Interestingly, one of the few times I encounter the average Christian in Canada that seems excited about sharing their faith is when I hear them discuss a recent short-term mission trip they’ve participated in. I’ve noticed they will recount how open and friendly the people were, and how receptive to the gospel they seemed. But when you discuss sharing the gospel with their neighbors next door, colleagues at work, or their unsaved family and friends at home, they often don’t seem to have the same joy or passion whatsoever. Why is that?
Let’s face it, typically in many less-developed countries the average person, although not necessarily a believer in Christ, is more likely to believe in God in general. And the fact that participants are bringing aid in time, materials, and financial support is also endearing, even if only superficially. Also, the interactions are relatively brief, so everyone is typically “on their best behavior” so to speak, so its no wonder that the people’s reactions are more positive overall. We of course pray that this leads to local missionaries that the Lord will use to grow the church in that area.
Is This Sustainable?
Answers in Genesis (among other major Christian organizations) has conducted research showing the Christian church in the Western world is shrinking rapidly, with up to 70% of young people from Christian homes abandoning the faith they grew up in. If this trend continues, where will the church be in three generations? If the majority of missionaries are supported by the prayers and donations from faithful Christians from Western-world countries where Christianity as a whole is collapsing, what does the future hold? Where will missionaries get the support they need to carry out Jesus’ command in the future?
Many Western-world Christians seem to think of missions as something that happens somewhere else, but Jesus’ command to make disciples of “of all nations” includes their own, where in the past countless missionaries strived long and hard to convert many to the Christian faith.
A Wise Strategy
Before travelling to the countries they will serve in, long-term missionaries often prepare for months by studying the historical background and cultural beliefs of the people they will be evangelizing to determine the biggest objections to and best method of communicating the gospel effectively. It is vital to understand the dominant belief system in the society being reached so that the missionaries can find ways of showing the natives how their culture fits into the biblical narrative (that they are descendants of Adam and sinners in need of salvation through Christ Jesus).
Strategically, we can use the same method to understand how best to share the gospel with our own un-churched family and friends at home. When we understand that humanistic naturalism, undergirded by the story of evolution, is the worldview that is taught exclusively in the state education systems and media, we can become equipped to deal with that false belief. We will then be prepared to engage the majority of the people we meet much more effectively.
Creation Evangelism in Action: In the Home and on the Streets
Perhaps the reason believers are more confident witnessing overseas than in their “backyard” so to speak is that people in less-developed areas are often far less hostile and have not been equipped with arguments against the faith, particularly in scientific areas. The West has been steeped in humanistic, atheistic naturalism now for several generations, and many Christians are still not equipped to deal with the onslaught of skeptical arguments attacking the accuracy of the Bible, particularly in Genesis.
What about dinosaurs? Carbon dating? Cain’s wife? Races? All of these questions may seem like old news to followers of the AiG ministry, but they are still questions AiG staff deal with on a daily basis because so few know how to answer the questions! Take the “race” issue for example. The AiG message from Acts 17, “one race, one blood,” may be common to those familiar with our resources, but it is probably one of the most relevant messages believers could hear at this particular moment in time because they haven’t heard it yet.
Those evangelizing in this culture cannot assume those being reached have any understanding of the Bible, faith in God, or even belief in moral or intellectual absolutes and/or standards. And it is quite naïve to believe one could have a serious discussion regarding faith in God and the gospel and not have evolutionary ideas come up. “Local missionaries” need to be equipped with answers to the questions about science and the Bible (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Corinthians 10:5) or run the risk of being irrelevant, uninformed, and ineffective.
And this begins at home with those they have been most entrusted to share the gospel with: their children, as no one is born a Christian. Rather, we are all born with a sin nature in need of a Savior. Christians need to understand that their children need to be raised up understanding that the culture they are growing up in is hostile to the Christian faith. They also need to know how to help their children deal with that reality from a very young age; otherwise the trend of youth fallout will continue, often right inside their own homes! But doing that needs planning and resources, implemented with engaging, age-appropriate equipping tools grounded in the truth of God’s Word that support daily Bible reading and prayer.
Invest in Ministries That Make a Difference
As Christian freedoms, opportunities, and resources continue to become more restricted in the West, believers need to take stock of what and where they will invest their time, energy, and support into. What we need is more “Western-world missionaries,” and the Answers in Genesis ministry is certainly one that has been blessed with much “good fruit” over the years. For example, our own Youth Outreach Coordinator and Speaker with AiG–CA, Patricia Engler.
Patricia was first introduced to AiG when she heard Ken Ham speak at a local homeschool conference. Learning the importance of the message of biblical authority catapulted her faith into studying apologetics, getting a degree in secular university to better understand how to survive as a Christian in secular education, and ultimately led her to go on a world tour interviewing post-graduate Christian students to better understand how they stayed strong in their faith in various cultures.
Listening to Patricia’s excitement when discussing her fantastic “360 in 180” solo backpacking trip around the world (largely inspired by all of the stories she’d read about real-life missionaries growing up) is truly contagious. Her obvious love for her fellow brothers and sisters and desire to see them equipped and inspired to reach the lost is evident as she recounts her travels.
Not many people would do or have done what she has (especially at her age), but what is also evident from listening to her story is the amount of spiritual and mental preparation that took place beforehand that allowed her to navigate her journey. Growing up in a loving Christian home and being supported by godly parents and their prayers and encouragement cultivated a deep knowledge of God’s Word that was an obvious catalyst for her call to ministry. Preparation breeds confidence, and confidence breeds action.
Help Us Equip a Next Generation of Spiritual Warriors
Answers in Genesis is dedicated to helping raise up a next generation of confident Western-world missionaries by training them in the most relevant areas needed to share the gospel. Through apologetics and evangelism equipping and training resources, children’s resources, educational books, Bible and evangelism curricula, VBS, video programs, apologetics courses, and much more, the AiG team produces the means to help a believer in the most vital arena of spiritual warfare in the culture today. Please join us in the fight to build up the body of Christ and make disciples in our own nation, as well as in the world around us.