As I was riding my motorbike through the rain in some rural Asian village I came to a huge brown puddle across the road. Over the years I have crossed hundreds of puddles, streams and rivers. I thought I had this down so I decided to go straight through. It was murky and deeper than expected and as I was coming up I started to lose my balance. My left foot instinctively planted itself in the nasty pool so I wouldn’t fall in. When I pulled my foot back up my hiking sandal was GONE! It was stuck somewhere down in the murky muddy buffalo crap-filled water.
Dang…those were my favorite, most expensive and only hiking sandals.
The other riders were ahead of me and didn’t see my demise. I was left alone to wade through a pool of who knows what to find my left sandal. So I took off my clean right sandal and started sloshing around in ankle deep mud, barefoot. It was sticky and I had soft mud in between my toes. I felt clay and rocks but couldn’t find my sandal. I had no choice but to remove my riding gloves and use my hands to sift through the mud…still nothing. After a few minutes of searching on my own (and shaking my mud covered hands at the sky in frustration) my friends finally arrived. They removed their own shoes, jumped in the puddle with me and located my sandal in less than 5 seconds.
There are no shortcuts to something as simple as finding a lost sandal in a muddy pool…you must get dirty.
Searching through the mud reminded me of why we were motorbiking through rural villages in the rainy season in the first place – we were searching for a Person of Peace (POP). A Person of Peace is simply someone that God has prepared in advance to receive the Gospel for the first time into a community. This is the strategy Jesus models in Matthew 10, Luke 9, and Luke 10, when he sends his disciples out with his authority to do the same stuff he has been doing (you know, “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons…” everyday type stuff).
There are 3 characteristics by which we recognize the POP:
- They receive the messenger.
- They receive the message of the Good News.
- They open relational doorways into their community.
The POP is an entry strategy into new communities and is radically different from traditional church planting methods. It emphasizes dependence on the Holy Spirit, obedience to Jesus, raising up insiders to reach their communities and equipping churches to plant more churches. Personally in the nearly 8 years of serving cross-culturally, I have seen People of Peace (men and women), many of whom were under severe demonic oppression, transform entire households, villages and valleys for the Kingdom of God. Here are 4 tips in searching for the POP in your context.
1. DIVE INTO THE DEEP END
I could have easily avoided the puddle by taking a longer detour but I wanted to be bad ass. In the same way we must dive straight into the heart of darkness and go to where lost people are. Whether it’s a neighborhood, city or entire people group, God prepared people are in every harvest but you won’t find them until you go. If you want to find a POP you’ll have to spend more of your time with the lost and less of your time in church.
2. GET DIRTY
No one wants to get dirty. No one wants to cover themselves in filth unless they believe beyond doubt that there is something valuable to be found. In the big scheme of things my mud covered sandal is not that valuable. Yet a Person of Peace is one of the most valuable mysteries in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. Finding a POP is hard work. Praying for lost people is hard work. Loving on lost people is hard work. Meeting felt needs, sharing the Gospel with strangers and leaving our comforts to foreign places is hard, dirty work. There are no shortcuts to finding the POP, you must get dirty.
3. KEEP SEARCHING
Just like the fruitless search for my sandal in the puddle (using both my hands and feet) there were many times that I wanted to give up searching for POP’s. No one like’s to be rejected. In Luke 10, Jesus reminds us very clearly that we will be rejected. Whether it’s a door slammed in our faces or a communist official escorting us out of his village there will be many “People of Unpeace”. Take heart, Jesus also reminds us that we go with his authority and power. God is the one who moves people to reject or respond. Our job is to keep searching.
4. DO IT TOGETHER
Searching for my lost sandal on my own was not very strategic…neither is looking for POP’s by yourself. Jesus sent out his disciples two by two into villages he was about to go. The very thought of doing something bold and dangerous with a friend is reassuring. The moment my friends began the search for my sandal alongside me was the moment we found it. You will find that a team of like-minded people with passion for reaching the lost will be the most effective in finding a POP.