follow Christ in laying down our lives for the peoples of the world who am in desperate need of redemption.Motivated by money or adventure, non Christian Westerners are penetrating every area of the globe. So, Christians can gain residence among an unreached people if they want it badly enough. Dr. Then Williams of India is quoted as saying, "if you Americans wanted to get into India as badly as Indians want to get to America, you'd find a way!"
We must follow the lead of Peter and John (Acts 4) who, when commanded to cease speaking in the name of Jesus, insisted that it was theft duty to obey God rather than man. They were quite willing to face prison in order to obey Clod. God's people in the Soviet Union and China are still willing to face prison rather than stop making disciples. The church in China is experiencing explosive growth because Christians will not be silent about their Savior.
God is also calling in the West for people who ate eager to get into countries and live among peoples that do not yet have witnessing churches in their midst. In 1971, four missionaries were sent to prison for distributing gospels inLibya. Subsequently, everyone decided it was impossible to do anything for Christ there. In 1980, however, four young men, recent graduates of Penn State University, determined to claim God's promises. Surely even Libya was not too difficult for God.
Alter failing to acquire jobs that Libya was advertising in London newspapers, they took up residence among Libyans on the island of Malta. Gathering information about educational inslitulions from their new Libyan friends, they applied for teaching jobs. While waiting, they continued to proclaim Christ to the S,5® Libyans in Malta.
Soon, in answer to prayer, a telegram arrived inviting all four of them to "be the English faculty" at a technical university in Libya. They acquired their visas in one hour and the next day were winging theft way to a land virtually devoid of Christian wiutess.
They were housed in the men's dormitory and soon had their rooms full of inquisitive Libyan male students who had never met a real Christian. Questions led to Bible studies day after day in a country where not one citizen is known to be a follower of Jesus Christ. During school holidays, these four Penn State graduates were invited their Libyan students homes where they showed the Jesus film in Arabic by video cassette. And all of this in a "closed" country!
It is an enough simply to get a job overseas and hope to have a witness. To accomplish Gods purposes, we must be disciple makers who are determined to become insiders by learning the language and serving the people by whatever means is most conducive to meeting their needs and sharing Christ.
For some, this will mean working for the national government or a local company. Beware of multinational or American businesses which often confine an American to the foreigners! 'ghetto' with little opportunity an learn the local language. For those willing to live simply, ample opportunities to earn ones keep exist within the local economy.
At this writing, lam involved with over 200 people who have formed 21 church planting teams using a number of different strategies for entering Muslim people groups which have no church.
The following list gives examples of marketable skills or strategies being used by disciple¬makers I know to enter 'closed' countries.
- Providing consultant aid for an entertainment/recreation project
- Consulting in the area of hydroponics. (Hydroponics involves growing plants in nutrient solutions.)
- Teaching English.
- Exporting local goods.
- Studying at a university.
Making disciples among an unreached people group without a missionary visa is often referred to as "tentmaking" because the Apostle Paul sometimes supported himself by making tents. There are, however, three kinds of tentmakers: the full time worker, the halftime worker, and the "scrambler." All three types are strategic.
The person who has a hill time job an engineer for a Moroccan phosphate company, for example .has the least problem explaining his role to his host country and needs the smallest amount of support from his sending churches.
Someone who has a part time job will need more church support, but he will have a good deal more time to spend with Muslims or Buddhists.
The scrambler is that person who simply must be busy witnessing and holds Bible studies night and day. This type is often able to make friends to the extent that one of his national friends will secure his resident visa for him. He may not have a marketable skill, but he's quite able to market himself.
If rentmakers have full tint jobs, ideally they should be part of a team for more effective evangelisni I know of six teachers of English and the sciences at a Muslim university. They are quietly doing friendship evangelism in an effort to establish the first church among Muslims in the country in which they are working. Whereas I or 2 people may become overwhelmed by the size of the task, a group of 6 an 12 dedicated to the same goal are much mote likely to see a congregation established.
So do not ask. 'Am I the missionary type?" but rather, "Is God leading me to pool my ministry skills and entry qualifications with those of several others to penetrate a nation where Christ is not named?"
Am you willing, where none exists today, to do whatever it takes to establish a worshiping, witnessing congregation with its own national leadership? Imagine the thrill of being a Romans 15:21 Christian, proclaiming Christ where there is no church committed to doing it!
This article originally appeared in Wherever magazine, Fall 1984. It has been reprinted here by permission of the copyright owner.Greg Livingrrone dreams of seeing witnessing churches spring up across the Muslim world in the next decade. He is the chief executive officer of Frontiers, an agency that aims to place 2000 missionaries anions Muslims in the next 20 years. He is also Chairman of the Board of the (is. Center for World Mission).