What Is Paul Doing Here?

When Joel,* a cross-cultural worker in Asia, arrived at the Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) training, he was shocked to see Paul*. “Why is he here?” Joel wondered. For six years, he’d tried to get Paul, a Tazig* believer, to attend a training. Joel had invited him multiple times, but Paul had never come. Why, then, was he at a training Joel hadn’t invited him to? 

The answer was Sami, an influential local pastor who had attended an online DMM training Joel had conducted. Sami had been so impressed that he wanted his whole network to take the training. Joel and Sami met to plan it. In the course of conversation, Joel mentioned his work among the Tazig and Sami remarked on his recent contact with Paul. Briefly, Joel shared his history with Paul.

That’s how Paul ended up coming to the training! Sami had invited him. God is using Sami to draw people otherwise unwilling to respond. 

In every movement documented, God has used the combined strengths of cultural outsiders and insiders to catalyze the movements. God is touching Sami’s heart to look beyond his church and pursue seeing every people group discipled. That includes the Tazig people and Paul!

*pseudonym

Burnings, Imprisonment, and Extortion

About one year ago, some house church leaders in North India had their homes burned to the ground. They are facing difficulties again. 

A few months after their homes were burned, all the families moved back and rebuilt their huts. Last week, a local Hindu extremist group joined forces with the police, damaged their rebuilt homes, and arrested fourteen people. 

Two are still in jail. The police are demanding extortion to release them.

However, we have reasons to rejoice! In the midst of very real persecution, the church continues to advance! Sanjay, a leader in the movement, recently read through old diary entries from the first movement meetings in 2012. He had written, “God, give us North India.”

We praise the Lord for the big vision of these committed disciples! Today, the work has spread to nine states and over 200 caste groups (people groups). Thousands and thousands of families have become strong disciples of Jesus, working to make more disciples of Jesus. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters to remain attached to the Vine, and for their joy to increase even in the midst of their persecution. Pray our Father will bring forth much fruit that the devil cannot snatch away.

*pseudonyms

An Invitation They Couldn’t Refuse

*Karly and her roommate, *Julie, went back to visit the vendors at the fruit stand. Earlier, the young women had shared some Old Testament prophet stories with them, and they had been eager to hear more.

However, when they returned to share another story, the couple only wanted to debate. Karly and Julie disappointedly bought their fruit and turned to leave.

A man who had overheard their conversation followed them as they left. “Would you come to my house?” he asked. “We need to clean our minds with this kind of talk. Come and tell that story to the women at my house.”  The roommates looked at each other.  They were tired but this was the kind of invitation they prayed for. They couldn’t refuse.

Later, as Karly and Julie shared the story, the ladies served tea and freshly roasted peanuts. Everyone discussed the story, then the roommates prayed for those who were sick. They exchanged phone numbers to keep in touch.

Pray for this family as they encounter the truth of Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Pray too for Karly and Julie as they obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings concerning this new family.

*pseudonyms

Shanti: A True Person of Peace

*Hannah had just moved into a 12 story apartment building when one of the two elevators stopped working. At first, she was annoyed. But soon, the Lord showed her how many people she was meeting right after moving in. 

One was a single mom named *Shanti. They ran into one another about once a week and chatted about Shanti’s kids. One day, Shanti said, “You see my problems, don’t you?” Hannah learned that Shanti wasn’t a single mom. Her husband had all but left the family, and the burden to support their four sons was on her shoulders. 

Through Hannah, Shanti has heard the Good News many times. She is not yet a Jesus follower. She carries hurt from a brother who became a Christian and began treating the family very poorly. How different his family’s lives could have been if he had brought them into the Kingdom as he was first learning! 

Hannah, however, feels the Lord wooing Shanti and sees signs that she’s softening to his call. As a potential person of peace, Shanti has already opened the community in the building to Hannah. Pray God would move mightily and draw Shanti and the entire community to Jesus. 

*pseudonym

A Holy Discomfort

Andy* is a young boy who lives in Thailand with his mom, dad, and new brother, Micah. 

His parents recently told him that many people had been praying for him since before he was born. They had prayed he would follow Jesus at an early age. Now they were praying the same thing for baby Micah. Andy knew for certain that he wanted his brother to be in heaven with him one day.

As his parents continued talking, Andy became very disturbed by the idea that some people he knows and loves, who don’t follow Jesus yet, won’t go to heaven. The idea took root in his heart for the first time. 

He was brought to tears when he realized some kids at his school don’t know Jesus yet, including one of his best friends, Prem. His parents told him that was the reason they had moved to Thailand. “As followers of Jesus, Andy, it is our job to pray for people’s hearts to be open to Jesus and to share Jesus with them.” 

“While the moment was emotionally hard,” Andy’s mom says, “it was beautiful as well. To watch his young heart understand in such a personal way was truly a gift. Having a face to pray for is much different from talking about a large group of people.” 

Lord, stir up a holy discomfort in all your followers concerning those who will not be in heaven with us. Billions of people can’t say yes to you — they’ve never heard of you! Break our hearts with this reality, Father. May we boldly share the glorious news of YOU with those around us. Call us to the nations for your glory. Amen.

*pseudonym

Seven Generations of Disciples

In North India, some women have been trained in making disciples. They have been faithful to apply what they’ve learned, and are experiencing joy from bearing fruit. They have also cast a vision for disciple-making in six districts of their state.

One of the leaders of this group, a lovely and gentle woman, recently shared her testimony. Two years ago, she became a follower of Christ. She, her husband, and their children had been idol worshipers. Her family was “broken and terrible.” They had no joy. Her husband drank all the time and beat her. Her children were undisciplined and refused to go to school. 

Then one day, she says, it was as if a light suddenly came on. That was the day she attended a Bible Study in a nearby home. She loved it. After participating in the Bible study for three months, she wanted to start one in her own home. Soon, she and her whole family were baptized. 

Today, through ongoing obedience to the Word and the application of its truths to their lives, this woman and her whole family have been changed. Her husband no longer drinks or beats her. Their children are full of joy. They actively share with others all that God has done for them. This one woman has started nine different Discovery Groups from which have come seven generations of disciples making disciples! 

Jesus promised to build His church and has not forgotten His promise. His Kingdom of love and light is growing in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the world, through simple disciples like these ladies in North India.

The Fruit Vendors Loved Talking About Prophet Stories

Karly was studying Luke 10 with a group of believers in a heavily Islamic nation. They concluded that, as disciples of Jesus, they should be following Jesus’ instructions in the passage. Without bringing everything they might need, they should go out two by two into new places. They should talk to random people to see what God was already doing or would do among them. If invited to stay, they should be ready to bring the blessings of the Kingdom upon those willing to receive them. 

Though it wasn’t a new idea for Karly, she had to confess that it still didn’t sound fun to her. She would rather read a book about church planting strategy. Or write a book about it. Or pray for others to do it. Or teach people to do it. Or… lots of other things. But Karly knew that would be disobedience, and she chose to obey. 

She and her roommate went out and soon got invited to sit down and talk with the owners of a fruit stand. The young ladies ate fresh coconut as the owners demonstrated how to make a local fruit salad. They talked for almost two hours. The fruit vendors loved talking about prophet stories and invited the young ladies to come back and study more from the Bible.

When Karly’s group gathered again, each pair shared a story similar to Karly’s. They didn’t really want to follow the instructions in Luke 10, but they did anyway, and God faithfully led them to various people open to hearing about the gospel. God reminded them of the blessing of obedience.

Inaccuracy, Exaggeration, and Deception

Over 1,035 Church Planting Movements (rapidly multiplying groups that surpass four generations of church planting in multiple streams) have been documented. Together, they comprise over 74 million believers in more than 4.3 million churches. When people hear this, they often ask: “How are they counted? Are those numbers credible?”

 

To start with, why do movements count at all? First, movements emphasize growth, and they want to see if they are growing. Second, counting can highlight problems (identified by a lack of growth) that need to be addressed. Third, they want to know if they are making progress in reaching the lost. Fourth, some movements use this counting for reports to partners for prayer, projects, and funding. In general, three methods are used for surveying movement numbers. Let’s briefly look at them and their counterparts in surveying American churches.

 

Method 1:  Some movements or pre-movements are small enough that all groups, leaders, and even members can be known and documented by a handful of people on a spreadsheet. This is similar in practice to the “membership rolls” of smaller US denominations.

 

Method 2:  Some movements are too large to list everyone. Individual streams, however, can be small enough to do so. The streams add together their numbers to derive totals for the whole movement. This process is similar to the way large US denominations (with churches divided into districts) count their numbers. 

 

Method 3:  Some movements, organized in the millions, are equivalent to any national denomination. Because of their size, they have the resources to take a regular census. A research team physically visits most leaders and completes a survey, gathering quantitative and qualitative data. This results in numbers that are accurate, precise, and frequently updated. 

Are the counts reliable? To answer that, we need to consider the various reasons why someone might look at a number and respond, “That’s got to be wrong!”

  • Mistakes of definition: Misunderstandings can happen when a number or definition is not explained. As with all research involving numbers, it is critical to know the definitions.

  • Accuracy, precision, and rounding: A number can be truthful and accurate yet imprecise. 15 million and 15,203,368 are both accurate and truthful; one is simply rounded. Constant changes make a number that is both accurate and precise nearly impossible.

  • Exaggeration: Actually, movements often intentionally undercountby not reporting less adequately researched streams, or by reducing the total number by a certain percentage. 

  • Deception: To avoid this danger, reports from less visible movements are checked for confirmation by varied outsiders, multiple reports over the years, and reports from other nearby movements.

 


In conclusion, movements count their numbers in the same way that most American denominations do, and the numbers are equally credible. All glory to God for the way he is growing his Church around the world!

This article was originally published in Mission Frontiers, read the full article here

When Did We See You Hungry and Feed You?

Beyond’s South Asia team has received hundreds of photos and videos from various movement leaders expressing their great appreciation for your generous giving to the COVID-19 relief fund. On their behalf, we’d like to thank you for your generosity. Thousands have been provided with food and several communities received wells for much-needed access to water. Your generosity has also provided medical help for many who were sick but, due to the lockdown, unable to earn money to pay for needed medicines. These relief funds even helped a few families rebuild their homes after Cyclone Amphan struck in May.

With your help, thousands of people have been blessed. 

We want you to hear directly from our partner Sanjay about the spiritual impact your giving has had. Below is a translation of one of his recent messages: 

I am sure that in these days thousands of people (many hundreds of families) . . . have started Bible studies in their homes . . . across nine states, including [a new state that opened to us during the lockdown]. Because of [the ration distributions], new Discovery Bible Studies have started . . .. Because we gave food to so many, all those people were able to see the work of…(the Kingdom). Our leaders (distributing rations) were met with astonished faces and people saying, “The Indian government doesn’t care for us or send us help, but you care for the poor.” They want to know more. Everyone is giving thanks to Jesus for the food (including many who don’t know anything about Him yet). They are ready to come to the Father through Jesus. I hope to get a real number of how many Bible studies have started since lockdown, how many have been baptized, and how many churches have been birthed out of these Bible studies. This report will not be about how many groups we leaders were able to start, but how much . . . (fruit came) . . . because of this Covid Relief effort (and how much work God did as we all simply obeyed His command to care for the poor and needy).

So many people are taking baptism these days. They are so joyful. They were concerned about not having food to eat, and now they take baptism, now they have the words of Jesus. I still have faith we will achieve the goal of 60,000 new churches birthed this year. God is our very present help.

We continue to accept donations toward this effort, as the lockdown is still in place, and rations are still being distributed. 

Most importantly, though, movement leaders are planning systematic follow-up in households and communities where God has opened doors through this relief effort. They are returning and spending time discipling the new families. By discipling whole families, followers of Jesus from an established movement can see new movements birthed in new regions and among previously unreached people groups!  Interested in Discipling Groups and Whole Communities? Sign up for our upcoming Nugget Training

These new discipling efforts require finances that go beyond their own capacity, particularly in this season.  

*pseudonym

Obedience So Grandmother Can Hear

As *YouLin and *Amy greeted one another and sat down, YouLin said excitedly, “Thank God I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time with my grandmother recently. I’ve been following up on what I told you I wanted to obey from our Bible discussion two weeks ago.” 

Previously, the women had read Luke 2:1-20, and YouLin had been impacted by the fact that, after the angels told the shepherds about Jesus, the shepherds hurried to find him. Then, upon seeing Him, they actively spread the news while glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard. In response to this story, YouLin’s obedience commitment was to make haste to share the Word of God with her grandmother and to openly praise God in her presence.

While her grandmother feels more comfortable using the local dialect, YouLin learned almost all she knows about God’s Word in the official language. She considered how to do what she felt God leading her to do. Amy mentioned that videos are available online that tell God’s stories in the local dialect. YouLin prayed, and the Holy Spirit led her to a YouTube channel containing stories from God’s Word in her grandmother’s dialect. 

The next challenge was to break the ice and share the stories in a way that wouldn’t seem like she was imposing them on her grandmother. God orchestrated an opportunity one morning as YouLin prayed and prepared her grandmother’s breakfast. The television was showing a depressing news report, and YouLin’s grandmother asked her to change the channel. Flipping through the channels, YouLin paused on a man telling a Bible story in her grandmother’s dialect. The grandmother’s eyes brightened, and she listened intently. After all, who doesn’t love a story — especially one in their own heart language? 

Afterward, YouLin asked her grandmother if she liked the story. She said she did, especially the compassion of the God in the story. She wanted to hear more! YouLin has since found a phone app that allows her to play Bible story videos through her grandmother’s TV. 

Give thanks for God’s creative answer to prayer and for YouLin’s persistence to obediently follow His promptings. Pray for this grandmother and others like her to receive Jesus with an open heart and become his follower, even in her 80s.

*pseudonym