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Planting Churches in the Most Difficult Places: An interview with Dick Brogden What are some of the greatest challenges that your ministry faces on the field?

Dick Brogden: The peoples and places of the world that remain unreached do so for a reason – ideological strongholds (Islam in Oman), difficult to access (North Korea), war (Libya), harsh climate (Djibouti or Eastern Chad), remote and lonely (Comoros Islands), hostile (Caucus region of Southern Russia), civil strife (Syria), zenophobic (Iran), or even just overwhelming (2000 UPGs in India).

So one challenge comes from the shallowness of the sending church in America: We don’t want to send our missionaries (children and families, loved ones and friends) into harm’s way.

Ironically, it is noble to die for your country in these very same places, but foolish to die for Jesus. The American church does not seem to have the will to send its best to difficult locations. We are unwilling to see our loved ones suffer and die. We are unwilling to send more missionaries after the first ones we sent suffer or die.

Another challenge is persecution. Persecution does not always strengthen the church, sometimes it stamps it out. Those who follow Jesus are seen as betrayers, threats, dangers, and as evils to be eradicated. Often the first believers are harmed and hounded, and if their theology is not robust, they do not stay or survive. If the partnership response by the missionaries is to remove these first believers from the context of suffering – it is nigh impossible to plant a church when all your members flee or are extracted. In the experiences that your teams have had on the field what gifts of the Holy Spirit have been seen in operation?

Dick Brogden: From the 1 Corinthians 12 list, there are two general arenas where we see the gifts operate: our private team meetings and our public ministry. Gifts such as words of wisdom and knowledge, tongues and interpretation, prophecy tend to operate more in the private team meeting arena. Gifts like faith, miracles, and healing tend to operate more in the public arena when we are interacting with unreached peoples in their homes and communities.

Let us also remember that the greatest gift is Love. Tell us what some of most pressing needs on these mission fields are right now?

There is one pressing need. It’s the same need that Jesus identified and asked us to pray for in Luke 10:2: Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest fields, the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest fields.

With over 7000 UPGs in the world (by some counts), and with those UPGs – amounting to 3.15 billion people, or roughly 42% of the world – what we need are more church planters, laborers who work hard in the most difficult places. We need followers of Jesus who work smart, both contextually and biblically, and who work together under the direction of the Holy Spirit and in the unity of the brotherhood of faith.


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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Dick Brogden, PhD, and his wife, Jennifer, have served among Muslims for the last two and a half decades; Mauritania (1992), Kenya (1993-1995), Sudan (1996-2011), Egypt and the Arab World (2012 – present). They helped found the Live Dead movement and now oversee Church Planting for Live Dead in the Arab World and help serve the Live Dead movement globally. Dick is the author of Loving Muslims, Live Dead Joy: 365 Days of Living and Dying with Jesus, This Gospel: A Collection of Missions Sermons, Abiding in Jesus, Abiding Mission: Missionary Spirituality and Disciple-Making Among the Muslim Peoples of Egypt and Northern Sudan, Saharan Siftings: Lessons From the Desert and the editor of The Live Dead Journal: 30 Days of Prayer for Unreached Peoples, 30 Days of Challenge, and Live Dead: The Journey.

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