The gospel in my heart language

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heart languageNelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Today, a growing number of people understand and speak more than one language. Crossing borders, studying, living and working in cosmopolitan cities, people encounter and learn different tongues. In sharing the gospel with such people, does it make any difference if we use their mother tongue or a new language they picked up?

Siriporn* was given a GoodSeed resource in English and then later a copy of By This Name in Thai, his native language. He said, “I read it in English and I understood. But when I read it in Thai, it was as if the gospel message grabbed me around the throat and didn’t let me go.” He demonstrated by putting both hands around his neck. The impact of the good news was far greater in his native language.

As a businessman, it was important for Siriporn to learn and understand English. He used it daily in his business dealings. It was a language he was reasonably comfortable with. However, English is not the language he thinks and feels in. It is not the language he grew up with—the language his mother sang to him as an infant. Thai is his heart language. Thai is his mother tongue.

Spiritual concepts and vocabulary are extremely difficult to convey and explain in any language, and hearing or reading it in a second language can hinder comprehension. For example, the concepts of justification, propitiation, or grace are not easy to explain in English, let alone to someone whose heart language is not English. While it is definitely possible for a person to come to faith in Christ through a second language, there is simply no substitute for the power of hearing or reading the gospel clearly in one’s own heart language.

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Looking for curriculum for small groups? Here are three suggestions

If you are starting a new season of small group meetings and are looking for a possible curriculum to use, here are three that you can consider.

1. Worldview Rethink with By This Name

DESCRIPTION: What is the main message of the Bible? Who is Jesus? What are the cross and the tomb all about? How is the Old Testament relevant to our understanding of the New Testament? This study takes you on a journey from creation to the cross to explain the core message of the Bible.

AUDIENCE: For people who want a solid biblical foundation, including those who want to learn or be refreshed in the message of the gospel.

TIME NEEDED: 16 hours (e.g., 8 sessions of 2 hours each)

RESOURCES: Leader’s guide, coursebook, workbook, DVD or online videos, visual aids

FORMAT OF STUDY: Dynamic reading. Leaders read the course book narrative. Group reads the Scripture verses. Reading is interspersed with video clips and visual aids. The group also uses the workbook together. Learn more about Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling.

REVIEW: “This book and the DVD series and workbook that accompany it are by far the best, most clearly stated overview of the Bible I’ve seen. It is an excellent foundational base that can be used with new Christians, mature Christians, and non-Christians. I used it to start a neighbourhood ladies’ Bible study with ladies from several different faiths. It was so well-received that once we finished it, we were then able to start studying one of the books of the Bible (Mark). I highly recommend this for use by an individual, small group, or large group, or anyone seeking to understand the Bible as a whole.” – Melissa

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Top five “how-to” articles

how-to articlesGoodSeed resources are created with two key purposes in mind: to build strong faith foundations for believers and to explain the gospel in a clear and objective way for unbelievers. Over the years, as our books, DVDs and audiobooks have gone around the world, we have had the privilege of hearing people come to faith or having their faith grow as a result of studying one of our resources.

Moreover, people in churches, mission organizations and other ministries have taken the time to share their insights, advice and feedback on how they’ve used our tools in their areas of ministry. We pooled their best advice into a series of how-to articles to help other believers. The variety of ways people have used our tools astonishes us. GoodSeed resources have been used in counselling, in prison ministries, in reaching international students, in discipling people in the church, to training youths for mission trips and more.

We want to highlight the five most-read how-to articles.

  1. How to train your church (Strategies on how to disciple the people in church and give each one a strong foundation in the Bible.)
  2. How to reach seniors (How to share the gospel with seniors, including the challenges inherent in reaching that age group.)
  3. How to train your short-term missions team (Advice on how to get your diverse team on the same page in terms of the gospel and how to get them ready to share the good news.)
  4. How to train your family (How to ensure your children can understand the gospel and be firmly grounded in God’s Word.)
  5. How to use GoodSeed tools with ESL students (How to share the gospel with students who speak English as a second or additional language.)

We also have the following how-to articles:

In the coming months, we’ll also be releasing a how-to for rehabilitation programs and another how-to for training youth. Look out for them. If there are other areas of outreach you would like us to cover, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.

The hidden danger of syncretism

Colour mixing

Time for a pop quiz. Look at the following statement and ask yourself if it is biblical:

Love means being tolerant, accepting and non-judgmental.

Would it surprise you to learn that… it’s not!

You may be inclined to think there is an element of biblical truth in that statement and therefore the whole statement is valid. But that’s not the case. It’s actually a mixing of non-biblical ideas with biblical truth. This is called syncretism.

Syncretism happens when someone mixes what they think the Bible says with their inherent culture-influenced worldview. Combining these two very different views leads to them adopting a third, mixed belief system that is unlike the first two. As believers, we need to recognize that syncretism is a very real problem. Not only does it trip up our spiritual lives, but when we try to share the gospel with others, we can also unwittingly contribute to syncretism in our listeners by how we explain the good news.

Because it is so pervasive, it’s important to examine syncretism’s causes and how we can battle it in our own lives and when we share the gospel. To help you do this, we have produced a 32-page ebook entitled, “The Hidden Danger of Syncretism.” We trust you will benefit from reading it.

Download The Hidden Danger of Syncretism

Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling… What is it? How does it help me?

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Infographic: Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling

(Download this article in a handy PDF format for printout and sharing.)

When Cheryl began a study with three women, she dismissed the notion of just sitting down and reading By This Name together. To her it seemed so basic and uninteresting. Surely a lecture format with some good discussion thrown in would be a more compelling method for teaching the same material.

Cheryl was not alone in her thinking. GoodSeed staff are often asked:

“Why do you just read the book together? Isn’t that boring? A turn-off to well-educated students? What about breaking things up with times of discussion? Why not just give it to them to read on their own?”

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Free Bible Study: The Hebrew Tabernacle—A Model of Messiah

Detailed view of the Ark of the covenantJust as Jesus used parables to illustrate and bring to life his teachings, so God frequently used visual aids in the Old Testament to better illuminate our understanding of many spiritual truths.

That is certainly true of the Hebrew Tabernacle—an amazing picture of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

We have two visual aid resources and a set of free lessons that help explain the purpose and meaning of the Tabernacle.

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An Easter poem: Something Inside Came Alive with a Roar

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came aliveThe Bible records a story that happened two thousand years ago on the day that Jesus was resurrected. It’s an account of two individuals on the road from Jerusalem to their hometown of Emmaus, and about a stranger they met. Here’s their story.

We left Jerusalem, about midday
Avoiding travellers along the way.
Taking the road alone, dusty and dry,
Trying to escape that prying eye.

We argued as we walked, what could it mean
Of Jesus, and the miracles we’d seen?
Of stories we’d heard, of places we’d been,
How a lamb could atone for one’s own sin.

Half in fear, half in hope,
Rehearsing His life, trying to cope.
First we whispered, then we cried
You see, we were there when Jesus died.

Then a stranger joined us unaware—
His presence fresh, like a gust of air.
We gave no thought, where he was from
And took no interest in how he’d come.

At first he spoke not yet a word,
But listened carefully, as we conferred.
As we discussed the day’s events
And all that Jesus was up against.

The stranger then spoke, as in dismay,
“Why do you dispute along the way?”
Stunned, we said, “Didn’t you see the throng,
The trial, the crucifixion, the terrible wrong?”

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New year, new opportunities to share the gospel

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January 4, 2016

Betty Scott Stam, a young wife and mother serving as a missionary to China in the 1930s, didn’t just know the gospel in theory. It was her life. And it ended up costing everything. She and her husband, John, were martyred as a result of their witness for Christ. Years before this happened, she wrote,

“Nobody can force a single soul to turn to Christ. All that the followers of Jesus have to do, all they can do, is to lift up Christ before the world, bring Him into dingy corners and dark places of the earth where He is unknown, introduce Him to strangers, talk about Him to everybody and live so closely with and in Him that others may see that there really is such a person as Jesus.” *

What Betty understood is something that each of us is called to. We are ambassadors for Christ. This is not a part-time job that we somehow “fit in” to our busy schedules. All believers are given the biblical mandate to live a lifelong lifestyle of being ready to share the gospel at a moment’s notice.

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Twelve most-read blog posts from 2015

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twelve

Each of the stories that come through GoodSeed is unique and we enjoy sharing them with our blog readers. This past year was no exception. We thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights—those posts which were most popular and widely read. So, with no further ado, here are twelve of the favourite blog posts from 2015:

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How to train…

Writing on chalkboard

GoodSeed resources were designed to be versatile in use. Over the years, we have received stories from around the world of how people use our books, curricula and other tools for evangelism. We have also received stories on how our tools are used to disciple believers, helping them build strong foundations for their faith and also training them to be able to share the good news with others.

As we glean the best of what others have done and what our staff have tried, we’ve put together the best experiences and notes into a series of “How To” articles.

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