LUP018 – God’s Persistent Calling: Miqueas Perez, Part 1

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Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 18:

  • Update: After some input in my life around personal evangelism, I’ll be asking you for some help in how to develop skills.
  • Encouragement: You’ll meet a missionary who left his home to move to a new country where he did not understand the culture or the language. And while that may sound like practically every missionary you know, none of those things are what you normally think they are.
  • Tech. Tip: You’ll learn a cost-effective way to find someone to take care of those important but annoying little tasks that take away from your ministry when you don’t have the time or the skills to do them.

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Update

On every episode, I say “what’s been happening with Edify Hub.” But this time, it’s more about what’s been happening with Steve Dwire.

We often hear the phrase that Facebook and other social media show our “highlight reel” and aren’t a true picture of everything that’s happening in our lives. Well of course! There’s not enough time in the day to post everything that’s going on – and who would read it anyway? But often, we forget when reading other people’s published highlights, that they often have their own issues that they’re struggling with.

Personally, I’ve been wrestling with my role in reaching the lost near where I live. Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a few articles about that topic to help me collect my thoughts. One of my earlier ones called My Crop in God’s Garden explored the parable of the sower in relation to living in the neighborhood where I live. Another one titled Soulwinning: Why I Flossed Only One Tooth shared the new step I was taking to try to start making a difference in that area. A third is called What’s My Responsibility? and covers the balance between being too afraid to speak vs. being so bold as to be distracting and harmful to the message.

In the past few weeks, though, the normal time that I’d spend going out knocking on my neighbors’ doors and hanging flyers has been taken over by other commitments, and I haven’t been able to go. I’ve fallen out of the habit and even forgotten about it!

Over these same past few weeks, we’ve had an evangelist at our church teaching a course in personal evangelism. His name is Sam Wilson, once a missionary in Russia and in Tel Aviv, and he is now a missionary to the Jewish people, based in Atlanta, serving with the International Board of Jewish Missions. He gave an analogy about personal evangelism that really resonated with me, and I wanted to share it, and then give some commentary or application.

The tendency can be to resemble a telemarketer who will not hang up until the prospect relents out of pity or hangs up in disgust.

He calls it the “soccer strategy.” Here’s the deal.

In American football, when a player catches the ball, his singular focus is to run the ball to the end zone for a touchdown. Almost any other outcome – even a first down – is second-best. The drive is always for a touchdown.

Every. Single. Time.

In soccer (or real football for the rest of the world), a player who charged for the net every time he received the ball would soon be pulled out of the game for some quality time of correction by the coach. In soccer, the player who has the ball has the goal of making the progress that he can, and then to pass the ball to another player who is more suited to make progress.

With the American football approach to evangelism, every encounter involves a drive to a decision point for Christ. The tendency can be to resemble a telemarketer who will not hang up until the prospect relents out of pity or hangs up in disgust. And in the Christian’s drive to score his point, people are often left hurt or injured.

With the soccer strategy, every encounter is seen as a potential to make ground in the right direction. And when the Christian sees opponents starting to close in, before the door of receptivity closes shut completely, he passes the ball – ending his personal advance with that contact, and leaving it to God to bring in the opportunity again later, most likely with another player.

I thought this soccer analogy was a tremendous picture, and I saw two sides of it to apply to my own life.

  1. There is honor in ending a conversation without reaching a yes/no decision for Christ. The opportunity to sow a seed, to give light and water, makes progress to the goal. I don’t have to be the one to score.
  2. There is not honor in failing to accept the ball or seeking to make progress. When I get the ball, I must be ready to accept it and move it toward the goal. And when the opportunity for progress ends where I am, I need to skillfully pass it to someone else.

In real soccer – not just the metaphorical one we’ve been talking about here – I’m a pretty miserable player. In high school, I tried out for the soccer team. The coach told me that he doesn’t cut people from the team. He warned me that I’d be able to wear a uniform, but I’d probably never see any field time.

Why? Because I didn’t care enough about soccer to learn the skills. I wanted the glory that came from being on the team, but the game itself wasn’t a big deal to me. Even today when I’m just toying around with other people – in any sport really – I hardly ever get the ball. I’m just not that good at sports. They don’t really interest me.

I also seem to find that I don’t often get many opportunities to share the gospel. Even when I work to create such an opportunity, and prepare exactly what I’m going to say, something often happens to swipe that opportunity away at the last minute.

Could it be that I don’t get the opportunities because I haven’t prepared for them? I don’t get the ball passed my way because I’d give up the possession?

Here’s what’s been going through my head lately around this. Athletes improve two ways – by practicing, and by playing strong opponents.

Continuing the metaphor with personal evangelism, I see how playing strong opponents fits in. When I take advantage of an opportunity to share the gospel, I’ll gain skill; I’ll improve. The part that’s kind of simmering is the idea of practice. Athletes spend far more time practicing than they do actually playing. I’m not sure if that’s relevant to the metaphor, but I did find it interesting.

My question to you is – do you know of a course or a plan that offers step-by-step instructions, guided homework, and role-playing guidance to put practice around personal evangelism? I’m not looking for a course to help me build my personal telemarketing spiel. I’m looking for something that could be more ongoing, driving perpetual improvement – even for someone who today doesn’t even know how to dribble the ball without losing it.

If you know of such a program – or if you would be interested in helping create one, leave a note in the comments.

Encouragement

Miqueas & Deborah Perez
Miqueas & Deborah Perez

My guest today is a missionary with a rather unusual story. In some ways it’s the same as most missionaries we know. God called him to preach. He left his home country and is now living in a new land, with a new culture, and a new language. The big difference between this man and many other missionaries is that he is a missionary to the United States. And he does not yet speak English.

As you can imagine, this made for a rather interesting conversation, and some interesting challenges editing the recording for today’s podcast.

But he is here in the state of Georgia, having moved here recently from his home in Mexico, where he grew up and came to know the Lord. He joins us today along with his wife, who you will hear interpreting his story into English.

This was also an unusual interview in that once he started telling his story, there was no need for me to interrupt to prompt with additional questions. Everything just wanted to flow.

The story you’ll hear this week and next is a truly inspiring one. You’ll hear how God worked persistently in the lives of my new friends Miqueas and Deborah Perez to call Miqueas into ministry.

Maybe you’re wrestling with a decision God wants you to make. Maybe you’re bargaining with God offering to serve him up to a point, but no further. Or maybe you’re praying for someone, perhaps a family member or a new disciple – someone who is on the verge of a decision for Christ but not quite willing to step over that line.

Miqueas finally crossed that line and surrendered his life to Christ without reservation, but how did he become a Pastor? Why did he end up leaving Mexico to become a missionary to the United States? We’ll finish the story next week, so subscribe to the Lift Up podcast on iTunes or Stitcher or your podcasting app to make sure you hear the end of the story.

Tech. Tip

You’re focused on ministry. If you’re like me, you’re not particularly skilled with graphic design, video effects, and other visually-creative talents. And especially if you’re a missionary on deputation or starting some other new kind of ministry, you often need to find someone with those skills.

Or, maybe you are skilled in those areas, but you know that your time is best spent doing your ministry, and not messing with Photoshop or video editors.

When you need a quick task done – especially just one of those one-time tasks – where can you go to find good help without spending hours interviewing or hundreds of dollars?

Today’s Tech. Tip introduces fiverr.

Hundreds of creative professionals advertise the skills they’re willing to perform. You can search for the kind of work you want done, browse through samples of work that different people have completed, and then hire one of those to do that one job for you. The name of the site, fiverr.com, comes from the fact that almost every job (or “gig” as they call them) starts at $5. Sometimes additional options will add another $5 here and there, but the starting prices for the basic work is just $5.

So what kind of work can you get done at fiverr.com?

Well, let’s suppose you have a family picture that you want to include on your prayer card. You want your card to look like your family is directly in front of some other background photo or design, but your family photo has a blue or white backdrop, or some other kind of background that you don’t want on your prayer card. If you want to find someone who can remove that background from your family photo for you, search fiverr for photoshop remove background and you’ll find dozens of people willing to use Photoshop to remove backgrounds for just $5. And most of them will do several photos for you for that one price.

Fiverr search results for "photoshop remove background"
Fiverr search results for “photoshop remove background”

Or suppose you’re putting your deputation video together, and you want something a bit eye-catching at the beginning or the end of it. Try searching fiverr.com for logo reveal and find hundreds of different professional-looking video animations that will incorporate any image you want. I used one of these “gigs” to create the Edify Hub reveal you see just after the introduction of each Edify Hub video tip. You could also search for animated map and find several people willing to create different kinds of animated map videos, representing travels between different places in the world. I used one of these “gigs” to create videos for a missions conference at our church as we transitioned from one missionary to another.

Or how about during your regular day-to-day ministry? I know lots of us have trouble with spelling and grammar. Do you always find mistakes in your prayer letters only after you’ve already sent them? Search fiverr.com for proofreading and find someone willing to proofread 1000 words for just $5. Or search for church flyer to find graphic designers ready to prepare your ministry’s next outreach advertisement. And who knows what other relationships you may be able to build as people you hire become familiar with your ministry.

And there are dozens of other services available, including research, PowerPoint creation, website maintenance… the list goes on. I don’t have an affiliate relationship with fiverr.com. I don’t get any commission or anything when you hire someone from there. I’ve just used their services before and I’ve found them to be tremendously helpful and cost-effective.

Closing

Today, you’ve learned how to find someone to take care of those important but annoying little tasks that take away from your ministry when you don’t have the time or the skills to do them.

You’ve also met Miqueas Perez, a Mexican missionary now serving in the state of Georgia. If you’re not subscribed, please subscribe to the Lift Up podcast at liftuppodcast.com/itunes if you’re on a iPhone or iPad to make sure you catch the end of the story and hear every future encouraging, informative episode. If you use an Android phone, use your podcast player to subscribe at liftuppodcast.com/rss. If you don’t have a podcast player, consider Podcast Addict. It’s the one I use, and you can find it on the Google Play store by searching for Podcast Addict. And if stitcher’s your thing, subscribe at liftuppodcast.com/stitcher.

Finally, you’ve learned how Edify Hub is focusing on the missionary website builder to make sure it provides the best experience and the most help for missionaries – especially those who are just getting started with deputation.

Take Action

Next time you have one of those little tiresome jobs that distracts you from the ministry work that God has called you to do, check out fiverr.com and see if there’s someone there who can take care of that little distraction for you.

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