What does it mean to be a witness for Christ? Salvation in Christ is only part of the good news of the gospel. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus shares about the kingdom of heaven more than 70 times. That’s far more often than he mentions salvation.
Jesus also sets a perfect example for what the good news of God’s kingdom looks like—not just for life after death, but for life on earth today. When people needed hope, Jesus spoke truth. When people were hurting and sick, he healed them. When they were hungry, he fed them. Jesus shows us that the gospel is not only about spiritual transformation. It is also about physical, relational, and emotional wholeness.
In partnership with Christian Reformed churches and members, ReFrame Ministries and Resonate Global Mission work to reach people wherever they need to experience the gospel in their lives.
Spiritual Witness of God’s Kingdom
Sometimes people need hope.
Every spring and summer, John Lee has been walking the neighborhoods surrounding Court Street Baptist Church in Lewiston, Maine. He and up to six others from the church walk in pairs, handing out Today devotionals produced by ReFrame Ministries as they share their faith with people on the street.
For Lee, this street evangelism is something he’s been passionate about for 40 years. He first accepted Christ through a similar encounter with someone on the streets. He became an ordained minister in the Baptist church and has been passionately sharing his faith ever since.
“The devotionals are a great conversation starter,” Lee said. “When we walk on the streets, we say we’re Christians and that we’re handing out free devotionals. As they look it over, we begin to talk about where they stand in their faith.”
This is Lee’s sixth year leading the street evangelism team with Court Street, which walks these neighborhoods every other Saturday from March through September.
“Many of the people are down and out because of drugs and prostitution,” said Lee, “but those who want to talk to us are ready to make a change in their life.”
Some of the conversations can last hours, while others last just a few seconds.
“In cases when people are more dismissive, we simply say, ‘Know that Jesus loves you dearly, and have a good day,’” Lee said.
Last year, Lee came across three generations working together on a house—a grandfather, his adult son, and a boy who was about 7. All three were interested in learning more about the Christian faith.
By God’s grace, about 100 people have accepted Christ during or as a result of Court Street’s ministry. Some have accepted Lee’s invitation to attend church, while others he has not heard from again.
“We always ask God to bring the people he wants us to talk to,” Lee said, “and most of the time, we can see that he has done just that.”
Physical Witness of God’s Kingdom
Sometimes people need food.
At least once a month, ReFrame’s Hindi ministry leader, Akesh,* asks each of the ministry team members to leave their recording equipment, computers, and other media ministry tools behind to instead spend time serving the communities where their programs air.
Working with members of local churches, the team visits nursing homes, schools, homeless shelters, and people who are physically disabled.
“As Christians in India, we’re often negatively perceived as a religion who is just proselytizing,” Akesh said, “so when we’re able to connect with the community in this way, we are able to give them confidence in the good news of Jesus Christ.”
This negative perception that Akesh describes has worsened in the past decade due largely to new anti-conversion laws set in place by India’s national government. As a result of these laws, ReFrame’s Hindi ministry partners have been more cautious about their ministry work and also have been forced to stop some of their print devotional distribution.
Still, “the number of people professing Christ has greatly increased, and the Spirit of God is at work,” Akesh said.
During the pandemic, ReFrame’s Hindi partners shifted their community service work to focus on distributing food, hand sanitizer, and other supplies to people who lost their jobs due to lockdowns.
Jaywanti, a widow with two young sons, shared that she was only eating one meal per day during that time before receiving rations from ReFrame’s Hindi partners.
“God has provided me these things through you in a wonderful way,” Jaywanti shared. “I thank God and praise him and also (am) grateful to you all for these ration packets.”
Akesh added that he sees this holistic ministry approach as an extension of God’s kingdom.
“Every one of our team members has a deep sense of calling from the Lord,” he said. “No matter what the circumstances, they are committed to sharing the Word of God, whether it's through sharing the Word online or by sharing God’s love at food distribution events like these.”
Relational Witness of God’s Kingdom
Sometimes people need to reconcile with their neighbor.
In February 2022, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. But this conflict began several years before, in 2014.
“Over 14,000 Ukrainians were killed already before this invasion took place. Over a million people were already displaced,” said Resonate missionary George de Vuyst. “Ukrainians and Russians have lived peacefully side by side in the country for many years, but below the surface simmered centuries of unhealed wounds.”
That’s why, after the war broke out in 2014, de Vuyst worked with a team to bring the Healing Hearts, Transforming Nations ministry to Ukraine. De Vuyst and his colleagues use the workshops to bring people from different ethnicities together. They worked through a process of bringing their personal pain to the cross and reconciling with people who are different from them.
“We were able to develop a team of Ukrainians and Russians working together to bring this message of reconciliation through Jesus Christ,” de Vuyst said. “We have seen God do amazing things.”
Since Russia fully invaded Ukraine, this healing and reconciliation work has become more important than ever before. While much formal ministry halted with the invasion, God is still at work reconciling people.
“There had been a conflict between several of the church leaders about what’s happening in Ukraine today,” de Vuyst said. “It caused great division and a lot of pain.”
But the church leaders wanted to understand one another. With the sound of gunfire and explosions in the distance, they made their way to a deacon’s house.
“When the deacon … opened the door to let them in, all of a sudden, the heavens went silent. The shelling stopped. And it was quiet,” de Vuyst said. “They worked through the process of bringing their personal pain and the pain of their people to the cross. … God did an amazing work of reconciliation in that one short meeting.”
Emotional Witness of God’s Kingdom
Sometimes people need healing from sickness or trauma.
Resonate missionary Lydia* could hear the shouting as she walked up to the door. Sixteen women from countries throughout Africa shared the three-bedroom apartment in the Middle East. It serves as a shelter while they wait to return to their home countries.
“I could write a book based on the little I know of their stories,” Lydia said. “They all include disappointments, pain, people who lied to them, and countless traumas.”
Some of the women in the shelter are Muslim, some are Christian, and some hold other beliefs. They usually begin each day singing songs together, but not that morning. They were too angry with one another. Tensions were high, and every woman was carrying a heavy emotional burden.
That’s why Lydia was there: to lead a healing group.
“Healing groups provide safe spaces for people to think about pain and suffering and where God is in the hard parts of life,” she said.
It was Lydia’s first day at the shelter, and as she set up, the shouting quieted. A few women drifted off to their rooms, but seven women sat down to participate.
Using materials from The Healing Institute, Lydia shared a fictional story about someone who experienced pain. The group discussed grief and listened to one another as they each shared why they were at the shelter.
“We did a lot of listening, a lot of praying,” Lydia said.
Then the women asked if they could sing. The seven in the group started, and more started to join. By the time Lydia left, all of the women were singing.
Healing from emotional trauma takes a long time, and Lydia continues to facilitate healing groups at the shelter and walk alongside the women in their pain. The materials she utilizes use stories from Scripture to share that the gospel provides hope not just for life after death, but also for life on earth now.
*Names changed for security
About the Authors
Cassie Westrate, Resonate Global Mission
Brian Clark, ReFrame Ministries