There is an incredible story in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. It would make a great scene in a movie. It would require Hollywood’s best, in everything from make-up artists to special effects. And you would need to have some top-flight actors to pull it off as well. It is the story of a man named “Legion.”
Legion was called by that name because many demonic spirits possessed him. They tormented him greatly, and he in turn, tormented the people of the region in which he lived. He lived naked, like a wild man, sleeping among the tombs. The townspeople were scared of him and tried to control him with chains and shackles, but to no avail. He had super-human strength and was able to break the chains and shatter the shackles. The demons would cause him to cry out in a loud voice, and to cut himself with sharp rocks. He was completely trapped and enslaved by the demons that possessed him.
That is, until Jesus showed up.
When Jesus got to the place where Legion lived, Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man. They did, in a way in which it would be evident to the whole town. They left Legion (who could no longer be called by that name), entered into a herd of two thousand pigs, and caused the pigs to go mad and rush into the sea and drown. The man, meanwhile, cleaned himself up, put on some clothes, and started hanging around with Jesus. He was completely delivered, completely normal, and completely devoted to Jesus, the One who has set him free from his bondage.
REACH YOUR PEOPLE
That is when something really important from a global perspective happens. The man tells Jesus he wants to go with Him wherever He goes. He wants to follow Jesus and to serve Him. He is devoted to the One to whom he owes his freedom. But Jesus tells him something he did not expect. Jesus said he should go back to his own people and tell them all that God had done for him. He did just as Jesus said, and began to proclaim throughout his region the great things Jesus had done for him. “And everyone marveled.”
The end of this story has tremendous importance for world missions, and even local evangelism. Jesus knew the best person to reach the people where this man lived was someone who knew the people, the language, the culture, the context, and who would have a testimony they could and would understand and connect with. His story made sense to them, and they marveled at what Jesus had done.
EVANGELIZE YOUR PEOPLE
In every age and place, the best person to communicate the Gospel is someone who knows the language, culture, and context of that place. The person who can share the Gospel in a way that makes sense and communicates to those around him or her. The impact on world missions is that it underscores the importance of training indigenous believers in every place to evangelize and disciple their own people. In local evangelism, the message is clear... we need to share the Gospel where we are. We have the responsibility to make Christ known. We don’t have to reach those somewhere else, but we need to make sure we are doing all we can to reach those around us…..and to equip those in other places to reach their own people as well.