Most people have two main concerns when it comes to sharing the gospel: not knowing what to say and being rejected. IMB missionary Jay Shafto addresses these concerns as he equips believers in the Congo Basin to share the gospel confidently and continually.
Jay and his wife, Kathy, have served in this region for the past four years. The couple does not focus on a specific people group, but a territory. The territory where the majority of their work takes place is about one-third of the country’s size and is home to 400 language groups.
Working with existing churches and training leaders in local churches is the central focus of Jay and Kathy’s work. Their goal is to train pastors and church leaders to reach under-reached people groups, using oral-intensive training methods. Based on the life of King David, the training features nine Bible stories.
Groups of up to 30 men and women attend each four to five-day training, wherever the Shaftos hold the training in the Congo Basin. Each day, participants learn two stories from the life of David and are encouraged to share those stories with someone in their communities. Additionally, leaders are encouraged to look at their own lives and find ways to apply what they have learned in their positions of leadership.
Jay was surprised to learn that the stories from David’s life resonated on a personal level for many of the leaders. One leader, Victor, a former guard to the president, related to the story of David and Bathsheba. “I’ve seen this,” Victor said. “I’ve been places where military leaders have killed men for women.”
Another leader, named Epice, connected with the story of David and Abigail. In the story, Abigail’s husband showed great disrespect to David, and David was angered and set on revenge. However, Abigail asked David to show mercy, and David did. Because David did not seek revenge on his own terms, God took care of David while Abigail’s husband was punished.
As Epice listened to the story of David and Abigail, he became convicted of struggles in his own life. He said, “I have a problem with anger. Can you pray with me to ask God to help me with my anger?”
Throughout the trainings, Jay has seen countless connections spring up between David’s life and the lives of national leaders. Because the stories resonate, those who hear them are able to share them with a personal emphasis.
“The cultures they’re coming from don’t prepare them to be Christian leaders. God’s Word does,” said Jay.