Why Equip missionary training? Why New York City? When my wife and I first felt called to long-term missions, we wrestled with two main questions.
First, where is God calling us?
Second, how do we learn how to effectively share the gospel?
One of the biggest things I felt like God was telling us was this: “I am not looking for theologians. I am looking for broken people who understand they need Christ.” Neither of us felt compelled toward seminary. So we were good then, right? We just need to grab our Bibles and book our flights. Well, no.
Learning to share the gospel
Although we did not feel called to seminary, we felt we lacked a real understanding of how to share Christ with others effectively. Luckily, God pointed us toward the Equip missionary training program in New York City. It was not an easy decision to make. We had to sell a house, move across the country and uproot our three kids. But we knew that we would be exposed to a myriad of different cultures and, most importantly, learn how to engage those cultures. Here at Equip, we have learned a whole range of ways to communicate the gospel. Most importantly, we have learned what it means to speak to someone’s heart.
At Equip we have learned how to tell stories from the Bible in compelling ways that communicate God’s truth. We have also learned ways to simply and concisely communicate God’s love and plan through Christ’s death and resurrection. And what is most exciting; Equip missionary training gives us the opportunity to put these methods into practice. We get to dive into the messiness of real life with real people and bring them the saving truth of Christ.
Putting theory into practice
I got to live out this privilege just last week. Some Equip participants and I were eating at an African restaurant in Harlem. Halfway through the meal, several West Africans sat down beside us and started to share a communal meal. Soon we were all chatting and they began telling us about the home country they had left behind to come to New York City. Their love for home and family was obvious. And we were excited to learn from our new friends.
This interaction could have easily ended in nothing more than a new friendship. Luckily, Equip had prepared us to share Christ with our new friends. Soon our conversation led to faith and God. I was able to share Christ’s love with them through several Bible stories and my personal testimony. At the end of our conversation, one of my new friends eagerly accepted the gift of a Jesus film in his native African language. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet again, share a meal, and talk about spiritual matters. There is no greater privilege than being present for an appointment God has divinely set and prepared to allow the Holy Spirit to move.
To be free and prepared to be used by God for his glory, this is the essence of a life on mission. My wife and I still are not sure where God may be leading. But because he led us to Equip, we have been prepared for the journey ahead of us.