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Slow-Growing Seeds

Like so many missionaries in closed countries, Aaron and Beth’s* daily lives look different from those of traditional church planters in other parts of the world. The challenges are monumental, and the work can seem to progress at a slow pace. But their consistent effort and creative approach are steadily making inroads into their community.

The path to missions

Growing up in the northwestern United States, Aaron thought that people chose to be missionaries due to a sense of duty or even guilt. Though he went overseas to teach English in China after college as part of a missions program, sharing his faith felt unnatural. After he decided to obey God’s command to be baptized, he indeed sensed God’s love for the first time, and ever since, he developed a passion for sharing his faith with his coworkers.

Beth grew up on the mission field but never envisioned becoming a missionary as an adult. After teaching English in Asia in 2010, some missionary friends helped her explore how she could better apply her gifts and interests, and she found a home with the Encompass family.

In 2014, Aaron and Beth were working in the same Southeast Asian city and met at a church event. Now, five years later and happily married, they are still there, faithfully planting seeds for the gospel among the people they have grown to love.

Church planting doesn’t always look like church planting

Aaron and Beth are using their business skills and educational training as platforms for sharing the gospel, with the eventual goal of planting churches. Aaron says they hope to “see healthy home churches working to plant other home churches, with people using their gifts and being missions-minded.” Beth describes it this way, “We want people to stay in the context of their community [when they come to faith], so they will be able to reach their family and friends.”

Aaron works 40 hours per week at an education company that uses language as a platform to build relationships in difficult mission fields. He says, “in the Asian culture, it is nearly impossible to connect with people if you don’t live and work with them.” Aaron’s job gives him a platform to build trust, understand the language and culture better, and plant seeds for the gospel. In addition to working with locals, he gets to make personal connections over lunch each day.

Beth spends her time in relationship-building and training, and she is involved with a wide range of projects, including:

  • Working with a local church to create contextualized Bible stories.
  • Training others as an Encompass coach – a skill she uses beyond the borders of her field.
  • Assisting with another missionary’s English club, presenting concepts such as sacrifice and freedom, life questions, and morality.
  • Leading a Bible study that began when members of the English club wanted to learn more about the Bible. (This group has become close, prompting one member to say, “this is my family.” Several members seem close to making a decision to follow Christ!)
  • Hosting a discussion group at a local cafe on the topic of idioms and customs.
  • Creating discipleship resources that will work in the Southeast Asian context.

The couple asks for prayer that they will find a realistic yet sustainable balance in this broad range of endeavors and that these steadily growing seeds would produce fruit!

Aaron and Beth have learned that God has not asked us to create outcomes – he calls us to faithful service, leaving the results to him. He cares about the obedience of the heart, and as long as we are being faithful to the task, we are pleasing the only audience that matters.

*Not their real names