On today’s episode of Engaging Missions, we meet a missionary under the pen name of Steve Fisher, who served in Southeast Asia for 24 years. He and his family now live in the United States as they prepare to serve in Thailand. Steve and his wife have been married for 25 years and have two sons who attend college in the States.
Steve shares about the struggles and successes of ministering in Asia as well as the plans that God has for him. Through every season, God has continually guided him and drawn him closer to Himself. The story of his testimony greatly encourages others and shows the power of God in his life.
What We Talked About
- 00:26 – Introduction
- 02:47 – A testimony of redemption
- 06:19 – How testimonies impact others
- 08:26 – Is it hard to face rejection?
- 09:46 – Meaningful verse
- 12:24 – Season of difficulty
- 16:54 – Beneficial habits
- 20:07 – How did God lead you to missions?
- 22:03 – Challenges of reaching Buddhists
- 24:36 – What tools work for Buddhism?
- 30:50 – The scale of Buddhism in the world
- 33:51 – How is God forming a team for you?
- 35:47 – What fuels your passion?
- 39:45 – Marketplace matters
- 43:32 – Disproving the lie of feeling disqualified
- 45:17 – Book and internet resources
- 47:50 – Parting advice and contact info
Getting to know Steve Fisher
Our guest today, Steve Fisher, served as a missionary with his family in South East Asia for 24 years. He now resides in the States as his family plans and prepares to go to Thailand and Laos to plant churches. He has been married for 25 years and has two sons who are now studying at university. During this time, Steve and his wife are helping their sons transition into the college setting and make good decisions. As the whole family adjusts to living in the U.S., the greatest struggle comes with getting used to American culture.
A testimony of redemption
Steve grew up in a Christian home, but he remained distant from God. While he was away from Him, he was continually angry beyond control, got into fights, injured people, and sought the attention of others. At only 14 years old, he made a good amount of money playing drums and constantly wanted others to notice how good he was. He also began making money by selling and buying illegal drugs. By that point, he no longer knew if God even existed.
While on trips in Montana, he would place himself and his friends in dangerous and life-threatening situations, but somehow they made it through without injury. Around the same time, he began to feel God pursuing him. The climax of His pursuit came came when Steve wandered the streets looking for trouble one night. He ended up walking into a Christian concert, and the drummer was very talented. The drummer came out from behind the drumkit, took a microphone, and presented the Gospel to the crowd. He asked if anyone wanted to commit their life to Jesus, and Steve realized his need for Him. From that point on, he began to read the Word and to see the love of God throughout it. Because of Jesus, his life changed for the better.
How testimonies impact others
Steve shares about how he has seen God use his testimony to impact people. For example, he and his friends went prayer-knocking one night in Indianapolis. They go from door to door asking if people need prayer for anything. On this particular night, they knocked and a woman opened the door, letting them come inside. As they talked to her and prayed for her, she said that she was very intrigued because she was going through a hard time. She said that she wanted to know more. Moments like that mean so much, Steve explains.
Is it hard to face rejection?
Steve expresses that he no longer gets upset or frustrated when people reject him. He says that he has come to the realization that he cannot force people to desire God. All he can do is simply look for people who want to know more or desire to hear about Jesus. He references Luke 10:2 in which Jesus states, “The harvest is plentiful,” and explains that there is already a harvest ready. We just have to look for it.
“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You. Your Name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” (Isaiah 26:8)
Season of difficulty
After 11 years in South East Asia, he and his family found themselves burned out and exhausted. They were continually hearing news of persecution and Christians being thrown in prison. In addition to that, their sons kept struggling with homeschooling. During all of the difficulty, the ministry itself was flourishing and many people came to faith. Steve had to decide whether to keep pushing forward to help the ministry or to leave and give his family time to rest.
After praying about it, he and his family felt led to leave the ministry and take a year to recover from the stress of missions. Although they struggled with leaving everything they had known for the last decade, the year proved to be greatly needed. Then they went to live in an open country and minister there for some time. God walked with them through all of it, and He restored them and their ministry because they walked in obedience to Him.
Steve shares about the necessity of prayer and how he seeks to use prayer daily. He and his wife pray together for at least one hour a day, if they can. They typically pray for ministry, lost people, unreached people groups, the family, and other things. When they don’t have enough time, they use a method called “5-5-5 prayer tool.” They spend five minutes on each of the three topics and then continue with their day. Steve believes that prayer is crucial for his spiritual life, ministry, and family.
About the ministry
How did God lead you into missions?
As Steve spent time in the Word and saw God’s mission of reconciliation, he had a desire to see people know Jesus. He also read a book called Operation World, which said that 2 billion people have never heard about Jesus or the Gospel. When he was in college, he roomed with international students and realized that he connected well with them. He began to see that God had gifted him with the ability to engage other cultures and that he could use that to spread the Gospel across the world.
Challenges of reaching Buddhists
Steve speaks about the difficulties with reaching Buddhists with the Gospel. Because Buddhism is so different than most religions, missionaries have little common ground to stand on when sharing the Good News. Even common phrases used in ministry such as “God loves you” can cause problems because it means God would have desire, which is evil and the source of suffering. In order to work with Buddhists, they try to contextualize the Gospel in such a way that they can understand it.
What tools can be used with Buddhism?
Steve describes different ways in which he and other missionaries have been able to connect with Buddhists and share the Gospel in a way that they understand. In Thailand, they use the 4 Noble Truths, a foundational concept of Buddhism, to show similarities. These truths according to Buddhism are: All life is suffering, suffering comes from desire within, there is a way out of that suffering, and that way is the eightfold path. Christians agree with the first three, but the difference comes with the solution to end suffering. Missionaries have seen some success with this, especially with well-educated Buddhists.
The scale of Buddhism in the world
In the world today, there are about 1 billion Buddhists. Within Buddhism are three schools of thought and many different concepts or beliefs among Buddhists. Due to this, as well as other beliefs that surround them, there are very few pure Buddhists. Many blend Buddhism with other things like animism or Hinduism.
How is God forming a team for you?
Steve talks about how God is moving to put a team together to go to Thailand. Steve’s family looks for interns and people who want to go on the mission field with them. They primarily search for people by speaking at churches, mentoring people, and other ways.
What fuels your passion?
- “I think that the main thing is God’s glory, and that nobody steals His glory.”
- “When you see a family come to faith … that just launches us forward.”
Focus on YOU, the listener
- “What you do for the Kingdom always matters. You are loved, and this is very important.”
- “In your marketplace, in your neighborhood, or the club that you’re a part of, let people know that you’re a follower of Jesus right away, from the first day.”
- “Put the Gospel message into your speech in some way.”
- “Let the Gospel filter who’s going to be your buddy and your friend.”
- “Don’t delegate your relationships to someone else … If God has put someone in your marketplace or in your life that’s seeking and hungering … give them the answer.”
- “Don’t give those God-given relationships off to someone else.”
- “I think God has brought them to you and you’re the one who needs to speak into their heart.”
- “That’s a hunger that can be fed relationally.”
Disproving the lie of feeling disqualified
- “You’re qualified, man!”
- “Be prepared … Can you share what Christ has done in your life? What’s the testimony of what God’s done in your life?”
- “Get a Gospel tool together.”
- “A lot of people are open!”
Book and Internet resources
- Timothy Network
- Train & Multiply
- T4T Online
- Three Circles diagram
- Coopers on a Mission
- What Jesus Started by Steve Addison
- Operation World by Jason Mandryk
Parting advice and contact info
- “The harvest is plentiful. That’s a statement of fact. I believe this is as true today as it was in the days of Jesus when He spoke it.”
- “There are people out there, probably up and down your street, who are looking for real answers to real problems, and you, very likely, are the person who can make life and death difference in their life.”
- “So get out there and find them. Look for the spiritually prepared, seeking people.”
- “Keep moving, be friendly … and find the ones who are spiritually hungry.”
Resources / Books / Links:
- [Timothy Network](http://team.org)
- [Train & Multiply](http://trainandmultiply.com)
- [T4T Online](http://t4tonline.org)
- [Three Circles diagram](https://vimeo.com/96082854)
- [Coopers on a Mission](http://coopersonamission.com)
- [What Jesus Started](http://amzn.to/1NH6Z99)
If you'd have any comments or questions, you can always leave a comment in the show notes or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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