SEEKER: What is Up with all this BLOOD

Having just moved into a new neighborhood, Julie and her husband deeply desired to connect with their neighbors in a way that would allow them to share Christ with those who didn’t know him. Learning that there was a monthly ladies’ Bunco night that met in the neighborhood, Julie decided to attend even though it meant forgoing her usual weekly Bible study at church. The ladies soon learned Julie was skipping Bible study for Bunco night, and one month as they were ribbing her about it, one of the ladies jokingly remarked, ”I need to go to Bible study!” Another woman retorted, “If you need to go to Bible study, then so do I!” Sensing an opportunity, Julie invited them to study the Bible with her, and they both said they would.

As Julie tried to figure out the best way to go about showing her new friends how to study the Bible, another friend described the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process to her. Julie said, “That’s it! I just want to read the Word and talk about it, not over-complicate it.” Finding Beyond’s website featuring an upcoming Nugget training titled “How to Facilitate a Discovery Bible Study,” Julie signed up right away. At the training, Julie was able to participate in a Discovery Bible Study for the first time. She was astounded.

And the results speak for themselves. One day, about six months into doing Discovery Bible Studies together, the ladies were reading about the sacrificial system in Leviticus when one of them exclaimed, “What is the deal with all this blood!”  The other non-believer who had some church background responded, “Doesn’t it have something to do with Jesus and his blood on the cross?” Following her training and not wanting to shortcut the discovery process, Julie answered, “Yes it does! We’ll get there in a few lessons.” But the woman insisted, “You need to tell me now!” Feeling the Holy Spirit prompt her that this woman was ready, Julie shared a gospel presentation and both women confessed their sins and decided to follow Jesus. “Wow, this is amazing!” one of them exclaimed. Julie testifies that by their next DBS together these women were completely different, the Holy Spirit clearly present in their lives.

HOW YOU CAN PRAY:

  • Pray that many new DBS groups will start from this group of ladies
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will create a desire in the hearts of these women to share their experience with friends and family. 
  • Pray for our upcoming Nugget Training on DBS, that many will participate and want to start DBS with their friends and neighbors

Making Inroads . . .

A worker in Austronesia tells of how the disciple making process is changing lives.

Chad has been enjoying getting to know “D” through their mutual work for the last several months. Diving into the Word together using Discovery Bible Studies(DBS), the men discuss how they need to be focused on lining their vision up with God’s Kingdom and his purposes for the surrounding areas and people. So when “D” shared that he planned to use his Discovery Bible Study tools when he spent some vacation days in an area his family is originally from, Chad helped him select several studies so he’d be prepared.

The first night D spoke with a man, Aziz, a broker, about the parable of the sower and the seeds. Feeling uneasy because of the powerful message,  Aziz suddenly began sharing that he often “played with the numbers” to earn more in sales from his customers. Through D, God’s word brought about a conviction that made Aziz feel uneasy about his dishonest ways.

D also shared the gospel story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple (Luke 18:9-14) with Panuta while in this village. Panuta is a coffee farmer in his 60’s who was struck by God’s acceptance of the humble tax collector. Crying, Panuta confessed that, though married, he had been involved in many affairs. Wanting to distance himself from these women and his sinful actions, Panuta burned items of clothing he had collected from the various encounters.

Encouraged by seeing God’s powerful word at work and wanting to continue the growth of these two men, Chad and D are now looking for reasons to keep returning to this village. A business connected to the coffee trade would be most likely. When you drink your morning cup of coffee or drive past a coffee shop will you be praying with Chad and D for the right inroad into this village and the hearts of those who live there?

Giving Thanks Amid the Rubble

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we want to share some stories from the earthquake-ravaged region of Austronesia. If you recall, several strong earthquakes hit the island of Indonesia over the summer. They brought devastation, but also opened doors for workers to bring aid, comfort and hope.

Another team reports of the medical help, temporary housing, toilets and physical needs they were able to provide, but, of much greater importance, the trauma counseling, prayers for healing in the name of Isa Al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) and the Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) they were able to hold with hurting people needing a touch from God. They now report that there are over 30 continuing DBS groups with some already starting a second generation!

Mrs. Harum was caught inside her house when the earthquake hit. Her family was with her but able to run out and away from the house. Roofing, beams and walls crashed onto her. The next day her neighbors found her alive, but paralyzed. Sadly, most of her family were killed. One of our national partners counseled her, her daughter and one granddaughter who survived. After sharing how Isa Al Masih healed the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12, Mrs. Harum said, “I believe that story.” She then welcomed prayer for the healing of her leg. After praying in the name of Isa Al Masih, Mrs. H stood up and was able to move her leg! Crying, she embraced the team, amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit. Since then, Mrs. Harum has participated in her second Discovery Bible Study and all of her neighbors have come to her tent to hear the Good News!

This Thursday, as you gather with your family, give thanks with us for the work God is doing in Indonesia and pray that many more Discovery Bible Studies will take place creating a disciple making movement among this people group that God loves so much.

Sharing the Light of the World with Hindus

This week marked the multi-day Hindu celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Light. All over the world Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists lit oil lamps and placed them in their homes and businesses to invite the Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi, to bring good fortune to them. She doesn’t come willingly, though; she needs to be enticed. Devotees clean their homes and light lamps, hoping the bright lights will attract her. Families gather to feast and give gifts. They gamble, believing that winners will be lucky in the year to come. They offer sweets and prayers to Lakshmi.

Gifts. Blessings. Light ruling over darkness
As followers of Jesus, we also long for such things. What a precious truth it is that, unlike Lakshmi, Jesus did not need to be enticed to come near to us. He came willingly. We don’t merely hope that next year will bring good fortune. Followers of Jesus can leave tomorrow’s cares at His feet, knowing His plans for us are better than we could ever think or imagine. Our Hindu neighbors, surrounded by dozens of burning lamps, are still sitting in darkness. Jesus, the true Light of the World, came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:79). How can we share this Good News with our Hindu neighbors?

Presenting the Creation Story
Presenting the creation story is a great place to start. This establishes God as the creator of a perfect world. As Creator, the True God is so big that no idol can contain Him. When sin entered the beautiful, perfect world through Adam, it proliferated until God had to wipe out all he had made with a massive flood. He had to do this because his holiness could not tolerate the sin of the world. That Creator God is wholly holy is an important distinction because Hindu gods have both a good and evil nature. So, God started over again with Noah. But still sin and shame flourished. Eventually, God himself came in human form of Jesus Christ to deal with sin once and for all. By starting with creation we can explain why Jesus is the Only True Light of the world.

Follow Jesus’ Strategy
Another way to reach out to Hindus is to follow Jesus’ strategy for outreach found in Luke 10. We pray for Him to do a miracle. A Hindu background believer shared the story of how her family came to believe in Jesus. At 16 years of age her sister, Judy, was diagnosed with lupus. At the time, not much was known about the disease so her family sought healing through Hindu rituals, visits to temples, witch doctors and shamans. When a Christ-following classmate asked if she could pray for Judy’s healing in Jesus’ name, the family, willing to try anything, agreed. The classmate and her brothers shared Bible stories of how Jesus healed the sick, and then they prayed, not just for Judy but for the whole family. In a few days, Judy started to feel better. The family rejoiced. A miracle! Soon after, her whole family, including extended family members, became followers of Christ. Similarly, there are thousands of former Hindus in India today who have given their full allegiance to Christ, because God provided a miracle when one of His children prayed. A worker on the field tells us that often when they pray for a miracle they wonder if God will actually do the thing they are asking Him to do. They doubt. But they pray anyway. And God displays His power, proving He is the ONLY WAY! .

Please pray for more opportunities to share the true Light of the World with Hindus.

Redeeming Diwali

The largest Hindu holiday of the year, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is nearly upon us. Every year millions of Hindus clean and decorate their homes hoping that the goddess of good fortune will visit them bestowing her gifts. They buy presents for one another and, on the darkest night of the month, they clean themselves, put on their best clothes, light candles and offer pooja (prayers) to Lakshmi.

Ripe for Redemption
The symbolism of Diwali is ripe for redemption. Christ is the Light of the World. He brings good gifts to his children because he loves to do so. He cleanses us from our sin and bestows on us his robe of righteousness.

One week before Diwali, Evan and Nina, who work among Hindus, wanted to introduce their neighbors to Christ through a time of satsung. Satsung is the Hindi word for worship. In Nina’s words: “We pushed all the furniture back to the walls of our living room, and then covered the floor with area rugs. Everyone took their shoes off at the door, and sat cross-legged on the floor. There was a candle burning in half of a coconut shell. Candles and coconuts are considered holy items to the typical Indian, and so by incorporating these items we signaled to our neighbors that this was a holy place and time. It’s a bit like when we walk into the sanctuary and see the communion trays at the front of the church. They signal that the Lord’s Supper is coming. The candle and coconut were on a table, off to the side, and they were noticed. Giving these elements a “Jesus” twist is what the evening was all about. Jesus is the True Light of the World, and His Broken Body is the Ultimate Sacrifice, and so the typical “Hindu” elements point to Christ, but are familiar to the people, and so make them feel comfortable at our satsung.

“Anik led the service. He sat in a corner of the room. His Bible was laid on a little wooden pedestal to keep it off the ground. He had a saffron colored scarf around his neck. Saffron is considered a “holy” color here, and signified that he was the leader of this satsung (kind of like the priest’s robes at church).

We had Communion
“Sitting next to Anik on the floor were the musicians playing Indian instruments. We opened with worship songs sung in Hindi. Anik alternated between sharing from the Word and leading out in song. After about 30 minutes, we had communion with coconut, the coconut meat for the bread, coconut milk for the wine.

“After communion, Anik shared a bit more from the Word. He shared about the things that were on his heart: caste is bad, Jesus is the Answer for India, let us treat others as we’d want them to treat us. Albeit with an Indian twist, it was the same kind of message you’d hear at church: Jesus is the Answer, and you’re called to love your neighbor.

What did our neighbors think?
“The were blown away. They couldn’t get over how kind Anik was. He spoke with such passion. He obviously loves his country and his God. But, mostly, they talked about the peace they felt during the service. They couldn’t stop talking about how good they felt, how encouraged they were. And they knew it was Jesus they felt. Several days later, one of our neighbors was still talking about it, how she’d never felt a peace like that. “Jesus’ peace,” she said again. After the
satsung was over, we couldn’t get them to leave! They stayed and stayed, chatting and eating. It was an absolutely wonderful evening. God was lifted up in our house by our neighbors. Never did we imagine when we moved here that one day we’d see our Sikh neighbors with their arms raised, singing praise to Jesus in our living room! Oh, Lord, may there be many more chances! “

Radical Thinking part of our Culture at Beyond
By incorporating local culture in a relational way Evan and Nina were able to make a real connection with their unbelieving neighbors. This kind of radical thinking, is highly valued to us as an organization and is what is opening doors so that people living in darkness will see a great light, and on those living in the shadow of death a light will dawn. (Matthew 4:16)

Please pray for more opportunities to share the true Light of the World with Hindus.