What does Live Dead mean?
The term Live Dead comes from the concept Jesus talked about: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” The people groups in Africa which have not yet had a clear witness of Jesus live in difficult places—hot deserts, civil wars, pervasive poverty and often unstable autocratic repressive governments. Clean running water, reliable electricity, pizza delivery, Starbucks, smart phones, and live streaming movies are luxuries or non-existent.
Reaching these people will cost. We have to die to ourselves (comfort, will, preference, safety) so that Christ might live and be glorified among people who have never had an clear explanation of who Jesus is. Live Dead is the old Christian concept of dying to self to reach the inconvenient lost. We agree with C.T. Studd that “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Is it safe?
Yes, it is surprisingly so in many places. We live wisely, speak the local language and know the people well. Security training is required for every team member. Teams have emergency and contingency plans. We’re in touch with our US Embassies and the international community. Counselors trained in trauma events are on call. Some counselors are also team members. All team members have medical insurance which includes medical evacuation. Most places have mobile phone or email access should you need to contact family or emergency services back home.
However, there will always be a measure of risk. We may be targets for theft, assault, and kidnapping. While we monitor our contexts be aware that many of these countries are unstable and sometimes the contexts are volatile and dangerous. The Islamic world is not uniform. Some of our teams are in relatively peaceful friendly environments while others are in high stress, high risk environments. Care is taken to match team members to the environment based on their age, personality, gifts and life experience. For this reason team members must be legally adults — at least age 18. Most team members are college graduates. Those younger than 18 may only go in pre-approved adult-supervised groups for short visits. We take seriously God’s promise that when we obey his command to share his good news to the ends of the earth, we will suffer persecution but that he will never leave us.
How can I prepare?
- Ask your friends and people you trust to pray with you about your future plans.
- Start talking to your parents and family about your dreams. They might be shocked, afraid of losing you, think you are wasting your college education or worried you are not hearing God correctly. They love you. You love them. Be patient, respectful and listen.
- Share your heart with your pastor and spiritual leaders. They can give you practical guidance about your spiritual readiness to serve abroad.
- Keep asking God to confirm what he wants you to do. Spend time, lots of time, with Jesus.
- Begin to strengthen your spiritual disciplines, life habits and small group skills: Prayer, Bible reading, fasting, regular exercise, healthy eating, paying off debt, time management skills, to name a few. Live Dead sounds exotic, but it is humbling and hard work serving others.
- Read good books. Here are some good starters:
- Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Dudley Woodberry)
- Apostolic Function (Alan Johnson)
- Vision of the Possible (Dan Sinclair)
- The Spiritual Formation of Leaders (Chuck Miller)
- Paradigms in Conflict (David Hesselgrave)
- Insanity of God (Nik Ripkin)
- Insanity of Obedience (Nik Ripkin)
- The Way of the Thorn (Dave Trementozzi)
- From Seed to Fruit (Dudley Woodberry).
Will I get any any training or orientation?
Yes, every team does orientation on team life, culture, language and work. Training is ongoing for all team members and part of our core values. A team in West Africa does a one year intensive program. Before you arrive, your contact and team leader will give you materials, readings and resources to help you be effective and prepared. Once on the field, you’ll also mentored by a more experienced team member or team leader.
What do you mean by “team”?
Live Dead teams are community. We strive to have team members live within walking distance of one another and to share life together as they work toward planting a church among unreached peoples. Teams meet several times a week for prayer, personal growth, language learning and corporate worship. Teams work on understanding local customs, language, and religious beliefs, how to love people practically and how to share Jesus more effectively with friends and neighbors. Teams become a community witness of the overflowing life we share together in Jesus Christ.
Can I choose what team I belong to?
Mostly yes. We certainly want you to have the loudest voice in this process, especially if you feel called to a certain people group or have a relational connection with the team leader. At the same time, we want all our teams to be healthy, growing and have enough team members. We also have a long list of unreached people groups who are waiting for pioneers like you!
What will I do?
If you are coming for a short term (1-2 years), you will be plugged in where you are needed most urgently. Your life will consist of language study, team meetings, volunteering in one of our centers and interacting with friends and neighbors . We try to use your gifts—music, sports, education, medicine, art, English speaker—effectively. An important segment of your time will be spent in the presence of Jesus through the Word and prayer. Abiding in Jesus is foundational to our mission.
Where are these teams located?
All of our teams are located in Africa. We’ll share specific locations with you when you are closer to joining a team.
How long can I come for?
To be more effective, stay longer. Learning language/culture and earning relational trust takes several years. We suggest you make a 1-2 year commitment initially. After 1-2 years, Jesus will make it clear to you and your leaders if you are called for the long term. That period also allows you to discover what additional tools you need. You will return to the U.S. to get them, raise a higher budget and return to the field.
How much will it cost?
Once you are assigned to a team, they will give you an accurate idea on costs.
Do you take short-term teams?
Yes, we do take short-term teams, internships of several months or a summer. But remember that the benefits that short-term teams bring are primarily for the visiting team itself—casting vision, creating awareness and calling to mission. Workers who stay longer are more effective in reaching our ultimate goal of birthing a church among the unreached.
How do I know if God wants me to join a Live Dead team?
He wants you to follow him, so he’ll show you what he wants you to do. These questions may help you hear his voice more clearly:
- What is God saying to you about His direction for your life through His Word?
- Have you really, really asked Jesus to speak clearly to you? And waited for his answer?
- What are your serious Christian friends telling you you’re good at?
- What circumstances seem to be guiding you these days? Might these events be orchestrated by God to get your attention?
Who runs Live Dead?
Live Dead Africa is an initiative of the Assemblies of God. Greg Beggs, the Africa Regional Director, oversees all Africa related initiatives including Live Dead Africa. Working for Greg are the Live Dead Strategic Leader, four Area Directors, several Team Leader Overseers and the Team Leaders who are in charge of each local team of 4-12 people.
How is Live Dead structured?
Team leaders coordinate and direct team members. Team leaders track church planting, with a goal to establish healthy growing indigenous churches, which is the defining task of Live Dead teams. To reach that goal, team leaders also guide their members’ spiritual development, team life and creative access. In many places where we work, we need to have a non-religious reason for being there, so team leaders help design that non-religious access strategy.
Team members report to team leaders who report to a Team Leader Overseer. Overseers report to their Area Director and Strategic Leader. They are accountable to the Regional Director who in turn answers to the Executive Director. The Executive Director is subject to the General Superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God.
How do teams play a role in Live Dead?
Teams are the heart of the strategy. Team leaders run the team. Everyone on the team signs a Memorandum of Understanding and agrees to the leader’s Vision and Strategy Paper or Team Covenant. Leadership styles vary but team members are heavily involved in the decision making process and must be highly functioning team players to succeed.
What is a MOU?
The MOU is a Memorandum of Understanding.
This is our teams’ defining guide. Team members agree to live by this document. It lays out our values, goals, principles, policies, ethos and practice. It is detailed. It keeps us true to our task, to each other as a team and to Jesus.
It is a living document, not a legalistic one, and can be changed as contexts vary through discussion with leaders. All Live Dead Africa teams have the same basic MOU that leaders have fine tuned for their location.
What is a Team Covenant?
A Team Covenant in West Africa is an executive summary (usually 1-2 pages) of the vision and strategy of the team leader. Complementary to the MOU, it shows the heart of the team leader, describes the people group the team is working with, and highlights aspects of the task most important to the team leader. It will help you decide which team you want to join.
The Team Covenant in East Africa is a 1 page document with 8 key ingredients (affirmation, availability, prayer, openness, honesty, sensitivity, confidentiality, accountability) for having a healthy team. This covenant is something that each team leader and team member prays through before signing. It is a commitment and pledge to each other to try our best to become these things to each other through this team.
What is the Vision Strategy Paper?
The VSP briefly describes the purpose and vision of the team in 1 to 2 pages — what it intends to accomplish, how, where, and with what people group(s).