Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Reaching the Pagans"

This was posted by a missionary friend of mine. I felt it had a lot of truth and insight and decided to repost it here. The author is Daniel Foote. He is a missionary in Ukraine. He writes:

"A while ago I heard a sermon where the pastor said that the word pagan means "people who live in the country side" but I didn't think too much of it because pastors are always pulling up an obscure meaning of a word to help make a point. Kind of like when worship leaders say the greek word for worship means "to turn and kiss" which is only partly true - making it not true of for their example. Anyway. . . I heard another preacher say the same thing about pagan the other night so I looked it up and found out . . .wonder of wonders. . . that it does mean that! It comes from the Latin root "pagans" which means country or district and the noun formed is "pagans" meaning villager. Both of the points of the preachers that I heard use this example were talking about the example of early church planters of going to the cities to start churches. They say that the first churches in cities were so successful that people who lived in the cities identified themselves with being christian and identified people who didn't live in the city as not being christian and since they were pagan that name stuck as being the opposite of christian. It seems like today in America the situation is the opposite. Today most people who live in big cities are not christian and most people who live in smaller towns are. So these pastors were advocating going to big cities to start churches to influence cities for good instead of leaving the cities because they are evil. The reason is because in the long run the cities impact the towns and the country side and if Christians abandon the cities then they abandon impacting their country. I started thinking about how that can apply to Ukraine which really needs to be impacted by the gospel on all levels of life. The situation in Ukraine however seems to be the opposite of that of America. The bigger the city you live in the more likely that there are at least a couple of good churches to go to and the smaller the city the less likely that you will find a church that is alive and active - usually there is a baptist church and a pentecostal church and that's it besides the local orthodox church. The big cities have active churches, the small cities have churches just trying to survive. Most of the missionary work is being done in big cities and most small cities have only small churches and are largely forgotten by missions groups because they are low on the long term strategic scale. Which is true, in the long term if you plant a church in a big city and it grows and is active it will branch out and reach the smaller towns in 10-20 years if it can stay the course. I agree with those pastors who say that churches need to be started in cities that can then influence the smaller towns and villages but on the other hand there is already a need to start influencing the smaller towns and villages. There is a need to take the gospel to the villages now. If we wait for another generation to grow up and naturally influence the villages for Christ we are forgetting that there are many people who are dying in need of a savior, who are living in need of hope, and who will not be there in another generation. Yes, we need to impact this country for Christ - He is the only hope for the corruption that exists on every level of life, the only hope for healing for the pain that many have suffered. But in doing that we need to not only go to the big cities but to the small cities and the villages as well. If the people who do not know Christ live in the countryside then we should be going to them. Call them pagans, call them villagers, call them lost, call them what you will but I want to find a way to take the gospel to them so I can call them brothers and sisters."

You can read more from Daniel Foote at his blog. Just follow the link below.
Footes in Ukraine

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