I Need Some Help

Scene 3 – I Need Some Help


Several weeks after the deacons’ meeting, Pete and his wife Rebecca are visiting their missionary friends Jerry and Laura in Italy for 10 days. On the third day, when Jerry and Laura bring them to Venice, Pete finally begins to open up about his frustrations. This is their second pastorate since graduating from seminary, and they have begun to feel like this church could be the place they would stay for the rest of their lives and watch God use them to develop a significant work. But months have passed, and they are beginning to have doubts. Pete’s discussion with Jerry a while back and the subsequent time with the deacons have provided a ray of hope, but Pete still feels like he needs some help. Here, in the middle of the Piazza di San Marcos, Pete vents to Jerry.

Pete: (frustration in his voice) I’ve got to find something to help me help my people make disciples! We’re just not fulfilling Jesus’ purpose for the church as I see it. We’re not getting the job done. What you shared when we talked a couple of months ago really got me to thinking. I met with the deacons and they’re all on board. But I’m struggling with how to get started making disciples.

Jerry: (with head cocked, looking at the Campanile Tower which appears to be falling although it has stood like that for centuries) I feel your pain, Pete. (Turning to face his friend) I wasn’t sure what we were going to do here in Italy either. But once I took the Good Soil training and used the resources, I knew that we wanted to translate them into Italian and use them here.

Pete: (Surprised by Jerry’s answer) I know you saw some people trust Christ and develop well in their faith back in New York after your mission board trained you in Good Soil, but what makes you think that Good Soil resources will be universal? Did you drink the Kool-Aid™?

Jerry: Whoa! Listen to the skeptic! Why so cynical?

Pete: I don’t know. I guess I’m just tired of people thinking there is a one-size-fits-all for evangelism.

Jerry: No problem there. Good Soil would never promote such a thing. In fact, Good Soil is just the opposite, promoting a concept they call “Peeling the Worldview Onion.”[1] This technique helps the evangelist understand where his friends are coming from so that he can then share to meet their specific needs.[2] “Peeling onions” also serves as an icebreaker and a method to help people feel comfortable. We want to deal with people where they are in life.[3] But getting back to your question about Good Soil being universal, I think the concepts and the resources can work here and pretty much anywhere in the world. In fact, that was one of their objectives: to develop methodology and resources that could work in any culture with minimal adaptation. You need to be exposed to Joe’s story I just heard from Gil Thomas. But listen, we need to talk and walk because we’re supposed to meet the girls on Rialto Bridge in twenty minutes, and it’s a good 10 to 15 minute walk if we move right along.

Pete: Sure, let’s get going. Which way?

Jerry: (Indicating the direction with his hand as he begins) Joe and his wife were successful high school teachers at a Christian school in Taytay, Rizal, a suburb of Manila, Philippines. The kids in their classes learned a lot, and they liked their teachers. Life was good for Joe and Vangie (that’s her nickname for Evangeline). They had a beautiful family, jobs they enjoyed, and a good church. Why would they ever desire a change? Then Joe took a Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship (GSED) seminar. That’s when change, desired or not, came.

Joe started using the principles he learned in GSED and the resources he received. He started leading The Story of Hope[4] Bible studies (GSED’s principal evangelism tool) with individuals in homes. People came to understand the Bible’s story and trusted Jesus as their personal savior. Joe also went out in the streets around his neighborhood equipped with Good Soil teaching visuals, laying them down on the street in front of the people as he taught. He had great responses.

Then he and the man who trained him (Ariel Abadiano) taught the Good Soil seminar to all the deacons and their wives in the church who began to lead Bible studies just as he was doing. Then he team-taught another seminar with one of his trainees. This time the pastors of the church took the seminar. More trainees began Bible studies, seeking to evangelize and disciple people around them. By the time Gil met Joe, he (Joe) had trained 35 people in his church in the Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship seminar. Gil talked with several of them.

Gil learned that Mum Helen, (74-year-old mother of the senior pastor) had never led a Bible study in her life. Now she was teaching three—one with 60 people in regular attendance!

After learning Good Soil and teaching it with Joe, Eda took the “Teaching Children the Bible’s Big Story” training from the Good Soil team when they taught in Manila. She uses it in her family and her outreaches. Her team has 5 children’s groups going on, each with 25 kids meeting weekly. She expressed her gratitude for the great help she has received from Good Soil.

Glenda used her Good Soil training in the beauty salon as she worked on people’s hair. She says Good Soil changed her life for which she is grateful. Now she is moving to the Cayman Islands to do hair there and is excited about going as a “missionary”—taking her training and resources with her to be used of God as a missionary in the marketplace.[5]

Each of these examples illustrates that by “promoting and living out biblically-rooted community where each of us work, live, and play, we draw people toward the gospel—the message they so desperately need.”[6] The stories continue, but suffice it to say for now that Good Soil changed Joe and Vangie’s lives and the lives of their friends at church. Joe has now become one of the pastors of this growing church in Manila.

(As Jerry finishes the story, he points up to a yellow and black metal sign attached to the wall about two meters high at the corner of the building. The sign indicated a left turn for anyone headed to Rialto Bridge. As he makes the turn he has maneuvered many times with tourists he has brought to Venice, he continues.) You might say, ‘Sure that happens in the Philippines, but what about in the United States? I’d like to help my church people reach out and make disciples, but it’s a different culture in the USA.’

Well, Paul, a long-time pastor in western New York, had a friend who told him: ‘You’ve got to take this GSED training. It’s amazing!’ Reluctantly, Paul decided to make the seven-hour trip to Harrisburg, PA, and see if this training was all that special. Did it change his life like it did Joe’s? You decide. After Paul took the Good Soil training, he said, ‘I’ve pastored for years, but I’ve always struggled when it came to sharing my faith. Good Soil has equipped me like never before.’ After using the training himself and seeing a large percentage of his church take and use the training over the last five years, Pastor Paul retired from his growing church recently where his people continue to use The Story of Hope and The Way to Joy to develop disciples in that church.[7]

Another church in Ohio is using Good Soil and . . .

Pete: (Interrupting) Yeah, yeah, okay. (Pete stops to watch new arrivals in Venice pull their carry-ons over the bumpy alleyways past the houses painted orange, pink, and light blue) Maybe it works okay in the Philippines and America, but what about Europe? This kind of thing won’t work here, will it?

Jerry: Some will tell you no, they are sure it won’t. They say the people are too postmodern for Good Soil methodology. But listen to Ralf, a German pastor who invested many hours in translating The Story of Hope. He wrote this prayer letter I received just last week. I was so excited, I brought it along.

(Jerry fishes through his backpack to find the letter and then hands it to Pete. They reach an alleyway where there is less traffic and it is easier to hear. Pete reads the letter out loud as they continue to walk toward Rialto, Jerry guiding as they go.)

Pete: “The Story of Hope is a project we have taken on as a personal project to bring to Germany[8] since we were in the States the last time in 2012. We had the chance to use it for the first time as a tool in a church in Muensterland. The Story of Hope was to be an outreach opportunity in the church’s new building, and also a discipleship program. We hoped to encourage people to use this program personally in their outreach to other people. Considering the size of the church, we were expecting between 10-20 people who may have been interested to follow The Story of Hope throughout the entire program. God far exceeded our expectations, and we had an average of 44 people attend. On two of the evenings, our location got so crowded that we would have had to relocate if any more people came. We were especially pleased to see that people of all age ranges, from young teens up to adults in their nineties were part of this journey.

“Towards the end of the journey, we broke the large group down into smaller groups so people could speak more personally about the story. One lady let us know she was compelled to ask Jesus personally into her life during these evenings. She said she had been waiting years to make this decision. The methodology and the tool made a difference for her.

“A young girl wants to use the material with one of her unbelieving friends. Another couple who attended all evening sessions renewed their commitment as followers of Jesus Christ. Both of them made a decision to share their newly established walk with Christ through public baptism. This was a special gift from God for this wife, as she had been waiting for years for her husband to make a decision to be identified with Christ publicly.”[9]

Jerry: Isn’t that cool? In a recent letter he told how he is also training people in another of his church plants and seeing good results. And in Spain . . .

Pete: (Interrupting) Okay, okay. (Sarcastically) Do you have stories for every country of the world?

Jerry: (Slowly, acting hurt) Well, no. (Now more excited with a twinkle in his eye) But I do have at least one for every continent!

(Just then they round a corner where they see little tables donned with red and white tablecloths. Beyond the café is Ponte di Rialto – Rialto Bridge. The duo climb the steps in silence, survey the crowded viaduct connecting the two shores of the Grand Canal, and determine that the girls have not yet arrived. Pete stops short in the middle of the ancient overpass and looks out at the golden water the sunset was creating.

Pete: (Starting slowly, not really sure he wants to verbalize what he has been thinking all along.) All right, look: these stories are great. But as good as they might sound—and God could truly be working in exciting ways in these people’s lives—as good as it all sounds, these are just anecdotal. Have you done any research? Can I look at some hard data?

(Their wives arrive, but apparently they had agreed to come up behind them quietly. Sneaking up to the men, each wife grabs her respective husband around the waist, and Rebecca asks her question.)

Rebecca: What data? Are you guys talking shop or enjoying this beautiful Italian sunset?

Pete: (Nonplussed, but recovering quickly, Pete spins around, gives his wife a squeeze and a peck on the cheek and says) I’m asking what year this romantic arched passageway was built!

Rebecca: Yeah, right; and Laura and I didn’t spend any money this afternoon either.

Pete: (Wincing as if in pain) Ouch! That sounds expensive.

Jerry: (All laugh and give friendly jabs and pokes. Then Jerry responds to the question that had been left hanging.) I do have some data. It’s not a lot, but the guys at Good Soil have done a little research I can share with you. Let’s look at it tomorrow. But right now, let’s head over to the other side of the bridge and eat. There’s a great restaurant not too far away called La Porta D’Acqua, which translated means, ‘The Water Gate.’ But it’s just a restaurant; no hotel.

Laura: Let’s go! We’ll enjoy bruschetta for the antipasto, then we’ll have Pasta Fagioli for il primo, Pollo Marsala for il secondo, and Tiramisu for il dolce.

Rebecca: What?

Pete: Whatever! I’m hungry. Let’s just eat—whatever it is!

Jerry: (Holding Laura’s hand and leading the way.) Follow us!

What About You?

Good Soil training is making a difference in several places around the world. Could it help you and your church?

Will you investigate by calling Good Soil or getting online at www.GoodSoil.com to check out the Good Soil training?

Will you keep reading to learn more?

[1] Wayne Haston with Ron Berrus, David Southwell, and Gil Thomas, Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship, Training for Worldview-Relevant Evangelism and Discipleship, Second Edition, (Harrisburg: Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship, 2009), 13.

[2] This type of tool is encouraged in Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter’s For the City, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 73. “(W)e need to be familiar with what the people in our cities think, feel, and do…to ask questions that help us unearth the real values that people have in order to communicate the gospel to them in a way they can understand.” The authors go on to develop the idea that different types of questions reveal different things: thoughts, motivations, and methods. Therefore, they encourage head questions (to probe the mind), heart questions (to uncover motivations), and hands questions (to discover methods).

[3] Rebecca Pippert, in her book Spirituality According to Jesus, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 52-53, advocates “discussion starters” in evangelistic Bible studies, also, to break the ice and help people feel comfortable.

[4] http://www.goodsoil.com/resour...

[5] Part of Losch’s “better way” in Dale Losch, A Better Way, (Kansas City: UFM International, 2012), is to stop being so concerned about professional disciple-makers (people paid to be pastors and missionaries), and concentrating more on having missionaries in the marketplace as Glenda did in the Philippines and continues to do in the Cayman Islands.

[6] Patrick and Carter, page 94.

[7] Contrast Paul’s story with this sobering statement in Faulkner’s Meeting the Dawn at Jimmy’s Egg, (Oklahoma City: R&R Publishing, 2009), 87: “Unfortunately, research compiled from a major study commissioned by a leading Christian organization showed that among large churches in America, very few are equipping their people for sharing their faith. As a result, fewer (sic) than one percent of believers share the gospel—this at a time when many people in our culture have abandoned religion altogether or have embraced new forms of spirituality opposed to biblical Christianity.”

[8] The Story of Hope is now in over 25 languages with several in process. See http://www.goodsoil.com/translations for more details.

[9] From Ralf and Lena Schächinger’s prayer letter, March 2014.

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