Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Hello friends. Thanks for joining us on episode 109 of Missions On Point. We're in the middle of a longer series on contemporary issues and missions. This one will talk about evangelism in a resistant culture. I'll just remind you if you have questions or comments, you can contact us through email to You can leave comments in your podcast app and remember to subscribe or follow on your podcast app as well as send it or recommend it to your friends. Thanks.

As we consider evangelism in a resistant culture today, I just want to remind you that there are a variety of perspectives on this topic. Some would say that we must evangelize all cultures, which is true. However, they often lose sight of the longer range goal that we've talked about many times on Missions on Point of establishing indigenous vernacular, reproducing healthy biblical churches.

So for some of those, they think it's more like guerilla warfare, hit and run, evangelize what you can and get out. That is neither the biblical goal, nor is it healthy in the long run. It often gives Christians a bad name or reputation, and it hurts other Christians that have better longer term goals and it doesn't accomplish those long-term goals. As we saw in just the last episode, the church planning process is a longer term, highly relational kind of a process that involves taking people from evangelism that is becoming Christians on the onset through discipleship and even leadership development so that you're leaving that indigenous vernacular local church.

The opposite perspective is 180 degrees different. There is a theological hyper Calvinism that says, don't evangelize them, God's in control. Let Him be in control of it. It's not up to us. Therefore, we have no responsibility, biblically, that is not only incorrect, but it is an aberrant extremism that we do not embrace. Track that back logically. If all the early Christians believe that we would have been denied the God-given means of salvation and we never would've become Christians ourselves. Not to mention the disobedience factor.

Another version of that conclusion comes from fear or basically ethnic prejudice, racism, which is plainly sin. The remaining unreached peoples are unreached for a reason. They're difficult to reach either geographically, politically because of religious antagonism to Christians and Christianity, lower socioeconomic status or education or ill literacy. So Christians fear to go there. Many of them are in places that require high security because of the antagonism that is institutionalized within that country and its traditional religious culture. Failure to evangelize a resistant culture is not an option, biblically. We must strategize. We must rethink our philosophy and our sinful prejudices so that we are enabled to take the risks and go into those places to proclaim the gospel and see Christians raised up to form their own indigenous churches to multiply and to evangelize their own culture.

There's just one overarching principle I want everyone to keep in mind. It takes more preparation and more time to prepare oneself for evangelism in a resistant culture for long-term service. Then there's five things I want you to keep in mind. The first is spiritually charged humility. The person going into this kind of resistant culture has to have an enormous sense of humility, teachability, willingness to learn how other people think, and be curious and dig down and learn their worldview so that they can properly communicate the truths of the gospel to them.

The second is almost a necessity in today's world, and that is business acumen. We've already talked about business as missions and in many of the resistant cultures remaining today, you're going to have to have a business reason for being there on your visa. That means that the Christian who attempts to evangelize in a resistant culture must actually know something about business to have a legitimate presence in the country, not a sham or a fake business. But an actual business in which up and down the line of resources and contacts and supply chain and customer base, they are using that for the glory of God in evangelistic relationships with the people they come in contact with through their business.

The third one is a high level of tolerance for cultural dissonance. Wikipedia says, cultural dissonance is a sense of discord, disharmony, confusion or conflict experienced by people that are in the middle of a very different cultural environment. There are so many things that reinforce a very different worldview or culture, including the way people read and write and express themselves. What their wisdom is like in their culture. What are their traditions with regard to family and authority and political structures and religious structures in their culture. The missionary seeking to evangelize in a resistant culture has to be very teachable and learn those kinds of things in order to speak to it biblically and bring the gospel to that culture. It means that they are often going to be very uncomfortable and only lesser degrees of discomfort as they become acculturated and familiar with the language and the worldview of their target people.

The next one, number four, goes without saying, high security standards. Learning how to live in a highly secure way, so as not to undermine your presence or get you thrown out of the country. The best defense for high security is making good friends, being a genuinely loving person to your neighbors, your contacts, the people up and down the line of those that you must relate to in government, in the police force, all across the board, in whatever realm of business you're working. You've got to have good friends and they become your best protection by letting you understand some of the dissonance you may be facing. But also help you personally to overcome those barriers, if you will, to fitting into the culture.

Lastly, the person or couple or family going into a highly resistant culture for evangelism and church planting needs to have an unusual level of support, and I'm not speaking only of financial support because some of that may even have to be creative in how it is remitted to the missionary on the field to help them live there.

However, I'm talking about lots of support spiritually in prayer, in emotional support, in encouragement, in logistics, even in legal matters on both sides of the water to make sure that they are able to remain on station and continue to do the work of the Lord in that place. Of course, our view is that their local sending church is the key to that kind of support. There are two other presuppositions which we reiterate over and over again in this podcast, and that is the essential nature of using the word of God. God's word is powerful. It's living. It penetrates people's souls. It's able to help them become convicted of sin and turn their hearts toward faith. God uses His word. Don't be fooled into thinking that some other methodology or delving into their sacred scriptures is going to be helpful in the long run. You might need to be familiar with their sacred scriptures and study it as a matter of respect and trying to understand their rationale or thinking process.

However, the basic conversation of evangelism starts with and uses the word of God as the most common, important and powerful tool in evangelism. So the missionary has to get the person in the resistant culture into God's word one way or another, reading God's word, going through it. I remember hearing the testimony of a Muslim man who had become a Christian saying that every Muslim that he walked through the book of Luke individually became a Christian. If they stayed with the whole book, by the time they got to the end of Luke, they were a believer.

The second presupposition is this proclamation of God's word is the normal means that God uses to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ and its saving effect on those who repent and believe. Christ is the sinner of the gospel, and his cross work and resurrection are the hallmarks of the gospel message. Many times we've come to learn that the hearer of the Bible for the first time needs to understand who God is, his condemnation of sin and the righteous demand for sacrifice in payment of the sin penalty. God's fulfillment of that through the life and work and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sakes.

So even starting from Genesis, God uses the proclamation of God's word and the gospel as the means of salvation for the hearer, that's Romans 10. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Time and time again from stories on the field all over the world in resistant cultures, we see the same kind of thing. Those missionaries who have prepared well, who are willing to go through the dissonance of fitting in to a very different culture that may even be harsh or resistant to them, initially. People who are committed to long-term relational evangelism, proclamation of the gospel and discipleship, people who are willing to undergo the hardships of geography, culture, language, isolation, and loneliness will in the end see God's word, bear fruit in the lives of new believers from that culture.

So many of our missionary heroes from the past had that kind of experience. William Carey, adoNaram Judson, John Payton, Hudson Taylor, Samuel Swizmer, Lius Trotter, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot. While it is true that the expat that is the Western missionary might suffer and come under persecution and condemnation by the prevailing local culture, yet in most cases they don't suffer the same kind of harm as those who become Christians from that indigenous culture. Those are the ones that are non-conformists to their traditional religion. Those are the ones that have to live in their same community and language group and undergo much worse persecution. While we often see in publicity or in the news stories of those who have been persecuted publicly, usually they're men. What we haven't seen is the many women, perhaps thousands, maybe even on the order of millions of women who have undergone persecution far worse for longer periods of time.

I remember reading in the story of an Arab Muslim country, a mission leader saying, who knows how many women who have turned to Christ have been shut up in their homes and starved to death slowly because of their faith in Jesus Christ. But these same leaders said in reports back to their home office in the middle of last century, we have had more missionary children die on the field than we have had converts in our time.

However, move forward 50 or 60 years, and we see an amazing harvest of spiritual fruit from the steadfastness of those missionaries going to the hard places and the resistant cultures, and faithfully proclaiming the gospel and building small clusters of believers into indigenous churches to continue the further progress of the gospel in their people group.

It is to those quiet, unknown, faithful martyrs that we give thanks for making it possible to see that Revelation five scene in which they all sang with a new song saying, worthy, are you to take the scroll and to open its seals for you are slain, and by your blood, you ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have made them a kingdom and priest to our God and they shall reign on the earth. Amen. May it be so.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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