I traveled with my son-in-law Ben to a few countries in Africa. We were invited to Zambia to see if there was the possibility that we could start an official branch of Source of Light. The invitation came from an American missionary who felt that one of the greatest needs we could help with was resources for evangelism and discipleship. He had established a school to train pastors and was heavily involved in church planting.
He discovered the SLM materials while serving in Kenya and brought them to use in his own ministry. He continued to use them personally, but much of his time was consumed with training pastors. As time went on, he discovered that these men needed the SLM resources, and he wanted to “introduce” it to as many pastors as he could. He said it was an “undiscovered gem” in Zambia.
So, in spite of the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, we invited pastors and ministry leaders from around his region. It was a smaller group than he had hoped, just under 100, but that was fine with me. Ben and I were blessed to present the ministry and our resources.
In fact, it was well received, and those in attendance were overjoyed to receive a packet of resources, maybe the only “library” of resources they possessed. But the surprise came after the seminar, when the line of people formed to speak with me.
One by one, most thanked me from “RE-introducing” them to the literature. Story after story about how they were saved and grew from the material many years before. Many told me missionaries or traveling evangelists introduced the materials, after visiting neighboring countries and brought back these resources. In ministry now themselves, they shared that they longed for those materials to use in their own ministries but had no idea where to find them.
You see, before anyone was sent to open a branch, before our evangelistic and discipleship materials were ever even sent, someone brought them to them. And the seeds of the Gospel had not only been planted but watered and grew.
This might have been how Paul felt as he wrote to the Romans. Rome didn’t seem to have received any of the apostles, and Paul had not been there yet, in spite of his longing. Yet, theirs was a reputation of faith apparently known “throughout the whole world!”
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Romans 1:8–9 KJV
Faith known throughout the whole world?! In spite of having no missionary sent on record?! How can that be? Many believe that likely some Romans in exile were a part of that group on the day of Pentecost and having been moved by the Spirit, as a result of that event, in spite of the danger, returned to Rome, to share the Good News.
Perhaps Rome did have “missionaries,” missionaries who returned to their own home after having heard the Gospel with an irresistible compulsion to return. Perhaps, like throughout history, their faith was infamous due to the persecution they suffered in Rome, much like we hear about in places like Iran, China, and the Middle East. Places where “underground,” the embers of the Gospel, Christians, and churches burn bright.
Seeds, planted and watered on foreign soil, greenhouses of the Gospel, which eventually grew, then transplanted back in its own native soil.
This is an opportunity the church ought not to take lightly, particularly where the Gospel is preached freely, and where foreigners proliferate. Instead of resenting their presence, embrace the opportunities that could result in transplanting the Gospel in closed countries.
Paul couldn’t wait to visit Rome and we at SLM can’t wait to join in on the momentum in Zambia, now intentionally, for a harvest begun by transplanting. How much effort are you making to intentionally transplant the Gospel?
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
July 26, 2022