Mission Fields to Mission Forces

Matthew Ellison and Ted Esler chat with Gideon and Sarah, African American missionaries to North Africa, about how many missions fields in Africa are becoming missions forces.

Join Ted and Matthew as they discuss “Mission Fields to Mission Forces” with guests Gideon and Sarah.

Transcript
(unedited)
welcome to
the mission matters the mission matters
is a partnership
of mission nexus and 1615 missions
coaching
who have a shared passion to mobilize
god’s people to be a part of his mission
the mission matters is hosted by matthew
ellison of 1615 missions coaching
and ted essler president of mission
nexus
make sure you like share and subscribe
so you don’t miss an episode
on the mission matters matthew and ted
chat with missionaries gideon and sarah
about transitioning mission fields to
mission forces
welcome once again to the mission
matters podcast i’m matthew ellison
and i’m always blessed to be joined by
my good friend ted essler ted
how you doing today i’m doing well
matthew good to see you again
likewise friend i can’t wait till we can
get some face time together i
really miss the fellowship but we’ll
take this for now well we’re going to be
doing that right
it’s uh november in atlanta right
november um
in colorado springs a mobilized church
workshop let’s pray that it comes
together
you know just just quickly matthew i
just spoke with someone
who was at the accord ceo gathering so
accord is a network like mission nexus
relief and development organizations
right they had a face-to-face meeting
with 50 to 60 people
and they said it was the most fantastic
experience ever
so things will start coming back well i
was already up there doing some prep
work with the hosting church and some of
the churches in the area
yeah and i tell you i think there’s an
appetite for people to gather i’m
praying that it happens yeah i hope i
see you there
hey listen today i want to start off
with uh a question what is on the top
of your reading pile and i’ll let you
know what i’m reading
i’m reading the romantic rationalists
god life and imagination in the work of
c.s lewis
it’s the fascinating read it’s about how
he was this
rigorous academic and yet he had
this playful imagination
and you can have both of the living read
how about you
well i got a couple of things going
every every couple years i read through
the
uh talking trilogy so i’m
on the second book the two towers right
now
and then i’m reading for work one that’s
called the three box solution
which is a kind of strategic planning
book and then
um i always like to have a biography
going and this is a cheating biography
because it’s actually a novel
okay that’s set up and that’s a day in
the life of ivan ivanissa beach
uh my soul’s in etson that sounds like
some light reading right there
well it’s some it’s heavy stuff but it’s
uh
it’s still a great great it’s so well
written and it’s translated so i know
it’s not how he actually wrote it but
incredible stuff great yeah
so how do we pose the same question to
our guests
yeah let’s do it so on the call call
today we have uh
gideon and sarah and i’m not going to
ask you to introduce yourself or we’re
not going to tell anybody much
yet because we’re going to do that in a
minute but uh are you guys in the middle
of any
uh reading right now yes we are um
well first off thank you for having us
it’s an honor to be here
my name is gideon and i’m sarah um i’m
currently
reading the ever loving truth by voting
backhand um
it’s a book all about can christianity
last
in a postmodern country or postmodern
society
so being in america where it’s leaning
towards post-modernism um and cody
bockham is a pastor who i
highly respect and does a lot on
apologetics it’s been a great read so
far
i should read that book next
all right i’m sorry go ahead no you go
ahead sarah what we’re going to say
i was just going to say i just finished
reading the book um
what’s it called jesus from the east
from the middle east um by ravi
zacharias
it’s a wonderful book that just really
helps you shape it helps you understand
the how to share and communicate the
gospel in that eastern perspective
it’s incredible and it was robbie’s last
book before he passed away right
yes i just got turned down to bodhibaki
just about a month ago oh really yeah
yeah
and uh impressive impressive ministry
there
tell him i say hi i don’t i don’t mean i
met him i just
i found out about him okay
but we may reach out to him and have him
speak at something or who knows what
because uh he’s definitely he’s awesome
so so um gideon
and sarah you’re stateside now but just
for
a while and um tell us a little bit
about your ministry yes um
i’ll go first um so i graduated from
auburn university in 2014
and shortly after that i moved to
nairobi kenya to work
as a mission mobilizer with cmm
cmm is the center for mission
mobilization and
worked there five years engaging the
east african church the african church
in hopes to see that they would go
from a mission field to a mission force
and that’s actually where i met my wife
sarah
and we got married in 2018 and god
placed on both of our hearts
a desire to not just talk about mission
mobile
mobilization but to demonstrate it so
earlier this year we moved to the middle
east as frontier
mission missionaries working in the
middle east
in hopes to see that region um
come to know christ and a deeper
understanding of jesus christ
well let’s uh let’s start with that
first five years if you don’t mind me
jumping
back in with the question right away
matthew yeah go for it
a little off script i realize but um
you know we talk a lot about the
potential of african sending
um what are your you worked there doing
it for quite a while
what is the potential of african sending
it’s tremendous um kenya by
definition is the largest
or the uh most christian country in the
world by percentage
47 to 49 of the kenyan population
claims to be followers of christ and so
there are
many people there who love jesus many
east africans who love
jesus yet for most east african
believers
the concept of missions is still seen as
a western thing
or an american thing or european thing
um not a
a global church thing um but
while working there as we saw kenyans
africans um gain an understanding of the
great commission
and god’s heart for the nations we saw
them fired up
reaching out to their neighbors reaching
out to international students
some who even moved overseas to be
full-time workers you want to say more
about that
yeah i would love to um the only thing
being kenyan i would honestly say the
harvest is special
and the hearts of people is right um
being able to challenge being able to
share the gospel
and show how the bible is this
beautiful one story book um and how
you get to see god’s heart and his
redemptive heart for the nations and
being able to teach
and mobilize kenyans and show them that
in scripture and challenging them to
live out
missionally and globally it really
creates
this fire that just runs and passes on
to the next person
um so the hearts of kenyans is right
yeah and i would um also like to say
this um
i might get this wrong a little bit but
we learned about how the
first great um mission wave was to the
coastlands
the second great missional era or wave
was to the inlands
in the third great missional wave or
error was
to all peoples and people groups i do
believe mobilization
mobilizing the african church latin
american church
asian church mobilizing the global
church is
the fourth wave of um mission
eras and we are currently in that one i
do believe
once um we see the african church the
latin american church
asian church the global church engaged
in the great commission um it’ll be
powerful like we’ve never seen before
but until then um i i would say that
african believers east african believers
has always seen missions
as a western thing
so gideon and sarah i wonder if we could
dig into your personal story a little
bit we’ll circle back to some of that
conversation as well but i think it’d be
really helpful
for our viewers and listeners to learn a
little bit about you guys
so maybe you could share what your
personal life was like
uh that first year on the field together
in the middle east maybe some surprises
new experiences um some challenges
things like that
okay your first one yes i’ll go first um
so our first couple months there it’s
it was unconventional um we got there at
the beginning of this year
and so we hit this path where the first
couple months
was going awesome we were growing with
our team
we got involved in individual hobbies
for myself for
ultimate frisbee and for sarah teaching
at a sudanese
refugee camp or refugee school
and we got involved with the church we
were learning language
learn how to get around by ourselves but
then around
march april corona hit covet hit
and everything shut down and so our
learning curve
completely stopped the church we were
attending
started meeting online which made it
more difficult for us to meet people
public transportation was not advised
the schools
we were involved in started meeting
virtually
ultimate frisbee got cancelled and so
everything changed
everything changed it went from learning
the culture
meeting the people walking around the
streets to
spending most of our time indoors
learning online
so that was very difficult but there are
also a lot of
pros during our time there do you want
to talk about some of the
highlights absolutely um one of the
biggest highlights for us
was with the community around us the
local community they are very
very hospitable so being able to meet
local
believers and then being able to teach
us the food the language the culture
that went pretty smooth um they’re as i
said they’re very hospitable
they reflect christ in that way and we
were fortunate enough to have an arabic
teacher who was also a friend
um so we were able to just have really
difficult conversations ask really
difficult questions
and she would also pretty much do the
same
with us so the best part honestly has
been
the smooth the smooth um conversations
and interactions that we’ve had with the
local believers
in the middle east yeah what was the lot
down there was it pretty strict
for the first couple weeks it was um
governmental
businesses were closed school was closed
um curfew was installed but there’s a
big difference between life in the
middle east
and in america for life in the middle
east
for most of the people they don’t have
the luxury of socially distancing
for and being quarantined for months
for a majority of the population they
have to go to work
um they have to work to get the income
to get the food
and feed the families and so even in the
midst of the lockdown
people had to go on public
transportation to get to their job
people had to go and be with their
family members
or other members of the community who
were struggling at this point
so it was really interesting to see that
perspective
and the fact that where we lived it was
more of a community
mindset whereas here in america it’s
more of an individualistic mindset
and so they were willing to risk their
own personal safety and health
to care for their family and their
community
where yeah it’s different here
are you just curious again on how the
coveted reaction there was
is the church there is it meeting again
or is it not meeting at all at this
point
when we left they’re still meeting
online um and i believe it’s still that
way
right now go that way
so gideon sarah i wonder if we could
backtrack even a little bit more
i’d be curious to know and i imagine our
listeners would as well
what were some of the obstacles that you
two had to cut overcome to actually get
on the mission field
yeah um those yeah those are some big
obstacles
um so with us
one of the reasons why we decided to
join the organization we’re with
um i’m not going to say the name just
for security concerns
and decided to go to the place that we
decided to go to
is because we got placed it on our
hearts a desire
to not just go ourselves but to go with
a team of kenyans
and so walking into this journey we had
a group of
five six friends and together we would
come
together to plan how can we get there
together
um kenya like we said earlier
is a mission force waiting to be
unleashed
unfortunately right now one of the
biggest hurdles and obstacles
are structures there’s not many
structures and agencies to send out
kenyans
outside of kenya outside of east africa
and so then
we had to go through a year two years of
searching
praying for organizations that’s willing
to take on
an international team american kenyans
and send us to the middle east
that has structures in place to care for
all of us
long story short we were able to find an
organization that have those structures
in place
but not fully developed and so
that was one of the hardest things that
we had to do as we
ventured to go to the field is deciding
charlene or sarah and i will go first um
sarah and i will go first and hopefully
set up a foundation so that other
kenyans who would like to follow us they
would have a place
to land um we will be able to be that
bridge between
the middle east north africa and
sub-saharan africa
so one of the hardest one of the most
difficult challenges was
finding an organization that’s able to
send
east africans or some other obstacles
yeah i would add one more thing actually
two
things
like especially amongst the youth um
the kenyan dream is go to school get
good grades get a good job
um care for your family pretty much just
give what you got in return almost
um and raise your keys the same way and
the cycle continues
so the one of the hardest i say family
because
when you pursue uh
missions when you want to go out to the
unreached it means
not following and abiding to those
things it means
raising support it means moving away
from your family
it means not necessarily being able to
fully financially support your cousins
or your brothers or your siblings or
your parents
um so there was always it’s always uh
difficult it was always a difficult
decision for so many not just me
but so many other young people who said
yes to jesus
and had to walk in obedience in that way
but also realize that
as much as we love our families we love
jesus
more and more we still honor our family
but it just looks
different and that’s hard to come to
terms with
the other thing is support raising
support raising in kenya is still
foreign
so having monthly supporters for the
kenyan
youth or kenyan missionaries is
always a hurdle um but it’s also one of
those things where god
really meets you where you’re at and he
continuously provides in your in
such miraculous ways it may not
necessarily be a monthly thing always
that you would find and hear stories of
incredible ways and how the lord has
supported missionaries in kenya
by one-time gifts by people who know
people who give to
but who give to the missionary and
things like that
um yeah that’s what i so ted if i can
hop in real quick here
i think there’s obviously unique
challenges to mobilizing
africans and kenyans but i was struck by
the fact that you said the kenyan dream
is one of those obstacles
and one of the biggest obstacles in an
american context is of course the
american dream
and i’ve heard from many people that one
of the biggest barriers of
getting to the field is christian family
members
who have this ideal for their son or
daughter and now their son or daughter
wants to do something that
is very counterintuitive um counter
you know cultural in a lot of ways so i
just think that’s interesting
yeah it’d be a similar dynamic but i
have a feeling that the hurdles are
probably a little more there huh
absolutely
yeah um so
if if we were to encourage people to
pray for you which we’re about to do
uh what would be some big prayer
requests that you guys have for your
let’s start first with what you’d be
praying for for kent for kenya as well
as then maybe more personally
okay um
we can please pray for we know of so
many young people who have the desire to
go
but don’t have the eight of the funds or
the structure stupid sense
um so we’re really praying that the lord
will open up doors
to create opportunities for more kenyans
to go to fulfill the desires of their
hearts as it aligns with israel
um so definitely please be praying for
that
they’ve been actually working to create
doors and ways
that we could have more kenyans land
where we are at
uh but definitely there’s a lot that
goes into it i’m sure you all know
um but just pray that the lord would
open up the door
yeah and with that also kenya um
uh um well one of the
gateways to the mission field through
kenya is through the church
and the head pastor and so also be
playing praying for the churches and the
pastors that their pastors too
would have a desire for missions
and to send out members of the church to
the mission field if if kenyan pastors
their hearts changed towards missions it
can have a huge effect
all throughout the country east africa
and africa in general
please pray for our language learning
skills
um we uh have to learn arabic
and it’s been difficult it’s a difficult
language for us
to learn um and so please pray for that
as well as god will continue to open up
doors for us to build
relationships and connections
relationships with believers and
relationships with
non-believers we’re still learning the
region
still learning the city still learning
the language
it’s a learning process and so but
through this learning process
we know that god is opening up doors for
ministry
and so please please pray that god will
continue to lead us
as we’re learning so gideon i want to
ask one final question before we wrap up
today
and it’s a conversation that you i and i
had previously and that
is just what’s it going to take to
mobilize young
african-american christians to the
mission field
i i would think that you’re quite an
anomaly is that right
that’s what i hear and and what i see
and so the story is inspiring
i know that’s your heart it is
mobilizing the whole church you know
multi-ethnic church to engage the world
but specifically any words of
encouragement of what you think
it’s going to take to mobilize more
young
african-americans to the unreached yeah
um
it’s funny you say this and um i was
thinking about this this morning
and i share this with kenyans a lot as
we do
mobilization in kenya it’s paul’s
passage from romans 15.
um paul says here i’m just going to open
it up
um and read it from romans 15. paul says
bring us the word brother bring us the
word yeah he says in romans 15
verse 18 for our venture to speak for
adventure
for i will not venture to speak of
anything except what christ has
accomplished through me to bring the
gentiles to obedience by word indeed
by the power of signs and wonders by the
powers of the spirit of god so that
from jerusalem and all the way to
illicream i fulfilled the ministry
of the gospel of christ and thus i make
it my ambition to preach the gospel
not where christ has already been named
at least i build on someone else’s
foundation
but as it is written and then he goes on
and he quotes isaiah 52 verse 15 says
those who have never been told of him
will see and those who have never heard
will understand
i think this story is unique because
when people think about
missions people think i’m not called by
god to go
um because i haven’t had that special
revelation
that god opening up the heavens and say
go to africa or go to the middle east
i haven’t received that therefore i’m
not called the interesting thing about
this story
is that paul did have that experience on
the road to damascus
on the road to damascus on the
resurrected jesus
appeared to him and he told him he will
be
a minister to the gentiles but when paul
talks about his ambitions to take the
gospel to those who have
not yet heard he doesn’t reference back
to the road
on damascus that that experience he
references back to the word of god it
was god’s revealed word
in his heart that compelled him to take
this gospel to those who have not yet
heard and i think for
us as african-american churches and just
all churches as we read the bible and
grow
deeper in god’s word we see that god is
a mission of god
and god’s desire is for his name and his
kingdom to be glorified to the ends
of the earth and so for african
americans
one of the things we struggle with is
the situations in our community
in our backyard and not downplaying
those situations there are
serious concerns um but also
god is moving in our community in our
backyards
and god is also inviting us to be a part
of what he’s doing around the world
for a majority of people they see
missions as an either or
situation either we work in our
community or we turn our backs and go to
the missions
but god is inviting us to both end as we
take the gospel to the nations
that blesses our communities back at
home
um and so i feel like and understanding
a motivation from god’s word is the most
powerful
um motivator to getting people involved
and then also a introduction and an
invitation to what god’s doing overseas
is one of the most effective practical
ways to get involved
short-term mission trips um mission
um not seminars but what’s the word i’m
looking for
conferences mission conferences
introducing
missionaries putting it in the front of
people’s mind
um is very helpful last thing i’ll say
about that is also representation
um a lot of like kenyans a lot of
african americans don’t see
missions as a personal application to
pick up and to own because we don’t see
that many
african-american missionaries um it’s
foreign
in our communities it’s um yeah
unless we’re shown african-american
missionaries who are actually doing it
like hey he looks like me she looks like
me
and then i can do this as well um it
remains to be four gideon that’s
powerful
a friend of mine says that scripture
when properly taught
is the best mobilizer when we don’t
marginalize this master story but we
make it up front and center
i love what you said that’s a powerful
thing never really thought about that
that
when paul talks about his calling to the
gentiles he doesn’t reference his
encounter he goes right to the bible
yeah man that’s a great word i thank you
for that brother
that’s my husband
that’s great you guys are an inspiration
it’s been a blessing to have you today
so this is the part of the show ted
where we wrap it up and you let us know
about something you like
okay well i gotta start with something i
don’t like okay
what i don’t like is when we start a
podcast and my cat is sleeping
in the corner and then during the
podcast he tries to get all sorts of
affection by jumping up on the desk and
it distracts me that’s what i don’t
i thought that was your microphone it
was the cat’s tail oh my gosh
i kept pushing him off but he kept
coming back thinking i was
giving him a little bit of pet in there
it’ll be a memorable podcast
so something i really like matthew you
texted me
on friday we’re recording this on monday
over the weekend my wife and i watched a
movie
that we absolutely loved and if you’re a
lover of culture
you’re going to really like this film
it’s called
honeyland and it won a whole bunch of
sundance film festival awards but it
tells the story
of kind of a turkish muslim lady that’s
in she’s i think it’s actually the hills
of macedonia
and another family and she’s a beekeeper
and she takes care of her
aging mother and um a family moves in
and kind of changes her whole life and
it’s just a stunningly well executed
movie
with incredible videography what i
really loved about it is
sometimes we see these old women
in these foreign countries maybe they’re
wrapped up as
in muslim garb it’s really hard for us
to
understand and appreciate the things
they face in their lives because they’re
so different than us
and when you watch this movie you will
just be drawn into a relationship with
this
this main actress and she just does a
phenomenal job
uh so honeyland is the name by the way i
also have bees
and it’s about beekeeping and so that
part of it’s fun too so
that’s what i like matthew well that’s
great
again gideon and sarah thank you so much
for being with us today god bless you
guys
thank you for having us thanks
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