The voice of missions in the suburban longhouse
written by BOE local missionary, Pastor Jason Siew
Evangelism is the responsibility of every Christian, because there is no so-called “gift of evangelism” among the various types of gifts listed in the Bible. Therefore, every Christian should seize the opportunity to share the gospel with others everywhere. Each church should also team up with individual Christians to create opportunities for evangelism, whether in cities or suburbs.
Several aspects of mission Let me share some aspects of missions in the local suburbs. In fact, there is not much difference between suburban and urban missions. The basic principles of the two are the same, but the practical application needs to be adapted to local conditions. First, we need to think about some of the problems faced by the church itself or missionaries who want to engage in missions in the suburban longhouse, including the established problems in the mission field:
- Unrecognized opportunity: Many Christians may not be aware of the urgent need of the gospel work in the suburbs, or even think that it is a secondary, less urgent need. In fact, the crops in these suburbs are mature and ready for harvest, but workers are scarce.
- Lack of enthusiasm: Some brothers and sisters may be good leaders, but they may not be burdened with missions in the suburban longhouse, so that the members do not have this vision and burden. God has given the church different gifts, and these gifts should complement each other in longhouse missions.
- Education in the suburbs: Residents of longhouses in the suburbs are less educated than those in the cities, so they need to be cultivated in a way that they can understand, especially in their mother tongue. Encourage them at the same time: God loves to choose non-intellectuals and humble people to participate in His work.
- Familiarity is an obstacle: In general, longhouse neighbors know each other better than people living in the city. The paradox is that the more familiar, the more embarrassed to share Jesus Christ with each other. However, they have the advantage of grasping the best time to share the gospel with their neighbors.
- Participation of lay believers: Christians in suburban longhouses need to be trained to be leaders of longhouse worship. Fortunately, longhouse worship services can continue when the pastors cannot come to preside. There should be a worship leader in every longhouse. Urbanization makes the long house “aging”
- Time challenge: Another challenge of longhouse missions is the time limit for contacting them. This is because they are mostly farmers and work in the fields during the day, leaving only night time. This makes us difficult to hold teaching such as bible study, other training sessions and gathering during the day.
- Past neglect: In fact, the longhouse people in the suburbs have existed for a long time, but our church has not been able to share gospel among them. They are a neglected group, and we can no longer ignore their salvation needs and our responsibilities.
- The challenge of distance: The suburban longhouses are generally far away from the city and scattered inland. Traffic and long distance naturally pose a certain degree of challenge. In addition to the long distance, the road conditions are mostly poor, usually only four-wheel drive vehicles can be used, and sometimes you have to walk for several hours to get there. Some suburbs can only use water, and the journey also takes several hours. In the dry season, you often have to go down into the river to pull a long boat. All these have doubled the difficulties and transportation costs of longhouse missions.
- Children’s Sunday School: Frankly speaking, the children’s Sunday school ministry in Longhouse is not easy and effective; this is because children usually in school hostels, so they can only be conducted during school holidays, and therefore it is difficult to have continuity. Coupled with the gap in age and understanding, it also causes problems in teaching.
- The impact of urbanization: Many longhouse residents “immigrate” to cities for work or study, leading to the “aging” and “empty nests” of suburban longhouses. Many longhouses have only elderly people and children left. Nowadays, even during school holidays, parents will take their children to the city to see the world, so that the longhouse is only popular and crowded during special festivals such as Harvest Festival and Christmas.
Bring peace to the longhouse through short-term mission.
Even so, these factors also contribute to the uniqueness of longhouse missions in the suburbs, and the methods of urban missions cannot be followed. We should treat these factors as challenge to prove the validity of the gospel.
Even though there are many difficulties, we must still be determined to bring peace to every longhouse in every short-term mission. We must preach about Christ, train young leaders, help the needy, care for the weak, and teach the next generation.
Let us remember that the Word of God is lively, effective, faster, more powerful than any two-edged sword. Let us follow the example of the apostle Paul, who said in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Let us look for God through prayer and ask Him to help us and lead us to overcome every difficulty appropriately.
Let us continue to move forward and feed the thirsty spiritual needs of the longhouse dwellers with God’s word, so as to achieve what Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.“
Longhouse residents in the suburbs need Jesus Christ! But if they don’t tell them the gospel of Jesus, how can they hear and know about Jesus Christ? “14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!?” (Romans 10:14-15)