Tourism sparks gospel proclamation among unreached
Lauren Pratt | March 20, 2019
*Kevin and Lisa Brown discovered the reality of lostness in the world, a burden that not only continued to grow within them but called them to action as God brought the two together to serve as a couple in Southeast Asia.
“Both of us when we were [overseas] realized that there were people over there who really did not know who Jesus was,” said Kevin, who served with Cru in East Asia as a college student while Lisa served as a Journeyman in Africa.
As the couple sensed the calling to serve the Lord through full-time, overseas missions, they decided to enter into the 2+3 International Church Planting program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), which Kevin recalled gave a “theological underpinning” for their ministry ahead.
A decade later, the journey has continued as their primary ministry in Southeast Asia centers on tourism. As teams arrive, they experience the activities associated with tourism ranging from backpacking to scuba diving, all providing opportunities to reach some of the unreached people in the country with the gospel.
“All our guests … have an opportunity to share the gospel among unreached people groups,” said Kevin… “That job supports local businesses and engages people with the gospel.”
Their ministry has changed over the years. The first four years of ministry involved teaching through an NGO. However, after the NGO closed down, the Lord opened up the door to start the tourism business that has served to reach many in remote parts of Southeast Asia with the gospel.
In Spring 2017, SEBTS students and professors traveled to Southeast Asia to work with the Browns.
The trip, which SEBTS has hosted since 2013, involved two primary elements.
The first half of the trip involved the team participating in tourist activities associated with the Browns’ business, including scuba diving, viewing a historic palace and visiting a farm that helps support nationals in the country. While this half of the trip is touristic in nature, it supports local partners, allowing them to continue ministry in the country.
The second half of the trip involved the team dividing in two, traveling to two separate islands for four days. They would meet locals along the way with whom they would build relationships and share the gospel. This aspect of the trip helps the team lay the ground work for the Browns and their national partners to come after them and continue to minister in these areas.
An SEBTS student pursuing an M.A. in intercultural studies, described her experience on the trip in this way:
The people we met welcomed us into their homes, provided wonderful meals and gave us a place to sleep. However, at the end of our visit, we pulled away in little boats from these islands leaving not a single believer behind. It broke my heart to think that these warm, gracious people do not know the gracious and loving savior who died for them. I was impressed by this trip with the sure knowledge that missions to the unreached must be an absolute priority for the Church and in my own life.
While the Browns certainly were not surprised by the typical elements of culture shock that they anticipated prior to moving overseas, what did surprise them was the patience it would take to see churches planted.
While many have come to Christ, establishing a church has been a much longer and more difficult process in part due to the geography of where the Browns live.
However, throughout the process of developing the business and ministry, they have found national church planting partners to be invaluable in the process of reaching their region with the gospel.
For the Browns, these national partners are not just a resource for ministry and business practices but teammates which strengthen their faith. Instead of reacting out of anger, the Southeast Asian believers with whom the Browns work have demonstrated humility under discrimination for their faith, Kevin noted. It’s a quality that has shaped his faith.
He sees them as those who can continue the ministry even after he leaves, realizing that just as God has called him to ministry, God is also calling the national believers with whom he works.
“Each of the national partners we work with has been called by God in their own unique way; I just try to recognize those that are called and come alongside of them,” he said.
Pray for the Browns in the following three ways:
• Pray that their business would run smoothly through their national partners while the Browns are stateside until summer.
• Pray that in these last months of being in the States that everything would go well with their kids at school, that they would have quality time with one another and that they would be able to connect with friends and family while in the States.
• Pray for Kevin and Lisa as they enter into a new stage with their kids, who are all in school now. The kids will be the only Western children where they live overseas, so please pray for closeness as a family.
*Names changed for security reasons
*Photo courtesy of IMB at https://www.imb.org/?p=84276
From our local community to the outermost parts of the world, Southeastern students and alumni are reaching people with the gospel by fulfilling the Great Commission. Using the model of Acts 1:8, we want to highlight these stories of how our Southeastern family is serving in North Carolina, North America and around the world. Acts 1:8 Stories create a collective and consistent way to tell the story of Southeastern, one person at a time. From local pastors to missionaries among the unreached, God is doing a great work among students and alumni. Where are they now and where are they going? We can’t wait for you to find out!