By Laura McKillip Wood
Tom’s story started when he worked as a missionary in Latin America. He noticed the churches already there often thought of themselves more as recipients of missionary work than missionaries. They relied heavily on outside support. As Tom began new works in Latin America, he showed them the big picture of God working in the world and taught them ways to participate in God’s work. Eventually God called Tom to expand his ministry into Asia, including the training of evangelists in Nepal.
Ryan joined Tom as an intern while in Bible college, working as a liaison between the Nepali evangelists and the American churches. He loved using his English skills to help the Nepali people communicate prayer needs and stories to supporting American churches. His favorite part of his internship, though, was sharing his life with the Nepali people. “They taught me a lot,” Ryan said. “Walking up a hill and sitting there with their kids. Getting a haircut and getting to know the barber a little bit, even though he didn’t speak a word of English.”
Maggie grew up in Ohio, where her family was involved with a Hispanic church plant. Her mother translated, and Maggie played the piano. She learned Spanish and grew to love the Hispanic culture and people. She dreamed of working in a Hispanic country as a missionary.
Ryan met Maggie in their college anthropology class. Despite the fact that they sat in the same class all semester, they didn’t speak to one another until much later when they ended up in the same Bible study group. They became friends. Eventually Ryan’s friends, who thought the two were perfect for each other, applied enough pressure to encourage him to ask Maggie on a date. On that date and many that followed, Ryan found out his friends were right. They were perfect for one another. But the question remained of how to merge Ryan’s dreams of Nepal with Maggie’s love for Hispanic people.
Putting It All Together
Enter Tom and the Latin American churches. The missionary perspective that Tom planted in their hearts all those years ago grew, and the Latin American churches decided to send their own missionaries to Nepal to work in a supportive role with the Nepali evangelists.
According to Tom, Nepali evangelists often work in remote areas of the country. They are hard to track and communicate with. They sometimes find it difficult to be accepted by the communities where they settle. They are Christians living among nonbelievers, so that separates them. If they go to new areas, they find that cultural differences divide them from those they hope to reach with the gospel. Interestingly enough, Nepali villagers often welcome westerners and overlook their cultural mistakes.
Ryan and Maggie decided to join these Latin American missionaries, where they will work with groups of interns who travel to Nepal to collect data about remote Hindu/Buddhist subcultures. The anthropological data the interns gather will be used to determine regions with the greatest need for evangelists. Once those regions are identified and newly trained evangelists are dispatched, the information gathered will help them fit into their adopted Nepali subculture. Ryan, Maggie, and their coworkers will serve as support for the Nepali nationals, strengthening relationships between evangelists and the unreached villagers while learning about their ministries and Nepal. Ryan and Tom also hope the Latin American missionaries to Nepal will serve as good examples to the Christians back in their home churches, encouraging them to reach out and think globally.
As Ryan and Maggie begin their life together by serving alongside a Latin American team in Nepal, they bring together the strands of Tom’s ministries. In doing so, they strengthen the Nepali churches as well as supporters in America and Latin America. God has intricately woven these strands together and has chosen just the right people with just the right qualifications!
* Last names are omitted to protect the safety of those working in sensitive areas. If you’d like to learn more, Laura will forward emails to them (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Laura McKillip Wood formerly taught missionary children in Ukraine and now works in the academic office of Nebraska Christian College. She and her husband, Andrew, have three children (lauramckillipwood.com).