Sometimes the hardest place to begin to reach the nations is in your own neighborhood. There can be many reasons for this reality. Since the cultures and religions of the people next to me are so different, I have felt the need for more training, but I often don’t know how to begin the process. Maybe you have felt the same way. The Encounter Atlanta experience was designed to address this difficulty. Encompass World Partners planned the week so that churches could see and learn from the diversity of cultures and religions that are in Atlanta.
If you think Columbus has a diverse population, then Atlanta is diversity on steroids! Our team of five people was immersed in a sea of different people groups. Right next to the hotel where we stayed, there was a global mall that was dominated by Indian shops and restaurants and even a Hindu temple.
One of the interesting facts about Hinduism is that there are at least 330 million gods they recognize. Since Jesus would be considered just one more, they are very accepting of any god. However, they are very quick to reject the idea that there is only one God who revealed himself in Jesus. Our team took advantage of the opportunity to interact with those working to reach Hindus, learning as much as we could. The best way to influence Hindus is to live the true Gospel and be ready to share the hope of knowing the true God (1 Peter 3:15).
There are many people groups living in Atlanta that would be considered followers of Islam. We were introduced to what Muslims believe, even visiting a mosque to hear directly from one of their leaders. It was obvious from talking to the Muslim leaders that they put their hope in obeying the Koran and following what it says. We were able to ask questions and give opinions in a friendly manner as to what each believed. As we debriefed over lunch, we recognized that seeing people come to faith in Jesus would be the result of praying for God to open their hearts to the truth about His death and resurrection in our place for salvation. We learned from a local ministry to Muslims how they effectively share the Gospel and got to see the fruit from their work.
As we reflected on the week, we were challenged to think how we could apply what we saw and heard to reach many in Columbus who follow Hinduism and Islam. Many times, we think people who follow these two religions are not interested in who Jesus is, so we don’t stop to engage them. We have seen in Atlanta that God is still drawing people to himself from every people group. What God wants is for us to be available to begin the conversation that makes sense to people who are still far off from knowing Jesus. The best conversation starter is your life, fully committed as a true follower of Jesus, that they can see and know. Will you join us in being part of this team in Columbus?
Our desire is to start groups that will focus on reaching Hindus and Muslims. Pray that we would be led by the Spirit in Northland and Polaris to be His witnesses. Interested in how you can get involved? Contact me and let me know. I’d love to share more!
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Dan Green and Nancy moved back to the US after missionary service in Brazil with Encompass World Partners for 15 years. They were involved in evangelism, church planting, and leadership training. Dan grew up on a farm in Indiana, while Nancy comes from northeast Ohio. Dan studied at Purdue University (Agronomy), OSU (Soil Chemistry), and Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. They have four children and six grandchildren. Dan enjoys gardening, camping, and international travel.