Lessons from a Coffee Shop

“It’s just like finding a person of peace,” Delun whispered to Matt. 

The two men were visiting the warehouse of a friend to pray over his new business venture. Afterward, they started talking about different marketing strategies.

Their friend’s previous business had been a small coffee shop. For the most part, he had simply waited for customers to come in. But with an online business, he noted, you had to go out and find new customers rather than wait for them to come to you. It was a lot of work — “just like finding a person of peace.” 

Matt enjoyed his friend’s observation. Delun “got it.” Disciples must intentionally go out to find people who will be receptive to the Good News. A person of peace hears the Good News, receives it, and opens their oikos (family or relational network) to the gospel messengers. 

Later Delun told Matt that he was going to talk with a potential person of peace he knew. “I’m going to talk to her and pass on Jesus’ instructions for making followers like we are studying together in Luke 10.”

Pray that Delun will see much fruit as he learns and follows Jesus’ example. 

Answered Prayers, Opened Doors

BEYOND’s Himalayan team treks out to meet and build relationships with families and disciple them toward Jesus. One family they met had relationship problems and asked for prayer. A team member prayed aloud for God to intervene in specific ways.

On the following trip, the family greeted them enthusiastically. “Everything you prayed for happened just like you asked!” One answered prayer had been the marriage of their daughter. 

The answered prayers allowed the team to share more about Jesus and becoming his follower.

Before the team left, the family shared that the daughter had miscarried, and the baby had been deformed. They believed they were cursed. Again the team prayed, asking for a healthy baby and blessing on the family.

This year the team found that a beautiful baby had been added to the family. God had answered their prayers again.

A few hours after arriving, however, some villagers told them to leave. Outsiders were not allowed during the pandemic.The family’s grandmother stepped forward: “These are our visitors, and they will stay in our home. If you are worried, don’t come around our family or house for two weeks after they leave.” 

The team only stayed one night but are thankful for that time of discipleship

Visionary Faith in Spite of Fear

Imagine Mary hearing the angel’s stunning message! How would you respond? Mary, probably still  a teenager, responded with initial fear, deep humility, amazing faith, and joyful obedience. 

In Luke chapter 1, we see she was afraid when Gabriel told her of God’s plan (vv. 29-30), and she probably feared what her community would think. She knew she was not important (vv. 48, 52). Yet, she had visionary faith that God’s plan would impact generation after generation (vv. 50, 55)! She rejoiced in the privilege to serve and obey (vv. 38, 46-47), as Elizabeth also noted (v.45): “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Around the world, teenage women and men by the millions are obeying with similar amazing faith.  In India, many commit to Jesus because, like Mary, they are stunned and overjoyed to learn that God invites poor people to work with Him! 

In the middle of the pandemic, they are feeding people, praying for healing in Jesus’ name, helping other poor people – and multiplying new disciples and churches. 

This Christmas, we say with Mary (vv. 46-47): “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 

Sharing the Christmas Story: The Only Woman Named in the Qu’ran

“Do you know the name of the only woman mentioned in the Qu’ran?” Nicole asked the four young women. They had been meeting as an English Club and had gathered for a Christmas celebration.

One woman knew the answer: Miryam (Mary). Yes, the mother of Jesus even has a chapter in the Qu’ran named for her.

Nicole asked if they would like to hear Mary’s story. Everyone was eager, so they began reading the story found in Luke. The women then discussed it by answering searching questions.

Finally, Nicole asked if anyone had heard the story before. The Buddhist woman, *Neha, shook her head. No, she never had. This was the first time she had ever heard the Christmas story. The Muslim women nodded their heads, but only because they’d heard the character’s names. This was their first time to hear the actual story.

There are over 2 billion others like these women: they have never heard the story of Emmanuel, God with us. They don’t know that he came – as one of us – to redeem us from sin and restore us to God the Father.

Join our exciting efforts to reach Every People in Every Place with the gospel of Jesus. Sign up for prayer updates

*pseudonym

Do You Go Beyond the Four Walls?

Learning the basics of Disciple Making Movements requires a paradigm shift for pastors of well-established denominational churches. The idea of reaching lost people more effectively by going outside the four walls of the church is daunting. Choosing to go to the lost instead of to invite them into church buildings can be a challenge! 

But in the Philippines, Alex* continues to coach twelve traditional church pastors in disciple-making principles via Zoom calls. Says Alex, “It’s as if the Lord has blown down the four walls of many of their churches.”

There are now over 70 house churches among this group of pastors! During this time of pandemic restrictions, they have answered the Lord’s call to go. They report that more people are hearing the gospel and being discipled via house churches than when they invited people to church and followed their normal routines. Two of the pastors have 35 and 15 house churches respectively! Another was called before the community “captain” because one of his groups exceeded the community’s present pandemic restrictions. They have since multiplied to become two house churches!

Praise God for moving His Church into the world — and growing it — during this present crisis.

*pseudonym

 

“. . . What Would Jesus Want You to Do?”

“I am Lin*; I come from [a large city in Asia]; I am seventeen.”  

Lightning fast, Lin rattled off his introduction before the other students. At first, Matt*, the Discovery Bible study facilitator, thought Lin was joking. He soon came to realize that speaking quickly was just one of Lin’s unique characteristics.

That night as the group discussed Jesus’ last supper and the first Communion, Lin was a chatterbox. He made the discussion very challenging with constant interruptions and sarcastic comments. “So, his body is wheat.” “That’s disgusting [to eat Jesus’ body]!” Though later Matt learned that others were able to understand the Scripture passage, Lin’s mocking made it very difficult for everyone to participate fully. 

In the end, however, Matt felt Lin made a profound statement in response to the question: “If this is true, what does Jesus want you to do?” 

Lin answered: “Jesus wants me to eat his body and drink his blood for the forgiveness of my sins.” 

Please pray that God would take the seed sown and produce fruit beyond what we could ask or imagine. Pray that these students would have ears to hear his words and hearts to obey them.

*pseudonym

Sharing the Gospel with Hindus

Reaching out to Hindus with the love of Jesus requires some understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities they present. Here is some guidance as to things to consider when sharing the gospel with Hindus.

1. Offer Jesus’ forgiveness:  Bakht Singh, an evangelist and Indian convert from Hinduism, said, “I have never yet failed to get a hearing if I talk to [Hindus] about forgiveness of sins and peace and rest in your heart.” Since the Hindu system is based on karma, forgiveness is not available to Hindus.

2. Keep God’s personhood in mind: A personal God is able to empathize with and respond to our suffering, something an impersonal ultimate essence (Brahman) is unable to do. Hindus need to know that a personal, fulfilling relationship with a holy and loving God is available to them.

3. Ask and listen: Hinduism is a very tolerant religion because of its widely diverse beliefs, so it is important to listen to your Hindu friend’s particular beliefs about God, sin, salvation and so forth. You will probably hear the word “enlightenment”, the Hindu version of salvation—you may want to discuss with your friend the difference between salvation based on human effort versus that based on God’s grace and forgiveness.

4. Be humble: Because of their sacrificial lifestyle, Hindus often consider themselves spiritually superior to Christians. Humbly share your life with them and let them see the peace and love your relationship with God gives you.

5. Focus on Jesus: Even Mahatma Gandhi said, “I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study the teachings of Jesus.” Encourage your Hindu friend to discover Jesus for themselves, and to read the New Testament, particularly Luke or John.

6. Be aware of differing definitions: Be especially careful of the term “born again”. To a Hindu this means reincarnation, something from which they want to be liberated.

(Adapted from Hinduism: A Religion Profile by International Students, Inc.)

Hindu Families

The traditional extended family is the foundation of Hindu society. The family is considered a sacred space, and it is called a second Ashram (a spiritual retreat). Many sacred duties and responsibilities come with raising a family. The family cares for its members from birth to the grave. Parents rear their children and arrange their marriages, educations and professions. In turn, the children are expected to care for their parents when they get old.

Individuals always put the good of the family first. Important decisions are not made alone, but are rather decided by the elders in the family. For example, marriage is not just about two people but is seen as the joining of two families. A person’s value is largely determined by the family into which one is born. Individual achievements always reflect on the family and bring either honor or shame, which also extends to the community.

As more Indians become educated and create a growing middle class, they are transitioning away from the extended family to a nuclear family model. However, Hindu families still retain their strong networks and ties. Even their relationships with members who are living abroad are often closer than Western family relationships. Becoming acquainted with just one Hindu family member can potentially connect you with hundreds of extended family members.

Families are important in any culture. They are a gift from God, and as such we should pray for and encourage the strength and goodness inherent in them.

WAYS TO PRAY

PRAY FOR entire families to come to the Lord.

PRAY FOR believers to meet and develop life-giving friendships with Hindu families.

PRAY FOR the good aspects of Hindu families to be strengthened and that this might lead to an openness to embrace Christ.

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide

How Hindus See Christianity

An important factor in reaching Hindus with the gospel is understanding how Hindus view Christianity.

In India, Christianity is largely viewed as a foreign white man’s religion brought in with British colonialism. In the minds of Hindus, Christianity and Western dominance and oppression went hand-in-hand. Becoming a Christian therefore meant strengthening British rule in India. When India was fighting for its independence from Britain before 1947, most Indian Christians did not support the movement. This was and is still seen by Hindus as disloyal to India, which has led to a mistrust of Christians and a negative attitude towards Christianity.

For many Hindus, converting to Christianity is considered an attempt to erase their ancient culture, of which they are very proud, and replace it with Western morals and values which they deem inferior. Even Mahatma Gandhi, who praised some aspects of Christianity, saw the religion as divisive, pitting families against each other and destabilizing and denationalizing Hindu society.

Many Hindus believe that a strong India is a Hindu India. Hinduism and Hinduism alone must be embraced if India is to take its place on the world stage. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s current ruling party, strongly advocates for this idea.

While many Hindus are attracted to Jesus and his teachings, they reject institutionalized Christianity and view attempts to evangelize Hindus as hostile acts. They see our claim that Jesus is the “only way” to God as the height of arrogance.

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 2 Cor 6:3

WAYS TO PRAY

PRAY THAT those working with Indian Hindus will understand how India’s colonial history has shaped their views of Christianity so they can better represent Christ.

PRAY THAT Hindus may have their eyes opened to see Jesus as opposed to the institutional forms of Christianity.

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide

Hindus in North America

Hinduism is the fourth largest religion in the United States of America, comprising approximately 1 percent of the population. Most Hindus in America have emigrated from South Asia, namely India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other countries in the region. The influx of Hindus dramatically increased in 1965 when President Lyndon B Johnson passed the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Hinduism can also claim many American converts. The Pew Research Center estimates that 9 percent of Hindus in the US have converted to the religion. Many Hindu practices have made their way into mainstream American culture, such as meditation and yoga.

Hindus are among the most highly educated immigrants in the US. This is partly due to US immigration policies that favor the educated, but it can also be attributed to the high value Hindu families place on education. Hindus are also among the wealthiest groups of immigrants in the US. Pew Research Center has concluded that 36 percent of Hindus in the US make over $100,000 yearly, compared to only 14 percent of Protestant evangelical immigrants.

According to the results of a comprehensive study by the US Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study, close to 80 percent of Hindu congregations are located in metropolitan areas in which the population exceeds a million. Of these metro areas, the researchers found San Jose, California, to have the largest concentration of Hindus, with approximately 2.5 percent of residents identifying as Hindu. The researchers found the greater area of Baltimore, Maryland, to have the lowest concentration, with only 0.003 percent identifying as Hindu.

Hindus place a very high value on family and community. Hindus tend to stay in their own communities, attend their own temples and marry within their own culture. This can make it difficult for them to assimilate and form friendships outside their own communities. Second-generation Hindus are generally more assimilated but still have strong ties to their family and community.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb 13:2

WAYS TO PRAY

PRAY FOR the Body of Christ in North America to be a welcoming community.

PRAY FOR healthy and loving relationships between Christians and churches.

PRAY FOR opportunities to show hospitality to a Hindu individual or family.

community

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide