By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.— Freddy Parker not only prayerwalked during his last missions vision tour; he prayer-“boated” past the shoreline of several Southeast Asian port villages.
Parker, Acts 1:8 missionary at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, and Bruce Glisson, pastor of Immanuel Church in Salisbury, Md., traveled to the region in mid-May to pursue opportunities to develop an ongoing missions partnership.
In this partnership, interested BCM/D churches will work the local International Mission Board missionaries in obtaining contacts in the communities and evangelizing the people groups who have migrated to the area from nearby islands.
These migrants, primarily fishermen, live off the sea and have entered the country illegally.
“It’s a people group with a lot of needs, but generally, no government recognizes them,” Parker explained. “They are essentially a people with no government, on their own with no one to help them.”
These illegal aliens, with a significant amount of children and youth, have no papers or rights under the local government’s constitution and aren’t given access to education.
Parker envisions that BCM/D churches can spearhead several short-term projects, similar to Vacation Bible Schools, for education. He suggests that teams emphasize math and reading skills. They may also lead sports clinics, help set up classrooms or teach conversational English.
Parker said that these aliens flock to the region because the economy is much better and there are “fewer peace and order problems” due to the more stable country. For that reason, people do relax more here and are more approachable, noted Parker, who anticipates easier opportunities to share about Christ.
Yet, many of the residents practice a folk Islam, which basically is “a lot of spiritism (animism) with a veneer of Islam around it,” he said, noting that he saw several “spirit” places, where people placed objects to symbolize offerings for requests.
“This is very typical of the various people groups in Southeast Asia,” he said.
Parker and Glisson met one gentleman who is a very strong seeker. He showed great interest after reading a portion of Scripture in his language.
“I pray that God’s Spirit continues to move in this man’s life,” expressed Parker, noting that it was likely that the man would face persecution as he shares with other people in his community.
“These are precious folks that the Lord loves, that need to hear, that don’t have a lot of access to what Christ teaches. What they do get is often distorted, so there is a lot of misinformation that will need to be explained. The teams who come will need patience and consistency. It won’t change overnight, but as they connect with other believers, God will move.”
Since it is technically illegal to lead a resident in the region to Christ, Parker advises that teams work together “as an underground church situation.” He also urges prayer for wisdom and access and for barriers to the Gospel to be overcome. Pray that residents will see how the Lord loves and cares for them and that they would have the opportunity to hear and to respond to His message.
Weather in the region, which is a large urban area surrounded by breathtaking beaches and picturesque nature, is tropical year-round and presents a great opportunity for church members who may want to travel during the wintertime.
Parker will lead another vision trip in October.