How does a missionary work in Colombia?
Colombia beckons, with its tens of millions of people with no chance at salvation through their own merit. Colombians need to hear about the Lord Jesus Christ; churches need to be preaching the Gospel, and church members need to be reaching out to their neighbors.
How do missionaries fit into the dynamic? While there are various strategies for missionary work, the one that our dear Apostle Paul used is the one that a missionary will strive to follow: plant churches, preach the Bible, make disciples, and trust the men you’ve trained to continue the work so you can start it all over again in another location.
Immediately after arriving in Colombia, a missionary must look for a place to live. Within a short, short period of time, they will also be looking for a place to worship. Most missionaries have to attend someone else’s church while learning the language; if the missionaries already speak fluent Spanish, they will be able to skip this phase. Because of this, they may be able to start a church service of their own within the first few months! Depending on where they live, they will almost certainly need one car, and might need two. Again, knowing the language helps a lot, but there are intricacies to foreign law that may be difficult to navigate. They’ll need to buy furniture (sleeping on the floor isn’t going to cut it), get phones, set up bank accounts, register for utilities, fill out paperwork, and put the house in order. And this is assuming everything goes according to plan!
Before very long, they will start to seek out people who are interested in the Gospel. Various strategies have been tried in different Latin American countries. Some missionaries have started free English classes to get the attention of the local people; some have done surveys to “find out what people believe”, using that information to pique people’s interest in the Gospel; some have simply knocked on doors, telling those who answer about the Good News of Jesus. The missionary will find out what methods work best for them in the city they are in, and strive to reach as many lost people as they can. They’ll gather together regularly on Sunday morning and Sunday night and at a midweek service, and build relationships with the nationals to invite them to church to give them the opportunity to follow Christ.
The final goal will be for the missionary to train men and see them discipled into leaders. Like Paul discipled Timothy and Moses discipled Joshua, the missionary will begin discipling men to begin taking over aspects of the ministry. This will be done relationally (life-on-life), with the foundation being the Bible. In roughly four years, the missionary will take a furlough—a trip to the United States to reconnect briefly with family, friends, and supporting churches. The plan will be for nationals to take over the preaching in the church that will have been planted; the missionary can then turn his attention to starting another church once he returns.
God, of course, is the one who will make all of this possible. Yet he has called us to work, and so work we must. Are you called to go? And if not, aren’t you called to send?
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