IMB videographer Rolan Way accompanied a group of Southern Baptist pastors to South Asia earlier this year as they visited workers supported by Southern Baptists’ giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. This first-person account describes the pastors’ eye-opening experience of some of the challenges and opportunities in sharing the Gospel in the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism.
2014 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions emphasis:
- Theme: One Sacred Effort — Find your place in God’s story
- Focus Scripture: Matthew 28: 19-20 (HCSB). Jesus’ “Great Commission” for all believers:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
- 2014 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal: $175 million
Every penny given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is used to support approximately 4,800 Southern Baptist workers as they share the Gospel overseas. To learn more about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.
By Rolan Way
SOUTH ASIA (BP)—Things quickly got real when a group of Southern Baptist pastors squeezed their way into a small area with crowds of Hindu faithful to watch the ritual slaughter of goats at the Kali temple in Kolkata, India. Those of us with cameras were swatted with batons by temple security guards adamant we not capture images of the beheadings.
That scene, combined with earlier scenes of idol worship and ritualistic cleansing in other South Asian cities, was a clear reminder of why these pastors had journeyed here. The Old Testament was played out right in front of them, real and tangible … even brutal. But they had come to tell South Asians that the fulfillment of the Gospel in Jesus changed everything — for all of us.
“We as believers, we understand that the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God — [our] Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross — is the best and is the only one sacrifice that has been done in history,” says Humberto Gonzalez, minister of First Euless en Español, a Spanish-speaking ministry of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas. “So we don’t have to kill more animals. Jesus died for all of us.”
Gonzalez reflects the sentiment from his pastor colleagues who traveled to South Asia from African-American, Korean, Chinese and Hispanic Southern Baptist congregations across the United States. Each person on the team was profoundly impacted by seeing the effort people go to for a religious experience at the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship we witnessed on this trip.
The experiences serve as a reminder that being part of a New Testament church doesn’t involve building earthly establishments to get God’s attention or involving a priestly caste system to beg Him for redemption for the rest of us. The joy of our faith is that we know we already have been redeemed by Christ on the cross and through His subsequent resurrection. We are part of the kingdom of God, no animal sacrifice or candles needed to atone for our sins — just placing our faith in Him.
“Too many times we get so interested in building our own kingdoms in our city, in our state, but we’ve got to look at the bigger picture,” says Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the time. “Again, this is one sacred effort: all of us coming together to impact the world, not just our city, not just our state, not just our nation, but to impact the world … with the Word of God.”
And the kingdom of God is growing in South Asia despite the sheer number of people spiritually lost and dying without access to His Good News. There are more unengaged, unreached people groups (those without an active Gospel witness) in South Asia than in the rest of the world combined. More than 1.6 billion of the world’s peoples are from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka or the Maldives.
After visiting areas where churches are being started, Pastor Joseph Chan of Arizona’s Tucson Chinese Baptist Church is impressed with the growth of new churches in South Asia through the Holy Spirit’s leading and the obedience and perseverance of Christian workers and local pastors.
“It seems that when things are difficult, when the environment is not as friendly or maybe to some extent hostile, that’s where the kingdom of God and the Gospel flourish even more so,” he says.
Find Your Place in God’s Story
Video of the pastors talking about their visit with Christian workers and those they are reaching with the Good News can be viewed at vimeo.com/95755787.
Learn more about South Asian people groups and how to pray for and reach them with the Gospel at southasianpeoples.imb.org.
Contribute to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon offering through a Southern Baptist church. There also is a Donate Now button for online Lottie Moon giving at imb.org/offering. Join the Author of all history in “One Sacred Effort — Find your place in God’s story” and give so more people will hear about His saving grace.
Rolan Way is an IMB videographer.