Summary: How To Turn Problems Into Opportunities for Evangelism

How To Turn Problems Into Opportunities for Evangelism

Learning Objectives

1. The students will explain the principles behind how a missionary can turn a problem into an opportunity for evangelism.

2. The students will write a short paper on why it is important that a missionary yield his rights to God.

Introduction - Many missionaries encounter problems that are complicated by the different cultures that they work in. Sometimes, missionaries negative reactions toward their problems hinder the work of the gospel. In some instances, evangelists who have applied the wrong solution to their problems have been forced to leave their fields. In other cases, missionaries who have learned to react to problems positively have been used to start many new churches. Let us ask the Lord for wisdom in learning from the following story of one missionary’s negative and positive reactions to a problem!

Many years ago the story is told of a missionary who planted a special mango-peach tree in his front yard. After carefully watering it, trimming it, and protecting it from the local animals for many years, he finally started to see fruit ripening on the tree. He told his family, ``It won’t be long before we can enjoy fresh mango-peach pie.’’ Everyone in the family became eager to taste the fruits of their father’s labors.

In the village where the missionary worked, the people were used to eating mangos. However, all of the villagers had never eaten a mango-peach, so they were curious about this new kind of fruit. When the missionary started looking at his tree to see if any fruit was ripe they would look too!

One day, the missionary saw some young boys come into his front yard. He told them they could not pick any of his mango-peaches since the tree belonged to him. Even though the boys left peacefully that afternoon, they understood that all mango trees were public property. In that village it was assumed that mango trees belonged to no one person. The boys began to plot how they could taste some of these new mango-peaches when the missionary would not catch them.

The next morning the missionary went out to inspect his prized mango-peach tree. To his amazement, most of the lower level fruits were missing. He immediately suspected the young boys. Furious, that the boys had stolen his special mango-peaches, the missionary marched to the boy’s home to talk to their fathers. When he arrived at their homes, he saw several mango-peach pits scattered around the houses. He even saw uneaten fruit from his tree in the corner of the front room as he entered the first house!

As the missionary demanded an explanation from the fathers and the boys, he showed a red face of anger. Even though the missionary did not expect to get his fruit back, he expected the fathers to punish the boys for their crime of stealing his mango-peaches. However, the fathers explained to the missionary by saying,

``In this village, all mango trees are public property.’’ No one can take credit for planting the first mango tree, so no one has the right to claim a mango tree as his own property. That is the rule in this village!’’


The missionary said, ``You do not understand, this tree in my front yard is not just a mango tree, it is a mango-peach tree.’’ My hands planted it, therefore, my family gets to eat the fruit.’’ This made perfect sense to the missionary, but not to the villagers. To them, even if it was half a mango tree, it was a mango tree. Therefore, to the boys and their fathers, the fruit on the missionary’s tree was free for the picking!!!

Not to be out done by the villagers, the missionary decided to teach the people a few lessons. He decided that he would put a big fence around his property and put a big dog inside. Instead of getting a small dog like all the other villagers had, the missionary went to the big capital city to bring back a dog bigger than anyone had ever seen before. Whenever, anyone came to the missionary’s house, the dog would rush to the fence and scare them away. The dog enabled the missionary to enjoy his mango-peaches, but no one came to visit the missionary any longer for fear of the being bitten.

Even though the missionary had physical fruit, he was not bearing very much spiritual fruit because of the dog!

The next day the missionary’s wife said to the man, ``You had better get rid of that dog! No one comes to visit us any longer. Before, we got the dog, many people felt comfortable to come to our house to visit, get medicines, and listen to Bible stories under the shade of our trees.’’

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