How do you reach an unreached people group? There’s lots of deep thinkers creating deep thoughts on the topic. But what happens when the people that are reaching out to the unreached people group haven’t had the opportunity of training and equipping themselves?
It’s easy to glamorize it, to imagine telling Bible stories to those who have never heard before…seeing those you share with fall in love with God and turn their lives over to Him. But what happens when you don’t know their language? It’s easy to learn the daily words of a language (well not for me, but our friends in the rural outskirts seem to take on the challenge with little problem at all.) However, it gets a lot more tricky when you get to words like ‘God.’ Unlike something like chicken, you can just point and ask how to say it in their language. You also can’t act it out. And yet, God… it’s hard to share the gospel message if we have none of those words. Beyond that, what happens when it’s illegal, or when the people in the neighboring village don’t want you polluting them with a foreign religion…what happens then? These are just a few of the challenges that our TCT churches face as they seek to reach out to the communities around them. Mixed amongst these churches are 30-40 unreached people groups. Groups that outsiders are unlikely to ever access. Most are far from roads and cut off by travel restrictions. Even the national people are unable to go to many of these areas. Foreigners never. But the TCT villagers can, and they are doing all they can to carry the gospel to as many as possible.
As an organization, we are trying to partner with others to get them the help that they long for. We’ve spoken to other organizations to organize training on how to find a word for God when you don’t exactly know how to describe Him. We have started training in chronological storying and are looking at recording Bible stories in other languages – those that the staff are learning from other tribal groups so they can distribute them.
While all these things are essential, we’ve also been blessed to see the way that just the simple Acts of Love which form the staple of our program can make a difference.
There are Christians around the world living next door to non-believers that come from completely different cultural backgrounds. In Southeast Asia this is extremely common. If you head into the mountains of the region, you will hop from one language to another as you move through villages and ethnicities. These ethnic barriers often become relational barriers as tribes are only concerned about the welfare of their own people. Participants in the TCT program, however, want to break this pattern. Because of the biblical truths they have learned, they seek to love everyone as their brother and sister, no matter their ethnicity, religion, or cultural background.
Here is one example of how a church in Asia is reaching across cultures to show God’s love:
One of many acts of love that our church did was building a road from our village to another village, and then continuing the road to the market. Three tribes live in the neighboring village, but just a few members of the community are Christian. Whenever someone from the community wanted to buy or sell something they had to walk half a day across rough terrain to get to the market because there was no road.
We knew that building the road was going to be a challenge. Not only did it need to be very long, but it also crossed very rocky and hilly terrain. As we built the road we had to break down huge rocks in some areas to make the roadway level. In other parts, we had to stack rocks together to build a base for the road to pass over. None of these challenges however were enough to stop us because we wanted to show God’s love to the neighboring tribes.
While we were working, teachers from a school near by told us “It will take you at least one month to finish this road,” and other people mocked us saying “Are you building a road to heaven?” Despite these discouraging remarks, we focused on what God had called us to do. With God’s help and more than 300 people participating in the work we were able to finish the road in just 8 days. Everyone from the village was so excited and grateful for what we had completed. They could now drive directly from their village to the market. The teachers were also excited because they no longer needed to leave their bikes at our village and walk to school.
Local officials praised the church and said that they would report this to higher government. A few weeks later, our church received a certificate of appreciation from the government for bringing solidarity and development to the community. Praise the Lord!
Since starting TCT, this church has seen people start to change. Before, other tribal groups looked down on the church because they were poor outsiders. Their children we’re poorly educated and they were mocked for being “Stupid Christians.” Now, the church is admired. The community has developed, children are doing better in school, and lives have changed. Other members of the community are now more open and willing to listen when church members share the Gospel and many people from the other tribes have accepted Jesus.