National believers become full partners in missionary work

Campbell and Elizabeth Bach dream of seeing the peoples of South Asia reached with the gospel. They serve as leaders on a small team responsible for sharing the gospel and planting churches among tens of thousands of villages, encompassing many millions of people, and spanning hundreds of miles. Many people groups in this region remain unreached and unengaged with the gospel. Their task is immense.

“South Asia is the greatest concentration of lostness,” Bach said. “I think there are more than 4 million South Asian people for every one International Mission Board (IMB) missionary. And the lostness, the vastness, and just the need for more workers is overwhelming.”

Campbell, a second-generation Chinese American, is the first person in his family to become a Christian. When he came to faith in college, everything about Christianity and the church was new to him. But he knew one thing – he wanted to spend his life serving God in whatever way he could. Initially, that meant sharing the gospel with family and friends and serving his local church. But later, in seminary, he heard about international missions for the first time.

While teaching Bible study at his church, Campbell led a group through the book of Acts.

“I kept learning all these great things the apostles were doing, and thought, ‘How come?’” Campbell recalled. “How come we’re not seeing much of that?”

Around the same time, Campbell was hearing stories from classmates who had served as missionaries overseas before coming to seminary. One of those was Elizabeth, his future wife. His excitement grew as he realized God was at work all around the world. He wanted to be involved and moved to East Asia after graduation.

An immense task

After serving a two-year term with the IMB in East Asia, Campbell came home and married Elizabeth. A few years later, they returned to overseas ministry with the IMB, this time among South Asians, whom they have served for more than a decade.

“It’s a huge task,” Campbell said. “We realized the way to approach it is not me going to every single village and sharing the gospel and trying to start a group. That would be never ending.”

Instead, the Bachs recognized it was their role to encourage national believers and churches to take ownership of the work themselves. Part of their calling is casting a vision among their Christian partners to see every village and people group in South Asia reached with the gospel.

“We need to be catalysts. We need to train nationals so that they own the task,” Campbell said. “We help churches raise up leaders that can plant more churches. We walk alongside them, we train them, we give them the vision.”

Seeing national partners take ownership

Campbell shared one story of God at work through a national partner. The Bachs have worked alongside Tushar, and his wife, Saachi, for almost five years.

“Tushar met a woman whose husband was suffering from cancer. She was sad and discouraged, so he went to her house to meet her husband. He was very sick and lying in bed, and Tushar did his best to offer comfort. He prayed for her husband and shared a simple gospel message. A day later, Tushar received a call from the couple saying that because of his prayer, the man was better now and could get out of bed and eat. Tushar began to visit them regularly and teach them about Jesus. But, a month later he received a call from the family saying the husband was very sick again and Tushar should come quickly to the hospital. That night the husband died, and his family was devastated. As they wept, Tushar tried to comfort them, sharing that the husband had accepted Jesus and was in a better place.

A few weeks later the family called again and demanded he come right away. Tushar worried they might be angry that the husband had accepted Jesus and then died. He felt nervous, but they were adamant he come. When he arrived, 23 family members were waiting for him. They told him they wanted to throw out all their idols and follow Christ. Tushar was shocked. During the husband’s sickness, they all had time to fully hear and understand the gospel message. They believed the husband was now in heaven and decided to put their faith in Jesus, too.”

Campbell was moved to tears as he recalled how God used this man’s illness, and Tushar’s faithful witness, to bring an entire family to Christ and start a new church in their village.

Partners like Tushar and Saachi are essential to accomplishing the task of seeing no place left behind in South Asia. National partners gain entry to places and communities where missionaries, like the Bachs, can’t go. Currently, Tushar and Saachi work alongside five churches training and caring for them as they have been trained and mentored by the Bachs.

The Bachs expressed excitement to see their work bearing fruit, and more and more national partners and churches grasping the vision to see churches planted among every people group in South Asia.

“There’s no way we could even find all these unreached groups,” Elizabeth said. “But if we have local churches that start deciding, ‘Hey, you know what, this is our task,’ then I think, in time, we will see movement.”

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