Empowering Local Partners

by Kay Parks

“Among the 150+ CPMs we are aware of worldwide, only a very small minority have been catalyzed directly by an outsider. The majority develop when the outside CPM catalyzer(s) vision-casts and trains the near / same culture local partner/believer(s), and together they vision-cast, train, and live out these biblical truths.” -CPM Trainer Stan Parks

One joy of overseas ministry is the local partners with whom we get to work. It’s not only wonderful to walk and work beside them but absolutely critical!

One of my local partners was Flora. She and her husband are local church planters. Flora and I made it a habit together to find people to talk to (i.e. searching for Persons of Peace). We would pray before going out and along the way. Whenever possible, we would visit women we already knew and share with them. We also went into the community to meet new women, looking for those wanting to engage in spiritual conversations.

If I found someone interested in the gospel while on my own, I would invite Flora the next time I met that person. I never wanted anyone in my adopted country to confuse following Jesus with American Christianity. Flora was a lifeline in my ministry. (Not to mention that she was so much fun to know and work with!)

The Good, the Bad and the Messy

We didn’t always feel successful. While many women would engage in spiritual conversations, we almost never found those who wanted to meet with their family and friends. 

Due to our perceived lack of success, we both felt discouraged at times! In fact, if we defined success only as finding a Person of Peace and starting a Discovery Group, we weren’t successful at all! But I’d like to expand the definition of success: In training, we learned that when we work with our local partners (and they work with others), we are to MEWL–Model, Equip, Watch and Letter (keeping in touch after leaving). By this measure of success, I feel better about my efforts.

When Flora and I met together, I modeled ways to share (as she did with me). At times I had to push her to do the talking, so I could “watch” and encourage her in the process. This also lent itself to “equipping”—giving helpful thoughts, praying for her as she shared, and talking about what we were learning. When I consider success in these terms, I feel more encouraged about our work.

Recently my husband and I returned for a visit. Imagine my great joy at finding that Flora and her husband continued sharing with others. They pray, demonstrate Christ’s love, and have seen some Discovery Groups started. Another local worker and Flora now go out to share. Flora is MEWLing (so to speak) and passing on what she has learned.

We both learned to keep doing what we were trained to do. We kept looking for Persons of Peace. We continued to pray. We continued to meet with other women to train and encourage them. Did we feel successful? Not really. But did we give up? Never. Not an option.

Truth be told, I often felt like a CPM failure and was thankful others were modeling, equipping, watching, and lettering Flora as well. But as I look back at my time with Flora I am very thankful. I can see how powerful it was to work with local partners, encourage them, and model persistence. To see Flora continue on and to know other local workers are being raised up encourages my heart in ways I cannot express.

A Reproducing Disciple-Maker Left Behind?

My husband has often said, “It’s not what you can do to start a movement, but what needs to be done.” I believe that praying for and empowering local leaders is the greatest thing any of us can do as we serve to see movements started. So, wherever I am, I will do my best to model, equip, watch, and letter with other workers. Paul’s words ring true when I think about Flora and my other local partners: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:3-6) Amen and Amen!

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers, it was edited with permission.

From Religion to Stories of Jesus

One day, Karly* and Allison* went to the park to meet people. When they arrived, they saw their Muslim friend Yasmin* who introduced them to some women she knew. “These are my friends Karly and Allison. They study the holy books and the prophets.”

Then Yasmin shared a story about Isa (Jesus). This prompted one woman to remember that her son had asked about Jesus. He had seen videos on YouTube and TikTok about the end times, one of which included a story about Isa. As a result he became very afraid and could not sleep. She and her husband also became troubled. “We sent our son to study more religion so he might understand and not be afraid.”  

Suddenly, one of the women turned to Yasmin. Motioning toward Karly and Allison, she asked, “Who did you say these women are?” 

Yasmin told the women they should talk with Karly and Allison if they wanted to study stories from the holy books. 

“I want to know the stories,” one woman said. “I know Jesus will come, but I don’t know how.”  

Later Karly and Allison talked with this woman. “When are you coming again?” she asked. “Next time, come to my house so we can study the stories.”

Obedient disciples can train reproducible groups to study the Word from the start. Spiritually hungry people immediately learn that, no matter the setting, they can hear what God is saying to them because the Holy Spirit is their teacher. As Jesus said in John 6:45, “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” 

Pray that these women will meet Jesus as Karly and Allison obediently model how to learn from God’s Word directly from the Father Himself.

*pseudonym

In the Midst of the Storm

Our disciple-making movement in India recently sent an update. The following messages are from *Sanjay, a movement leader:

  • In two years, brother *Manu helped birth 48 churches. Two weeks ago, he was suffering from COVID, and today he died. He leaves a wife and two children. They do not have a permanent house. Please pray. 
  • Yesterday, we [heard that] . . .  many families have been cured of COVID in the name of Jesus. But 23 families [in one region] have experienced death.
  • There are families in which mom and daddy have died, and the kids are all alone. That is, 17 children age 6 to 9. Pray for these children. 

While this news is heartbreaking, we know that despite whom one follows, storms come. It’s a certainty. And we praise God for the thousands of Hindus and Muslims in North India who are now building on the Rock by listening to and following Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 7:24-27)

*Sanjay also shared that movement churches have helped repair 127 typhoon-damaged homes or roofs, fed about 23,000 people, have given money to 884 families for COVID medical expenses, and have seen 873 families miraculously healed from COVID.  

In these difficult days, disciples in North India are not holding back or retreating. They are listening to God and obeying by sharing with the needy and caring for widows and orphans

*pseudonym

Baptism in Risky and Hostile Places

One of our movement catalyst teams is working to send disciple-makers from similar cultures and/or languages to unreached people groups (UPGs) in their nation. These workers, often called near-culture workers, usually have easier access and are more readily accepted than those from vastly differing languages and cultures. There have been 30 workers already sent to serve in eight provinces and are engaging 17 UPGs!

This past year, a husband and wife team has seen a first-generation house church formed within the UPG they serve. This house church now has second-generation disciples! On another island, a worker and her team are also seeing first-generation house churches with a second generation forming.

These groups consist of Muslims who are encountering and studying the Word of God with the near-culture workers. As they have studied, sometimes for months, they could not deny His truth and so proclaimed Jesus their Lord! In places that are often very risky and hostile, they have chosen to be baptized and become followers of Jesus. They’ve begun Scripture study groups with Muslim friends and neighbors around them, because they know (as we also do) that lovers of Jesus are obedient and make more disciples of Jesus.

Pray that these two places see explosive and consistent growth of disciples and churches. Pray that, by God’s grace, an unstoppable movement for the glory of God would begin from their faithful obedience.

Going Above and “Beyond”

– By Chris McBride and Dave Coles 

A 24:14 Interview with Beyond CEO, Kent Parks

Recently I sat down with Kent Parks, the CEO of BEYOND, to talk about what is happening with the agency he leads. I had seen a chart of the work that BEYOND has done over the last few years, and I wanted to ask about how COVID-19 affected Beyond’s work globally, and to celebrate the growth with him.


Kent, how would you characterize the growth that Beyond has seen during the pandemic?
You can download Beyond’s full annual report 
here

These numbers are directly from movements that our staff are actively catalyzing and currently serve. All credit goes to the Lord and the inside leaders and the churches they are reproducing.

A quick story: one movement’s core leadership met in January of 2020 for prayer. They discerned from the Lord that they were supposed to start 60,000 churches in 2020, an increase of over 100% from the previous year! However, in March, severe lockdowns were implemented. Because of this change, they reevaluated their goal. In the online meeting, the group quickly agreed, saying: “The Lord knew this was coming when He spoke to us in January. Yes, this is what we must do!”
 
Well, a year later, this goal has come to pass! God has done it! They more than doubled. 

In 2020, we saw people making disciples at great risk to themselves, in great poverty, and [under the] threat of illness. Because the process was part of the DNA of how they were discipled, they continued making disciples, because that is what God called them to do.

When you looked at the statistics for 2020, were you surprised?

We were thrilled!  We had reported 610,000 disciples in 2019 and now 1,278,000+ in 2020, with  similar growth in churches. 

Because we know these patterns of reproduction work, however, we were not really surprised but celebrating. Disciples and churches are doing what the Lord has called them to do! People are reproducing disciples. Our response was a mix of emotions, from “not that surprised” to “can you believe this?” 

Do you think that the growth happened despite the pandemic, or do you think the pandemic played a role in the growth?

I think the pandemic brought an increase. Another movement leader we are friends with said, “The Lord stopped the world.” That was his description of how people were suddenly able to have conversations, where before they had been too busy. Out of a great disaster…people not able to work meant many were not able to eat. And Jesus’ church rose up and fed them in the midst of great poverty.

Like many organizations, we channeled some funds through Beyond, but it was not nearly enough. The disciples did what they could to keep feeding people, prayed for the sick to be healed, and kept making disciples. It was in the pandemic and disaster that we found growth.

What counsel would you give other agencies as they try to align themselves for future fruitfulness?

You need to have a process that is immediately reproducible and immediately deep. One place to start is, “How did Jesus do it?” How is it that one year after Jesus’ death, they had [Kent’s low estimate] 30,000 baptized disciples? And Jesus said that we will do greater things than that? I used to think Jesus was exaggerating when he said, “You will see 30, 60, 100-fold fruit.” Now I have met some of the heroes of the faith who are doing that. 
 
At Beyond, we even try to structure our internal financial and leadership processes (as much as possible) to replicate what we want to see in movements. If we want leadership to reproduce, we need a process that can be immediately imitated. 

So in every part of leading an agency, we have to break it down with a “what is it going to take?” focus. If we want to be somewhere in ten years, we have to break down the goal and see what kind of multiplication it will take to achieve that goal. 

We have to constantly evaluate what we are doing based on the goal.

How can agencies like Beyond collaborate together in the 24:14 Vision to see every people and place engaged?

One of the best collaborative things agencies can do is to ask existing movement leaders, “How can we help?” not, “Here is our toolkit.” At least 80% of movements have been started by other movements. One of our best roles is to help existing movements grow and multiply. 

We need to look at the goal with a “what is it going to take” mentality. Then our efforts are multiplied because we are working toward the same goal.

Our Job or God’s?

Our job is to be faithful, obedient disciples of Jesus. God’s job is everything else. We choose faithfulness or unfaithfulness, but our choice doesn’t affect what God does. For, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). What a liberating truth! Our faithfulness enables us to participate in the blessing of God’s work, no matter what fruit we see with our eyes.

About a year ago, *Pema shared a testimony of God’s healing power with his friend *Sonam. Sonam was intrigued, so Pema started taking him through the Bible. 

At first, Sonam was interested. Then one day, he said, “All the older people say your God is a bad God. I can’t talk about these things anymore.” Pema was discouraged, but he knew he had faithfully shared.

Sonam moved away and became unable to pay his rent. So he called Pema’s best friend and fellow church leader, *Tenzin. Tenzin welcomed Sonam into his apartment . . . and into his spiritual life. As with everyone, when you stay with Tenzin, you will pray, praise, and read the Word of God together.

Sonam is hearing more about Jesus and experiencing life-on-life discipleship 24 hours a day! Pema knows this is God’s faithfulness. God is not finished with Sonam. Will you pray that Sonam will confess with his mouth and believe in his heart that Jesus is Lord? 

We appreciate our donors who faithfully support opportunities like these for Jesus to be made known.
 

*pseudonym