On March 23-25, 2022, the Berean Academy secondary program enjoyed a special time of emphasis on missions with our special speaker, Brian Holmquist, and his wife Andrea, who serve with Ethnos 360 (New Tribes Mission). Brian and Andrea spent over 15 years working among the Mariama people of Papua New Guinea. The Lord has used them to plant a church among this unreached indigenous people group and translate the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into their language. Currently, they serve at the Ethnos 360 training center near Camdenton, Missouri, where Brian provides church planting and cross-cultural training for future missionaries.
Brian started by laying the groundwork for missions. Students considered several New Testament passages where the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to be witnesses, go out into the world with the gospel, and make disciples. Brian noted that the commandment to go doesn't require a special, individual calling. Believers should be sharing the good news of the gospel wherever they are. Brian repeatedly emphasized that "we are either always ready to share the gospel or never ready." He illustrated this by asking students what they might share with someone who was moments away from death after a serious car wreck - with their eternal destiny only minutes away, could they share the gospel? What would they say?
In the second session, Brian started with one minute of silence while he looked at students and walked among them. It was incredibly unsettling. He then shared that nearly 100 people had died in that one minute, most heading to a Christless eternity. In an hour, the number jumped to 5400; in a day, about 130,000 people, and in a year, roughly 47 million people were lost. He spent the rest of that session sharing about the needs around the world, specifically among the unengaged and unreached people groups of the world. Specifically, 250 million people live where the name of Jesus has never been named. He illustrated this by having a student look up John 3:16 in the language of a neighboring tribe in Papua New Guinea - the page, in fact, the entire Bible, consisted of blank pages because the Bible has never been translated into their language.
In the third, fourth, and fifth sessions, Brian focused on the obstacles of taking the gospel to unreached people groups - language & culture, distance & location, visas & government restrictions, finances, and most importantly - people willing to give their lives to take the gospel to them. He used interactions with students, examples, pictures of their work in PNG, and short video clips to illustrate the challenges facing tribal missionaries.
One of the more interesting questions Brian asked the students was, "where does a missionary begin?" One student correctly answered, "In the beginning!" While it might be tempting to start with Jesus and the gospels, for a people group who have no knowledge of God, creation, sin, the Mosaic law, the promises of the Messiah, and so much more, a missionary must start in the beginning to avoid confusion later on. Quite possibly, there are lessons for us in modern-day evangelism as the United States shifts from a Judeo-Christian to a post-modern culture. Brian concluded by sharing that all of the sacrifices and challenges were worth the cost when they saw the joy of the Mariama people the day they understood the truth of the gospel message for the first time.
To see a video shared with our students, please click below.