Standing Firm against the Secular Tide: Part 4 of 5

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Meet Tyler S. This picture is not of him - I won’t be posting one, as he is heading into a life of service on a dangerous field, and having his identity associated with “missions” could easily result in his being denied a visa (or worse). Which means you shall just have to imagine him: a dynamic, 23-year-old guy with impressive skills, an enthusiasm for the outdoors, cooking, and working on any puzzle life throws at him, and an undying passion for bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard it.

An engineer by trade, Tyler is passionate about using his skills as an inroad to working among Muslims. By all rights he could be highly successful in the secular world that values fame, money, and the kind of zest for life that is so attractive to unbelievers yet so rare in our culture. But Tyler is aiming for a different kind of success: that which lasts. 

Q: How are you planning on using your skills in a missions context?

The vision that God has given me over the last few years is to use my professional skills as a platform to go places, and build relationships with locals in the kind of way that "traditional" missionaries can't for one reason or another. One factor missionaries face when going somewhere is applying for a visa. In many countries a missionary can't just go as a non-profit worker or as a religious minister; you must have or work for a profitable business. With an engineering practice I will be able to get into almost any country in the world. 

After spending time with some beloved friends who are actively serving on the mission field, my friend shared with me how envious (in a good way) he was that I was getting a professional degree. Initially I wondered why he would say that – being a seminary graduate and someone who was hired by a mission agency specifically to do ministry – why would he want a professional degree? 

He explained that working as a professional within a community of lost people is such a fantastic way to build relationships and show people Christ through the way I live. 

As a professional I will have the opportunity to show people Christ every day through the way I live and what I talk about. I don't want my ministry to stop at work, but hope to invite my coworkers' families into my home to share good meals and the great news of the work of Christ.  

Q: Have you always seen yourself in missions someday? 
The knowledge that God is calling me to missions goes back years ago to when I was fifteen. At the time I had no idea what that would mean or what it might look like in the future, but over time God has grown the feeling of being called to "go" into a deep ambition to take the Gospel to the unreached. For several years I believed that I didn't really have the character or the skill set of a missionary. I had read a lot of missionary biographies and in my foolishness I believed that I just didn't have what it took. What I thought was humility was really a lack of faith, and a lack of understanding that it is God who does the work and God who provides everything that’s needed. 

The only quality a missionary really needs is deep and abiding dependence on God.
Q: What is it like to be a purpose-driven Christian in the secular-culture-soaked atmosphere of engineering school?

I have had a few opportunities to speak about God’s faithfulness in my life. A simple concept that helped with that was not shying away from speaking with an unbeliever about God's faithfulness in the same way that I would with a Christian brother.

A unique opportunity I had last semester was to spend time with international students (mostly from the Middle East) that were in an intensive English program at my school. At the recommendation of a friend, I spoke to the directors of the program and asked if there were any ways I could be involved in what they do. To my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms to join the students in weekly sports activities and was asked to speak in front of a class about the engineering program at my school. Talk about access! 

Following some of those activities I was immediately invited to some of their apartments and was asked dozens of questions about language, culture, religion, myself and my family. They asked about the meanings of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which opened the door to share with them what Christ has done for us and why those holidays have special meanings for Christians.

Something the Lord taught me through all that is this: Though we take our witness with us everywhere we go, we should pursue opportunities to share and show the gospel in depth with those close to wherever God has planted us.
A quote that has impacted the way I think of and pursue ministry is this: "Lost people must become your family." (Nik Ripken, Insanity of Obedience) If we want to reach the lost, we must live with them and commune with them regularly. God certainly uses ways like street evangelism, but making disciples is what we were called to do, and that always happens in the context of relationships. 

In applying that principle, a friend and I are currently pursuing ways to mobilize ourselves and our church to reach out to international students who attend a college campus located right in the heart of where many of us live and work. A concern that might be raised is, "If each us work where we are planted, who is going to reach the lost in areas where there are no believers?" In answering that I would encourage you to ask whether God is calling you to plant your life in a new context. A new context might be a geographic move, or it might mean engaging those who already live in your city.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this Emily!
    These verses from Matthew 5 kept speaking to my heart while reading your article

    “"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ .Very encouraged to be a faithful proclaimer of the Gospel of our Lord where I am, today and always !

    Love in Christ,


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