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Not cliché when missionaries ask for ‘more workers’

Eleven people were baptized at a recent gathering of two churches in Madagascar. Discipling new believers and developing church leadership is a big need in this African island nation. IMB Photo

Ask David Lee and Zoey Kim about the one thing that can push their ministry in Madagascar to the next level. The International Mission Board missionary couple will answer in unison, “More workers.”

It might sound like a missionary cliché, but Zoey contends the harvest is real and the workers are few.

David Lee teaches the Bible in Ambalavola, Madagascar. The IMB missionary uses seminary classes and Bible studies to disciple and develop church leadership. IMB Photo

“Madagascar is an open country. This means you can proclaim Christ anywhere,” the veteran missionary explains. “We pray every day at 10:02 for more people to join us. We are desperately asking churches to send more people.”

The island nation off the coast of Africa can be a hard place to live, especially outside the capital, Antananarivo. Travel is difficult from village to village. Education levels are low. The nation has one of the highest poverty rates in the world at 75 percent.

David and Zoey have found most people are willing to hear the Gospel. In fact, government statistics list Madagascar as 50 percent Christian. The majority of those, however, are cultural Christians. The couple say only about 2 percent are considered evangelical and understand the Gospel message.

Due to the lack of education, many churches do not use a Bible. It’s hard to find someone who has read through the Bible. Many people will go to church their entire lives but do not know Jesus. So, the couple’s team works with local churches to bring evangelism training to all parts of the island. They do this in a wide variety of ways — teaching seminary classes, medical work, trauma counseling, Bible studies and university work.

“We need leadership training,” Zoey says, pointing out one way U.S. churches can help. Even though the IMB team and national partners go out to share the Gospel, there is no one equipped to disciple or lead a fellowship when teams leave the area.

The Lee family serve as IMB missionaries in Madagascar. IMB Photo

“We are focusing on young adults and university students and trying to cast a vision to study the Word of God,” she adds. “We want to teach them the calling of God, so they become a generation of leaders.”

Last year they hosted a young adult camp, inviting close to 350 university students and young adults. The majority had never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. By the end of the week, around 150 professed a faith in Jesus. Another camp is planned for this summer.

Students are encouraged to get involved in churches that teach the Bible. Many national partners help host the event and draw the young, new believers in for discipleship, but there aren’t enough.

This type of mentorship is an important step. Zoey remembers her home churches in South Korea, Canada and Texas teaching her how to do mission work and how important studying the Bible is. Now imagine, she continues, if you didn’t have that resource available. Without mentors discipling new believers or developing biblical leadership, how will the Word of God take root and spread?

“That’s why we need U.S. churches,” she says, thanking Southern Baptists for their support, generous giving and prayers. “Without you guys, it’s impossible to do all of this. Please think about going one step further and join us.”

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month in the U.S. During this season, the IMB is celebrating the rich contributions of Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the Revelation 7:9 vision. Please visit www.imb.org/asian-church-missions for more stories and resources to promote Asian church missions opportunities.