Missionaries Need to Be the Feet of God – part 2

400 Field Researching Missionaries in the totally unreached people groupings (clusters, pockets, dark patches, call them what you will)

I have been a part of the mission information community for several years. One thing keeps coming up during our meetings, conferences, etc. “We need more research from the field.” It is important to know that going to remote unreached people groups for research is going to require walking. We have done all we can do with global data. Now it’s time to get down onto the ground.

Proposing that field researching missionaries is a need is nothing new, and yet we haven’t been able to get this going in many areas needing it. All the other principles on this site about Christ’s missiology apply to these 400 pairs of researching missionaries. They go and don’t come back (life term). They go with what they have in their hands. And they go with the expectation that they will pay the price with their lives.

Not too long ago, a very large mission organization required all of its field missionaries to either move into unreached groups or become field researchers in areas that needed it. For two years, the organization sent us those people who needed training in field research. We developed a manual to train them, much of which you will get in this section. During the course, we walked into totally unreached people groups near where we live as practical experience. After their training, these people were to pick an area, live there, and start to walk out into the communities, gather data and look for doors. I don’t know what happened to this vision in the big org, but the mission movement urgently needs it today. All agencies, (national or international) that are focused on totally unreached groups should create this role.

A missionary does research directly within the totally unreached people group

Most of the people groupings that need field research are remote geographically and in areas with little infrastructure. There are not many roads and those that exist are not very good. Eventually, you are going to have to get out of the vehicle or off the camel or mule and walk, just like the disciples of Christ did.

Being the feet of God will literally mean using your feet. In order to find your men and women of peace you will have to walk to them. They are the contacts you need to find. This takes years. They are the people God is already working in before the field missionaries arrive. Few times have I experienced that the men of peace came to me. Go into all the people groups’ villages and find them.

There are three ingredients to fulfill the Great Commission, 1. the missionary candidate, 2. the information on the people group, and 3. the contact in that group that is the point of discipleship. It’s obvious that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit play their parts. They are extremely interested in this endeavor and are behind it all. But, they commended us with the job of walking. You the missionary, need to know roughly where you are going, and a little about what to do once you get there.

That contact is the key to finishing the great commission and they cannot be found on Internet people group sites or in the big cities. If you find a contact in a big city they will mostly be distracted with all that the big city has to offer. They might come to discipleship but you will most likely be sowing seed on rocky ground. See the article later in this section on Reaching Diaspora – Important Considerations. It speaks about why going to big cities will not complete the great commission.

Basic roles of the field-researching missionary

  1. Get to know the area and develop a rough draft of all the ethnic peoples there
  2. Start to walk out into those villages identifying the men and women of peace
  3. Get to know what can help the new missionaries acclimate more rapidly to the area
  4. Develop some protocols that will help new missionaries remain in the area
  5. Help the incoming missionaries go in the right direction

These things can be done by national or international missionaries. It is just missionary work that needs to be done. Historically it has taken both efforts. If I meet a young person from Mexico that wants to go to Yemen, I say “Go for it” and “Start now getting your plan together now.” They alone need to know from God what to do with their lives.

Putting Together Your People Group List

You need a fairly solid list of ten or more people groups located near one another. You need to know what language is spoken in the region of your people groups. You need to know where the major cities are so that you can get acculturated in one of them before venturing out into remote people groups.

You should compare your people groups with all the known Christian data sources of information. Compile all the information you can from all the sources you can on each of your people groups. If you encounter any Christians in one of the data sources, put that group lower in prioroty and add another one. The reason I am suggesting this is because in some cases the information isn’t accurate. Try to put groups in your list that no source has evangelical Christians.

If you find scriptures, portions, Bible, Old Testament, or New Testament in progress in any of your people groups, this is a flag that missionaries and or Christians are in the group but no one has identified them yet. Put them in lower priority in your list and add another with no Bible scriptures at all. You should go to the mission field with a solid list of totally unreached people groups. It will be the best you can do from afar. Remember to pick people groups under 25,000 in population in order to lessen the possibility of finding other Christians or missionaries there.

You will have to figure out a way to keep your list secret. You could encrypt your people group list. You do not want to get caught with your people group list understandable by your captors. Hide your documents the best that you can. We have very detailed courses on these things we give in person. If you want this training contact me.

Find out what the regional language is

Do a little research on the region as well. Find out what language is spoken in the region that your people grouping lives in. You might be surprised to find that it is not the national language. If there is any way for you can learn some of the regional language while still in your country of origin, do so. The most important thing is to get your language learning training. You will most likely not be ablt to learn the regional language outside that region. You might find a school or someone in a larger city to teach you. You will need enough of it to get around while getting acclimated. This process could take a few years.

There are different methods to learn another language quickly. Here are a few books:

  • Language Acquisition Made Practical: Field Methods for Language Learners ISBN-13: 978-0916636005
  • Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It, ISBN-13: 978-0385348119
  • Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in theWorld, ISBN-13: 978-0062282699
  • Language Teaching, a Scientific Approach, ISBN-13: 978-0070357402. This last book is entitled “Language Teaching” but has important concepts.

If you are convinced that you want to be a field-researching missionary, and you have no problem staying on the field life-term, it might not be a bad idea to get some of the field missionary courses under your belt so that you can give training to incoming missionaries. The more years you have in the field, your courses will become more pratical.

Do not go overboard on getting educated. You only need about a year’s worth of training. Many candidates have fallen into a need never-ending education trap. No more than eighteen months will be all the training you need. Almost all missionaries I know, including the ones with PhD’s have said that it was of little use to them you will be going to. Unfortunately, the courses are expensive and you will most likely be recruited by a mission agency during the process. They will most likely not be in agreement with your plan so I would not mention it. Don’t tell them where you are going. Better yet, don’t tell anyone, be vague about where you are going.

Below is a list of courses that will help if you want to be a field missionary. Remember that if there is no existing field researching missionary, you will be doing that part too. You will be opening up doors for other missionaries.

Get training (about a year and a half) and then go to your people group. Below are some training courses that will help accellerate your work in a remote unreached people group. They are called many different things, but what I list here are the concepts you need to understand. You could possibly get these without attending a training center. That would be ideal because of what I mentioned above. A training center will indoctrinate you with invented missiology and this is not good for your people group. These are the courses you need:

  1. Several years of reading your Gospels, as many as possible
  2. New Testament Background and Hermeneutics
  3. Learning a second language and culture
  4. Figuring out the sound system – phonetics
  5. Developing an alphabet
  6. Basic translation techniques
  7. Getting scripture into audio

My wife and I have a Bible translator training center, we both are trained and have worked in this area. You can probably train yourself and learn far better than you could in a training center.

Go two by two

You are going to need someone to help you develop the plan for mission work among your people grouping. Start seeking God for that person to accompany you. You might find this person in the country you are going to among the believers there. That is a good option. I had to do this myself. I rarely traveled alone, only when it was absolutely necessary. There are some examples of this in the New Testament but Jesus teaches to go with one other person.

If you are still training in your country of origin, get into good shape. Eat right, sleep well, slow down the velocity of your busy life, and read your Gospels. Remove all your social networks and any photos with your face and remove the tags of those photos from others’ social networks.

Field research is the dirty work in the mission movement

When I first started to do exploratory research trips, I had little experience. I had to learn many things the hard way. God was merciful and gave me grace and favor with the people. He also had to work his angles overtime to protect me from my ignorance. Learn from your mistakes, pay attention to your surroundings, and watch your back.

Eventually, the adventure of it all wears off and it becomes work. It is hard work and becomes normal after a short time. Even when you are a field missionary, people are really not very interested in your work and you are left alone with the vision God gave you. Field research is even less appreciated and misunderstood. I have never told most people in my country of origin what I do. In the end, God knows how important this role is and he is there to encourage and comfort you. There will be times you doubt and wonder what in the world are you doing out in the middle of nowhere. The people who will one day come to Christ will be very grateful that you did your job and opened up the way for the Gospel for them!

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NIV)

Continue reading Reaching Diaspora – Important Considerations – part 3