What Stands in Your Way?

Once or twice a month in East Asia, Amy has lunch with her friend May, primarily to provide May with an opportunity to discuss what she’s learning from God’s Word and how she is applying it in her life. For some time, Amy, a BEYOND mission catalyst, has had a strong sense that God has called May to be equipped for a more missional life than she ever imagined. She has resisted, however, with various objections. 

Despite that, Amy has gently continued to sow the seeds of what it would be like for May to live a shema* lifestyle. That means dropping bits of truth about God and his kingdom into everyday conversations and sharing her testimony with others. But May did not seem able to make the transition into sharing her faith with those around her. 

Then something changed. Amy could sense it as soon as May arrived at the restaurant and blurted out: “Something incredible has been happening these past two weeks! You’re going to be amazed!”        

“Super! Amaze me,” Amy said.     

“It’s like God has flipped a switch inside me,” May said. She went on to explain that she had been having troubles with her apartment and cried out to God in desperate prayer. “Ever since then, he has released me from so many fears and anxieties. I have eagerly shared about God’s goodness and what I’m learning in His Word. And people are listening! Some have even asked questions!”        

“I’m not making a special effort to share with so many people. I just really can’t help it,” she continued. “I have so much joy inside me, and God is so good. I share and share because this is such a precious life, and there is so much for people to experience. I just naturally want everyone to hear and know and encounter God, too!”      

“Wow! That is amazing,” Amy replied. “Would you like to learn more about how you can follow through with people who show interest?”      

“Yes, I think I’m ready for that now. No more objections!” May answered with a big smile.

In movements, everyone is involved in training others, and anyone interested can be trainedWe train toward the goal of disciples of Jesus who obey him by making disciples who make disciples until His glory fills the Earth.

*Shema is the Hebrew word often translated “hear” but better translated “hear and obey” in Deuteronomy 6:4. Among movement catalysts, “shema statement” or “shema lifestyle” is often used as a shorthand description for a spiritually fragrant word or deed which invites but does not force a spiritual response to God. 

*pseudonyms used

Friend, Peon or Manager?

In the West, it is the general practice for a business owner to hire a manager if he or she doesn’t have the time or desire to manage it themselves. In India, however, this is not the custom. The owner is the manager. He or she trusts no one else with the business. The owner manages, and everyone else is a peon. Yes, peon is a commonly used word in India. 

Imagine the wonder, then, that people living in this rigid society of hierarchy feel when they hear Jesus say that He freely shares His authority with us (Matthew 10:1; 16:19; Luke 9:1; John 1:12; Acts 26:16). But He goes further than that! Jesus says, You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends . . .. (John 15:14-15). What?! The God for Whom there is no idol doesn’t consider me a peon? He calls me friend, and entrusts to ME the task to make other disciples? What a message! 

Beyond’s South Asian field leaders, Ethan and Nicole, learned that the disciples in India were sharing Matthew 28:18-20 as part of the Gospel Message. “I love that they had eyes to see something about the Gospel that we with our western eyes and deeply rooted Christian traditions could not see,” Nicole says. “Have you ever included Matthew 28 in your Gospel presentation? I’m guessing not. But, for those coming out of slavery, for those who live in a culture where peon is still in common use, sharing in the Master’s authority and carrying responsibility IS Good News. They’re so excited about having a purpose for their lives that they can’t hold themselves back. They embrace the honor to be given the chance, and they quickly share the opportunity with their friends.”

Praise God for obedient friends of Jesus who diligently share His message! 

Our field leaders ask for prayer as top Indian movement leaders travel to meet with local leaders to check on the wellness of the churches, gather reports of persecution, pray over needs, and pass on new trainings from God’s Word. The traveling is difficult; they can be harassed by the local police; they are away from their families. Your prayers for these trips are greatly appreciated.

Secondly, we can be praying for the disciple makers’ financial provision. God is giving them creativity to make money/work with their hands. Many are farmers. Some own small shops. Please pray that God would bless their labors so they can continue in the work of making followers of Jesus. Pray, too, that they would continue to be generous with one another like we see in the book of Acts.

 

*pseudonyms used

“Does God Have a Hearing Problem?”

“Can I eat here?” Karly asked the cook of a small food stand near her new home. The young Muslim woman, Farah, eagerly responded, “You speak my language?! Please, sit, sit! What do you want to eat?” 

As Farah placed a plate of delicious food on the table and sat down next to her, Karly noticed the beautiful henna designs on Farah’s hands and was reminded of something she’d recently heard. A friend had said that Muslim people believe God cannot hear the prayers of a woman who wears nail polish. (Muslims are to wash before their ritual, five-times-daily prayers. This includes washing every part of their hands. A layer of nail polish is said to prevent “wudu,” or purification, from being complete as water cannot reach the actual nail.)

When Karly asked about the nail polish, Farah replied,  “Yeah, some people think like that.  But I feel God can hear fine. He is God, right?  Does He have a hearing problem? Also, people don’t care about henna.  It’s clean. It doesn’t block the water. Would you like me to put henna on your hands?” Karly accepted her offer in the spirit of Luke 10:7 (Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality.).

As the henna dried, a few customers came to the food stand, and Farah introduced Karly to them, pointing out that she could speak their language. In a moment of quiet, Karly asked how she could pray for Farah.  “Anything you think of about my business or life!” Farah replied. “I will pray for you too.”

Because of Farah’s introductions, Karly has been welcomed into the homes of two other families on the block!

  • Please pray for Karly as she extends the light of God to these new friends.
  • Pray that God will open Farah’s heart to seeing and accepting Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) as her Lord and Savior.

Read another story about Karly here.

*pseudonyms

Balking at Baptism

Three thousand people believing and being baptized in one day?! It sounds too good to be true, yet we know it is. The second chapter of Acts records this supernatural event. Thousands of people “from every nation” heard the loud arrival of the Holy Spirit and came to investigate. Filled by the Holy Spirit, Peter’s words pierced the hearts of 3,000 people. Answering their stricken question, “What should we do?” Peter responds, “repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” In verse 41, we read, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.”

Perhaps you can think of other instances of groups of people believing and being baptized the same day or soon thereafter? (Cornelius, Lydia, the jailer, etc.) Actually, in the book of Acts, there are only three times when a lone individual comes to faith in Jesus. The vast majority of people who came to Christ in Acts came as part of a group.

And we see it happening today. 

In North India, the Banjara are a poor and marginalized people. They live in tents next to open sewage at the side of the road. They eat leftovers that people throw to dogs. They get run out of town. Their children don’t attend school. Society has taught them that this is what they deserve. Life is very difficult for them.

But through Sanjay, a movement catalyst in India, many Banjara have heard the Good News and become disciples of Jesus. Among them are a man named Arjan and his family. Soon after believing, Arjan’s entire family (he, his wife, and their three young children) were baptized. In a nearby town, however, other Banjara believers had reservations about being baptized. As baptism is a public declaration of loyalty to Jesus, many feared retribution from their neighbors and their old gods. They wondered, too, if God would test their newfound allegiance with trials they could not bear. They were afraid. Wasn’t life already hard enough?

Wanting to embolden them to take this step of obedience, Sanjay brought Arjan to speak to this Banjara community about his baptism experience. When Arjan spoke about Jesus, he pointed out that Jesus Himself had experienced testing. He was tested by the devil for 40 days in the wilderness. And He prevailed. He was not defeated by His enemy. And so, because He has already been tested and come through victorious, we, too, can face our fears, our potential tests or trials, knowing that anything we face is nothing when compared to what He faced. He walked the road of testing before us so that when our turn came, we’d be able to walk it, too. We have nothing to fear.  He went on to say, “I thank God that when my child was about one year old, my whole family, came to God together,” Arjan told them. “From the oldest to the youngest, we came . . . all five of us took baptism together. And you would think that after this, we would have fallen into big (troubles). But no. Not at all. Everything changed. For the better. We felt joy.

Far from regretting his decision, Arjan shared that his family was only glad they had been baptized. The terrible tests and pressures that he thought would come never materialized. Their greatest fears did not come true. In fact, the opposite happened. Blessings came. “And so I am telling you,” Arjan concluded, “you should absolutely remove from your minds any thoughts that after baptism, insurmountable (afflictions or persecution) will occur . . .. Please do it. Because Jesus has already given proof of his superiority, (and) you have already put your faith in Him. We are left with absolute life. Hallelujah!” 

An announcement was made that a baptism would occur in three days. When the day arrived, more than half of the families were baptized together as a proclamation of their faith and allegiance to Jesus. Hallelujah, indeed!

*pseudonyms used