a sign here, a tract there
Why does the Church complicate the Great Commission? Why do missions and evangelism strategies have to be so complex, so “contextual,” and so accommodating to the world?
The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthian believers: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).
So much in the realm of missions has been corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. There’s an old design adage that was noted and used by the United States Navy back in the 1960’s, the K.I.S.S. Principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Simple almost always works better and more reliably than complex; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. The same can and should be said for the Great Commission and evangelism. If we truly believe what the LORD says about His Word (Isaiah 55:11, Hebrews 4:12-13), His Spirit (John 6:44), the power of preaching (I Corinthians 1:21), and the inevitable attitude of the world toward the Gospel (I John 3:13), there is no reason complicate things and somehow think that our modern “innovations” will somehow change the age-old axiom (it goes all the way back to the days of Noah) that the great majority of men ultimately reject God’s revealed truth while only a few believe and follow. It’s the way of things, and in this is great liberty to Keep It Simple Stupid.
It’s amazing how something as simple as a Gospel tract given HERE can yield the precious fruit of an an unlikely soul saved. It’s astounding how something as makeshift as a handwritten sign placed THERE can yield the precious fruit of putting a printed copy of the Holy Scriptures into a traveler’s hands far from home. A sign here, a tract there . . .
Years ago, I offered a little barber shop commentary concerning a simple strategy for missions from a barber’s chair in Kathmandu, Nepal. Perhaps you will find it interesting.
Perhaps more interesting is that around this same time, late summer of 2011, I simply handed a Nepali translation of our Haven’t You Heard Gospel tract to a man behind a counter at a hole-in-the-wall tandoori kitchen. His face immediately lit up, for he had seen this tract before. Several years earlier, I had given one to him, around the spring of 2008 maybe. He said to me: “I read this when you gave it to me before. I have believed and am now a Christian. Thank you.”
Down in Huaraz, Peru this past summer, we posted a few handwritten Hebrew signs around town, and what followed was Israeli backpackers sitting around our table multiple times, engaging in conversations about the Messiah and receiving copies of the Hebrew Scriptures while far from home.
When the Trents transitioned over to South Asia, they did the same up in Leh. These are his words:
Jesse made us few signs in the Hebrew language with my contact information on them, inviting Israelis to our guesthouse for, as the Israelis like to say, “coffee and cookies.” We posted the signs at a few restaurants, coffee shops, and trekking agencies that are popular with the Israeli tourists. Two days later, I received a message from a group of three, two women in their 60s and a man in his 70s. They came over, and the time we spent with them could not have gone better. One of the ladies asked us why we supported Israel and did what we were doing for Israeli travelers by inviting them over for coffee and showing hospitality. The door then flung wide open for the Gospel. We explained how we both came to know the Messiah as children and how He had been guiding the course of our lives since. We talked about the Scriptures and how important they are to us. And, we talked about passages in the Old Testament that point to Yeshua being the long-awaited Messiah for the lost world. They all sat and listened, not once interrupting. Later that evening as they prepared to leave, we offered them Hebrew New Testaments to take with them in their journeys. They gladly received two. Not long thereafter, I received another message from a young man who saw our sign and was excited to meet us. He was traveling alone. I met with him in town, and we walked back to the guesthouse together. On the way, he asked me why I put up the signs and was doing this for Israeli tourists? My answer was simple and direct: “We are Meshikhim (Hebrew word for Christians or followers of Messiah), and because of this we want to be a blessing to any Israelis that we meet.” As we later sat together over a cup of coffee in the cool air of the evening, a deep conversation regarding the things of God and the Holy Scriptures was launched. This young man struggled with the concept of someone dying for his sins, somebody else taking the punishment he deserved. He also had a lot of tough questions about the Bible. Mindy and I took time to explain to him our fallen nature as man, blood being the only means of atonement, and the purpose of Jesus coming to earth as the Messiah. Before he left, he told us that he is still “searching for answers.” I offered him a Hebrew New Testament and said, ”Start searching here.” He left grateful and with it in his hand.
The Trents are now in Kathmandu, Nepal and will be there until the end of the year. It’s the high season there for Israeli trekkers, and again, handwritten signs have been posted around town. Already, there have been fruitful encounters with both Jew and Gentile. Already, copies of God’s Word have gone out. Please keep praying for them as they endeavor to Keep It Simple Stupid.
As for me, I’m hitting the road in a few hours. For the next 2-3 weeks, I will be traveling around the Northeast, preaching on college campuses and combing shopping malls for Israelis working at the kiosks. Praise God, I will be joined by some good brothers and will get to experience the fellowship, exhortation, and accountability that comes with that. Your prayers are coveted and much appreciated. Wherever we end up going, or whatever the Lord puts into our path, we aim to K.I.S.S. And inevitably, that means a sign here, a tract there.
Look at the time, I gotta go pack up the car! But before I do, I want to share how the Lord gave me great encouragement just the other day and in the midst of preparing for this journey along which I hope to find Israelis and be able to distribute copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. In addition to keeping things simple, it’s also important to always keep your eyes open. I joined a couple of brothers on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, a historically and predominantly black college. The open-air preaching was great, students gathered, and by and large, most were respectful and listened. Many, many Gospel tracts went out. At one point, a good brother that our church supports and who I will be traveling with these next weeks snagged my attention to inform that he had seen a Star of David around the neck of a white kid who had just walked by. Keep in mind that there were very few white kids on that campus. I chased him down, and lo and behold, a Hebrew NT went into the hands of a Jewish young man who was so polite and appreciative. His name was Aaron. Please pray for him.
I’ll check in from the road.
Praise God for Messiah,
Jesse Boyd, Colporter