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There are times when we have to venture out to a new community or a town to share the Good News. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, He will take us to the right people, the very ones God has prepared to receive the gospel. In every community, there are such “persons of peace.”

Outreach to a New Community

There are times when we have to venture out to a new community or a town to share the Good News. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, He will take us to the right people, the very ones God has prepared to receive the gospel. In every community, there are such “persons of peace.”

When Jesus sent out His disciples, two by two, to preach the good news, to heal the sick and to cast out demons, he said,

"Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave."

Luke records that statement thus:

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:5-6)

What were the disciples supposed to do if there was not even a single person in a town or village or community to welcome them?

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:10-12)

 

The Person of Peace

David L. Watson, the Vice President of Global Church Planting that promotes large-scale Disciple-Making Movements (DMM) observes that this person of peace is “the one God has prepared to receive the Gospel for the first time into a community.”

Neil Cole, the author of Organic Church describes three characteristics of a Person of Peace: 

  • They are people of receptivity. They are open to the message of the person and the peace of Christ.
  • They are people of relational connections. They know lots of people and are an important part of the community, for better or worse.
  • They are people of reputation. They possess a reputation, whether it is good or bad.

Cole observes that these Persons of peace play a vital role in missions. They receive the gospel and influence their community. A new church fellowship can be formed in their house. This way, we will not pull out a new convert from his or her community. They will remain there and influence their people. In Cole’s words,

Instead of drawing people out of community and robbing what community already existed, Jesus’ plan is to inject the Gospel into an existing community. Like a virus, the peace of the Good News infects and transforms the community so that the members become a church themselves.
Most people setting out to start new churches automatically think of starting in their own home, but Jesus’ idea of starting in the home of the new converts is a small shift with global implications. ... Trust Jesus’ plan. He felt it was strong enough plan to repeat it.

David Watson explains this paradigm and it’s implication for church planting.

The Person of Peace teaching is an entry strategy to new communities. In the Great Commission Jesus commanded us to “go.” What do we do when we get to where we are going? We find the Person of Peace.
This is radically different from traditional church planting methods. In the Person of Peace strategy, the evangelist has one job – Find the Person of Peace. This person may be from any walk of life, but he or she will welcome you, listen to your message, help you with your livelihood, and allow you to stay in the home, and influence his or her family and the community for the sake of the Gospel.

Examples from the New Testament

  • When Jesus reached out to a Samaritan woman outside the town of Sychar (John 4), he succeeded in wining the whole town through her.
  • Jesus and his disciples once crossed the Sea of Galilee to deliver just one demoniac who was infested with a legion of demons. Jesus sent him back to his family and community in Decapolis so that he could proclaim his testimony among his oikos.
  • The Holy Spirit used Philip to win the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. The powerful minister must have been the first missionary to Ethiopia. In all these examples, we see how one Person of Peace was targetted to reach an entire community.

Will this work in today’s world?

Here is a testimony of a Southern Baptist missionary and his companion who went to a hostile Asian village:

“We prayed, ‘God we know you’re at work here or we wouldn’t be here. We need a man of peace who will take care of us until we can feel our way around this village and know if it’s safe or unsafe.’
“I started my stopwatch. We walked into the center of the village where the well was.
A person approached me out of nowhere and said, ‘Have you eaten?’
We said, ‘Not yet.’
He said, ‘Well, come to my home.’
His name was Li, and he was the person of peace we wanted. I stopped my watch: three minutes, 21 seconds.” [Full article]

Things To Remember and Do

  • Jesus expects his disciples to venture into communities that have not heard the good news.
  • The presence of a Person of Peace is an indication of welcome.
  • The absence of even one Person of Peace is an indication of the community’s rejection of the gospel. It is an indication that the disciples should move on to another town or village.
  • Jesus had said that the Person of Peace will be instrumental in providing accommodation for the outreach team. He/she would be key to reaching the rest of the community.
  • Pray that God will lead you to a Person of Peace in the community that you target for Christ.

 


About the author

Philip Eapen, an environmental scientist by training, devoted his life to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ ever since he realized that the world needs Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else. Apart from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, Philip teaches Christians in order to equip them for service. He is supported by donations from readers; he also runs a small business. Philip is married to Dr. Jessimol and they are blessed with three sons and a daughter.

 

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