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by Victor John
God is working in amazing ways among the Bhojpuri speakers of North India, with a Church Planting Movement of more than 10 million baptized disciples. God’s glory in this movement shines even brighter against the backdrop of this area’s history. Many religious leaders were born here. Gautama Buddha received his enlightenment and gave his first sermon in this area. Yoga and Jainism originated here as well.
In the past, this region was incredibly hostile to the gospel, which was viewed as foreign. It was known as “the graveyard of modern missions.” When the foreignness was removed, people started accepting the good news.
But God does not want to reach only Bhojpuri speakers. When God began to use us to reach beyond the Bhojpuri group, some asked, “Why don’t you stick with reaching the 150 million Bhojpuri? Why don’t you stay there until that job is finished?”
My first response is the pioneering nature of gospel work. Doing apostolic/pioneering work involves always looking for places where the good news has not taken root: looking for opportunities to make Christ known where He is not yet known.
Second, these languages overlap in their usage. There’s no clear-cut line where the use of one language ends and another begins. Also, believers often move for various reasons. As people in the movement have traveled or moved, the good news has gone with them.
Some came back and said, “We see God working in this other place. We would like to start a work in that area.” We told them, “Go ahead!”
So they came back a year later and said, “We’ve planted 15 churches.” We were amazed and blessed because it happened organically. There was no agenda, no preparation, and no funding. When they asked what was next, we began to work with them to help the believers get grounded in God’s word and quickly mature.
Third, we started training centers which expanded the work, both intentionally and unintentionally (more God’s plan than ours). Sometimes people from a nearby language group would come to a training and then return home and work among their own people.
A fourth reason for expansion: sometimes people have come to us and said, “We need help. Can you come help us?” We assist and encourage them as best we can. These have been the key factors in moving into neighboring areas beyond the Bhojpuri.
We praise God that the movement has spread to different language groups, different geographic areas, multiple caste groups, and different religions. The power of the good news keeps breaking through all kinds of boundaries.
While these movements are led indigenously, we continue to partner together. We recently began training 15+ Angika leaders in Eastern Bihar in holistic (integrated) ministry. We plan to help start holistic ministry centers in three different Angika locations in the coming year and raise up more local Angika leaders. Our key partner working among the Maithili is also extending work into the Angika area.
Victor John, a native of north India, served as a pastor for 15 years before shifting to a holistic strategy aiming for a movement among the Bhojpuri people. Since the early 1990’s he has played a catalytic role from its inception to the large and growing Bhojpuri movement.
Excerpted with permission from the book Bhojpuri Breakthrough. (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2019) .
We first came to this area one year ago. At today’s meeting, Nishan, one of the local leaders, shared how he and his family became followers of Jesus last year.
Nishan’s wife had been very ill for a long time. They spared no expense looking for a cure. Nothing helped. Eventually, they lost everything – their savings, their home – all lost. The worst part was that his wife was still sick!
One day, in the midst of this desperate sadness, they had the opportunity to attend a nearby house church meeting. What they heard about Jesus thrilled their hearts. There was hope!
After some time, they put their trust in Jesus and his Kingdom. Then they wanted to know if they could start a church in their home. Of course! The disciples of Jesus were happy to show them how.
That was one year ago. Since then, Nishan and his wife have seen seven generations of disciples made and 63 house churches birthed!
The story above was part of a report from a movement leader in North India. If you are a Beyond donor, your generosity has played a part in this story!
*Joe was visiting his local partner, *Nia, and ministering in a community known to be hostile to the gospel when Sudi walked over.
“Can I share a story about Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah) with you?” Joe asked.
*Sudi agreed, and Nia translated as Joe told him the story of Jesus calming the waters. Sudi said he knew the story, and he wanted to talk more. Joe then shared the story of Isa al-Masih being beaten, crucified, and resurrected from the dead.
“I know this story also, and I believe,” Sudi said. No one else knew he followed Isa.
That morning, Sudi had heard a voice in his heart tell him to go walk on the road because he would meet his “brothers.” When he obeyed, he immediately saw Joe and Nia and knew they were who God meant.
Nia said they should study the word of God together, and Sudi excitedly agreed. Nia promised to bring him a Bible. God had provided for Sudi.
Pray that Sudi will grow strong in his faith and for many in this remote village to follow Isa al-Masih.
Thank you, BEYOND donors! You have been a part of Sudi’s exciting journey.
The Banjara people of North India live bleak lives. They are impoverished. Illiterate. Unwelcomed within city limits. They live under “tents” of plastic sheeting, often next to open sewages. They eat the scraps that butchers can’t sell, and they are considered too low for any caste group to accept. Their lives are devoid of hope.
Then a disciple told one Banjara group about Jesus.
They now have hope and have been changed by the Holy Spirit in every way. They eat decent food. Many have built one-room homes of brick. They started a “school,” and their children are learning to read. Many have started micro-businesses. AND they are obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples of the lost.
Banjara house church leaders met recently to seek God for direction in reaching 3000 other Banjara families with the gospel this year. Though they are poor and mostly still illiterate, they are owning the Great Commission for themselves. They are dividing up the work and funding it from their own resources.
When people are discipled to Jesus — not Christian culture or church traditions — true transformation results. This is the Book of Acts in action.
BEYOND donors, you have been part of this amazing story of transformation and purpose.
After discussing several Bible stories with *Rayyan in his shop, *Karly and *Julie asked if he had friends who might like to discuss Scripture outside of work hours. He did!
On the day of the scheduled meeting, Rayyan texted that 10 guys might come. Karly and Julie were worried. “How will this work in the public restaurant setting? Will these guys be okay with our topic or just want to debate?” The ladies prayed they would at least leave knowing who might be interested in studying further.
That night they were surprised to see 17 men present! An older man dove straight in with the first question: “Tell us: Why do you follow Jesus?”
Using lots of Scripture, Julie explained. Everyone listened. Some had questions, but there was no debating.
The ladies were amazed and reminded of Cornelius from Acts 10. After gathering people together, Cornelius addressed Peter: “Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.” And Peter declared: “Jesus is the one all the prophets testified about… everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”
Pray these men would find and embrace the Truth they seek.
BEYOND donors, your support enables spiritual discussions just like this one in the story.
In 2019, a number of Western and national movement practitioners gathered to explore new models of missionary training. National leaders were asked for their insights on the role of outsiders catalyzing new works in their regions. While welcoming movement efforts, they spoke into the ideal posture of outsiders as they entered into new unreached fields.
Their insights can be unpacked into ten recommendations that anyone looking to go to the mission field or send workers to a field would do well to listen to:
Be an Example. Outsiders need “street credibility.” Making disciples and planting churches involve trials and suffering. Insiders notice and appreciate the patience and humility of an outsider who has been deepened in this way. Modeling is not just theology or tools. It’s a lifestyle of prayer, labor, perseverance, releasing responsibility, and trusting God.
Be Relational. Locals feel when outsiders come with more zeal for methods than love for people. An overly-transactional desire to get the job done grates on people in relational cultures. Movement leaders marveled at how much Western outsiders talked about “boundaries” without considering the needs and perspectives of local people. Additionally, local believers are not especially impressed by great tools and methods. They need to know, love, and respect their partners. Working to become family may feel slow, but it paves the best path to fruitfulness.
Be Humble. The world operates on a hierarchical framework, but Jesus said “not so among you” (Mark 10:43). Don’t come in as a boss, but treat the inside leader as a friend. Empower them and release control. Control tends to kill movements, so work to establish “a round table, not a rectangular one.” Listening well shows respect, love, and care. Working with and through experienced leaders honors them.
Be a Culture Learner. Local believers often puzzle over how culturally unaware outsiders are as they bring the gospel to a new field. We need to recognize that when we arrive as an outsider, we bring the fragrance of our home culture. This affects how we communicate, how we correct, our alliances and biases, and the way we get things done. Even our tools carry cultural baggage. Commit to learn the language and operate through the culture. Discover with local people how to bring the Kingdom.
Be Patient. Movement leaders recounted how outsiders often arrive with their tools and methods and say: “I know this will work here because it has worked somewhere else.” A patient, relational approach grants a period of settling in, allowing outsiders and insiders to learn from one another through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then trust can blossom. Patience demonstrates humility and a recognition that cultural insiders have much to contribute in helping enculturate the principles behind fruitful tools.
Be a Prayer Leader. Outsiders need to lead out in prayer, though they may find that local people do it better than they. Outsiders do, however, have the ability to catalyze outside prayer networks in strategic ways that can change realities on the ground. Connecting local believers with these prayer networks allows them access to a resource that may be hard for them to find.
Be a Vision Caster and Catalyzer of Insiders. Movement leaders tell stories of outsiders who cast a vision for them to be “laborers in the harvest” and dreamed with them about what is possible. Outsiders can create a broad base of relationships and help networks unify. Movement leaders shared how outsiders connected them to the 24:14 Vision for their region. These connections can also catalyze new laborers.
Be a Mentor and Coach. Outsiders can play an important role as a life-on-life mentor. But movement leaders caution that transactional coaching strategies fall flat in relational cultures. Local leaders crave time spent together exploring problems, with questions and cultural respect.
Be Dependent on the Word. Outsiders having a long history with God can help provide theological frameworks and dependency on God’s leadership through his word. A commitment to seek direction together from God and his word, and obey what it says, no matter what, models a reproducible life in God.
Be a Connector. An outsider will naturally be more trusted by other outsiders with resources. An outside catalyst who has developed relationships with inside leaders can connect them with Bibles, tools, or help with trainings that can help start new works. Outside catalysts can help with data gathering and reporting that helps the movement relate to other movements and networks.
As outside catalysts look to be effective in starting movements among the unreached, there is an example from many who have gone before on the most effective, God-honoring postures to take. May agencies send the kind of humble, honoring people that God can use to see His Kingdom come in every tongue, tribe, and nation.
Each day, Niah teaches Dean and Penny the Thai language. She also helps them understand Thai culture and religious beliefs. She has become their friend.
Dean and Penny share stories about Jesus with her and answer her questions about the Christian faith. In December Niah asked, “Why do you give gifts at Christmas?”
Penny happily told Niah about the gift of forgiveness and love that God gave through Jesus and that this amazing gift is free and for all people.
Thai Buddhists, Niah said, carry their good and bad from life to life, never putting it down. They hope their good will outweigh the bad so their next life is better. When Penny asked how she knew if she’d done enough good, Niah said, “You don’t until you die and face judgment.” She agreed it would be nice to set it down and not pick it up again.
As the discussion continued, Penny shared that followers of Jesus read God’s word, obey what it says, and share it with others. “Well that’s easy,” Niah responded. “I can do that.”
If you give to BEYOND, you have played a part in Niah hearing the Good News. Pray that spiritual conversations like these, happening all over the world, will yield ever-increasing fruit to the glory of Father God.
As two disciples of Jesus traveled to a town they had felt led to visit, their motorcycle broke down. They were stranded.
*Adesh stopped to help. The disciples learned that Adesh was the head of the village they wanted to visit. He offered to take them to his home and call for a mechanic. They readily accepted his hospitality.
“What do you do?” Adesh asked.
“We serve God and share His Word with people,” they said.
“Can you deliver people of evil spirits?” Adesh asked. His grandson had been oppressed by a demon for a long time.
When the disciples met Adesh’s family and prayed for his grandson, the boy was healed! Adesh hugged them and declared a feast to celebrate.
During the feast, Adesh went and told the whole village what had happened. “Come and see these two so they can pray for your troubles, too. You will be well!”
When the night was over, the disciples had prayed for 70 people. Adesh said, “Now that I know about Jesus, what is my next responsibility? I know other villages with similar problems. I can take you to visit them all.”
For two months, the three traveled together. Eight villages received the Message! If you are a BEYOND donor, you have been a part of this amazing growth! Thank you!