WEST AFRICA – an IMB story.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19,20 KJV)
What does it mean to go?
We all understand that “go” means to move from the place where you are to another place. Within the context of the Great Commission, Christians understand it to mean to leave the comforts of home and travel to the far ends of the globe to reach the unreached.
This understanding is enhanced by Jesus’ prophetic words in Acts 1:8, where He says that we “shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
If we are not careful, “going” can be mistaken as the purpose of the Commission. And, if we are consumed with the “going,” we may fail to see through the eyes of faith those near to us who need Jesus as desperately as those at the uttermost part of the earth.
What about those on the go?
Stand still for a moment. Watch, and you will see people constantly on the go – moving from one place to another as they carry on with their daily routines. Observe a busy highway with vehicles hurrying along to some destination unknown to us.
How do we convey the Gospel message to people like truck drivers who spend their lives on the go?
Go to where they are
About 10 years ago, an International Missions Board worker in Africa began to wonder how to reach freight haulers whose massive trucks traversed the terrain.
The missionary began to realize that Africa was the place she had gone to, but it is the people she was called to reach. She became concerned about how to reach those many truck drivers.
She discovered that the drivers pull into ports to pick up the freight they will forward far inland. She also discovered that the drivers have to sit around for hours while their trucks are being loaded. Many have to wait an entire day. Some wait for weeks.
She realized that “go” means to move into their presence – wherever they are.
Going with a story to tell
The missionary team determined that the best way to approach these men who were either resting or restless during their downtime was to send a local believer to go to where two or three were together and ask if they would like to hear a story. They were able to do this by using another International Missions Board resource, Story Together.
With most African cultures based on oral tradition, i.e., story-telling, the crafted Bible stories were natural. An IMB representative said that, as far as they can recall, no driver has ever refused to hear a story.
And so, the story goes
The results of a decade of going to the African truck drivers to tell them Bible stories has had a remarkable impact.
A network of African believers has been established so that drivers can make contact with local Christians living along their freight roads. The locals are available to continue to share stories with the curious as well as to disciple and encourage drivers who have come to Christ.
Perhaps the most amazing outcome is those truck drivers who came to Jesus through a story are now carrying the good news wherever they “go.”
These drivers may never congregate as a local church, but they are part of the church that Jesus is building. And they are going into all the West African nations telling His story.
May these drivers remind us to “tell of His blessings, tell of His love, tell of His coming from heaven above; The Lord is good … tell it wherever you go.”