A team of seven, including me, have just returned from a 13-day journey to South Africa. It is summer in that part of the...

A team of seven, including me, have just returned from a 13-day journey to South Africa. It is summer in that part of the Southern Hemisphere. Warm days, thunderstorms and occasional cool breezes offered us a break from our winter. I call the place where we worked the “land of many boulders.”

On the distant horizons are towering mountains like the Rockies. Our task, as always, was to share the gospel wherever we were given the opportunity. This was my eleventh journey to Africa. These words will only scratch the surface of what we witnessed God do.

For me and the church that I pastor, this journey began in 2009 through a conversation with a missionary while we were standing by a tree in Botswana. He shared with me three different unreached, unengaged people groups. Our church went on a two-year prayer journey where the Lord led us to the Pedi people of South Africa. The task has been bigger than us, but God continues to lead us.

On this journey, I had four accompanying me who had gone with me in September 2017 and two who had never been there before. Our assignment was to share the gospel, disciple as many as possible and help plant churches along the way. Our prayer was that we would encourage and equip the Pedi believers to do the work without any dependence on us. Our team knew that to accomplish this, we needed to slip into the background of conversation as quickly as possible.

Just to get to the village was a journey. On Jan. 21, we left our church parking lot for Dulles International Airport. That evening, we departed on a 17-hour flight to Johannesburg, where the clock jumped ahead seven hours.

On Jan. 23, we departed for the village, arriving there at 4:30 p.m. Our in-country travel consisted of a 10-passenger van that one of our team members drove. Driving on the right side of the vehicle on the left side of the road while shifting with the left hand takes some getting used to.

Once we arrived in the village, we hit the ground running. The men immediately set off with our national partner to go to the church with which we would be serving for the week. Once there, a worship service took place. A couple hours later, we returned to the village.
Several years back, we began to stay in the villages among the people. This allowed our gospel work to gain greater momentum and solid relationships to be formed.

Our gospel-sharing opportunities were many. We were invited to three schools. At each one, the entire student body was assembled, and we were able to share God’s story. We went to a clinic that was full of people. We shared the gospel and prayed with every person there. We attended a funeral, which is a cultural and community event. I was given the opportunity to share the gospel there. We went to a creche, their word for a daycare. We were twice given the opportunity to share with 70 little ones. We were invited to visit with one royal family and shared the gospel with them. We also went house to house, getting to share at every home we visited. They would stop what they were doing, bring chairs and listen to whatever we had to say.

I considered the journey a huge success. As one of my new team members said, “We did everything that you said that we would do.”

We did not seek to Americanize the churches that we worked with, but just left a reproducible form of evangelism, discipleship and church planting.

I know that true evangelism will only occur when Pedi are reaching Pedi. We poured it all out, and pray that God will allow the seeds that were planted to grow.

What a humbling privilege it was!