The Police Chief Demanded a Song

The Police Chief Demanded a Song

A BEYOND team measuring the growth of a movement sat across from an Indian disciple-maker on a recent trip. “How many churches have you started?” they asked.

The unassuming man from the Bhojpuri network replied, “Only 75.”

“How many churches has your team started?”

“About 1500,” he answered, many of which had multiplied to four, five, or more generations.

In the course of their conversation, the man said he had been a “dangerous robber” before he began to follow Jesus. He and the translator both pantomimed shooting a gun when they described his past.

After he began to follow Jesus, he was pressured and threatened by his community to return to their religion. He finally told them that they really did not know what they were asking because if he returned to the old religion, he would once again become the dangerous man he had been. He reminded them of his former dangerous ways. They stopped pressuring him as much after that.

Recently, a police chief came with several policemen to arrest him for “converting” people, which is highly illegal. The actual phrase used was “for changing the mind of people.” He told the police chief that he was not converting people. He said, “I just sing songs about Jesus and tell stories about Jesus.”

The chief demanded a song, so the disciple-maker sang a simple song and played his small tambourine. Afterward, the police chief said, “I feel such peace when you sing! I see no problem with what you are doing. You may continue to sing your songs and tell your stories.”

Join us in praying that this man and his team will start many more generations of churches!

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What Can Happen with Small Faith?

What Can Happen with Small Faith?

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.”

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From Brick-makers to Disciple-makers

From Brick-makers to Disciple-makers

Lakshmi was the first person ever to wash John’s feet. She and her family are migrant workers from a very poor brick-making caste in India.

Lakshmi poured some of their precious water over John’s feet and wiped them with her hands. John wept unashamedly. As she washed, Lakshmi thanked Jesus for John and the message he had shared. You see, John hadn’t just preached to the brick-makers. He had spent time with them. He had eaten their food and drunk their water. He had shown them how to follow the God who loves them and knows them by name. Lakshmi and several others soon became beloved co-laborers with John in their community. 

A few months later, monsoon season arrived. While the farmers rejoice at the rains, brick-makers cringe. They can’t work until the rains end. Since they couldn’t work, the brick-making families decided to go back home to see family.

But when Lakshmi and the other leaders shared their plans with John, he was sad and confused. Why leave? A year ago, when they arrived, they had been idol worshipers. Now there were 17 house churches among the 40 families of the community. “Why go home?” he asked. “Please stay. We can pray and wait out the monsoons. Don’t go.”

These folks love John as much as he loves them, but they knew they had to leave. That was six weeks ago.

John recently learned that each of the 17 families has started at least one new Bible study in homes among their family and friends back home. Their departure didn’t make sense before, but now John knows that God had a plan to use all of them in their home state. They planted churches in a previously unreached place. Now John looks forward to the families’ return in early October. What a joy it will be to rejoice together over what God did during their months apart!

We all too easily think we know best what other people should do. But in making disciples of all nations, our recurring question must be: Whose disciple am I making – my own or His? To make disciples of Jesus, we all, like John the Baptist, must decrease so that Jesus can increase.

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“Who Gave You the Right to Baptize?”

“Who Gave You the Right to Baptize?”

How many times in the New Testament did the Apostle Paul warn churches to be careful of the evil, Roman empire? Yet, time and again Paul wrote to churches warning them to beware of legalists (Judaizers), supposed fellow people of faith. A team in India take great comfort from those verses. They feel like the verses were written just for them. Here is an example of how modern Judaizers regularly attempt to disrupt the movement.

Ravi* is a simple man. He’s dark-skinned, which is looked down upon in Indian culture. He’s from a low-caste background, one of the lowest. In the last five years, Ravi became a follower of Jesus. Ravi has never been to Bible College. He has no degree at all. He cannot even read. But, Jesus has changed him and blessed his life, so Ravi shares the news of Jesus with others, making new disciples and baptizing them, and teaching them how to be the church. 

One day, Ravi was at a river in north India with a group of new disciples, baptizing them. It so happens that on that particular day, a traditional, paid pastor named Chand* was visiting the same village. Chand came to the water’s edge and disrupted the proceedings. “Get out of the water! Come here. Who gave you the right to baptize? Are you a member of any official organization? You are not ordained?! You should not be doing this!” He was deeply offended that Ravi dared to baptize anyone.

Finally, Chand quieted down, so Ravi spoke, “You have been talking and talking. Now, it’s my turn. Pastor, please look at Matthew 28.” While Chand looked up the passage, Ravi quoted verses 16-20 from memory. Someone standing nearby had a Hindi Bible. That person read the passage, and then Chand confirmed the Hindi passage with his English Bible. Ravi directed Chand’s attention to the fact that Jesus didn’t suggest but actually commanded His disciples to baptize others. Then, he pointed out that Jesus never limited this command to ordained pastors, bishops, or people who are affiliated with official organizations. Then, Ravi, this illiterate, “backward,” humble farmer looked the “important,” city-dwelling, college-educated, salaried pastor in the face and said, “So, you go. You leave this place.  If you stay, you will only continue speaking bad things, so you must go.”

Chand was speechless. He couldn’t believe that this illiterate villager had just taught him from the Scriptures. He was captivated. He couldn’t leave. He stuck around and watched the baptisms. When it was all done, he told Ravi, “I need to know more about this. I have to know how you know these things.” So, Ravi took Chand to meet the man, a fellow lay-leader, who had discipled him. They spent the day together. Chand was amazed at all he heard, so amazed, in fact, that he went home and resigned from his job with a traditional organization. Why? Here are Chand’s own words:

“…how many years I’ve been working with [that mission]. I came from Bible school…[yet] this illiterate guy told me more than I knew in the Bible. Watching [him] do this baptism…and…his words were so wise; I am the fool. I’ve been to Bible school, and [my leaders] still won’t let me baptise, only the bishop of our organization can baptize! [That organization] gave me a salary, but no authority [to actually do anything].”

Chand is now a fellow laborer in the movement, being trained to walk in authority as Jesus’ disciple and to give that authority to others. 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). Please pray with us that God would raise up more “fools” in India who live out their authority in Jesus! 

*pseudonyms