[This is a great report from Norm who is a part of House2Harvest Network]
The S. people are refugees forced to live in the desert for the last thirty eight years. In July and August the roads, where they do exist, get hot enough to melt-down the tires on a car! Water and food is shipped in by the United Nations. Most of the men go off either to fight to regain their home land or find work in Spain. There are about ten national believers in Jesus among the more than 167,000 who live in the camps.
In January 2008 I met a businessman who took a bold leap of faith. He asked me how much it would cost to prepare and send a worker to an unengaged unreached people group who were oral learners. I quickly responded with a conservative figure of $30,000 a year. He responded by saying, “I want to cover expenses to send a team for two years.” This gave us the capital to begin looking for a people and a team to send them to. The Lord led us to the S. people.
At the end of the Labor Day 2008 House2House congress I ran into a couple who attended a few of the missions tracks. While we were talking the Lord knit our hearts and I was able to give them some counsel regarding the call they were feeling. I never mentioned the S. people. A few months later Wayne* called me back asking that I mentor them because they have had a burden to work among the S. people. Wow!
Wayne and Elizabeth* are simple church people in Texas and help lead a network of churches. They are both around thirty years old. They traveled among the S. people but now wanted to live with them. In their network was another couple who soon joined them in their vision. In November Wayne and Tom* traveled to the refugee camps where the S. people live, to begin the process of relocating their young families.
Since then we have had a few singles share the vision with the thought of joining the two couples. The vision is simple… teach English (much desired) in the schools already set up… develop loving relationships as they learn about the people… craft Bible stories into the local language with the help of a national… enable the people to tell these stories to one another as is normal in an oral tradition culture… develop inductive questions for each story which the people would discuss… form the people into groups to worship the Lord and build each other up in the faith… PRAY. We have an expectation that the work the Lord is sending us to do can be completed after two years.
To help this vision we have developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which enables us to all be on the same page. (I am a firm believer in putting things in writing). Mentorship is underway and the team will soon be going through various training, including Elijah Company missions training (www.elijahcompany.org). We are also helping by drilling wells and constructing an agricultural system which could be used to grow food in the desert.
There are risks involved in everything and there is a risk involved in this also. But when I take into account that big agencies are seeing returns of 50-60% of the people they send, I am thinking there is something wrong. On the other hand, there are strengths in the sending of people from an organic relational church.
Firstly, those going have been discipled and know how to disciple in the crucible of close relationships. They know how to do ‘church’ as in magnifying the Head, the Lord Jesus, in the midst of each other.
Secondly, they know how to enter the homes of simple people who may never have the opportunity to attend seminary or have a church building. Their clusters will be in huts and tents experiencing the anointing of the Holy Spirit as each member does his work.
Thirdly, the resources that normally go to pay salaries, do programs and maintain buildings will now be directly available to reach the unreached people.
Fourthly, they will not be easily forgotten by their sending fellowship because each will have heard the Holy Spirit speak saying, “set apart for me… for the work I have.” (Acts 13:1-2). Ownership of the team by the church will be great because they are close family.
For the S. people the story has just begun! We expect the team to be in the camps within the year. I am in the process of selecting twelve more unengaged unreached people groups and securing the resources to send teams to them.
The adoption of the S. people by the simple church network illustrates the possibility of replicating the same with others of the 639 unreached people groups. The House2Harvest network has resources for training and mentorship in culture, strategy, prayer, personal preparation, business and more. It is composed of people who have been on the field and are now called by God to be part of the sending process for others.
If you would like to know more about the 639 unreached people groups and how your simple church can be involved in sending or going, contact us at the House2Harvest Network or contact me personally as well as Steve or Don.
For the Lord of the harvest,
Norman J. P.
*Names have been changed for security reasons.