People come to put their faith in Jesus in all sorts of ways. Most often, it’s because someone close to them, someone they trust and respect, is a believer, and they can see something of the beauty and grace of Christ in them. A casual acquaintance with a coworker becomes a deeper friendship because there is understanding and caring. You can be open and honest with each other. Over time the masks begin to fall, and the difference forgiveness, love, and hope make in a human heart becomes evident. “I want that kind of relationship with God for myself!” And so another lost sheep finds its way home to the Shepherd. If only everyone in the world had such a friend who could show who Jesus is and point out the way to Him!
If anyone is to find salvation in Christ, outsiders must come and become one of those friends who can bring Jesus near.
So what about people who live in places where there are no such friends to be found anywhere? Many places have no churches, no Christian witness whatsoever. Many live where faith in Jesus is outlawed, or considered a betrayal of one’s people. If anyone there is to find salvation in Christ, outsiders must come and become one of those friends who can bring Jesus near.
Unfortunately, one can’t just step off a plane in a far-off land and instantly have deep trust relationships. It takes years to learn enough language and culture to understand the nuances of the way people think and relate to one another. It takes time for the barriers of foreignness to drop, and for people to see the outsider as someone they can be real with. And those first few believers, wrestling with how to live out their faith in the midst of their families and workplaces – how will they be shepherded along by someone who doesn’t understand how things work there? A wrong move could get someone killed! And then there are the first few leaders of the budding church, maturing in their faith and theology, struggling to work out how church should be done in their particular setting – how can one mentor them without a deep facility with the language and culture? Nurturing a church that will survive requires a long-term investment of oneself.
We need to remember what our goal is in entering a foreign land: to get to that place where missionaries are no longer needed. That means there must be widespread, strong fellowships of believers, with their own leaders, growing and maturing in their faith and walk with Christ, reaching out to their own people. What we usually think of as “evangelism” is really just one part of the larger task. New believers must be discipled. Budding leaders need to be taught, encouraged and strengthened. In most cases, when it comes to reaching his or her own people, a solid, mature national believer is worth ten missionaries. As soon as there are enough of them working together, it’s time for the missionaries to move on.
All in all, it’s a long, hard job: culture shock; language lessons; feeling like an idiot when you can’t remember some basic word; being easily tricked and then laughed at because you’re the “stupid foreigner”; getting to finally see the depths of darkness behind all the outside smiles; going for years, with little fruit from all one’s labours. But then, there are those moments of joy when cultural barriers drop, when one can finally relate human being to human being, and one discovers that deep inside we are really all the same. And most wonderful of all, if God grants it, there is the joy of seeing the lives of others transformed by the power of the Gospel, and faith spread from those first few to tens, hundreds, and thousands of others.
While this hard job is the core of what we do, there is much more. (See “What we do?” for some details.) There are needs for people with all kinds of skills, both simple and highly technical. We can use people who have as little as a few months to give. We need people who will pray regularly for some aspect of the work. If your heart resonates with the core of what we do, and you want to somehow get involved, don’t count yourself out because you don’t fit the stereotype.
If you don’t find what you are looking for in these pages, just start talking to us. If there’s no fit for you within WEC, we might be able to direct you elsewhere. See Contact for email and phone information. All it takes is a few minutes to get things started. If God is stirring your heart, don’t let the opportunity slip by.