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We returned recently from Myanmar where we taught two seminary courses. The classes went well, and we really enjoyed our students. Our students all came from the Karen (kuh-REN) people who are an oppressed minority but who have responded well to the Gospel. By some estimates, out of 5 million Karen, over 35% are now Christian. On the other hand, the largest people group in the nation, the Bamar, are only .07% Christian out of their 30 million population.

While there we noticed some tendencies between the Karen people and other Christians who grow up surrounded by Christianity most of their lives. Five tendencies (there are more) stood out to us that we think God wants each of us to challenge and change if we ever find ourselves leaning that direction.

 
1. Tendency to not consider the spiritual state of others.
2. Tendency to share the Good News simply with one another.
3. Tendency to walk past non-believers.
4. Tendency to theorize rather than act.
5. Tendency to live without urgency.

1. Tendency to not consider the spiritual state of others.
I (Leslie) taught a course entitled God’s Global Heart…and Your Place In It. It’s a course we wrote for American Christians and then adapted to the Myanmar audience. What struck me were the similarities between the students I taught in Myanmar and those I had previously taught in the U.S.

In both classes, the Karen people and the Americans had great hearts. They loved Jesus. They wanted to grow in their relationship with Christ. In my Myanmar class, many students learned for the first time that over 95% of their country was lost. One student said, “When I heard that so many in my country did not know Jesus, it surprised me.” Many of the students grew up in Christian homes in a rural setting and then came to the seminary. They had never really interacted with the lost outside the “Christian bubble.” Because they mostly knew Christians, they assumed that most of their nation also believed and followed Jesus.

Are we living in a Christian bubble, or do we view people with the stark worldview of either “Saved or Lost”? If saved, do we help them walk closer to Jesus and if lost, do we share the Good News with them?

2. Tendency to share the Good News simply with one another.
One of the assignments I gave my class was to share the Gospel with a non-believer. When I asked my students how it went, several said that the sharing was good. I asked for their stories. They proceeded to tell me how they talked about Jesus at church on Sunday (that is, to Christians attending the worship service). I re-stated my question differently, and most all of the hands went down. Almost no one had shared the Good News with a non-believer.

When we share truth about God to believers, that disciples hearts and that’s good. But that’s not the same as sharing the Good News with an unbeliever. Indeed it is “Good” and it is “News” for those who do not know Jesus. Rescued from darkness. Adopted into God’s family. Forgiven from sin. Set free from bondage. Absolutely nothing wrong with sharing God’s truth with one another, but by all means, don’t stop there! We have been rescued from darkness and now have the purposeful task of helping others find freedom as well!

Are we sharing  the Good News with non-believers on a consistent basis?

3. Tendency to walk past non-believers to our own activities.
While walking with our students to the taxi taking us to visit a blind school (another great story), a poor man approached us. He had noticed our Chinese daughter riding my (Chad’s) shoulders, and he placed some tiny quail eggs in her hands which delighted her. We began a conversation with the kind man and shared a story from the Bible with him. He thanked us and when we asked how we could pray for him, he said, “Today is my birthday.” We and our students had the amazing privilege to sing for this old man on the sidewalk and celebrate his birthday. It would have been so easy to pass him by. It would have been easier to pay for the eggs and then hop in the taxi because we had somewhere to go minister – a blind school! But God wants the lives of His people to be interrupted by the lost. He wants us to see them, and engage them in conversation.

Do we allow our schedule to be interrupted? Do we see people around us and seek to personally connect to them?

4. Tendency to theorize rather than act.
Our classes spent hours talking about theology, talking about mission strategy, and talking about global trends. But in our classes we did two things to move them out from theory into the needs of the world and into the realm of action. First, we started every day with a description of an unreached people group (UPG). Then, the class prayed for requests related to the UPG. We impacted eternity during class with specific intercessory prayer.

Secondly, we had them share the Good News with at least one non-believer. The class loved to hear the reports later. In my (Chad’s) class, one student shared, “I went to the woman who hems a lot of our clothes at seminary. I asked her if she had ever heard of God.” She said, “I’ve seen a lot of seminary students over the years, but no one has told me about the Christian God. I would love to learn.’” This student proceeded to tell the seamstress about Jesus for an hour. “It made me feel very happy to actually tell someone about Jesus.”

Do we simply attend Bible studies or are we intentional about speaking Jesus stories within our sphere of influence?

5. Tendency to live without urgency.
Over the years, we have been around a lot of “first-generation believers” in Asia. First-generation means they are the first believers in their families. None of the generations before them or their relatives knew Jesus. First generation believers often can be described as “hot” in their faith. One such first-generation follower of Christ told me as we walked by a Hindu temple, “Stop, Leslie, and look at that temple. I know darkness, Leslie. Oh, I know darkness. But now I know light and I want everyone to be brought out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.” She knew darkness first-hand, and she urgently wanted others to be rescued from it.

But many living in Christian surroundings by the third, fourth (or tenth) generation of faith often lack urgency in sharing their faith. In our comfort, perhaps we forget what lostness means. Or perhaps we forget that many have never experienced true joy or peace. We should take a clue from Jesus’ story of the “evangelist” calling out from hell. In Luke 15 the deceased rich man in torment begged for someone to go to his family. Those who know the reality communicate with urgency.

Do you live your life with the message of Christ burning brightly in your heart?

Personally, we struggle with all five of the issues above. We walk past a lot of people. We like talking with Christian friends. We don’t always live with “heart-on-fire” urgency.

But we desperately desire to share a heart like God’s – who wants all people to have an opportunity to hear about and experience His kingdom. So there are a few things we do each day asking God to help us engage with him in His purposes, despite our Christian heritage.

1. We pray daily for unreached people groups. See www.joshuaproject.net to get daily updates of how to pray for one unreached people group per day. Hey, set your daily watch alarm for 10:40am. What a great time to pray!
2. We pray for God to interrupt our days and spark good conversations with those around us. (One happened yesterday online, and another today in the Wal-Mart parking lot.)
3. Try daily to serve someone else (outside our family), give to someone else (outside our family), pray for someone else (outside our family), and/or share the Good News with someone else.

One of my Myanmar students told me that after Christmas he prayed, “Lord, make me more like you and give me your heart.” He said, “Then I got to school and saw this class called “God’s Global Heart”, it does really make me happy.”

May this be the prayer of all our hearts. When we share God’s heart, we will engage our world with bold love and gentle truth.

Join the Conversation:
So how do you motivate yourself: 1. To see others as God does and 2. To speak with them courageously about Jesus?

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