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在一些較封閉的地區，宣教工作無法按特定的模式推進，宣教士要尋找方法接觸當地人。數年前，北宣家有位姊妹前往一個穆民國家短宣，幫宣教士看守一個書攤，找機會與看書或買書的人打開話匣子。姊妹自言不善用英語與穆民搭話，宣教士對她說：「要祈禱，求神把人帶到你面前，或把你帶到人面前。」旅程快完結前，有一位多次來看書的青年再來書攤，姊妹邊與他閒談，邊心中禱告，最後談到耶穌十架的愛、受死並復活的盼望。隔天青年再來，她便把英文／阿拉伯文的新約全書和一隻 VCD 作禮物送出，年輕人高興地收下了。
Preach the Word by God's Grace in Good Times and Bad
Rev Arnold Chow
In recent years, the mission field of East Asia has seen increasing disruptions. Platforms for mission appear to be blocked. But just like Paul's team which was stopped by the Holy Spirit, there was a reason for this. They had another mission: The Lord wanted to send them to Macedonia.
A missionary in one of the Creative Access Nations (CAN) once took the train to visit a local believer. At the destination, he could not find the believer however hard he tried and so he could only take the train home. On the return trip, the missionary chatted with the passenger sitting next to him and they exchanged phone numbers. Thereafter, they remained in touch. One day, the missionary took the train to work in another area and remembered it was where the new friend lived. So, he gave him a call to see how he was doing. To his surprise, the new friend said he was in deep trouble. The missionary then shared the gospel with him and led him to Christ that day. The seeming unsuccessful train trip turned out to be the beginning of a new mission journey.
After Paul had the Macedonian vision, how was it confirmed that it was the instruction from God? The Scripture says: "…concluding that God had called us.…" (v.10).
Here, "we" refers to Paul's mission team. They discerned together before concluding. All along, the NPAC family has hammered out the way to allocate mission resources by corporate discernment. The "conclusion" is drawn based on facts. The disruption for Paul's team put them in the port of Troas. At that time, when people traveled from Asia to Macedonia in Europe, they must sail the Aegean Sea, and Troas was the big port for the trans-Aegean fleet. Based on this fact, Paul's mission team concluded that the vision was the Lord's instructions.
How did Paul lead people to Christ in the new horizons? In Philippi of Macedonia, Paul did not go to the Jewish synagogue to reason with the Jews as in the past. He was flexible and used an alternative method, which led to the conversion of Lydia's family.
In some more restricted territories, mission work cannot proceed in certain specific ways. Missionaries will have to find other means to reach out to the locals. A few years ago, a sister from NPAC went on a short mission trip to a Muslim country. Her main duty was to help a missionary look after a book kiosk. She would find opportunities to start conversations with visitors reading or buying books. The sister thought that she was not good at conversing with Muslims in English or the local language. But the missionary told her: "You need to pray and ask God to bring people to you, or you to the people." Towards the end of the trip, a young man who visited the kiosk frequently went there again. The sister chatted with him, praying while they talked. Finally, they talked about Jesus' love on the cross, the crucifixion, and the hope of resurrection. When the young man came back another day, she gave him an English/Arabic New Testament and a VCD, which the youth gladly accepted.
The post-pandemic world is no doubt a different place. But whether in good times or bad, the Lord will be leading us. All we need to do is to identify the vision and preach the word by God's grace.