Veritas School of Mission
In September of 2015 I applied for and started attending Veritas’ brand new School of Mission, led by our Missions Coordinator Matt Hamilton. I knew that I wanted to be involved somehow in cross-cultural ministry, but was not convinced that I should go overseas. The 1-year program is designed to teach and train potential missionary candidates for overseas missions while providing experience here in Columbus through local outreach.
My parents never set an expectation of overseas missions being “above” any other ministry in the Great Commission, but they simply and humbly showed us missional living through their lives. The Lord put me through a process of learning about his Church and how to live out the gospel wherever a believer goes, culminating in my arrival in the School of Mission. Matt Hamilton revived my understanding of Matthew 28, Matthew 24, Revelation 5:9, Luke 10, and Romans 10. These passages taught me that Jesus commands us to make disciples of himself, teaching them His commands, that all people groups will be represented around the throne room, that only when the gospel is preached to the whole world will Jesus come back, that it is God’s desire that all believers play different roles in accomplishing the Great Commission, and that we should filter our relationships through the gospel and by identifying Persons of Peace.
Practically speaking, after weeks of classes on biblical foundations for missions, cross-cultural training, and gospel presentations, I joined the “Arabic-speaking peoples” team, comprised of one couple and two singles. One additional single joined us temporarily, but ended up going to Tunisia as a missionary. We made commitments to be going out weekly to engage the people that we were targeting with the gospel and to learn the language. We met regularly as a team to pray for the lost and for each other, and to practice new believer bible studies. We held each other accountable with our goals and expectations. The goal of the program is spreading the seed broadly, filtering our progress through identifying Persons of Peace (Luke 10), practicing sharing our stories and God’s good news, discipleship, and eventually planting a church among our specific affinity group; all this as a team of individuals who weren’t entirely sure what they were getting into… These were some bold commitments and I have failed in many of them; it has been difficult.
I started out going into mosques and engaging the men in discussions of faith after their time of prayer. Mosques are a very appropriate and easy place to talk about religion and God, but I quickly learned that the people that go regularly to mosques are some of the least receptive to the gospel. For one of Veritas’ evangelism pushes, though, I did have the opportunity to lead a small team of individuals from various churches in the area to share the gospel in a preselected restaurant and a mosque. While leading this team, the Lord provided openness from the Imam (muslim priest) and Imam-in-training to speak with us for a long time after prayer. As usual, the Lord worked through my weakness and the Spirit worked through my body to lead others to share the gospel, who had never done so cross-culturally. I praised God.
I needed to think of more natural rhythms in my life that would allow me to engage my target culture. Soccer turns out to be a universal language and bridge to many cultures and people, and I committed to playing soccer every Saturday at the OSU turf fields on campus. I was focused on finding arabic-speaking peoples even though most guys I played with were Somali. I never ended up seeing many arabs that I could meet; maybe 3 in total.
One man I did connect with: a Tunisian PhD student with both muslim and protestant church-going background; we’ll call him Safir. He spent 5 years in Paris, so his French was very good. My first language was French, so we connected over that along with soccer. Since meeting Safir, he has come to several birthday parties within our community group, friends and I have been able to share our faith, and he continues to ask questions and be interested in the topic of Christianity and God. My greatest desire is to see him read the message of the gospel from the Bible and to walk alongside him in accepting Christ through true repentance.
This is God’s grace. It is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of God being good to us despite circumstances; it is what comes to mind when we think of God involving us in His plans and Glory.