RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Want to make a difference in the world without leaving home? Try connecting with a people group.
Woodridge Baptist Church in Kingwood, Texas, adopted the Banta Themne people of Sierra Leone. Because of an ongoing war, church members were unable to go to their people group, but their prayers reached across the ocean. Five years ago, there were no known believers among the Banta Themne. Now, about 300 Banta Themne profess faith in Jesus Christ. Southern Baptist workers credit the movement to years of prayer “preparing the soil for harvest.”
Philip is a native of Sierra Leone who now is a home missionary there. When his church in Freetown adopted the Banta Themne in their country, the law school student felt called to go live among them to share the Gospel. His guide and master plan came straight from the Bible.
“I received word from different areas where we have new Christians: ‘Brother Philip, come, we are being persecuted. We are being tormented. Come, help us!’” Philip recounted in describing his ministry. “I went from point to point encouraging the believers…. It was not easy. Persecution went on and on. I prayed and fasted and knew God’s request — ‘Get into the mosques and preach the Gospel.’ I was afraid.
“The imams [Muslim leaders] welcomed me in the mosques. It wasn’t easy. We thank God for the zeal I had. One of the imam’s sons translated my Krio into their Themne language. He came over to our side. God used one of their children for His glory!
“One new Christian was the keeper of charms [fetishes] for his village. He brought them to the [Bible] meetings and confessed: ‘Pastor, I have accepted Jesus. Now to really show I’m giving myself, I’m giving up all things that connected me to the devil.’ We destroyed all the charms.
“One major need is the aspect of prayer. That is my spiritual request — even for my own self,” Philip said. “The harvest is plentiful. The land has been waiting for people to come and share the Gospel. There are men who are just out of the war and want to break the bonds of their cultural traditions from which they have been bound, but they don’t know how. Pray that God will raise up workers from within this harvest!”
What does it mean to adopt a people group?
— Focus your prayers, both personally and as a group, on a people group.
— Join or form a team to promote the needs of your people group among other churches and Christians.
— Join a missionary team on the field by going on vision trips, prayerwalks and other volunteer assignments to make a path for the Gospel.
Connecting with a people group is easy. Here are some tips:
1. Contact the International Mission Board’s church services team at 1-800-999-3113 or visit their website at http://imb.org/we/pplink.asp. They help churches increase missions awareness and involvement by adopting an unreached people group for prayer, understanding and engagement.
2. Find your church’s natural DNA: What are your church’s connections to the world? What nationalities make up your congregation or community?
3. Identify a champion: Who will keep your people group’s needs before your church?