Acting Beyond – April 15, 2017

“Pastors Come to Make Converts But They Don’t Help Anyone Grow Up!”

Anil, who has helped to plant hundreds of churches, has consistently reported how the Discovery Bible Study approach (a simple way of studying the Bible focused on stories from the Scriptures, and simple, but profound, questions) is such a great tool for growing people’s faith quickly, especially for illiterate people. This account is from Anil.

A 5th generation leader in Anil’s network of disciples is named Kailash (19 years old). One day, Kailash went to G.Village, and was surprised to discover a family who self-identified as followers of Jesus. Kailash visited with the 7 members of the family, including the mom, Raita, who is 47 years old. Raita shared, “Yes, we know about Jesus, but, Brother, we have no idea how we will ever grow in our faith because pastors do not come here. One pastor came to this village, one year ago, made us “Christian”, and never returned again.”

Kailash replied, “This is the way of many pastors. They come to preach and make converts but they don’t teach anyone how to grow up! Auntie, my story is just like yours, but one day, after I had been alone in my faith for a long time, I met a group of people who told me that I did not understand the whole picture. Not only are we to follow Jesus and be His disciples, but we are to also make other disciples.” He then continued, “These friends told me that Jesus had given all of us, His followers, a command to go and make disciples of all nations.” And so, in this simple way, Kailash was able to speak boldly with the mother in this house, even though she was his elder. He finished with, “This is what the Bible says.”

Raita acknowledged that their family was illiterate, so even if they had a Bible (they did not), they could not use it. Kailash replied, “Yes, there are many people in my village, too, who cannot read, but these friends gave me a speaker with Bible stories on it, including wise sayings (the Proverbs), and holy songs (Psalms).”

Kailash returned to G Village two days later and gave a speaker to the family saying, “When the pastor came, he just talked to you and told you his thoughts about the Bible. These stories are not like that. After listening to these stories, it’s very important that you discuss the questions. Listening to Bible stories and discussing them as a family will give you the growth that you’ve been longing for.”

This family had been waiting for one whole year for that pastor to return and teach them, but no one ever came. But, here, a young, unmarried, 19-year-old man simply visited one day and gave them the tools they needed to grow in their faith. Kailash isn’t a pastor. He’s not had any Bible training. He’s just a regular guy from one of tens of thousands of undeveloped villages in India. But, because he himself has followed this pattern for studying God’s Word, he was able to share it with someone else (who is also equally simple and untrained).

At the end of that day, Kailash had to go home, but the people were no longer limited in their growth by the lack of Christian leadership. Raita called her family together, “Come on, let’s sit together and listen to a story.” This family of 7 listens to a Bible story every night. They are so thrilled to be learning from the Bible, it brings them great joy. But, Raita says that the questions are really challenging. She says that, if, after listening to that day’s bible story they don’t then share it with others, they’re not being fully obedient to Jesus’ commands. (This is how seriously they take the questions and believe so fervently in the task of sharing with other.)

One day, Raita decided to share a story with another family in her village, the Kumars. The Kumars were a higher caste than Raita’s caste, so this was a real risk for her, but she knew the wife and they considered each other friends. Raita asked if she could share a story with the family.

The Kumars are a high-caste Hindu family, and were completely opposed to Christianity as they understood it. There is no way that would have let Raita in the door with a Bible under her arm, but she simply came over, ready to share a story from memory. The husband gave his permission for the family to listen. They were blessed and encouraged by the first Bible story, so Raita began coming each day, bringing her speaker along to share the Bible stories. They all really liked it. Finally, Raita asked the husband “Brother, as I’ve been sharing these stories with you, do you have faith to think they might be true?”

Mr. Kumar said that since the day they started these discussions in his home, he has felt such peace and joy. He asked for her to continue with the stories. Raita had an extra speaker to distribute, and so she gave one to the Kumars, showing them how to operate it. She instructed them to meet together in their own house each day and listen, and then after listening, discuss the questions, just as they’d been doing with her. And then, Raita told them that she would not be able to come visit them the next day, but that was OK because now they had this speaker and they could just listen on their own. And so the Kumar family began doing so. And here’s the amazing thing. Without the input of a formal pastor, without being members of a traditional church, without knowing how to do fancy worship times with instruments or song books or anything like that, without knowing any other followers of Jesus except Raita, an actual new house church has been born, among a difficult-to-reach high caste family. The Kumars have committed themselves to Jesus, and to making other disciples.

Not only is this family now in Jesus, but Mrs. Kumar is visiting a different family (Paneer Family), doing with them what Raita did with her family. Paneer Family acknowledged that their lives are also getting better, more peaceful, since listening to these stories. They no longer fight in their home! After 15 days of listening to stories, the Mr. Paneer began going to a nearby village to meet with another man, “Mr. Raja,” daily sharing the stories with him.

Thus, Kailash, a generation 5 disciple, disciples Raita’s family, making a 6th generation church, which reaches out to the Kumar family (generation 7), which is reaching the Paneer family (generation 8), who is touching the Raja family in another village (potentially, generation 9). In this way, in the timeframe of just a few months, 4 generations of churches can be birthed, and scores of people impacted. And this is only one “stream.” Kailash has also started churches in 3 other villages, in the same manner. He stays in touch with Raita’s family, but their maturity does not depend upon Him. Their growth is fueled by the Holy Spirit as they listen to, and obey, God’s Word.