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


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He Taught a Communist Rebel to Study the Bible

Two years ago, Ethan and Nicole* led an introductory disciple-making training in the Philippines with 14 seminary-trained pastors. Honestly, they had doubts about the outcome. Would traditional, denominational pastors be willing to go outside the walls of their church, outside the walls of their own traditions, in order to obey Jesus’ command to go (not invite)? 

Sure enough, months later, they’d barely heard a word from any of the participants. Then, nearly a year after the training, Jacob, one of the pastors, contacted Ethan. “I am mentoring a group of young pastors in Manila,” he wrote. ”Would you and Nicole spend a few days with us, doing what you did last year?”

After praying together, they decided Ethan would hold the training with Alex, a BEYOND colleague who lives in the Philippines. After the training, Alex could coach those wanting to apply what they’d studied. 

Since then, Ethan has occasionally wondered if anyone was applying the training and, if so, how it was going. In May, he received an encouraging email from Jacob.

“Three months ago, “Pastor G” taught a former Communist rebel how to study the Bible in his home with his family. He has been doing this for several weeks. Last week, the rebel’s son became severely sick, to the point of death. The father remembered the story of the woman who touched Jesus and the story of Jairus’ daughter. At his son’s death bed, he prayed, “Lord, we surrender our son to you if this (his death) is your will, but can you please heal my son as you have done for this woman and for Jairus’ daughter? 

His son immediately sat up and asked for water!

Thank you for this life-changing experience (the training and coaching). Today, our group has 45 non-Christian families studying the Bible in their homes.

Alex adds that since March, when the COVID-19 lockdown started, Pastor G’s church has transformed into eleven house churches, and it is still growing! They have many more people involved in these house churches than they had in their “building” church before the lockdown.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.” Jacob and these pastors are discovering the joy and fruitfulness of simple obedience to Jesus. The Lord is building his church among the nations (the ethnic groups) of the earth! “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (Ps. 22:27). Hallelujah! 

*pseudonym

Why Had Jesus Appeared to Her?

One day, out of the blue, it occurred to Raleigh that she should pray for three of her Turkish Muslim friends to encounter Jesus through dreams and visions. She often prays this prayer for Muslims in general and for her friends in particular, so this notion was not out of the ordinary for her.

A few days later, she received a text from Adile, one of the friends she had prayed for. Adile is a conservative Muslim woman who has been part of a group doing Discovery Bible Study (DBS) with Raleigh. And she had seen Jesus in a vision!

While doing the prescribed prostrations for Islamic prayer, Jesus appeared and spoke to Adile. “The road [you are all on] is not wrong,” he said, “but a good step still has not been taken. Reading Scripture is not sharing Scripture. How are you [all] applying these verses to your lives? How are you consciously obeying them and, when you do obey them, what benefit do other people receive from it?” 

Adile thought a lot about Jesus’ words and also contemplated why Jesus had appeared to her rather than her honored prophet Muhammad. She knew the questions were not just for her; they were also for the others in the DBS group. When she shared what had happened, everyone in the group was deeply impacted. 

One man, a local partner, said, “Adile’s conversation with Jesus binds me even more to this group. Sometimes, even while we’re meeting, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Should I continue with this, or are we deceiving ourselves? This vision, though, affirms us . . . and challenges us. We have been fed and filled; we have learned and drunk. But how much have we been filled? Completely satisfied or just a little? Have we drunk deeply or just gotten our lips wet? How well have we understood? We’ve been asking the discovery questions but we haven’t placed importance on the last two questions: ‘How will you obey this?’ and ‘Who will you share with?’ From now on, let’s take obedience and multiplication seriously. What you’ve been fed, feed others. What you’ve understood, explain to others. Don’t keep it to yourself. We need to focus on that. ‘Reading Scripture is not sharing Scripture.’ What a great saying! I’m excited! Jesus is leading us, and he really knows what he’s doing.”

Raleigh was elated. God had answered her prayer! She began to wonder: “Does God answer that prayer every time I pray it? Has a Muslim somewhere had a dream or vision every time I ask God to show himself?”

Please pray for Adile and the two other Muslims in the Discovery Bible group. They love Jesus and read the New Testament but haven’t yet accepted him as Lord. Pray they see Jesus as more than a good teacher and prophet. Pray they would follow him as Lord and Savior and become winsome disciples.

*pseudonym

A Church Was Born

In the Tibetan Himalayas, a church was born — the first church in its district. Its members began to share the gospel with others from their own people group. This brought much fruit, resulting in the formation of several churches in neighboring villages. The first church also expressed a desire to go to different, nearby people groups, including the Tazig* people. Joel*, BEYOND’s Affinity Strategy Leader for the Tibetan Himalayas, works among the Tazig people and has kept in touch with this church for mutual encouragement.

About three years ago, a man from the church was hired as a teacher in a Tazig school and began sharing the gospel in the surrounding area. Soon thereafter, God led Joel and his team to invite a couple of the church’s missionaries to join their trek into Tazig country. These men accompanied the team on three of their month-long trips. They were able to see how the team discipled people they encountered for the first time, as well as those with whom they had already built relationships. “I have learned so much from joining you on this trip,” one man said. “I have come to this village before by myself, but I didn’t know how to talk to these people, and I didn’t know how to start a church, but by watching you, I have so many good ideas.” 

Joel learned that other men from the church were actively attempting to make disciples among different people groups, often walking long distances to reach them. Seeing their obedience to Matthew 28:19-20, Joel offered to lead a DMM (Disciple Making Movement) training for these earnest men. Seven men attended, including the church’s pastor and a young man who had traveled with one of the missionaries. They were thrilled with the training! One said, “I was already committed to doing this work, but now I know how to do it.” 

Two of these men have been commissioned to the Tazig people, one to a different Tibetan Buddhist group, and two more to Hindu people groups. Please pray for them as they go make disciples in these people groups. 

In Beyond’s free, online Nugget training: “What is Jesus Looking for in his Disciples?” we will look at what Jesus truly cares about when He asks people to follow Him. Join us Thursday, June 25th, from 7-8:30pm CST as we discuss explore some modern-day examples of how God is using ordinary people to further His Kingdom to the ends of the earth. 

*pseudonym

“Jesus Knows My Name”

Geriel*, an old Mongolian woman, had talked about Christ with her dear friend, Khulan*, many times, but Khulan was never interested in hearing more.

One day, Geriel heard about a five-day training on church planting that was being held near her home, and she decided to go. Kevin*, Beyond’s East Asia strategy coordinator, was part of the team teaching the principles and importance of Disciple Making Movements to the class. 

During the training, a portion of each day was spent learning and practicing how to engage others with truths from Scripture through the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process. In a DBS, the Holy Spirit leads participants into understanding, as a facilitator asks a few simple questions about a passage of Scripture. Geriel thought she could try this method with Khulan using Jesus’ calling of Zacchaeus from Luke 19. 

That night, she found her friend and showed her the story of Zacchaeus. Geriel asked her to read the story twice, then asked if she understood it. Khulan said she did not understand.

Geriel asked her to read the story a third time and again asked if she understood. Khulan’s face began to brighten as realization dawned!  “Jesus knows my name,” she said, “and he’s calling me! He wants me to follow him too!” Right then and there, she decided to give her life to Christ! She said that, just like Zacchaeus, she would be the best disciple ever! 

When I talked to her, she never responded,” Geriel said. “But when the Holy Spirit talked to her, she saw herself in the story and responded to his voice!”

*pseudonym

Openness in SE Asia – Thanks to COVID

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, disciples of Jesus in Northeast Thailand have changed how they begin conversations with people when they go out to prayer walk and share the gospel. Media coverage and the extensive government lockdown have created fear and uncertainty. Going to nearby villages can draw criticism and opposition. Each village headman, assisted by volunteers, investigates any visitors from outside the village, especially those returning from other countries. 

Social pressure is intense, so adjustments have been made in approaches to sharing the gospel. Some believers have switched to only sharing in villages where disciples live and are known. Since more family members are at home together, they can all hear the Good News at the same time. And when more family members hear together, they are more likely to feel free to come to faith in Jesus.

Another adjustment has been ensuring that disciples who do go to other villages know how to prevent COVID-19 transmission and how to help those who may have the disease. The disciples have learned that, by talking about the pandemic and meeting a felt need by giving out health kits, they can create opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations. (The kits contain a small bottle of isopropyl alcohol, a bar of soap and hand towel, a hand-sewn washable face mask, a pamphlet on COVID-19 prevention produced by the Thai Ministry of Health, and a Scripture verse or Bible portion.)

After passing out kits, talking about how to prevent contracting the virus, and sharing information such as when to take loved ones for medical care, disciples ask, “Are you or your family suffering in some way from the lockdown?” or “Is anyone feeling anxious or fearful?” After listening to the reply, they share, “I follow Jesus, who gives peace that transcends all understanding and guards my heart and mind.” (Phil 4:7) The disciple then shares a relevant personal testimony, shares the gospel, or prays a blessing that addresses the particular concerns. Overall, believers are finding more openness to the gospel than in normal times.  Several have come to faith in just the past month!

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Caught Between the Lion and the Lambs

Upon arriving back in Asia after several months’ absence, Helen* met with her Muslim friend Mira* to catch up on each other’s lives. As soon as they sat down, Mira mentioned a dream she’d had the night before Helen called. In it, she was being welcomed into a foreign family’s home and accepted as one of their family. This family shined so brightly that she wanted the light they were giving off in her own life too. Mira believed that Helen’s family was the one from her dream and that they had returned to welcome her into their family and give her a special light in her own life.

Mira told Helen of other dreams she’d had in recent months. In one, Mira was walking through a park when sheep suddenly appeared and began following her. She turned to the right and left to get away from the sheep, but more and more followed her, multiplying rapidly. Try as she might, she could not evade the sheep. 

When she saw a big building nearby, she hid behind it because she was afraid of all the sheep. Suddenly, a huge lion appeared and found her hiding place. She was scared at first but quickly realized that it was friendly, peaceful, and loving. The lion comforted her, and she stepped out from behind the building. Then she woke up. Mira immediately knew the lion was special. She had felt safe with him nearby. 

Helen and her husband Frank* are excited about what these dreams seem to indicate God may have in store for Mira: leadership of multiplying disciples of Jesus. They ask for your prayers for Mira. She does not yet want to study the Bible. She is afraid and needs to approach the Lion who comforted her. They are praying the Father would continue to pursue Mira and that she would step out in boldness to follow Jesus: the Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, and Light of the World.

*pseudonyms used

North Korea: “The Jerusalem of the East”?

North Korea has been much in the news lately. Let’s pray rich blessings over this nation and its people.

Let’s pray that God would birth a great spiritual awakening as He did in the early 1900s when a disciple-making movement spread through Pyongyang. By the 1920s, the movement had permeated the Korean peninsula. Whole families and regions came to Christ! The revival was based on principles found in the book of Acts, which we see in many movements around the world today.

John Nevius was a missionary whose ideas helped launch this dynamic movement. Instead of urging people to come to a building to listen to a key leader or two (attractional churches), Nevius believed in local, empowered leadership, the priesthood of all believers, and simple reproducible Bible studies which any believer could start and help others to start. As a result, the gospel spread like wildfire.

Simple, reproducible Bible studies multiplied from sarangbang (a room used for meeting or studying) to sarangbang. Previously, Christian workers had problems starting attractional churches, but through these methods, Bible studies multiplied faster than workers could keep up with them! Many of these sarangbang Bible study meetings developed into house churches in this truly indigenous movement.

The movement was hottest in Pyongyang; in fact, Pyongyang became known as “the Jerusalem of the East.” Some believed it was the fastest spiritual awakening seen since the one recorded in the book of Acts. Pyongyang became home to 300,000 Christians. Eventually, 29% of Koreans were involved in these house churches. 

  • Pray that God will launch a “Book of Acts” movement again so all people in this country can know Jesus’ love.
  • Pray God will equip and launch laborers into this harvest field.
  • Pray many will choose to follow Him in loving obedience. 
  • Pray for a great multiplication of house churches who love and serve their people and country.
  • Pray for God’s protection from Satan, for Jesus’ disciples. 
  • Pray for wonderful blessings for all the people of this country. 
  • Pray that we will once again see “average” believers do extraordinary things, through and because of Jesus’ love. 

Ebola, Covid, and Movements, What?

In 2014, an outbreak of Ebola emerged in West Africa, infecting 8,704 people and killing 3,589. A Disciple Making Movement* was already underway there when the deadly and highly contagious virus struck. To help ministries and movement leaders grappling with new ministry paradigms due to COVID-19, a movement leader from West Africa recently shared insights on multiplying the church during a pandemic.

First, the movement leaders adopted a strategic long term plan. They asked themselves, “How can God use us to deal with the damage today, but also to put in place the foundation of his kingdom for the future?” 

The majority of the movement’s effort was “repurposed” into serving the public alongside other community leaders. They worked with government officials, mosque leaders, health workers, and other church structures and charitable organizations in a concerted effort to combat the virus and its effects. (These efforts would later create unique Kingdom opportunities.) They worked to help the public accept reality, combat fear, and become educated about Ebola. Followers of Jesus brought food into villages, volunteered in medical clinics, drove ambulances, buried the dead, prayed on hospital grounds, produced encouraging radio programs, and served willingly in any way they could. In serving their communities, many risked their lives, and several died after contracting the virus.

People in the movement didn’t stop sharing the gospel. Yes, momentum was lost. The process of a Disciple Making Movement relies on sharing with others and meeting together to discuss Scripture. But they did press on. Whenever they could, they pointed others to God and trusting in Him. They prayed and fasted. They encouraged people and endeavored to bring hope. People saw the hand of Jesus through the serving believers. Communities that had not previously been receptive to the gospel opened up because of the service of believers in the midst of the crisis. “We followed a lot of people back to their villages, and some decided to follow Jesus.”

This leader stressed the importance of serving in our own areas of influence and exhorted the global church to move toward the current situation, not away from it. By working for the common good through the combination of their prayers and meeting felt needs in the community, they found they were able to shape the culture around them. After the Ebola crisis passed, the church was able to bounce back and found their work had produced “spiritual dividends.” That is good news indeed.  

*Part of the DNA of Disciple Making Movements (and the agencies that serve and facilitate them) is to share important lessons learned with other movement practitioners. We wish to thank our friends and 24:14 partners at New Generations for permitting us to share the information in this article with you.

Can the Church Be Locked Down?

A few weeks ago in Nepal, Joel, BEYOND’s Tibetan/Himalayan field leader, and his national team were training foreign workers in a local church on how to start Disciple-Making Movements among Unreached people groups. Part of the training presents a method for house churches to meet together using a process called Discovery Bible Study (DBS). 

When the government announced the ban on large gatherings, the pastor of the church, who had been attending the training as he was able, asked that some people from his church be taught how to lead house churches through DBS. Joel’s team joyfully did so, instructing those gathered on the simple method of reading a passage of Scripture, asking a few questions, and listening for how God would have them obey what they read.

“There is no substitute for meeting in a small group as the body of Christ,” Joel shares, “even in a group as small as two or three people. This method is how the Tazig people, my focus people group, meet together.” 

“During this season of social distancing, we want to continue to grow in our walks with Christ. While some growth comes from individual disciplines, God has designed us to grow together as communities. That community doesn’t have to be 100+ people. It can be 3-10 people meeting together, praying, worshipping, keeping each other accountable, studying Scripture, and discipling and caring for one another. So while we are only able to meet with those in our households, or in small groups of friends and family, I recommend trying a Discovery Bible Study in your home!”

The following week as the nation went into a full lockdown, the Tazig DBS groups and house churches tried to meet by video conference, but technical difficulties prevented them. Not wanting to give up, they tried again the next day by sending out a Scripture passage from Matthew 9 via Facebook Messenger. They sent out the questions, allowing two hours or so for responses. 

“We enjoyed seeing the responses come in all day,” Joel says. “Some people sent voice messages; some sent text messages. People responded to each other’s answers with ‘likes’ and various Facebook reactions.” 

Meeting in this way allowed them to have real and meaningful interaction. Their phone notifications became less about sharing the latest news of COVID and instead highlighted what their brothers or sisters in Christ were learning and applying from Scripture.

*pseudonyms used