Pioneering mission comes in all shapes and sizes — just ask Jonny Anderson, who has spent the last three years learning the South American language Quechua.
Serving In Mission started by taking the gospel to those who had never heard it, but a key part of today’s strategy is helping those who have met Jesus become good disciples.
Jonny, sent by St Nicholas Church, Tooting, knows there is a desperate need for Quechua churches to hear Christ-centred preaching in their own language.
He explained: “Two million Bolivians have Quechua as their first language. To explain the gospel, you really need to do it Quechua.”
Jonny (above) lives with wife Olga, and two of their three children — seven-year-old Joanna and six-year-old Jonah. Their nine-year-old son Joel is at boarding school in England, close to Jonny’s parents in Somerset.
Near Jonny’s home in Sucre, is a small Quechua church. Most of the 50 or so adult members are aged around 30, with a slightly older leadership.
Several people have recently been baptised but the continuing challenge is to ensure they are well-discipled.
Jonny said: “If you teach or preach in Spanish, you are using the language of the education system, so people feel they are being taught rather than discipled.
“But the gospel is all about relationship with Jesus. By using the Quechua heart language, I can emphasise that and it is easier to show Christ is part of everyday life, rather than just for Sunday; and that Christ is for everyone, not just those with special knowledge.”
Jonny ‘s two key preaching techniques are the narrative sermon and the white board with stick men.
In the sermon, Jonny goes through a Bible story and then applies it to the lives of those in the congregation.
He also encourages others to give their testimony and helps them understand how Jesus met people like them (rich man, poor man, ill person, etc).
By using a white board and stick men, he can go through a Bible story visually, which is especially effective in a primarily oral culture.
Jonny, who has just started preaching in Quechua, said: “The big challenge is to put Christ at the centre of the Quechua church, so that people understand the need to repent and find forgiveness.”
To do that effectively, Jonny knows he needs to improve his Quechua still further — and longs for other people to join him in the work.
He said: “After three years of learning the language, I’m just about able to preach in church but it is still tough. I’d say I was a beginner in the advanced class. But if God is really calling you, he will enable you to get through the language-learning and you’ll be motivated.”
Jonny’s Quechua preaching is taking pioneering mission to new levels.
Our founding fathers would perhaps have been happy to explain the gospel and move on; now the aim is to ensure people hear the gospel and then build a lifelong relationship with Jesus.
For Jonny to be encouraged by the sermons he preaches and for those who hear them to be challenged by the word of God.
For Jonny to be diligent and persistent in learning the language and willing to take some risks for the sake of the gospel.
For the family, as they adjust to life with Joel now at boarding school in England.