Some have said Interface -- a college-level six week hands-on training and exposure opportunity for young people -- is a life-changing challenge to everything from one’s worldview to how inconvenient we view honouring Jesus with our whole lives.
Missionaries Travis and Nikki Ray have gotten the opportunity to do some of the teaching for a recent diverse group of 16 from seven different countries. Their focus has been to challenge these folks to join the team in reaching tribal people with the gospel.
Travis shared how it was actually just an inconvenience to their busy lives that hindered those who Jesus invited in to have supper with Him in Luke 14. His challenge included deep encouragement not to let work, possessions, family, fear or even time be what causes them to pass up opportunity to really live out the gospel.
Janie Miles is another missionary who has had the privilege of being a part of the team working with this life-changing programme. She’s excited that these students get to interact with missionaries who are constantly coming and going from the location out in the jungle where this course is taking place.
Trevor and Judy Clarke have been leaders and students during this time. They are students in order to gain first-hand experience as to what and how the course is made up. This will help their understanding for any future students they will get to send. Helping as leaders at the same time was somewhat of an “unknown” aspect knowing they would be cut off from the world. They did know that they were going where only planes or boats could get in and out. No overland travel would be an option. And full-on jungle would surround them.
They have been in awe at the God stories of how He got these students there to taste missionary life and see how to effectively church plant cross culturally where the gospel has never gone before.
The culmination for all this group has been taught is a three to six hour boat trip over the ocean. They arrive at a volcanic island where a tribal group lives and a newly born church has just been planted.
What’s so unique about this time as well is that these new born believers on the island have never seen other believers. Only the missionaries who have come to live among them, learning their language, teaching from creation to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are known to them. For them to see another part of the Body of Christ will be remarkable.
Now having been exposed to people, language, culture and village settings way outside of even their imaginations much less their comfort zones, these young people are acquiring tools. Tools gotten by being taught and placed in situations in order to have no doubt about what it would be like to be committed to planting a church where none has ever been planted.
Missionary Brandon Buser shares his perspective and one Biem believer’s testimony:
“We pray that God’s heartbeat for the ends of the earth will be ringing loudly in their ears. Their time in Biem with the believers has been a tremendous encouragement for the body here even beyond what I could have imagined. Last night I sat and listened to a Biem believer named Xavier tell me about his time with one of the German students.
"‘Brandon, my friend couldn’t speak our language and that was very hard. We communicated with signs and some broke talking, but I don’t think he understood all that I wanted to share with him. He’d say ‘yes yes’ but I don’t think he really got it. But you told us that his faith stands on Jesus Christ alone, and because I know that God has used our time together to strengthen me.'
"'Before I would think of my brothers and sisters around the world, but I’d never seen one. To know they are out there is good, but now to see one face to face and know that later I will see that very boy in heaven because our beliefs are one…this strengthens my faith so much! It makes me want to stand strong. This visit of theirs has carried very good food (idiom for born much fruit).’”
This is a testimony of one who went and how it changed his life forever:
It’s been said that our lives are like landscapes. Each one of us has a world that we know. Sometimes our worlds collide and everything changes.
The sign over the gate said, “Welcome.” But I couldn’t help but wonder what I was being welcomed to.
Everyone’s so different. Apparently I’m far more entertaining than my friends back home let on. To be honest, it’s kind of like waking up to find out that you’re the main character in someone else’s favourite sitcom.
I guess we all had our opinions on what the next few weeks would be like. For me, it was like climbing up a hill. With each step my perspective changed. Gradually I gained a broader view of a world that until now I knew nothing about.
Like with any adventure, there was both excitement in the discovery of things I never knew and the all too human fear of the unknown. The truth is I had no idea what I was in for.
On the surface there’s a stillness to this place that is often lost in the hurried pace of my life back home. One thing I discovered is that you can actually hear the day waking up.
It’s beautiful here and I find myself consistently reminded that our lives are much like the landscape that surrounds me. Full of hills to be climbed and valleys to be crossed.
The days passed and with each experience another step up. A different view. I found myself wondering what I would see at the top of this hill I was climbing.
It didn’t happen all at once, but as my normal world collided with this unfamiliar one, I began to realise that wrong and different aren’t the same and I guess normal is just a matter of opinion.
Even though I’ve never been much for school, I’m so grateful for the time we spent in the classroom discovering the many facets of life in another culture. In this different world.
I was surprised to find that most of the work being done here was by normal people just like me.
How often have I been asked what I want to be when I grow up. I began to realise that what matters most is not what I want to be, but what I am willing to become.
There was so much I didn’t know but as I learned I began to dream about where I might one day be.
As big as the landscape of my own life seems to be at times I realised it is only a tiny part of a much broader one.
The steps I took toward the top of my little hill led me to a clearer and clearer view of all of the other landscapes around me.
They blended together in to a vast plain that stretched beyond my sight.
I remember the day I met Babo, even though he couldn’t have stood more than five foot tall, I remember feeling as though I was in the presence of a giant. I remember standing next to him after hearing his story. I remember feeling very small.
That was the day I reached the top of that hill I was climbing. And standing there I saw many hills still further beyond me.
As I looked back at what I had learned, a question arose in my heart. And looking forward to what I could not ignore, I realised I had so little to offer.
I knew that God was already here and if I wanted to I could be a part of what He was already doing.
The question for me and for all of us is simple, will I?