He used that sense of humor as a witnessing tool 11 years ago when, as a short-term worker, he walked the streets of Indonesia sharing the love of Christ.
And he used it in a return trip to Indonesia this fall.
Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., traveled to Indonesia with nine other Southern Baptist pastors and missions leaders, including David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. For a week, Greear taught in churches, convention meetings and seminaries.
Greear joined the other leaders in encouraging local Christians -- and in searching for ways to connect their own congregations in America with people who have never heard the name of Jesus.
Just before the call to prayer sounded over loudspeakers one day, Greear nudged a humorous moment when he and Platt stood in the courtyard outside an Indonesian mosque near a group of boys wearing backpacks.
"You know, he's a professional dancer," joked Greear, motioning toward Platt. Platt grinned and shyly shook his head. The boys looked at one another and giggled, unsure who to believe.
Sorting out who or what to believe can be a challenging problem for many Indonesian peoples.
With one audience, Greear shared the story of Achmed*, a friend he met while serving in Indonesia.
Just before Greear left in 1999, Achmed told him about a dream in which Greear walked through the gates of heaven with Achmed. He asked what it meant.
"Brother, you're in luck," Greear said. "Dream interpretation is my spiritual gift."
Greear had never interpreted a dream before.
Fortunately, he did know what this one meant. Greear explained that God was telling Achmed he needed to become a follower of Christ so he could enjoy eternal life. But Achmed felt confused.
"Today, my friend, you are going home, and we will probably never see each other again," he told Greear. "You are the only Christian I know. Now who will teach me the ways of God?"
Even after Greear explained the dream, his friend wouldn't abandon his familial religion for Christ. The pastor still doesn't know if Achmed decided to follow Jesus, but his friend's question lingers in his mind -- Who will teach me the ways of God?
The answer sat in the chairs in front of Greear.
He listened as audience members shared how they are boldly professing their Christian faith. One woman said she has seen four generations of believers spring from a previously unreached village. An Indonesian man told how he had gone to jail for proclaiming the Gospel.
"To see God's Spirit stirring among them reminds me that it's His work and not ours," Greear said.
"This is a message we cannot keep quiet about. Jesus paid it all"
*Name changed. Shiloh Lane is a writer for the International Mission Board. Watch J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., as he witnesses what God is doing in one of the world's most unreached places.
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