Explore News: Making Disciples in Tough Places
September 2023

You asked! Our Missionaries answered! Not all of our missionaries live and work in a country that is "anti-Christian" but many of them, if not all, have encountered people who are displeased with what they are trying to do as they take the message of Jesus to the world. How do you go about handling that?

In this month’s Explore News, our missionary panel provides advice on how to handle living in a context that might not get or be pleased with Christianity. Use it to join us in sending a message to the world!

Identify the Negotiables and Non-Negotiables of Following Jesus 

“Granted, there are some countries that have strict anti-proselytization laws. However, when you look deeper, many countries that are seen as 'anti-Christian', are actually just anti-Western Christian. They have a specific picture of what it means to be 'Christian', and that picture is very influenced by culture, and usually not accurate. They see Christianity as a threat to their culture but we know that one can follow Jesus in any culture!  
My biggest advice in these places is to evaluate your own culture attached to Christianity and learn the new culture you are in. Which parts of your faith are negotiable and which are non-negotiable? I know it sounds heretical but stay with me...

Culture influences faith anywhere in the world, as workers, we must analyze the way our own culture influences our faith. Things that are clear in Scripture are non-negotiable. Things not found in scripture are negotiable and simply culture. For example, singing a worship song before and after a sermon on a Sunday is considered negotiable. Worshipping on Sundays in a building is negotiable.   
Once you analyze your own culture, the other crucial step is to learn the new culture you have stepped into. How can they live as a follower of Jesus, but stay in their own culture? As you disciple your contacts into becoming followers of Jesus, do not allow your own culture to influence the ways you guide them. Stick to scripture and allow them to find ways to express their faith in their own culture. For example, if you are working with a Muslim people group, they are not required to start eating pork when they become followers of Jesus and may continue to abstain. This issue of culture vs nonnegotiable practices is addressed by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 as they addressed circumcision for the Gentiles."

Follow the New Testament Example

“I, honestly, have never worked in an anti-Christian country, though maybe it depends on your understanding of this phrase), but have worked among people groups who are anti-western or very strongly identified with other religions and want nothing to do with Christianity.

I think my best advice is to follow patterns that we see in the New Testament. Many people were anti-Jesus in his day and many people were against the early church, but they had success when they lived the greatest commandments. They were genuinely loving God and loving people, boldly continued to share their lives and testimonies, and found those who were willing and ready to engage with the teachings of Jesus. My only other advice is that nothing will happen without prayer.”

Identify What Makes Following Jesus Difficult in Their Context

“I would not necessarily call Spain an anti-Cristian country. There is a complicated history with the Church and most people do not understand who or what evangelicals are, as well as much of society is morally opposite of how God calls us to live. So when I am discipling any youth, the hardest part for them can be the loneliness and inability to explain themselves to their non-Christian friends or even family. I help them understand how to have a healthy and good walk with the Lord, when everything in the culture is the complete opposite and how to be a light for Jesus in the darkness.” 

Maybe the missionary panel's experiences have prompted you to take your next step on your missions journey. We’d love to talk with you about it and help you send the message of Jesus to the world!



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