Dilip* leads the teams serving in several countries across Central Asia. He shares about changes to the annual Silk Road Challenge (pre-coronavirus) and what further effects the global pandemic has had on ministry in his region.
Each summer people from the nations of Central Asia go out to share the best news the world has ever heard on the Silk Road Challenge! Every year as participants return, they bring incredible stories of the vibrant communities of Jesus followers that have been started or strengthened during their outreach.
At the beginning of 2020, while praying, planning and preparing for the summer outreaches, the core coordinating team felt God leading the team to put more emphasis on a movement of people sharing the good news and less on the events. While the events in four Central Asian cities (training, outreach and debrief) are important, the ideal would be to mobilise the national church to send people on their own, enabling that sending to become part of the DNA of their local church. An increased focus has therefore been placed on prayer nights, mobilising presentations and working together with national church leaders to implement a sending strategy for their church.
Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the leadership team decided to cancel the 2020 summer outreaches. While the majority of the costs will not be incurred this year, there are monthly costs that still need to be met, such as office rental contributions, communications and national coordinators' monthly support.
In light of this, we will focus efforts over the summer in helping local churches send their own teams out. If gatherings are permitted then, we will organise prayer nights and presentations. An interest in engaging with not-yet-believers online is emerging although we are still in the learning part of this ministry. Together with the literature project and the digital project we have run adverts on Google and Facebook in an attempt to engage interested people. Through the initial responses, we have been encouraged by the interest. We are currently seeking training opportunities for potential participants to share effectively in an online environment. There are a number of hurdles to this change of direction such as technology vs face-to-face engagement, abusive replies and little momentum in finding the participants. While this is early days, the partnership between the three projects opens huge opportunities for many to hear the gospel across Central Asia.
Please join us in praying for these opportunities, for the training and for many to hear the good news while quarantined at home.