About 15 years ago, a church in Des Moines, Iowa start using The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus as a key component in ensuring their people had a clear understanding of the gospel. Basically, anyone new to the church, looking to join a small group, or wanting to become a church member first gets funneled into their “Starting Point” class. Over eight weeks, the class studies The Stranger book, and that way the entire congregation has the same foundations on which the pastors can build.
Do I really believe this?
This is Tyler’s story, and it comes from a public Facebook post from this church.
I have been a church goer all my life. Thus, Jesus, or at the very least the idea of Jesus, has always been a part of who I am. I am also a very factual person. I question and look for evidence and proof before making decisions. This inherently lead me for a few years to occasionally ask the questions “Do I really believe this?” or “How can I be sure? I began to look at church as a chore and something I had to do. It was not a productive or fulfilling time for me. I didn’t seek out Bible study groups or spend any time in the word.
So, although I was a church goer, it wasn’t until I went through the Soteria’s Starting Point Class where things began to click. The factual nature of the “Stranger on the Road to Emmaus” started giving me the insight I was looking for. The ever-lingering questions of “Do I really believe this?” or “How can I be sure?” began to fade and were replaced by requests like “Lord help me understand” or “Lord use me to do your will”. Fast forward a few months or so and pastor Mike did a two-week series on “Can We Trust Our Bibles?”. This put the final nail in the coffin and gave my annoyingly inquisitive mind the resolution I didn’t realize I was looking for.
In summary, in the past I could put up a good front and say the right things when asked, but it wasn’t until recently that I truly believed for myself that Jesus dies for our sins and credited us his righteousness. There is a new energy in who I am. I am excited and eager to go to church, be part of a growth group, and spend time in the Word. I look forward to growing and strengthening my faith in the years to come and leading my family in a God fearing, God first manner.
It is amazing what a clearly understood Gospel can do for people, even for people who have been going to church their whole lives!
This church is not alone
It seems that their approach to using The Stranger has caught on with other churches around them. We recently had a large order of books going to a nearby church, and we gave them a call to ask what they were doing. The church secretary told us that about 10 years ago, another church in the area also created a “Starting Point” course, which studies The Stranger as well. They run 3 courses each year and often have around 30 people attend each course on average. She also shared a quick story of her own. Her daughter started dating a fellow who wasn’t a believer, but began coming to church with her. The mother taught him through the course and he became a believer by its completion.
In the past week alone, we’ve had orders from five other churches in and around Des Moines, Iowa, plus a number more in the last few months. We don’t usually have the opportunity to speak to those ordering the books, but from what we can see, it seems that this approach to grounding a congregation is catching on in that area and we think that’s pretty cool!
Together with you for the Gospel.
Troy & Naomi
We recently shared about George, an evangelist in Kenya, who is using GoodSeed tools to teach pastors and bishops about a Gospel of faith and grace. Some might be surprised to hear that this is needed in a nation with so many missionaries and churches. Syncretism–the mixing of different beliefs–has always been a major problem in missions and the church.
In teaching my own children about syncretism, I explained that many people think it is a form of addition, like 10 + 1 = 11: Biblical truth plus one other “truth” equals more truth.
The reality is more like 10 + (-1) = 9. Tacking on unbiblical “truth” usually ends up taking away from biblical truths.
Pastor George wrote last week about his experiences after sharing the Gospel with hundreds of pastors:
“We’ve found that, when teaching believers, you never know what and where the gaps exist in people’s minds. But when you teach from Creation to Christ, most of those gaps get filled in. Then you have true understanding, and an understood gospel is a powerful gospel.
Yesterday at our Pastors conference, several Pastors were surprised at the Biblical worldview of life after death … It became a major point of questions. Many of them not only strongly believe but also preach that when people die they turn into spirits and they hover around watching their families and often torment their families if they were evil. They believe that the evil dead turn to nyawawa. They have sermons about those who died poor, barren, single, sick, etc coming back as jochiende to inflict those pains on others that they are angry at…
In African traditional religion, every tribe has their own worldviews regarding origins, life, death, and the afterlife. Our worldviews teach us that we have the living, the dead, the living-dead, the ancestors, and that we have a relationship with these dead, living-dead, and ancestors. We are to respect them lest we hurt their feelings and invoke their wrath. We have rain makers, magicians, and other spiritists who can mediate between us and these evil spirit relatives.
Some people come to Christ with these concepts and they become pastors. Their idea of a pastor is just like the magician and spiritist mediator between the living and the spirits. So people need to give them money or property … to get deliverance from demonic harassment.
Syncretism is always harder to see in your own culture but obvious for someone from outside. From North America, we can clearly see it in churches in other lands, but sometimes people from outside the Western culture visit North American churches and are shocked by what they see added in here.
Solid and foundational Bible teaching is so necessary, and we are thankful to play a small part.
Together with you for the Gospel,
Troy & Naomi
Naomi and I are spending lots of time in Zoom Bible studies these days. We currently lead two studies and are participants in another. All told, we are on Zoom for about 7 hours a week right now!
The most important study is the evangelism Bible study using the Creation to the Cross presentation in By This Name. We meet Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings with 3 ladies, one of whom is definitely not a believer. Her name is Sue. By going twice a week we are moving along quickly through the material. Yesterday (Feb 21st) we covered the Tabernacle and how it builds on previous teaching of the sacrificial system. Tonight we will begin to study the life of Jesus. Sue has had good questions and seems to appreciate being able to learn more about the Bible. We would appreciate your prayers for this study, especially for Sue’s salvation.
Tuesday nights we lead a small group at our church via Zoom, using The Captive and the King’s Will which follows the life and writings of Peter, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and looks in greater detail at what it means to be a Christian.
There is an exciting work going on in Kenya. We have mentioned a few times about an evangelist who has been very effective at teaching a clear Gospel message using GoodSeed resources. In the past he only had a few books that were shipped to him now and then that he could pass out to pastors and other church leaders he had taught. Recently, we were able to facilitate raising funds to print 3,000 copies of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus in Kenya for him to give away as part of his teaching. He continues to train pastors in this simple Gospel message of grace, and we trust that these books will have a real impact in the church in Kenya.
[Click here to follow Pastor George in Kenya]
We are currently in the process of also getting 3000 copies of The Captive and the King’s Will into his hands as well, as he feels that material on the area of walk with Christ is key for helping pastors and their congregations grow in their Christian walks.
“English speaking Bishops and Pastors who completed our Creation to Christ Seminar each received THE STRANGER ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS; a book that explains the greatest of Bible themes clearly, logically, and chronologically rather than focusing on one part and missing the whole. We give these books absolutely FREE of charge. Thanks to the individuals who gave to GoodSeed for the specific purpose of printing this book in Kenya.”
Please pray with us as these Gospel tools go out to churches around the world.
This winter has been very busy with our Bible studies and church activities for the kids occupying 4 or 5 nights of the week. Please pray for us as we seek to strike a balance and disciple our children in a chaotic world.
A largely mild winter here in central Alberta, but we did have a couple cold snaps. Last week it was -26 C (-15 F) and I took the kids sledding. Cold enough for a frosty beard.
We have gotten out a few times to enjoy the Canadian winter, but with things so busy now we are staying close to home.
Shivering on the lake!
Thank you for joining us on the journey!
Troy & Naomi