“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

 “Can You Deliver People of Evil Spirits?”

As two disciples of Jesus traveled to a town they had felt led to visit, their motorcycle broke down. They were stranded

*Adesh stopped to help. The disciples learned that Adesh was the head of the village they wanted to visit. He offered to take them to his home and call for a mechanic. They readily accepted his hospitality.

“What do you do?” Adesh asked. 

“We serve God and share His Word with people,” they said.  

“Can you deliver people of evil spirits?” Adesh asked. His grandson had been oppressed by a demon for a long time. 

When the disciples met Adesh’s family and prayed for his grandson, the boy was healed! Adesh hugged them and declared a feast to celebrate. 

During the feast, Adesh went and told the whole village what had happened. “Come and see these two so they can pray for your troubles, too. You will be well!”

When the night was over, the disciples had prayed for 70 people. Adesh said, “Now that I know about Jesus, what is my next responsibility? I know other villages with similar problems. I can take you to visit them all.”

For two months, the three traveled together. Eight villages received the Message! If you are a BEYOND donor, you have been a part of this amazing growth! Thank you!

*pseudonym

House Parties Building Kingdom Relationships

*Gabriella lives in Central Asia and is the only known follower of Jesus in the city where she lives. For a while, she didn’t really share stories from the Bible with those around her. She was afraid.

*Frank and *Helen, Beyond movement catalysts, have been praying for Gabriella to have Jesus’ heart for the lost, especially for her own unreached people group. They were delighted to hear that she now hosts weekly dinner parties in her apartment. Delicious food, fellowship, and conversations around stories from the Bible are all on the menu! Every week several people gather, including a young man named Mahir.

Mahir began doing Bible studies with Frank a little over a year ago, and in a recent conversation, Mahir told him of the parties he was attending in Gabriella’s home. Mahir has not stopped studying the Bible! Instead, he has found a place for his interest to continue to grow, all because Gabriella stepped out in faith.

Please pray for Mahir and all who attend Gabriella’s parties to understand and obey the truth they read in the Bible. Pray they would share it with those they meet, that the Good News would spread through this unreached people group. And thanks to Beyond donors who support Kingdom relationships like these.

*pseudonyms

Spiritual Conversations Over Tea

“That song sounds nice, and it’s wonderful to hear new songs in the Tibetan language and style . . . but who is this Savior Jesus that you are singing about?” 

In the Himalayas, all good conversations happen over tea – sometimes in the home around a warm fire and sometimes in the warmth of the sun. Recently during these tea times, our Tibetan team members have begun sharing new worship songs they’ve written. They do this to spark a spiritual conversation with those around them.

Often an older family member will comment on the traditional Tibetan style of the song and inquire about the Jesus mentioned in the songs. The team then tells those gathered about Jesus and why they are his disciples. When the household or group of friends show further interest, the team leads them in a Bible study. A Bible app with sets of stories about Jesus and instructions on how to keep having discovery Bible studies is given to the group. 

Historically, Tibetans have been slow in walking the path toward following Christ, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Beyond donors, you’ve been part of bringing the gospel to this unreached region.  For that, we thank you. Please pray that interest in Christ would grow and that seekers would begin studying the Bible together.

Day 15: Shinbyu ceremonies in Myanmar

Nyan was excited as he dressed in the clothes of a prince for his Shinbyu ceremony. At 11 years of age, his family had finally saved enough money for him to spend a week at the Buddhist monastery. This event, which usually takes place in March, during school holidays, is the most important tradition for Buddhist families in Myanmar. Sending a son to the monastery for the first time is considered a blessing that will benefit the whole family and be a spiritual gift that will last a lifetime.

Everyone came out to watch Nyan parade to the most important pagoda in the village. Riding on a horse, he followed his parents around the Buddha statue. His mother carried a box with the white robes he would wear at the monastery. Later, Nyan’s hair would be shaved and kept in a cloth for his parents, and he would be formally accepted as a novice, observing the monastery rules and studying Buddhist scripture while he was there. But first – there would be a feast! 

Buddhism is practiced by approximately 90% of the people of the Myanmar and has the highest number of monks in terms of the proportion of the population of any country. 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray for Buddhist parents in Myanmar to know the good gifts that their Heavenly Father has for them and their children. (MATTHEW 7:7-11). 

Parts of Myanmar have seen ongoing conflict between different religious groups. Pray for peace and reconciliation through Christ. (COLOSSIANS 1:21-23) 

Pray a blessing on the children of Myanmar as Jesus did. (MATTHEW 19:14) 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 14: Buddhism In America

American culture celebrates hard work and rewards individual accomplishment. A successful life is often recognized by the acquisition of material things. Buddhism, with its pursuit of the acceptance of suffering and a focus on suppressing desire does not seem like it would easily integrate into the American way of life. And yet, Buddhism is ever ready to adapt. 

Buddhism arrived in America with Chinese immigrants seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the mid- 1800s. Japanese immigrants helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the mid 1900’s and young Americans travelling in India and Thailand developed an interest in Buddhist meditation in the 1960s and 1970s. Around this time, there was also an increase in immigration to the United States from East Asia. This created a Buddhist population which is a combination of immigrants and converts, who adapted traditional practices to suit their own needs. 

Today, only about 1% of the US population identifies as Buddhist and the majority of those are immigrants. Some Americans have incorporated Buddhist traditions such as meditation, yoga and the burning of incense in an effort to acquire the peace they hope it will bring. 

HOW TO PRAY
Pray for Buddhist immigrants to the US to meet Christians who will share their friendship and their faith. (MATTHEW 25:38-40) 

Pray for American Buddhists, seeking peace and wisdom, to find the truth that sets them free. (JOHN 8:31-32) 

Pray for the church in America, to be light and salt to Buddhists in their nation. (MARK 9:49-50) 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 13: The Buryats

About 500,000 Buryat people live across northern Russia. Bayrma was born to a Buryat family in Siberia. Her maternal grandmother practiced shamanistic rituals when there was a family need. At school, Bayrma was taught that God was an outdated belief. Her paternal grandfather prayed with Buddhist prayer beads, burned incense before a small Buddha statue and visited a Buddhist temple once a year. But Buddhism was a mystery to Bayrma. No one talked to the children about it. 

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Bayrma’s father announced they now had freedom to follow the Buddhist path. It was the way of their ancestors. Bayrma’s first visit to a Buddhist temple left her with many questions. Why were the prayers in Old Tibetan, a language they couldn’t understand? Why did they have to pay money for the rituals? Why were there so many Buddha statues and why could you not turn your back on them? Her father had no answers. He too was learning Buddhism. They were Buryats so they were Buddhists, he said. 

In college, Bayrma was asked by some foreigners to help with some translation work and she became friends with them. She began attending a Bible study with them and was fascinated by a Bible in her own language. She began finding answers to many of her questions in its pages. She found stories in the Gospels that she could relate to. Putting her faith in Jesus gave Bayrma a new identity, one that was clear and free and led her to salvation. 

HOW TO PRAY

The Buryat are surrounded by many religious – and non-religious – belief systems, but few Christians. Pray that they will experience the living Christ. 

Pray for the Buryat to discover their identity as God’s beloved children. (1 JOHN 3:1-2) 

Be inspired to pray for the Buryat from PSALM 115. 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 12: Buddhism in Vietnam

Whenever they could, Mai and her friends took weekend trips to visit nearby temples. It was refreshing to get out of the city, especially to visit temples in the mountains, and the Huong temple has a cave which shelters many different shrines to deities and even special rock formations which are considered sacred. 

There are many others visiting the temple on a pilgrimage. Mai is not particularly devout, but Buddhism is a part of life in Vietnam and she makes a point of stopping at two particular rock formations called Nui Co (the girl) and Nui Cau (the boy) to ask  for the blessing of a child, which she and her husband have been longing for. When she leaves, she will pay a dollar to a person holding small birds in cages. The dollar pays for the bird to be released, which Mai hopes will mean merit for her in a future life. 

Buddhism has a long history in Vietnam and although many Vietnamese practice traditional religions or no religion, Buddhism has influenced the culture of the nation significantly. Buddhism is the largest organized religion in Vietnam, with about 15% of the population calling themselves Buddhist. 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray that Buddhists in Vietnam will experience the Father’s love for them. (MATTHEW 10:29-31) 

Pray for churches in Vietnam – whether they have been able to take services online or have had to stop meeting due to COVID-19. Pray that church members would grow in their faith and be witnesses to their neighbors. (EPHESIANS 6:14-15) 

Vietnam has a vibrant culture, globally renowned cuisine, and a growing economy. Pray that their leaders will promote justice and peace in the nation.
(1 TIMOTHY 2:1-4). 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide