Southeast Asia is in the 10/40 Window, which is the largest concentration of least-reached people groups in the world. The window stretches eastward from North Africa across to Japan and represents billions of people. Many of the countries within the window are culturally resistant to the gospel, but that is only one of the obstacles that stand in the way of spreading the good news. The realities of work-life in this area of the world play a part too.
Imagine working up to 12 hours every day of the week in order to provide for your family.
You devote almost all of your energy to your job and have very little time outside of your working sphere. Even if you had an interest in knowing more about Jesus, you would not have time to go to a Bible study or develop a friendship with a Christ-follower. That is the life of the majority of adults in this region of Southeast Asia.
The Encompass team faced the question of how to engage working professionals in authentic discipleship in their city. Traditional western models rely heavily on a person’s free time, which is a foreign concept to most of the people the team wants to reach. They concluded that the only way they could be a light to this part of the population was by joining the workplace.
This decision has developed many advantages for the team.
Pursuing professions has enabled the team to engage in a relationship with their co-workers, whom they would not otherwise see outside of work, and has also earned them a voice in the community. Just as Jesus entered the world and lived among us as a man, the team became a part of the city’s identity by entering the economic community.
Some of the team members are teachers in international schools, allowing them to engage students, parents, and their co-workers. In their culture, teachers are elevated to a high status and given a place of influence. This has led to many opportunities to show and share the hope of Christ.
Others on the team have started their own businesses with models that give back to the community and provide opportunities for gospel witness. By providing services to local customers and partnering with other companies, these team members have developed great relationships in a natural way. Joining existing businesses in the area has also provided other inroads into the lives of people and professionals.
Though what they do varies, the underlying thread that unifies the team is authentic discipleship.
They strive to do what Matthew 5:16 says: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good work and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Have you ever considered how you could use your “9-to-5” to reach the 10/40 Window? There are job opportunities all around the world in places where there are few Christians. You could go and be light just like this Encompass team. Or, you could use your job to help send someone to the 10/40 window. Open yourself up to God’s leading and see what happens.