Biola students and alumni share experiences evangelizing in America
If you passed them on the sidewalk, you wouldn’t look twice. With light blue v-necks and backwards baseball caps, junior Timothy Kang and alumni Jonathan Esters and Andrew Johansson slide seamlessly into the mold of the average Biola student. But these three men are miles away from average, as they push and bend themselves to fit the mold of the disciples.
Seminar E was the final seminar set for Missions Conference 2013, and it did not disappoint. I attended a session titled, “Re-Evangelizing the West,” a five-month program through Global Gospel Movement that sends trained Christians across America to evangelize to whomever they meet along their journey. As I watched the introductory video of interviews and clips that Kang, Esters and Johansson shot along their journey, I realized that this was not your normal missions trip. This was a program that forced its missionaries to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the overwhelming power of the unknown.
In Matthew 10, Jesus commissions his disciples saying: “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.”
And this is exactly what Kang, Esters and Johansson did. They planned to start their journey, pockets empty and Bibles open, in the La Mirada Albertsons parking lot.
“People heard about what we were doing, and they started giving us money. We wanted to start out with nothing, but before we even left, we had been given $1,000 in donations, so that’s what we started with,” said Kang.
Throughout the seminar, they told many stories of the people they met along the way, and the internal battles they had to fight as they traveled. Esters told one story of boys they met at a skate park in San Francisco who regarded God and Christians as “lame” upon being asked about their beliefs. After a fruitless debate about evolution, Esters realized that if these boys were going to believe in God. They would have to feel him, rather than simply know about him. They laid hands on the boys and after a few minutes of fervent prayer one of the boys whispered, “Wow. I believe in God.”
The Lord moved through his missionaries in countless ways along this five-month journey. They were given opportunities to heal the hearts and bodies of many broken people. And throughout the five months on the road, not once did they have to sleep on the streets — a shelter was always provided.
2013 Missions Conference has seen many Biola students respond to the calls that countless speakers have declared about going out unto other countries and fulfilling the Great Commission. Missions are generally understood in one way at Biola, as a two to three week adventure overseas, with a group, a leader and a purpose. But the Global Gospel Movement does not subscribe to this common understanding of missions. Instead, this is an organization that intentionally provides no certainty in food, clothing, shelter and even ears that are thirsty to hear.
This challenge is almost as revolutionary as it is terrifying. These young men left me stunned. It is all too easy to squeeze faith and missions into one manageable box. But God doesn’t choose his missionaries based on their ability; he chooses them based on their willingness to be sent. It is so encouraging to see students just like me living with an abandonment akin to that of Moses, Abraham, Peter and Paul. I do not know how God will use me to influence his kingdom in the future, but I know that if I am willing, he will send me.
On July 3, Global Gospel Movement begins its Evangelism boot camp for next year’s missionaries; the unknown awaits.