How To Enter a Closed Country as a Missionary – part 21

Here is a list of things you need to know as a missionary wanting to enter a closed country to do missionary work. I wish that there was some other way to get this information to you other than putting it on the internet for everyone including the enemies of the cross to see. However, the task of reaching unreached people groups is urgent and this is the best way to get this information to you.

So, if you need to get into a closed country as a missionary, how do you go about it?

  1. Never Come Back Out – The short answer is never come out. Go in as a tourist and never come back out. If you are going into the country where your people group lives, you might not want to be completely specific as to your reason for entering that country. Tell them you want to do tourism, and then go do some tourism for a day. Once you are done with your tourism, go do language learning for a few years and then do discipleship and never ever come out again. Learn the culture, get some local clothing, and disappear into remote areas.
  2. Just Go In – There are extremely closed countries that give the death penalty to those converted as well as the one who is doing the converting. I sometimes wonder if we should not shake the dust off our feet in those places right now. I could tell you which countries give the death penalty for converts and converters, but then you might not go to them. After you read this blog, those countries might be on the verge of opening up, or the people groups in those countries might be very frustrated with the situation and very disillusioned with the national religion and politics. It just might be time for a few extreme pioneer missionary martyrs to open those doors.
  3. Things Could Change – Many countries that enforce these extremes were in turmoil at the time I wrote this blog. We may see a very different attitude from Islamic believers in the next twenty-five years. Supposedly, many Muslims are coming to Christ through dreams and visions. Who will disciple all those new converts made through dreams? Jesus told us to make disciples. Not sit in the living room praying that God sends them dreams. I’m guessing some should risk danger. It only takes a handful of people to sow a field. When the harvest comes, a multitude of workers is needed. There will always be a need for a few sowers to go into the hard fields. If you feel compelled to go to Yemen, Oman, Somalia, or Northern Chad, it is probably the Lord compelling you. The same goes for Northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet. You can add many other very closed places to missionaries to this list.
  4. Go To More Open Countries – If you are not being drawn strongly to these kinds of countries, why not go to countries that are semi-open or less resistant to missionaries? Papua New Guinea is a Christian nation (or since 2020 trying to be declared as Christian) begging for missionaries to come and take the Gospel to hundreds of unreached peoples. It is still dangerous, but what missionary work isn’t dangerous? At least you don’t have to worry about visas or the government whipping your feet to reveal the whereabouts of your fellow coworkers. Papua New Guinea is dangerous because of all the sicknesses and because the tribes are so remote that, once you are out there, they can pretty much have their way with you.
  5. Blend In – If you want to go to closed counties, it would be better if you happen to physically look like the people group you want to go to. This brings a whole new dynamic to the invented need for missionary visas, having a pretext and bringing in things from another culture. If you look like you were born in India, go to India as a missionary, then blend into India using what people in India use. Many millions of people in India do not have a birth certificate. You can be one of those millions if you look like them and speak the local language of the remote people you want to work in. Who would know the difference? Learn how to walk and talk and eat like they do. The local people will be able to tell the difference. It will just be easier for them to see you as part of their community.
  6. Don’t Be So “Traditional Missionary” – Many people are missionaries in closed countries. You just won’t hear much from them or get updates on social networks. There are hopefully many more missionaries in these places than we know about. They just don’t look like our current model of a missionary. They are normal people living and discipling others in a foreign land, making their way and making followers of Christ. They look just like the local people. They talk like the local people. They act like the local people, and they are not leaving every few years returning with stuff from their culture of origin.
  7. There Are Always Exceptions – I heard of a man who openly tells immigration on the border of Turkey that he is visiting to preach the Gospel. They let him in every time. I am very curious about why they let him in; why is he allowed into Turkey, even though he is plainly telling them he is there to share the Gospel? Maybe they don’t understand him. Maybe they don’t believe him. Maybe they respect the fact that he is not lying. Maybe they let him in planning on catching him and the Lord helps him elude the police. Or, possibly, they know of his miracles, signs, wonders, and know how desperately the people of Turkey need him and they decide to let him in. I would really like to know the answer. What is important is that he is an exception and an example of someone not entering Turkey with a pretext.
  8. Walking in the Power of God Can Keep You Inside Closed Doors

I must mention here that walking in the power of Jesus Christ is a necessity for those going to remote unreached people groups living inside completely closed countries. This will make all the difference in the impact of your ministry. This is very common in missionary work. It is not just for the few famous missionaries who have books written about them. But even with the power of God being demonstrated, you can and will be persecuted. However, if you don’t believe in the power of God, and you eventually want to go to unreached peoples, you should start believing now. If you don’t believe, I don’t know what to tell you.

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

(NIV 1 Corinthians 2:3-5)

You need the demonstration of the power of God to heal, deliver, and raise the dead. If you do not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit with some evidence of Christ’s power, seek it out and get it. God will give it to you. Put your powerless doctrines down. Jesus told us that ALL who believe will have access to these necessary tools to extend the Kingdom. (Mark 16:17) You are about to go into very difficult situations and your words will only go so far. Those who believe in the power must not put down your brothers and sisters who do not believe in it. Love them, and encourage them to think about it and ask God for it.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

(NIV Acts 2:42-43)

When I was a new missionary, we were preaching and discipling in a new area called, “The Knife,” which was named after its commonplace violence. One night we were in an open-air meeting where the people sat on wooden benches. Someone came to us asking us to come and pray for a teenage girl that had died a few hours earlier. I did not know the language well but followed my pastors and another missionary into the small cardboard shack. The girl was laid out on a bed, and it was clear that she was dead. Being a medical technician, I checked her pulse. She had no pulse and was cold, blue, and not breathing. She was definitely dead. We all put our hands on her and began to pray. A few minutes later, we felt a rush of energy come from above into our heads and out our hands into the girl. It looked like a wave of life entered her feet and flowed to her head. She gasped loudly, taking in a deep breath, and her eyes fluttered open. That night, we drove an hour back to our houses, not saying a single word. The little open-air church in The Knife exploded, and as the word spread, hundreds of people came to Christ. I went back to that place in 2019 and the church is still there. I believe it was 1986 when God did that miracle. I have wondered a few times what happened to the girl?

The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.

(NIV Acts 5:12)

The first church I pastored was in a very poor town of about 10,000 people living in cardboard houses. We had an open-air meeting with a small group of about ten people in the beginning. A young mother and her adolescent daughter lived in the house next to where we held discipleship. She and her daughter started to come to hear the Gospel. Both had severe rheumatism, a disease that causes stiffness and pain in the muscles and swelling and pain in the joints. Their hands and arms were so afflicted that they were deformed and could not move. One day, I went into their one-room shack and saw ten or more idols on a shelf. I became indignant at what the enemy was doing to them and felt their pain. The Holy Spirit came on me and I declared, “If you will burn your idols, you and her daughter will be healed!” I immediately thought to myself, “What am I saying? If they don’t get healed, I am in trouble.”

The next day, they came for discipleship and piled up their idols on the ground, and burned them. Both the mother and daughter were completely healed. The word of this healing spread and many people began to bring their idols. They piled them up about a meter high and burned them on the ground where we held our outdoor meetings. The church grew quickly to about a hundred and twenty people, and with it came persecution. At that time, it was illegal by national law for anyone to preach openly or in any building not registered with the government. I was not also not legally in the country as a missionary. Still, God used me. The bad kind of police began to drive by our meetings but did not see us. I laid low and eventually turned that church over to the local people. In 2019 I also visited the first disciples and the church is still there to this day. When I met those disciples, the man and I hugged crying for about five minutes and we could not stop laughing and crying. He and I did a lot of evangelism and discipleship in that town together.

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

(NIV Acts 6:8)

Steven was not one of the original apostles, and yet he did miracles. Likewise, the seventy-two Jesus sent out also did acts of deliverance and were told to heal the people. (Luke 10:1, 10:9 10:17) These are examples of men not appointed as apostles doing healings and deliverance. Look into it. Dispensationalist theology is error to keep people/missionaries thinking they are powerless. Actually, we are powerless, it is Christ with us who is the power, he heals and delivered and the Glory goes to him. It is for the people not for us to make a name for ourselves.

When you go to unreached people groups, they will need proof that your God is bigger than their god. Your words will mean a lot but will go much further when accompanied by signs. This is common, normal, and should be a frequent thing. The enemy wants Christians to feel like it is something super special and that only certain people can pray for the sick to be healed.

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.

(NIV Acts 8:5 )

Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

(NIV Acts 8:13)

If you walk in the power of Jesus Christ, his signs and miracles are a testimony that your message is real. I have prayed for people with incurable fatal diseases that were healed. I am not boasting, just telling you the most normal thing. I prayed, and God did the healing. There is absolutely no power in me to heal. This should be a normal part of our Christian lives. I prayed for my mother, who was healed of cancer. Afterward, she changed her life becoming more devoted to the Church and giving to missions.

Jesus told us to heal the sick and deliver the demon-possessed, they are commands, not optional

The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.

(NIV Acts 15:12)

It’s OK to tell people about what God does through you. It is an encouragement to the body to know that God is alive and well and cares and loves the people enough to show them he is there.

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

(NIV Hebrews 2:4)

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

(NIV Mark 16:17-18)

This verse is clear that the power of God does not end with the first church or the death of Christ’s disciples. If you believe, signs will accompany you, meaning that you need to be out there teaching and proclaiming the Gospel where it hasn’t been preached. You can take the Gospel wherever you want. You do not need permission to enter into closed countries as a missionary. It will help you immensely if you walk in the power of God. It does not mean that you will avoid persecution or imprisonment.

You should know the New Testament like the back of your hand and know Jesus Christ deeply. This should bring much faith and trust in God. As you read, you should hear Jesus’s tone when He speaks. If you are going to take the Gospel into a restricted country or resistant people group, you are going to need to know Christ, and you will need the power of God to back up the message. Preaching without power does not show much mercy, goodness, and grace to heal people in need. Many missionaries have resorted to only going where missionary work is accepted because they don’t walk in the power of God. With the power of God also comes the boldness and courage to preach the Gospel. If you lack any of these, just ask God for them.

9. You are going to need to be bold in the Lord.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

(NIV Acts 4:31)

Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

(NIV Acts 28:31)

When you preach boldly, things start to move out of your way. You can walk in the boldness of God. It comes through faith. You don’t need years on the mission field to see the power, healing, and miracles to receive the boldness of God.

I mention the New Testament more than the Old Testament in this book for a reason. Young people get distracted with the Old Covenant. Don’t get me wrong; the Old Testament is very important, but we live under the New Covenant, the new pact, the one Jesus brought us. Get Jesus. Then get Jesus again and again, then a little of Paul, and then a little of Moses. Then get Jesus again. Then get out and share Jesus. I encourage my disciples to read a Gospel five times more than one of Paul’s letters and ten times more than a book in the Old Testament. See the Bible Reading Plan to start to have faith for miracles and boldness.

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.

(NIV Acts 14:3)

Governments around the world are becoming more closed to Christianity and Christian missionaries. We cannot stop doing the great commission just because the government or the people are opposed to it. We cannot disobey the law of God just because the local government has written new laws. We must go, being wise, with or without permission and without pretexts. We must go with the power and boldness of the Lord Jesus Christ!