Mark Carter, Greg Lee and I just returned from East Asia on a 12-day Discovery Trip to explore potential partnership opportunities. The first week was spent on a minority university teaching conversational English. These students were eager to hear about American culture and it gave us great access to share the Gospel while we shared about our lives. The unique nature of university life also affords many partners on the field other opportunities to reach out to specific pockets of people. Such was the case with those with whom we worked, as we saw how East Asia is embracing American football. This provides a great platform to teach a sport while proclaiming about our Savior.
The second week of our trip was completely different in nature from the first, as we partnered alongside a like-minded believer who owns a creative access business that seeks to reach out to an unreached people group. This people group numbers in the millions in the particular country in which we are working, and in the hundreds of thousands in this one particular region of the country. Due to their location being surrounded by a mountains, this particular creative business allows for great access to be in and among this people!
We will be putting together a more comprehensive video testimony/blog in the coming days, but here a few observations as I continue to collect my thoughts while overcoming jet lag!
First, university students are the same all over the world … no matter where you live or what your major is, students share in common interests, values, goals and aspirations. The key is that, as believing Christians, our ultimate pursuit in earning a degree is not just to get a good job, secure a nice home, or to even be married, but to gain knowledge that we may put into practice in the places where God places us, to put on display His glory. In this particular location in which we are looking to partner, the demands of education are tough and rigorous. Oftentimes, this leaves students in a place of desperation, hope and despair, and that is where the hope of the Gospel can intersect their lives at just the right time.
Next, I found that both among university students and UPGs, it’s important to assess what your target audience is doing, what you can do in their context to reach them, and what you like to do as a means of engaging them with the Gospel. These partners exuded a love for teaching, coaching and using specific business skills to reach their mission field. It combined a love of passions, permissions and patterns that would contextualize well in the context. Whether you are a UBC college student reading this and desiring to go to East Asia for a summer or semester, or you are a UBC member who is called to be a sender, you are called to be on mission where you live, work and play. The principle is still the same – determine what you love to do and how you can reach people best, and then be bold and declare, demonstrate and display.
Finally, in Jesus alone will the Gentiles hope, and this calls for us to go to the ends of the earth. We sat in the home of a lady who was full of joy, hospitable and delighted to have foreigners come into her home. We shared an afternoon with her over traditional food while we shared and exchanged cultural colloquialisms. What started as a conversation to find out more about her life, marriage and culture, soon was pointed to introducing her to Christ for the very first time!! Imagine hearing the story for the very first time, but hearing it through an Eastern ear and worldview. I pray she soon comes to a place of seeing that she can’t do for herself what has already been done for her. Christ is enough, He’s sufficient, and He alone can save!
Both of these ministry facets will provide unique opportunities for our college students to jump quickly onto the field and immerse themselves in walking among their own peers, albeit on another continent and campus, but with hearts ready to receive the Gospel. It will hopefully also give some uniquely gifted individuals a chance to partner with an incredible business venture that gains access among a people needing to be reached. I pray, too, that we as a church will expand our scope and vision and be University Baptist Church that reaches university students both near and far and proclaims to unreached peoples a God whose arm is not too short to save.
Written by Ryan Martin