Caught Between the Lion and the Lambs

Upon arriving back in Asia after several months’ absence, Helen* met with her Muslim friend Mira* to catch up on each other’s lives. As soon as they sat down, Mira mentioned a dream she’d had the night before Helen called. In it, she was being welcomed into a foreign family’s home and accepted as one of their family. This family shined so brightly that she wanted the light they were giving off in her own life too. Mira believed that Helen’s family was the one from her dream and that they had returned to welcome her into their family and give her a special light in her own life.

Mira told Helen of other dreams she’d had in recent months. In one, Mira was walking through a park when sheep suddenly appeared and began following her. She turned to the right and left to get away from the sheep, but more and more followed her, multiplying rapidly. Try as she might, she could not evade the sheep. 

When she saw a big building nearby, she hid behind it because she was afraid of all the sheep. Suddenly, a huge lion appeared and found her hiding place. She was scared at first but quickly realized that it was friendly, peaceful, and loving. The lion comforted her, and she stepped out from behind the building. Then she woke up. Mira immediately knew the lion was special. She had felt safe with him nearby. 

Helen and her husband Frank* are excited about what these dreams seem to indicate God may have in store for Mira: leadership of multiplying disciples of Jesus. They ask for your prayers for Mira. She does not yet want to study the Bible. She is afraid and needs to approach the Lion who comforted her. They are praying the Father would continue to pursue Mira and that she would step out in boldness to follow Jesus: the Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, and Light of the World.

*pseudonyms used

North Korea: “The Jerusalem of the East”?

North Korea has been much in the news lately. Let’s pray rich blessings over this nation and its people.

Let’s pray that God would birth a great spiritual awakening as He did in the early 1900s when a disciple-making movement spread through Pyongyang. By the 1920s, the movement had permeated the Korean peninsula. Whole families and regions came to Christ! The revival was based on principles found in the book of Acts, which we see in many movements around the world today.

John Nevius was a missionary whose ideas helped launch this dynamic movement. Instead of urging people to come to a building to listen to a key leader or two (attractional churches), Nevius believed in local, empowered leadership, the priesthood of all believers, and simple reproducible Bible studies which any believer could start and help others to start. As a result, the gospel spread like wildfire.

Simple, reproducible Bible studies multiplied from sarangbang (a room used for meeting or studying) to sarangbang. Previously, Christian workers had problems starting attractional churches, but through these methods, Bible studies multiplied faster than workers could keep up with them! Many of these sarangbang Bible study meetings developed into house churches in this truly indigenous movement.

The movement was hottest in Pyongyang; in fact, Pyongyang became known as “the Jerusalem of the East.” Some believed it was the fastest spiritual awakening seen since the one recorded in the book of Acts. Pyongyang became home to 300,000 Christians. Eventually, 29% of Koreans were involved in these house churches. 

  • Pray that God will launch a “Book of Acts” movement again so all people in this country can know Jesus’ love.
  • Pray God will equip and launch laborers into this harvest field.
  • Pray many will choose to follow Him in loving obedience. 
  • Pray for a great multiplication of house churches who love and serve their people and country.
  • Pray for God’s protection from Satan, for Jesus’ disciples. 
  • Pray for wonderful blessings for all the people of this country. 
  • Pray that we will once again see “average” believers do extraordinary things, through and because of Jesus’ love. 

Ebola, Covid, and Movements, What?

In 2014, an outbreak of Ebola emerged in West Africa, infecting 8,704 people and killing 3,589. A Disciple Making Movement* was already underway there when the deadly and highly contagious virus struck. To help ministries and movement leaders grappling with new ministry paradigms due to COVID-19, a movement leader from West Africa recently shared insights on multiplying the church during a pandemic.

First, the movement leaders adopted a strategic long term plan. They asked themselves, “How can God use us to deal with the damage today, but also to put in place the foundation of his kingdom for the future?” 

The majority of the movement’s effort was “repurposed” into serving the public alongside other community leaders. They worked with government officials, mosque leaders, health workers, and other church structures and charitable organizations in a concerted effort to combat the virus and its effects. (These efforts would later create unique Kingdom opportunities.) They worked to help the public accept reality, combat fear, and become educated about Ebola. Followers of Jesus brought food into villages, volunteered in medical clinics, drove ambulances, buried the dead, prayed on hospital grounds, produced encouraging radio programs, and served willingly in any way they could. In serving their communities, many risked their lives, and several died after contracting the virus.

People in the movement didn’t stop sharing the gospel. Yes, momentum was lost. The process of a Disciple Making Movement relies on sharing with others and meeting together to discuss Scripture. But they did press on. Whenever they could, they pointed others to God and trusting in Him. They prayed and fasted. They encouraged people and endeavored to bring hope. People saw the hand of Jesus through the serving believers. Communities that had not previously been receptive to the gospel opened up because of the service of believers in the midst of the crisis. “We followed a lot of people back to their villages, and some decided to follow Jesus.”

This leader stressed the importance of serving in our own areas of influence and exhorted the global church to move toward the current situation, not away from it. By working for the common good through the combination of their prayers and meeting felt needs in the community, they found they were able to shape the culture around them. After the Ebola crisis passed, the church was able to bounce back and found their work had produced “spiritual dividends.” That is good news indeed.  

*Part of the DNA of Disciple Making Movements (and the agencies that serve and facilitate them) is to share important lessons learned with other movement practitioners. We wish to thank our friends and 24:14 partners at New Generations for permitting us to share the information in this article with you.

Can the Church Be Locked Down?

A few weeks ago in Nepal, Joel, BEYOND’s Tibetan/Himalayan field leader, and his national team were training foreign workers in a local church on how to start Disciple-Making Movements among Unreached people groups. Part of the training presents a method for house churches to meet together using a process called Discovery Bible Study (DBS). 

When the government announced the ban on large gatherings, the pastor of the church, who had been attending the training as he was able, asked that some people from his church be taught how to lead house churches through DBS. Joel’s team joyfully did so, instructing those gathered on the simple method of reading a passage of Scripture, asking a few questions, and listening for how God would have them obey what they read.

“There is no substitute for meeting in a small group as the body of Christ,” Joel shares, “even in a group as small as two or three people. This method is how the Tazig people, my focus people group, meet together.” 

“During this season of social distancing, we want to continue to grow in our walks with Christ. While some growth comes from individual disciplines, God has designed us to grow together as communities. That community doesn’t have to be 100+ people. It can be 3-10 people meeting together, praying, worshipping, keeping each other accountable, studying Scripture, and discipling and caring for one another. So while we are only able to meet with those in our households, or in small groups of friends and family, I recommend trying a Discovery Bible Study in your home!”

The following week as the nation went into a full lockdown, the Tazig DBS groups and house churches tried to meet by video conference, but technical difficulties prevented them. Not wanting to give up, they tried again the next day by sending out a Scripture passage from Matthew 9 via Facebook Messenger. They sent out the questions, allowing two hours or so for responses. 

“We enjoyed seeing the responses come in all day,” Joel says. “Some people sent voice messages; some sent text messages. People responded to each other’s answers with ‘likes’ and various Facebook reactions.” 

Meeting in this way allowed them to have real and meaningful interaction. Their phone notifications became less about sharing the latest news of COVID and instead highlighted what their brothers or sisters in Christ were learning and applying from Scripture.

*pseudonyms used