Training Evangelistic Leadership

"Go quickly and tell...that He is risen from the dead!" — Matthew 28:7

Give online safely in partnership with PayPal

TEL's Open Approach to Ministry in Closed Countries

Few would argue with the fact that closed countries have some of the most restrictive policies governing religious activity. The question becomes: How do we as foreign "guests" or local citizens respond to these policies? There appear to be at least two possible solutions.

The first and most common is taken from Matthew 10:16, which urges Christians to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, in the context of suffering for the Gospel. This verse is generally taken by all Christians (foreign and national) to mean that they should "cover up" their Christian activities: The government can't hinder what it can't see. Thus, closed contries have huge underground church movements, and most foreign Christians enter these countries in some other capacity, doing ministry in their spare time.

In TEL, on the other hand, we feel compelled by certain other Scriptural principles that move us toward leaving more of the "covering" work to God.

  • As an evangelistic organization, we take Mark 16:15 as our Great Commission statement: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (NAS). And China has the world's largest population, with millions dying each year without a chance to understand who Christ is. We aren't willing to pass up any chance to share Christ with the people we meet. In fact, we are in closed countries to make as many friends as possible so that we can share with every one that is interested. To be concerned about our "safety" or our ability to remain long in the land would force a caution on us that would hinder our freedom to share and slow the progress of the Gospel.
  • In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells Christians that, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (NAS). We are called not to conceal our light, but to let it shine, that it might draw men to Christ, and that is why we're in these countries. To conceal our light would work against our purpose.
  • And what we find in such places is that God has prepared a great harvest, so much so that we end up discovering the truth of Matthew 5:14: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" (NAS). The Lord has blessed a number of our ministry locations with such fruit that it becomes next to impossible to hide them. TEL is committed not just to proclaiming the Gospel, but also to ensuring that everyone who receives Christ has a chance at a solid foundation for a lifetime of growth and ministry. That locks us into a longer-term relationship with those who believe the Good News. Thus even as we share the Gospel with a new friend, we are compelled to continue meeting with old friends. The number of those seeking Christ quickly overwhelm those available to reveal Him. So we end up with large groups of "students," a few trainers, and a "city" that cannot be hidden. And we believe that to try to hide it would be counter-productive.
  • Given such a government's position on religion, we acknowledge the risk, but we know too that the risk is managed by God. As is the government. Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-7 that these governments are established by God. He goes so far as to say that even such a government is a minister of God to do us good, if we do what is good. As nationals or as foreign "guests," we are not to resist the government, but to show honor and respect to it and all it's members and representatives. We may not agree with everything they do or stand for, but nowhere does Scripture give us license to dishonor them, resist them or rebel against them. What a testimony that would be to them, if they saw Christians as the most respectful of their citizens (see also 1 Peter 2:13-17)!
  • Where the government's wishes and God's will conflict is where we Christians have the clearest and most powerful opportunity to testify to the reality of the Gospel (see Philippians 1:12-30). We see Peter and John in just this kind of situation in Acts 4 and 5. When they were called to account for themselves, they shared the Gospel. When they were warned against speaking about Christ, they explained clearly that they could not stop. When they were punished, they rejoiced. When they were released, they kept right on preaching--publicly and from house to house (see Acts 4:31 and 5:42). But nowhere does it say they took the religious leaders as enemies (see 1 Peter 3:8-9).
  • Indeed, this very issue is a major theme of Peter's first letter to the Believers scattered abroad. Following immediately upon his instructions about submission to governing authorities (!), Peter urges Christian slaves to submit respectfully even to harsh masters. If we are punished for doing right, then we have a reward for patiently enduring it, for this is the example that Christ Himself left us and which we're supposed to follow (1 Peter 2:18-25). Certainly no one deliberately seeks out suffering, but when suffering seeks us out, it is not something to be ashamed of, but rather it is something in which to glory and which glorifies Christ (1 Peter 3:13-17; 4:1, 12-19). Even if it is simply identification with another Believer (or a missionary) that brings suffering upon us (or a national Christian) (2 Timothy 7-14).

In light of the above passages of Scripture, TEL as an organization is committed to ministering in any closed country as openly as each individual's faith at present allows. We have a clear conscience about what we are doing, which alone gives us great confidence as we serve (though it does not mean we are without fault--1 Corinthians 4:4). We attend government-sanctioned churches wherever we are, and seek to serve and be a blessing to them--not just in terms of bringing new Believers to them, but in any capacity that we can. Should "persecution" come our way (and it has, but much less than would be expected!), we are committed to responding respectfully, graciously accepting the discipline, while at the same time seeking to deepen our mutual understanding.

Work with Us

Our Vision

Motivated by Christ’s Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature, Training Evangelistic Leadership’s primary objective is to recruit, train, and send forth local Gospel teams that reap public decisions for Christ with personalized follow-up. In countries where public preaching is possible, teams are sent forth to publicly proclaim the gospel. In others, personal evangelism is emphasized. Emphasis is always placed on shepherding those who make decisions for Christ into local churches.

TEL teams operate with three primary ministry distinctives:

  1. SERVING the national culture and local society by leaving the fruit of our evangelism and follow-up within the local churches.
  2. BLENDING missionaries and nationals together with equal status and opportunities into a mutually uplifting relationship.
  3. CONTINUING our missionaries on a lifelong basis by their bonding with the language and culture and continuing to develop a living fellowship with Jesus Christ.

TEL labors to train Asian evangelists for the harvest in a home environment. We apply Mark 3:14 by inviting Asians to live “with us” in full-time training programs of several months duration, where they are quipped both in the classroom and on the job for effective evangelistic ministry. Graduates of TEL training programs serve in churches, mission agencies, and as TEL staff. TEL also helps equip church leaders in effective evangelism and disciplemaking through training seminars.

In addition to team evangelistic ministry, all TEL missionaries and national workers labor to multiply their witness through personal disciplemaking.

TEL Ministry
About TEL

Our Origins

Training Evangelistic Leadership (TEL) was launched in Singapore in 1970 by Rev. Roy Robertson out a recognized need to develop more full-time Asian evangelists. He invited six men from five Asian countries to live in his home for a year to receive on-the-job training in evangelistic ministry. The vision of TEL continued to expand as Roy and his wife Phyllis conducted similar training programs through homes in Japan, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines.

TEL was initially formed by Roy as a project of The Navigators but has since become an independent mission agency that operates with an international board of directors in Denton, TX. Roy, who founded and continues to serve as International Director of TEL, sailed to China in 1948 having been appointed The Navigators’ first missionary by the organization’s founder Dawson Trotman. Roy labored in the ministry of evangelism and disciplemaking through The Navigators in many Asian countries until his retirement in 1986. Upon his retirement, Roy renewed his commitment to continue the ministry of evangelism and training in Asia full-time through TEL. The resultant fruit of that commitment, TEL is now a mission agency which is blend of about half international missionaries and half national workers operating in multiple Asian countries and in the United States.

TEL continues to labor in South and Southeast Asia with a vision to preach the gospel to every creature through direct proclamation and through training others who also desire to labor in this vision. The harvest is still ripe in Asia and TEL is trusting God for full-time missionaries whom God has called to help complete the work of evangelism in Asia through serving in gospel teams and training others to do the same.

For information about serving with TEL, please see our Service Opportunities.

About TEL
TEL Resources

TEL Resources

TEL's ministry is to help equip God's people for effective ministry to others through evangelism and discipleship. Toward that end, we offer several types of materials for purchase and some of our overseas materials for direct download. Thanks to Discipleship Library (External Link), we are also pleased to make available many of Roy Robertson's messages from his 50+ years of missionary service.

May the Lord be glorified, His Gospel proclaimed and His Kingdom advanced through the use of all these resources.

TEL Resources
More Options

Subscribe to our Email Newsletters

Get TEL news and more delivered direct to your email inbox.

* indicates required
Interested in ...
Email Format