Leaders from a 10-year-old disciple-making movement in South Asia met recently to celebrate what God has done. “We stand in awe,” movement leader Ethan* declared. “Ten years ago, we imagined none of this. Never asked for it. Our faith was too small. We never imagined all that God could or would do.”
In a multi-day celebration, 100+ leaders (each one representing thousands of churches) met to rejoice and worship God as a community of Jesus-followers. Most had never met the others before, but rather than brag about their own missional efforts, they actively honored one another with words of affirmation. Traditional gifts were given and received in accordance with the leaders’ different cultural backgrounds.
Many testimonies showcased the glory of the Lord and what He has done in the various disciple-making streams. Attendees worshiped through indigenous songs and dance, and also generosity. When one leader’s large financial need became known, the group didn’t hesitate. Nor did they look to the few foreigners present or list their own genuine needs. They simply gave. In less than an hour, the need was covered.
There were some practical teachings on cyber security; a reminder about how to respond when they are arrested, threatened, or their property destroyed; and what the Bible teaches about the church tradition of ordination.
During a time of sober reflection, the group honored the 22 disciples in the movement who have died for their faith since the work first began. As each name was read, a garland of marigolds was placed onto a cloth-draped podium at the front. All then prayed for the widows, children, and disciples left behind.
Later, everyone met in groups to identify which people groups in their home states are still unreached. They evaluated: Among which people groups have disciples reached four generations of growth? Where is there less growth? Where is there no movement effort yet? It was an excellent way for everyone to see what God had done, is doing, and still desires to do.
The meetings ended with a beautiful foot-washing ceremony. The first generation of movement leaders called forward the next generation and washed their feet. Those men and women washed the feet of the next generation, and so on, until the final group washed the feet of the first-generation leaders. It was a sweet time of laughter through tears.
“Goodbyes were both joyous and hard,” movement leader Hannah* shared. “We felt so connected to these dear brothers and sisters and rejoiced to send them back into the harvest, while knowing it will be a long time before we see some of them again. And, the reality is — because of the level of persecution most of them face and what is required to bring the Kingdom into such a completely lost area — some of those dear people will probably lose their lives for Jesus in the coming years. Yet they went back willingly, joyfully, ready to keep serving their beloved Lord for as long as they are able. It was an unforgettable time.”