Owning the Great Commission

The Banjara people of North India live bleak lives. They are impoverished. Illiterate. Unwelcomed within city limits. They live under “tents” of plastic sheeting, often next to open sewages. They eat the scraps that butchers can’t sell, and they are considered too low for any caste group to accept. Their lives are devoid of hope.

Then a disciple told one Banjara group about Jesus.

They now have hope and have been changed by the Holy Spirit in every way. They eat decent food. Many have built one-room homes of brick. They started a “school,” and their children are learning to read. Many have started micro-businesses. AND they are obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples of the lost.

Banjara house church leaders met recently to seek God for direction in reaching 3000 other Banjara families with the gospel this year. Though they are poor and mostly still illiterate, they are owning the Great Commission for themselves. They are dividing up the work and funding it from their own resources.

When people are discipled to Jesus — not Christian culture or church traditions — true transformation results. This is the Book of Acts in action.

BEYOND donors, you have been part of this amazing story of transformation and purpose.

“Tell us: Why do you follow Jesus?”

After discussing several Bible stories with *Rayyan in his shop, *Karly and *Julie asked if he had friends who might like to discuss Scripture outside of work hours. He did!

On the day of the scheduled meeting, Rayyan texted that 10 guys might come.  Karly and Julie were worried.  “How will this work in the public restaurant setting? Will these guys be okay with our topic or just want to debate?” The ladies prayed they would at least leave knowing who might be interested in studying further.

That night they were surprised to see 17 men present!  An older man dove straight in with the first question: “Tell us: Why do you follow Jesus?”

Using lots of Scripture, Julie explained. Everyone listened. Some had questions, but there was no debating.

The ladies were amazed and reminded of Cornelius from Acts 10. After gathering people together, Cornelius addressed Peter: “Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”   And Peter declared: “Jesus is the one all the prophets testified about… everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

Pray these men would find and embrace the Truth they seek.

BEYOND donors, your support enables spiritual discussions just like this one in the story.

*pseudonyms

The Role of Outsiders in Movements

In 2019, a number of Western and national movement practitioners gathered to explore new models of missionary training. National leaders were asked for their insights on the role of outsiders catalyzing new works in their regions. While welcoming movement efforts, they spoke into the ideal posture of outsiders as they entered into new unreached fields.

Their insights can be unpacked into ten recommendations that anyone looking to go to the mission field or send workers to a field would do well to listen to:

Be an Example. Outsiders need “street credibility.” Making disciples and planting churches involve trials and suffering. Insiders notice and appreciate the patience and humility of an outsider who has been deepened in this way. Modeling is not just theology or tools. It’s a lifestyle of prayer, labor, perseverance, releasing responsibility, and trusting God.

Be Relational. Locals feel when outsiders come with more zeal for methods than love for people. An overly-transactional desire to get the job done grates on people in relational cultures. Movement leaders marveled at how much Western outsiders talked about “boundaries” without considering the needs and perspectives of local people. Additionally, local believers are not especially impressed by great tools and methods. They need to know, love, and respect their partners. Working to become family may feel slow, but it paves the best path to fruitfulness. 

Be Humble. The world operates on a hierarchical framework, but Jesus said “not so among you” (Mark 10:43). Don’t come in as a boss, but treat the inside leader as a friend. Empower them and release control. Control tends to kill movements, so work to establish “a round table, not a rectangular one.” Listening well shows respect, love, and care. Working with and through experienced leaders honors them.

Be a Culture Learner. Local believers often puzzle over how culturally unaware outsiders are as they bring the gospel to a new field. We need to recognize that when we arrive as an outsider, we bring the fragrance of our home culture. This affects how we communicate, how we correct, our alliances and biases, and the way we get things done. Even our tools carry cultural baggage. Commit to learn the language and operate through the culture. Discover with local people how to bring the Kingdom.

Be Patient. Movement leaders recounted how outsiders often arrive with their tools and methods and say: “I know this will work here because it has worked somewhere else.” A patient, relational approach grants a period of settling in, allowing outsiders and insiders to learn from one another through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then trust can blossom. Patience demonstrates humility and a recognition that cultural insiders have much to contribute in helping enculturate the principles behind fruitful tools.

Be a Prayer Leader. Outsiders need to lead out in prayer, though they may find that local people do it better than they. Outsiders do, however, have the ability to catalyze outside prayer networks in strategic ways that can change realities on the ground. Connecting local believers with these prayer networks allows them access to a resource that may be hard for them to find.

Be a Vision Caster and Catalyzer of Insiders. Movement leaders tell stories of outsiders who cast a vision for them to be “laborers in the harvest” and dreamed with them about what is possible. Outsiders can create a broad base of relationships and help networks unify. Movement leaders shared how outsiders connected them to the 24:14 Vision for their region. These connections can also catalyze new laborers.

Be a Mentor and Coach. Outsiders can play an important role as a life-on-life mentor. But movement leaders caution that transactional coaching strategies fall flat in relational cultures. Local leaders crave time spent together exploring problems, with questions and cultural respect.

Be Dependent on the Word. Outsiders having a long history with God can help provide theological frameworks and dependency on God’s leadership through his word. A commitment to seek direction together from God and his word, and obey what it says, no matter what, models a reproducible life in God.

Be a Connector. An outsider will naturally be more trusted by other outsiders with resources. An outside catalyst who has developed relationships with inside leaders can connect them with Bibles, tools, or help with trainings that can help start new works. Outside catalysts can help with data gathering and reporting that helps the movement relate to other movements and networks.

As outside catalysts look to be effective in starting movements among the unreached, there is an example from many who have gone before on the most effective, God-honoring postures to take. May agencies send the kind of humble, honoring people that God can use to see His Kingdom come in every tongue, tribe, and nation.

 This piece was summarized with permission from 2414now.net and the author, Chris McBride

“Well That’s Easy! I Can Do That!”

Each day, Niah teaches Dean and Penny the Thai language. She also helps them understand Thai culture and religious beliefs. She has become their friend.

Dean and Penny share stories about Jesus with her and answer her questions about the Christian faith. In December Niah asked, “Why do you give gifts at Christmas?”

Penny happily told Niah about the gift of forgiveness and love that God gave through Jesus and that this amazing gift is free and for all people. 

Thai Buddhists, Niah said, carry their good and bad from life to life, never putting it down. They hope their good will outweigh the bad so their next life is better. When Penny asked how she knew if she’d done enough good, Niah said, “You don’t until you die and face judgment.” She agreed it would be nice to set it down and not pick it up again.

As the discussion continued, Penny shared that followers of Jesus read God’s word, obey what it says, and share it with others. “Well that’s easy,” Niah responded. “I can do that.”

If you give to BEYOND, you have played a part in Niah hearing the Good News. Pray that spiritual conversations like these, happening all over the world, will yield ever-increasing fruit to the glory of Father God.

*pseudonym