East Asia has “a lot” of a lot of things, including people. As a matter of fact, East Asian peoples represent a fourth of the entire world’s population.
The most conservative estimates show that at least 6 percent of East Asians are Christians. While 6 percent might not sound like a large number, 6 percent of close to 2 billion people equals a very large number of believers. Imagine the potential impact that is possible with so many believers.
Consider if every believer in East Asia had a thorough understanding of the Gospel, a passion to share the Gospel and a strategy for making disciples of all nations. How would that change the growth of Christianity worldwide?
When my family was forced to leave the country where we served as Christian workers, I began to think about creative ways to work with local partners from a distance. We dreamed and planned, and my team set up a series of trainings to equip and mobilize hundreds of thousands of believers to make disciples of the nations.
During one of the training days, I was sweating profusely because the weather was scalding hot. However, I was sweating for more than one reason. The training had gone nothing like what I had imagined. We had worked so hard to get to this point, and it seemed everything was falling apart.
Surrounding me were key leaders who were responsible for hundreds of churches throughout various parts of East Asia. They were arguing and “loudly debating” a topic I had presented. The scene was in stark contrast to our surroundings. We were on a dock over crystal clear, calm ocean water on a tropical Southeast Asian island, surrounded by beautiful beaches.
When we planned the event, we thought we would have a training room, but no rooms were available at our site. Instead, we spread ourselves out on the side of a loading dock to train together for four days.
We have been working with this network of churches for many years. Starting in 2017, we began introducing the training we developed. The process had gone well enough that more of the network’s senior leadership came to consider if our training was worth taking back to use in their own churches.
During a session on evangelism, we asked, “What percentage of your target population would you estimate has heard the Gospel?” These brothers in Christ were responsible for areas that encompassed a total population of several hundred million people.
They confidently said, “100 percent!”
I wanted to believe them, but I knew for a fact that it wasn’t true. Instead of arguing, we continued with the definitions of evangelism and the Gospel that the IMB has affirmed.
We looked up each accompanying passage and discussed them thoroughly. I then re-asked the question, “Based on this definition, what percentage of your target population would you estimate has heard the Gospel?”
It was at that moment that our chaotic scene of arguing began. For one solid hour they argued, debated and yelled. Some even walked away. In that moment, I thought I had lost them completely. I thought our training was over before it really began. I was sweating.
After an hour, the discussion settled down, and they came to a group conclusion.
“Maybe 10 to 20 percent of our target population has heard the Gospel,” the leaders said. “This means we have to change our strategy for evangelism to ensure that everyone has a chance to respond to the Gospel.”
We spent the rest of the day discussing and diagnosing portions of their ministry that needed change. We spent the next three days making plans, developing strategies and working through modules of the training.
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Source: Baptist Press