This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

World Christianity

On this interview, Tim Keesee shares from his personal experiences speaking with Christians across the globe, reflecting on his work as a missions journalist, the truth of persecution, and one of the simplest ways to strategy a short-term mission journey.

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Full Transcript

01:24 – Welcome

Matt Tully
Thanks for becoming a member of us on The Crossway Podcast, Tim.

Tim Keesee
Thanks, Matt.

01:28 – Dispatches from the Entrance

Matt Tully
You’re most likely finest recognized on your documentary sequence Dispatches from the Entrance. It’s a video sequence that follows you as you journey around the globe visiting Christians all throughout the globe on nearly each continent. The place did you get the concept for that sequence, and had been you in any respect shocked by the response that it acquired?

Tim Keesee
For so long as I can keep in mind I’ve saved a journal and when the Lord allowed me to go to Jap Europe—which was our place to begin of our mission work—and I used to be seeing history-changing occasions unfold, and gospel doorways opening, I needed to share what I used to be seeing, and I’d publish excerpts from these journals. And it was actually vital for me to assist my associates and different Christians at different church buildings to have the ability to journey with me, so to talk, on these journeys. I feel typically these of us who’ve the wonderful privilege to journey and see the world and see the worldwide church can typically be a bit of bit impatient with Christians who don’t get it or don’t see it.

Matt Tully
See what? Or get what?

Tim Keesee
See the extent of the gospel’s energy and see how Christ is constructing his church all around the world. They usually could get snippets of it right here and there, however I needed them to really feel like they had been in the midst of it so they might expertise the enjoyment that I used to be experiencing in seeing glimpses of the glory that I used to be seeing. So I needed to deliver them alongside.

I used to be informed some years later by a filmmaker, “The way you write, if we added film to this it would take this to another level in terms of communicating the message.” And so we did a pilot program and I used to be actually taken again by the a number of generations of individuals—younger, previous—from various kinds of church backgrounds, responding to the message of the gospel that was being communicated by means of these tales.

03:58 – The Starting of the Ministry

Matt Tully
Earlier than the video sequence, whenever you first began sending these dispatches again out of your travels, what kind did that take? When was that? After which, was it snail mail to a publication record of some kind? How did it begin?

Tim Keesee
I’m extra of a nineteenth-century man, so I check with it as mail, not snail mail.

Matt Tully
You’ll be able to inform what technology I’m from.

Tim Keesee
Yeah, I perceive. Completely. I revealed excerpts from my journal in our mission publication, after which I’d share a few of them in a month-to-month publication that I’d mail out. So a number of thousand folks maybe learn these. However that may be again within the 1990s. I particularly began journaling and sharing once I was in Bosnia throughout the conflict within the early 90s, seeing the devastations of the conflict in former Yugoslavia and seeing the work of the church in mercy and in gospel witness in these settings. That was my first expertise serving within the context of a conflict zone and likewise serving in a predominantly Muslim context as nicely.

05:21 – World Travels

Matt Tully
What number of international locations would you guess you could have been to at this level?

Tim Keesee
In all probability round ninety.

Matt Tully
Ninety. Wow. How lengthy do you usually keep in a rustic when you’re touring? Or does it fluctuate relying on the journey?

Tim Keesee
It’s gonna fluctuate. Now, there have been occasions once I was away for six, seven weeks, near a few months. However I don’t actually look after that. More often than not I attempt to hold journeys to 2 to a few weeks.

05:53 – Household Life

Matt Tully
Does your spouse ever include you or are you usually by yourself?

Tim Keesee
She comes each time it’s a very good match for her. She has a number of duty at Frontline Missions, the place we serve collectively. And she or he’s additionally a bit of little bit of a homebody . . .

Matt Tully
So, attention-grabbing dynamic being married to you—a world traveler.

Tim Keesee
On the identical time, she is simply such an important a part of what I do. She all the time has been. So I feel we make a very good staff.

06:26 – Current Travels

Matt Tully
What was your final journey? The place had been you? How lengthy had been you there? And what did you see there?

Tim Keesee
The final journey was a visit to Southeast Asia after which I used to be down in Australia and New Zealand talking at a church and seminary down there. So nothing too unique. Beautiful and inspiring to see God’s work in that a part of Australia. However the time earlier than that I used to be within the Center East in a Hezbollah stronghold with a pastor who planted a church. A former Muslim, a pastor named Mohammed, and Christ saved him and is now positioning him to achieve his folks. And so it was very highly effective for me to see the braveness, the religion, the love of those folks within the face of a lot hate and a tradition of loss of life that’s robust in that pressure of Islam and in that a part of the world.

07:42 – Perspective Gained from Travels

Matt Tully
As you consider the time that you just spent with this pastor Mohammed, does that change the way in which that you just view our church buildings and pastoral ministry right here in western international locations?

Tim Keesee
I do see so many stunning issues about how they create group, how they love one another, the give attention to fellowship and hospitality as gateways for the gospel message to adorn the gospel message. I’m all the time amazed by their Spirit-given braveness.

Nonetheless, I feel it’s vital that we don’t set Christians up on the opposite aspect of the world as being one thing apart from we’re:sinners saved by grace. We are able to are inclined to say, or assume, Oh, God’s actually working over there. These Christians are tremendous Christians. And over right here, we’re not fairly as much as all of that. I feel that in some methods diminishes the facility, the truth of the gospel and the way Christ is constructing his church all around the world. He has authority all around the world and that features right here, and the gospel nonetheless works right here. And he’s nonetheless calling women and men to himself right here and they’re following their cross-bearer right here. So I don’t like to emphasise an excessive amount of that, Over there they’re wonderful. And over right here we’re simply struggling to . . . I don’t see that in any respect. I see that as women and men are making Christ’s priorities theirs as they’re pursuing him, that he’s utilizing them. And so there are some wonderful Christians over right here, and there are clearly some wonderful Christians over there.

09:39 – Misconceptions about World Christianity

Matt Tully
Are there different misconceptions that you just really feel are widespread amongst People when they consider Christians around the globe?

Tim Keesee
They’re sinners saved by grace. They’re positively in a distinct sort of circumstance than we’re on this nation. However they’re brothers and sisters with the entire failings, and joys, and want of the Spirit and I feel that informs how we pray for them as nicely. We all know what they’re going by means of, simply as in Hebrews 13:three says: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” So the author of Hebrews helps us see that this is sort of a member of the family that we’re embracing, and praying for, and figuring out with due to the gospel.

10:42 – Insights into Scripture

Matt Tully
A lot of Scripture that appears notably related in a few of these tougher, hostile contexts, and it may be a bit of bit exhausting in America—the place we’re so used to the liberty and the abundance—to know totally and grasp experientially. Do you see that, that somebody can have perception into sure passages as a result of they’ve a lived expertise, whether or not it’s due to persecution or different points?

Tim Keesee
Positively. We are able to’t totally respect the context they’re in. I consider Pakistan, for instance, having been with believers in that nation and seeing this tiny minority so discriminated in opposition to from cradle to grave. We don’t have any actual context for that.

It’s vital to recollect in our context that the primary part of persecution is intimidation. You see that in Acts 4. They had been simply threatened after which despatched away, informed, When you hold down this path there’s going to be critical bother. This was being spoken by those that crucified their grasp not lengthy earlier than. So intimidation is all the time the primary assault in opposition to the Christian. And if that intimidation causes them to be quiet, to close their mouth, and hold their religion private and personal and silent, then no one has an issue with it. It’s once we communicate, it’s once we open our mouths and declare the work of Christ, the excellent news, that’s when the difficulty begins.

12:47 – The Church in China

Matt Tully
A few of our listeners could also be conscious that issues are getting fairly tough for Christians in China proper now over the previous few months. I don’t know precisely how lengthy you’ll say it’s ben altering, however pretty just lately issues have gotten noticeably worse. Are you able to clarify what’s occurring and the way the church there in China is responding?

Tim Keesee
To start with, reward God for the facility of the gospel in China. Maybe the best numerical motion in progress of the church in church historical past has occurred in China previously twenty to thirty years. And there have been waves of persecution coming like waves beating on the shore. And now they’re in a time of renewed strain on the church, and the communist chief, Xi Jinping, is dedicated to forcing the church to undergo the state, all the way down to having a so-called Bible that’s in accordance with Communist and Communist-Chinese language rules. So there’s monumental strain on the church. Many have been arrested, property confiscated and destroyed.

And but I heard just some weeks in the past from some pricey associates in China proper in the midst of the world underneath the strain and the assaults, and they’re saying, “We have not experienced this kind of joy in many years.” And Jesus is with them of their struggling. And that’s the one rationalization of why, underneath all of the strain that they’re experiencing now and the arrests and the specter of arrest and confiscation of property, they’re saying we’re rising and we’re rising in our pleasure for Christ and for the gospel. They’re sharing . . . they’re not holding again. Jesus is with them and he’s utilizing them on this time.

15:03 – Praying for China

Matt Tully
How would you say that these listening to us at the moment—folks all around the globe—will be praying for our brothers and sisters in China particularly? Are there sure issues that we will be lifting as much as God in prayer for them proper now?

Tim Keesee
To start with, return to Hebrews 13. Keep in mind those that are in jail as if we’re sitting proper subsequent to them within the chains as nicely. Not on the opposite aspect of the bars, however sitting subsequent to them. Keep in mind those that are mistreated as a result of we’re additionally within the physique. So pray for them as we’d think about our brothers and sisters, our household, struggling by means of most cancers or some fearful factor and circumstance. So in an understanding method attempt to enter in to what they’re experiencing, understanding that they’re collaborating within the sufferings of Christ as nicely on this time. Pray for them as they’re in truth brothers and sisters.

Additionally pray that God would give them nice grace in order that they might have boldness to talk the gospel in these conditions, as a result of that’s when the gospel message shines the clearest. And it’s an encouraging factor to appreciate—and I’m not minimizing it in any respect, as a result of the bruises are black and blue, the blood is actual, folks undergo in these circumstances—persecution is definitely a mark of gospel advance. When there’s no gospel at work folks aren’t listening to excellent news and responding to it, church buildings aren’t ensuing from these disciples forming in gathering, there’s no persecution. However when the gospel begins to advance, persecution comes. So truly it’s a mark of progress and never regress.

17:18 – Persecution and the Church

Matt Tully
There’s a well-known maxim from church historical past I can’t recall who stated it nevertheless it goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Tim Keesee
Tertullian.

Matt Tully
What do you consider that? Is {that a} useful mind-set about persecution at the moment?

Tim Keesee
I do assume it’s a part of that upside-down nature of the gospel. As he stated, he’s speaking to the Roman persecutors, “The more you mow us down the more we grow. And the blood of Christians is seed.” Once more, not minimizing the struggling, however realizing that God—who’s doing this work, who’s behind this work, who’s directing this work—is utilizing the sufferings of his folks for his glory and for the development of his message.

18:23 – Quick-Time period Missions

Matt Tully
That’s one cause, I feel, that the work that you just do as a missions journalist is so vital—whether or not it’s by means of these video sequence that you just’ve created, or by means of your two books that chronicle your travels and provides Western Christians a glimpse at what God is doing around the globe. It helps us to hope. It helps us to see these Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, who we will relate to, to some extent, even when we have by no means meet them, by no means spoken with them. So I feel that’s one of many great advantages of what you’re doing.

It makes me assume, then, of how that’s typically touted as one of many advantages of a brief time period mission journey. It provides individuals who possibly have by no means been outdoors of the States—younger folks typically—an opportunity to see what one other tradition is like and what God’s doing elsewhere. What do you consider short-term mission journeys? They are often controversial typically, notably whenever you communicate with veteran, profession missionaries or missions staff. What are the professionals and cons in your thoughts?

Tim Keesee
Sure, that’s a very good query and there are a number of instructions we might go together with that. Frontline Missions has an internship program, so we’re concerned in short-term missions in that method. Our short-term missions are two months and two years. Our thought of brief time period is 2 years. However the first bit of recommendation I’d have for somebody happening a short-term staff—and I’d say it needs to be a staff that’s church primarily based, and there needs to be some mentoring earlier than getting on the aircraft. Vital mentoring earlier than getting on the aircraft, mentoring there on the vacation spot, and a very good robust debrief afterward, *The place will we go from right here and motion objects. An actual structured factor. Not only a trip. Not simply cool photos for Instagram, however one thing that’s directed and is rooted of their church.

However having stated that, everybody of these brief termers ought to go . . . I virtually don’t even wish to name it “short-term missions” . . . they need to go as a short-term learner. Simply actually go together with a posture of What can I study right here? How can I see God at work? And never I’m going to go and I’m going to assist the missionary as a result of I’m going to color or do that ministry, distribute these tracts. I’m serving to them. It’s actually higher in the event that they go and say, Look. I’ve a lot to study. I must study from these veterans. I must study from my brothers and sisters on this tradition that we’re visiting for a number of days. And so I’m gonna study all I can after which see how God’s going to affect my life by means of what I’m studying.

21:35 – Western Missionaries and the Gospel’s World Advance

Matt Tully
Yeah. That’s useful. In order you look ahead ten, twenty, possibly even fifty years—I do know i’m asking you to foretell the longer term right here a bit of bit—however what position do you see “Western” missionaries taking part in within the advance of the gospel around the globe versus the position that indigenous Christians will play?

Tim Keesee
It’s true, it’s stunning that the worldwide mission power is a lot extra various than it’s ever been earlier than as a result of as Christ is asking women and men to himself from each nation, so he’s additionally sending them out to each nation. We should be reminded of that on this nation, the place we will assume that our cash and our organizations and our seminaries are the fountainhead of world missions and we’re not the fountainhead of world missions. Christ is constructing his church and he’s doing this work and he’s—that being stated—he’s nonetheless calling women and men from Western international locations, from this nation, to be a part of that work. We’ll proceed to have a job to play simply as Egyptians and Ethiopians and Chinese language and Indians and French and Dutch and Brazilians may have in his kingdom work.

23:12 – Encouragement and Want for Prayer

Matt Tully
What’s been one of the encouraging, superior issues that you just’ve seen in your travels over time that testifies to God’s energy in the way in which that he’s shifting and shocking and wonderful in wonderful methods? Alternatively, what’s been one of the troublesome or discouraging or disturbing issues that you just’ve seen in your travels that we will be praying for?

Tim Keesee
I consider only a panorama of brothers and sisters that I’ve met who got here out of darkish faith and had been transformed, modified, born once more. And in some circumstances they had been persecutors of the Manner, similar to Paul. And now they’re proclaimers of the Phrase—highly effective proclaimers, daring proclaimers. And so by means of their lives I’m simply reminded as soon as once more that Christ is alive. And he’s bringing folks to himself and the brand new start is a radical inside work of Christ that’s made to final. I feel it is not a single occasion, however only one individual after one other I’ve seen of their face and of their ministry, this radical transformation of the gospel.

Matt Tully
Yeah, that’s great. Something stand out as both disturbing or discouraging factor that you just’ve seen?

Tim Keesee
I’ve seen my brothers and sisters in nice bodily ache from the fingers of their persecutors. Individuals who’ve had their properties burned to the bottom, girls who’ve been raped, a dad I’m pondering of proper now whose son was murdered. So it hurts. It hurts deeply to see their ache and it causes me to hope for them much more. So once we speak in regards to the persecuted church it looks like this huge tagline for half the world, nevertheless it comes all the way down to women and men who’re a part of our household, our blood-bought household ceaselessly, that we’re to undergo alongside of as finest we will and enter into this in a prayerful, caring life for them.

25:58 – Coping with Discouragement

Matt Tully
Have you ever ever seen issues that had been simply so exhausting that you just felt discouraged. You felt like, “I don’t know if I want to keep doing this. I don’t know if I can keep seeing these things.” Have you ever ever sort of thought of stopping?

Tim Keesee
No. I say that as a result of I do know that every thing that Christ has finished, is doing, is simply assured to succeed. Even when it’s actually darkish. This story involves thoughts:

I used to be in Pakistan after an assault on a Christian group—300 Christian households. Church buildings had been all burned down and their properties looted, and plenty of of them destroyed, and in that terrible scenario—and I used to be there proper after it occurred—one among these brothers there got here to me, spoke sufficient English to simply begin quoting Scripture. Like, he’s standing there within the ashes of his church and he’s saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” After which he simply goes by means of to cite John 14 that Jesus stated, “I’ve prepared a place for you.” After which he says—he’s quoting once more from Christ in Revelation—“be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.” And I’m listening to this from the mouth of a person who’s standing there with all of the threats and fears and query marks over his future, and he has an unshakable confidence that every thing that Christ promised will come to cross.

27:44 – Worldwide Journey Recommendation

Matt Tully
Final query, a bit of bit extra light-hearted. Clearly you do a number of touring. Fairly protected to say you’re a professional on the subject of touring internationally. What’s one piece of recommendation that you’d provide to our listeners on the subject of touring internationally?

Tim Keesee
Don’t drink the water.

Matt Tully
Don’t drink the water. Does that imply you’re packing in water for your self on a regular basis?

Tim Keesee
And journey gentle. I’m simply naming the 2 commonest issues that you just’re purported to acknowledge; though, I’d say, , water is a principal perpetrator of a traveler’s sicknesses. However I feel as a lot as is feasible—talking simply as a traveller—get off the overwhelmed path. Get out and ask a number of questions. Take good notes. Be a very good listener. Study all you’ll be able to. And as a Christian, study all you’ll be able to to see God’s glory in what you’re experiencing.

28:54 – Closing

Matt Tully
Effectively Tim, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at the moment on The Crossway Podcast and sharing a bit of bit in regards to the issues that God has taught you as you’ve traveled and seen the mighty methods that he’s working all around the globe and the gospel is advancing for his glory.

Tim Keesee
Thanks.


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