RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Unlike most journeymen, T.J. Alderman hops an international flight to reach his people group. He also moves a lot — four countries in a year. Despite the transition and travel, home “is anywhere I can plug my laptop in,” Alderman says.
His present home is on a beautiful tropical island. Here Alderman mobilizes Christians who share his vision for reaching China. His approach is even more effective because the Christians are Chinese themselves.
Alderman arrived in Asia about a year ago with Rapid Advance, an International Mission Board program using journeymen and International Service Corps personnel “as a strategy-coordinator farm team of sorts to rapidly engage unreached people groups,” he explains.
After training, Alderman moved into China to learn Mandarin Chinese at a university. His first trip to visit his people group — one of the poorest in China — revealed a huge task ahead.
“We were literally the very first foreigners they’d ever seen. I really hate that I’m their first picture of the American male,” Alderman says, laughing.
“Their isolation is hard to fathom,” he adds. “I took in a prayerwalking team last summer, and our driver said his father drove the first bus to this area just 15 years ago. The villagers all came out and wanted to know what the bus ate, thinking it was an animal.”
Soon Alderman realized that living in China limited his options for reaching his people group. The isolation breeds “paranoia and suspicion,” so much so that “we could literally hear the shutters slamming down the house rows when we came into town,” he says.
In strategizing how to reach his people group, Alderman knew he was accomplishing little through language study. His people don’t even speak Mandarin. He needed to mobilize ethnic Chinese who could gain footholds among the people.
For that, he needed to get out of China.
After mission leaders accepted his proposal, he moved to “his” island. It wasn’t because of the cool palm trees or sunsets ripping the sky with red and purple streaks.
Rather, it was because here he could network freely with Chinese Christians — many of them 20-something pastors and leaders — who carry the gospel of Jesus to a people who have never heard His name.
“It’s awesome to see what God is doing and be a part in it,” Alderman says. “Here I am in an incredible setting, meeting the guys God wants me to hook up with to reach a people who need Jesus. It’s better than I could have ever expected or dreamed.”