“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:18–20
Do you enjoy seasoning your food with salt? Without salt, most food is bland and tasteless. However, add a little bit of salt and our food is transformed into something tasty and enjoyable. Salt makes a difference!
The mission statement and marching orders of the local New Testament church are to go to every nation of the world to preach the gospel, establish other local churches, and develop committed disciples of Jesus Christ who will help repeat this process. The word “teach” is the Greek word “mathetes,” which is our word for disciple. Teaching and discipleship-making is a thorough ingraining of the Scriptures, resulting in a Christ-like life. Discipleship-making is what Paul describes in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Building strong churches will not happen unless we are committed to an aggressive plan of evangelism and discipleship-making. Thus, the missionary church planter must make soul-winning and discipleship-making a seven day per week goal.
In 2008, the Lord opened a door for me and the men of my church to work with missionaries and house church pastors in China in the spreading of the gospel, starting churches, and training pastors and servants of God. I quickly realized that, due to China being a restricted access nation, the house church pastors were in need of many resource tools and training to enable them to become more effective in their efforts. We also realized that we needed a safe and consistent means to train these men without putting them and ourselves at risk of exposure by their government. After much prayer, the Lord led me to launch a ministry known as SALT, which stands for Spiritual Asian Leadership Training.
The goal of SALT is to bring a mobile Bible institute training to the national pastors and missionaries in China. Working with a well-established and leading Bible college in America, I enlisted Bible department heads and faculty to assist me in providing an intensive module of classes.
The first SALT conference was held at a camp in Hong Kong. The Lord enabled us to bring in 70 men who were pastors or men who had a strong desire for serving the Lord. My church helped to subsidize the travel, lodging, and meal costs for these men. We would begin each morning with a strong 45-minute preaching service. Following this, for the next six hours, we would have the men take various classes that included doctrinal topics, practical theology, soul-winning, discipleship-training, and much more. In the evenings, we would have another strong preaching service. By the end of that first week, God worked in scores of hearts, with 13 men surrendering to preach, and many pastors committing to return to their country to put into practice the practical tools they received and to do more to win more souls to Christ, to train more disciples, and to see more men called to preach.
Of all the men called to preach, one exceptional young man stood out. This young man’s English name is Ted. Ted came to this SALT conference at the recommendation of his missionary pastor, not really knowing what to expect. Three months after our SALT training, the Lord miraculously opened the door for Ted to get a student visa and enroll in a two-year training program at the same Bible college that worked with me at the SALT training. After graduating from the two-year program, Ted returned to China to help serve at his local church. During the last four years, God has worked in Ted’s heart to go to the city he is originally from to start a local New Testament church. Ted will be starting this new church in the next few months. My church and I are providing him with the resources and help he will need to get this church off to a strong start.
God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. As we walk by faith, He gives us creative access and ideas to reach these nations with the gospel and to equip national preachers.
We have done SALT training several times since the first one we held in 2012. We have a template that is very effective in bringing Bible training, practical theology, pastoral mentoring, and evangelistic assistance to Asian countries. We have to be cautious and prudent in how we execute our program in restricted-access nations; but in effect, it is a powerful means for providing hands-on training. It creates opportunities for Asian men to be challenged through strong preaching and mentoring to be preachers of the gospel. It is an opportunity for members of my church to accompany me on a short-term mission trips and get a heart for missions as they see the Lord working. It is a program that comes alongside of the missionary church planters and house church planters in bringing more tools and resources to the field.
SALT is a resource that God is blessing to enable us to be “... the salt of the earth: ...” (Matthew 5:13) that our Lord said we should be. Through SALT, we bring the living water to thirsty men. Through SALT, men who are trained return to their cities and are more effective “salt agents.” I believe the Lord has given us “... a great door and effectual ...” (I Corinthians 16:9) to the countries in the 10/40 window. God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. As we walk by faith, He gives us creative access and ideas to reach these nations with the gospel and to equip national preachers. Pray for us that God will allow us to enlarge our circle of influence and see more accomplished for His glory. Let us be salt that makes a difference!