“What Happened Next Was a Blur . . .”

Muharis and Ani met and married shortly after they had each been through a multi-week discipleship training on Disciple Making Movements (DMM) led by Beyond field leaders Ryan and Anna. Muharis and Ani wondered: How would Father God have them serve, in light of his desire for all peoples to hear of his Son? Both couples sought the Lord’s direction for Muharis and Ani’s life. The answer came. Muharis and Ani felt led to live and work among the Bimanese Muslims. Working with Ryan and Anna, they would form a new DMM team. They desired to see the knowledge of Christ and obedience to God’s Word transform this unreached people group. 

Muharis and Ani moved to serve the Bimanese people and soon learned of another upcoming transition. They were expecting a baby! In 2017, Muharis held his baby girl for the first time and heard the doctor pronounce that all was good. Although Ani had needed an emergency C-section to deliver the baby, she would recover as they enjoyed their precious daughter. Muharis was elated.

It should have been a time of pure rejoicing. 

What happened next was a blur to Muharis. Ani was in the recovery room when Muharis noticed a steady stream of blood oozing from his wife’s suture. He called for help. When the doctor arrived, he ordered her back into surgery. As he left to prepare, the doctor stated, “There is a 50-50 shot for me to be able to save your wife.” Muharis turned, saw his newborn daughter next to him, then fell to the floor in shock. He cried out to Father God in prayer. Then he called Ryan. Ryan and Anna mobilized their entire discipleship network in prayer for Ani.

Ani survived the ordeal. But the doctor removed her womb. 

The removal was probably not necessary. A more proficient doctor might have saved Ani without removing her womb, but skilled doctors are rare in such remote places. 

Since that day, God has blessed Muharis and Ani. He has honored their commitment to serve him no matter the personal cost. Their team has seen 117 discovery Bible study groups form. They have four house fellowships of baptized followers who meet regularly and are facilitating a second generation of discovery Bible groups!

Jesus told his disciples that following him would not be easy. We need to count the cost of discipleship.

“Your Words Are No Help to Me . . .”

Not long ago, some disciples of Jesus visited a nearby village in rural north India. Just as Jesus commanded in Luke 10, this small group walked through the village until they found a family interested in talking. They were invited into the hut of this very poor family. After quietly listening to the disciples share their personal testimonies for a while, the wife finally looked at her visitors and said, “You are outsiders. You’re not like me. Your words are no help to me.”

The disciples had to agree. Their lives were very different from hers. They knew that though their words wouldn’t make a difference in her life, Jesus’ words would. They offered her an audio speaker with excerpts of Scripture on it. They said, “Please take this. Listen to God’s Word. His stories will always bring benefit. Listen to them over and over again. But don’t just listen. At the end of each story is a set of questions. Understanding comes through discussing these questions; not just listening to the stories. We can’t always visit you, but you can always have God’s Word.”

After several months, the disciples returned to the village, expecting to find the same depressed woman. Instead, they found happy people! Lots of happy people! The first time they visited, the disciples had only met with the wife and children. This time, the husband was also present, as well as many neighbors and extended family. The disciples asked, “What is the reason you are so different from before?”

The wife began to cry tears of joy. Others cried too. When she was able to speak, she explained that she and her children had listened to the stories. Every day during their afternoon chai break from the fields, they had listened to and discussed a story. Like most Indians, their eldest son and his wife live with them. It was not a happy marriage. Their son was a drunkard who beat his wife regularly. The day he heard Genesis 2 and the creation of Adam and Eve, however, that all changed. Astonished, he had cried out: “This story says that my wife was taken from my rib. That means we are of the same body! But…” looking at his wife he said, “. . . I beat you and drink too much!”

The son repented of his attitude. His marriage improved. Others in the community joined the daily story-hearing and discussion time. Those husbands began to recognize the value of their wives. Those marriages also changed. The wives shared with other women about the stories they were hearing and how their lives were changing. Their husbands no longer beat them, but now saw them as part of themselves.

The disciples of Jesus were thrilled. While their words had been powerless to produce change, God’s Word had been enough. The Holy Spirit had given life to the stories. Today that original family and others in the village have been baptized, are being mentored by a local leader, and are reaching out to their extended families in other villages.

Bold Risk Taking

Bold risk-taking does not come naturally to Jin Yee*so she relied on the Holy Spirit for courage to speak. She remembered the discipleship training she had attended a week before. In the training, they had read through Luke 10:1-16 and Matthew 9:35-10:16 — passages where Jesus instructs his followers on how to go out among the lost. They had also practiced what they would say to someone when moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. Finally, they had prayed for the opportunity and boldness to carry through with all they had learned.

The first woman Jin Yee prayed for wasn’t the person who had come to her mind during the training. But, recognizing the leading of the Holy Spirit, Jin Yee called the woman and asked if she could pray for God’s blessing on an upcoming medical procedure the woman was having. 

During the training, Jin Yee had felt called to pray for her work supervisor. Talking to her about Jesus was a bigger challenge for Jin Yee. The opportunity to talk did not come up naturally during the workday. Being faithful to the leading of the Holy Spirit, however, Jin Yee called her supervisor after hours. She expressed care for her and asked if she could pray in Jesus’ name over some difficulties in the woman’s life.

“I did it!” Jin Yee told Amy, the Beyond missions catalyst who had led the discipleship training. “I faced my fears and openly offered to pray for this woman, and she said ‘yes!’. Not only that, I did it again with the woman we prayed for last week, and she said ‘yes’ too! Now, I realize that this kind of conversation is not as hard as I’d imagined it was.”

Together, the women thanked God for His faithfulness and prayed for broader openings to have spiritual conversations with these women in the following weeks. In faith, they chose and practiced telling short stories from the Bible to share when those openings came.

The work of birthing and sustaining a Disciple Making Movement remains the work of the Holy Spirit. Both the sharer and the receiver of the message rely on his power and guidance.

*pseudonyms used

“What Are We Going to Do When These People Show Up . . .”

It was the night before ten of Alison’s* friends would come over to study what the Bible said about God’s heart for the lost. Her roommate, Karly, a Beyond field worker, had just finished making muffins and asked, “How are you feeling about leading the training?”  But Alison thought Karly’s team leader was coming to facilitate the training!  “Oh dear!” Alison said. “What are we going to do when these people show up in twelve hours?”  Even though Karly had only had four months of learning the local language, she was convinced they could do it without the guest “expert.” Alison could give the introduction, and Karly would lead the Scripture study herself. Feeling good about Karly’s plan, Alison turned to comfort her friend, “Don’t worry. You can speak English.”

The next day everyone arrived and began to meet, greet, and catch up in the local language. As Alison introduced the training in their native tongue, Karly started to think through all the questions she planned to ask . . .. “Who would like to read 2 Peter 3:9?”  “What can we learn about God’s heart from these verses?”  “Who does God want to be saved?” etc… “Can I do it in my new language?” Karly wondered. She knew it was worth a try.  “Give me words, Lord!” she prayed. “You are the Teacher.” 

God came through for Karly, and Alison’s friends were able to learn about Jesus’ strategy in their native language. As they closed, Alison encouraged the group to pass it on. “Anyone can lead this training. See, Karly’s had only four months of language learning, and she can lead it!” Karly agreed, “It’s not about us. I love that God set me up to lead my first training through a miscommunication, long before I would have felt ready!”

Don’t Give Up

When Ying Kai was a young student in Taiwan, he worked hard to pass an important exam that would enable him to get into a good middle school. He really wanted a new bicycle to ride 30 minutes to the new school, but doubted he would get it since his family was so poor. One day, however, as he passed his parents’ bedroom, he heard his father comment to his mother that he would buy a new bicycle for Ying. Ying was overjoyed. That night before bed, he asked his father for a new bicycle. But his father said “no!” Ying was perplexed but did not give up because he knew his father’s heart! As he persisted, his father finally said “yes.” The next day he had a new bicycle.

Ying says: “Because I knew my father’s heart, I never gave up. If I didn’t know his heart, I probably would have given up. So if we know our heavenly Father’s heart, we will have more confidence to do what He wants us to do.” 

God chooses you to save you and all those who belong to you. This is your heavenly Father’s heart. If you know his heart, then you will not give up asking Him for what is on His heart. The responsibility is yours – to witness to your own. Don’t give up! God will eventually save many of them.*

The Heart of the Father is the topic for Beyond’s first Nugget of 2020! Nuggets are free, online discipleship trainings led by experienced missions practitioners. This semester our Nugget training series will cover the essentials to building and sustaining a Church Planting Movement through a tool called “The Heart and Four Fields.” It’s easy to join. All you need is an internet connection, a device with audio and video capabilities, and a desire to participate. 

*excerpted from T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution by Steve Smith with Ying Kai