Several years ago I was in downtown Iloilo City. After doing what I needed to do, I got in a taxi. The driver asked where I wanted to go and I told him to go to Iloilo Baptist Church in Jaro. Most taxi drivers know our place, so I did not think much about it and began to work on some paperwork. After about 20 minutes, the taxi stopped. I had not been paying attention to where he was going, because of my work. Then I looked up, there I was inside the compound of the largest Roman Catholic Church in our region of the country, the Jaro Cathedral. I was shocked as I saw all the idols and the nuns. The pope had actually spoken from the balcony of the Cathedral in the 1980’s. I was right in the middle of the enemy! If I had ended up there about 200 years before this, it would not have been funny. The driver thought I was a priest. As quickly as possible, I got him to turn around and get out of there.
Missionaries often come to the place in their ministry where they look around and say, “How did I end up here?” We get that way because we do not plan and watch where we are going. The primary object of this article is to give some direction as to where you should want to go and how to get there.
Starting a church is exciting. It is never easy, but it is thrilling. Starting a New Testament Church is a miracle. Planning ways to start a number of churches over a long period of time, and then seeing it happen, does something to your heart and soul that cannot be described.
Our goal as missionaries is to start independent, fundamental, soulwinning, New Testament Baptist churches. Paul’s goal was to start a church everywhere he possibly could.
Most missionaries have a good short-term plan as they go to the field. Naturally, a newer missionary is going to be focused on getting started and not thinking about what is going to happen 15-20 years down the road. It would be wise for a new missionary to do some long-range planning in addition to the more pressing work at hand.
When a missionary gets started, he will usually have the following short-term goals: first, he needs to raise his support, second, learn the language, and third, start a church. All of these are important, but what are your plans after that? It is important to have that long-term plan in mind so that you never get sidetracked. A missionary’s goal is not to start and establish one good church on the field. I believe it is important to do that, but it is only the start.
Let me give you one example of how long-term planning caused me to make a very important decision even before I started deputation. One reason we went to a large city to start was because I hoped to start a Bible college someday so a lot of churches could be started through the graduates. I hoped there would be at least 100 students in the Bible college someday. I also felt the students needed to be heavily involved in outreach ministries. To do this would require us to be in a heavily populated area. If we started a church in a small village of 1,000 people, and had 100 Bible college students, there would not be that much for them to do.
A missionary needs to think through what his long-term plans are. One very important question you need to ask yourself is: How long do you plan to stay? If God has called you to a certain field and you believe that it’s God’s will for your life, then you should consider that you will probably be on that field for 20, 30, or 40 years.
When a missionary goes to the field, he should consider the area where he will work and plan a strategy to meet the need of reaching that area. As years go by, the Lord will give you more wisdom in how to do this. But even as a new missionary, you can have a basic plan.
For example, the island of Panay, where we live, has about 4,000,000 people. This is the main island we are trying to reach, although many of our graduates have gone to other places as well. The island is broken down into the following:
- 5 Cities—with Iloilo City being the largest by far, the five cities comprise of about 20% of the island’s population.
- 91 Towns—these average about 6,000 in population and comprise of about 15% of the island’s population
- 2,872 Villages—there is a book available here that lists every village and its population. An average village would have about 900 people. The total population of all the villages would make up about 65% of the island’s population.
Second Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Paul is writing to Timothy, whom he had trained for the ministry. We can see how Paul expected to start many churches from this verse.
- Paul trained Timothy for the ministry.
- Paul expected Timothy to train other men to do what he was doing.
- Paul expected Timothy to instill in the men Timothy trained the burden to also train men.
- Paul implies that this cycle should continue on and on.
A well-planned strategy by a newer missionary that includes the plan Paul used will likely help that missionary start multiple churches.