Are You Mary or Zechariah?

Are You Mary or Zechariah?

John and another north Indian movement leader traveled to meet with ten Muslim men who had said they wanted to know more about Isa al Masih (Jesus). John and his friend shared some verses from the Qur’an about Jesus and the Old and New Testaments. The group liked what they heard. They did not immediately become followers of Jesus that day, but neither did they argue. They are open. They said, “You have taught us a lot! Please come back.” John plans to return another time.

A key movement practice is to go and go again. We can’t keep returning for years or maybe even months if no one shows spiritual interest. Because the harvest is plentiful, we must not waste time with those who aren’t ready. But where we find authentic interest, we can consider the door to still be open. 

The movement leaders have learned the difference between genuine questioning and argumentative spirits. It is the difference between Mary’s awe-struck “How can this be?” and Zechariah’s scoffing “How can this be?”

Some people, like the group above, say, “Wow. This is a lot to take in. I need some time to think about it. But please come back and tell us more later.” But when we meet those who only want to argue, we can say, “I love you too much to argue,” and move on to others who are open to listening to the Good News. We can trust God to give the skeptics (modern Zechariahs) another chance (and another and another), even if not with us. But we must be willing to move on, staying in step with the Spirit, to find and share with those who are ready to hear the good news.

Related Articles:
A Former Hindu, a Former Muslim … Partners for Jesus 
Jesus Heals as is Written in the Qur’an
Sharing the Gospel with Hindus
If Jesus Suffered a Judas, So Could We

 

In Spite of the Beatings

In Spite of the Beatings

One lay leader and a partner in north India visited a village where they had never been before. They found a family interested in hearing about the God who made the world. The two men shared a Bible story with the family. The family liked the discussion. The men didn’t preach, but simply shared the story, then asked questions about it, including the most important one, “If this story were true, how would you apply it to your life?”

The family asked the men to return another time. They did. The meetings became regular. The neighbors began to notice. They heard the songs that started the meetings. They began hanging out near the door and windows. They liked the Bible stories too. 

One such neighbor, a lady, entered the home. She sat and listened to the story. She liked the discussion and the prayer. She began attending regularly. Unfortunately, her husband didn’t like her going to these meetings. He beat her after each one. He had no job and was drunk all the time. She kept attending the meetings, though, in spite of the beatings. Finally, one day, she looked at her husband and said, “Fine. You don’t want me to go to these meetings? I won’t go. But first, you have to attend a meeting with me one time. If you don’t like it, when it’s done you can beat me again. But, at least go one time.”

So, he did. He got drunk first, but he went. He fidgeted. He glared at the leaders. He left in a huff. But, when it was all over, he didn’t beat his wife. The next week, he attended the meeting again. This time, he wasn’t drunk. When the meeting was done, he told the leaders that he wanted to follow the God of those stories. He was tired of drinking all the time. He wanted a new life. And so, this family is now changed. The husband no longer beats his wife. He’s stopped drinking. They are learning from the Bible. Their lives are new.

This is the life altering effect of our God and His word! You are making a difference in untold numbers of lives through your support of faithful disciple-makers like these.

Small Disciple-Making Habits Make a Huge Difference

Small Disciple-Making Habits Make a Huge Difference

by C. Anderson

Part One: Goals excite type A personalities. The setting, achieving and working toward them can be very motivating. After reaching an important goal, however, many feel a sense of emptiness and loss.

Long-distance runners often experience this after completing a marathon. They’ve trained for months to compete in a race. Driving toward that goal gave training a clear purpose. When the race is over, there is an emotional downswing. The big challenging goal is completed. So, why am I going to the gym today? Those who train runners warn against low-level depression in the days following a big race.

In a reverse scenario, we can experience intense disillusionment when an important goal seems elusive. Perhaps the goal of catalyzing a rapidly multiplying Disciple Making Movement feels that way. We may need a change in our focus.

Goals vs. Systems
New York Times bestselling author, James Clear, writes about this in his popular book Atomic Habits. On page 23, Clear writes, “Forget about goals, focus on systems instead.” He describes the difference in this way. “Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”

While this book has a humanistic, self-help slant, as I listened to the Audible version on a long car ride, a series of lightbulbs exploded in my head. “There is so much in this book to apply to disciple- making and the pursuit of movements!” I mused, taking copious notes.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Clear’s book, I recommend it. There are many takeaways for life in general as well as disciple-making. After listening to it, I decided to buy the actual book and re-read it in light of disciple-making habits. This article shares some of the insights gained and what I am experimenting with.

While I’m not ready to let go of the God-sized goal of a DMM, I see the book’s point about systems. It’s not having a DMM goal that will get us to movement. If that were the case, we would have many thousands more movements than we do already.

What will catalyze and sustain a DMM are disciple- making habits we put in place in our lives, in the lives of those we train and in those our disciples train. Normalizing a few key habits and simple  systems in our movement efforts sets the trajectory for multiplication. This leads to something far beyond the superficial goal of reaching 4th generation growth and a certain number of groups or streams.  If you are not familiar with the definition of a DMM, please see https://www.dmmsfrontiermissions.com/ disciple-making-movement-what-defined/. While this definition has merit and is helpful, it is not the end goal. Nor does it come directly from Scripture. The real aim is to see disciples that multiply rapidly and continue to do so as we see in the New Testament. So again, just aiming for 4G and multiplication isn’t enough. We need habits, systems and practices that get us there.

With that established, let me first illustrate some of the Atomic Habits concepts in a personal and practical way. From there, we’ll then turn attention to the applications for disciple-making.

Habit Stacking vs. Despairing Over a Challenging Goal
My husband and I currently live in Thailand. We have been here for about six years. Before this, we lived for many years in Nepal and India. When in those nations, I learned to speak Nepalese and Bengali. It is a personal value to understand the culture and worldview of those around me. I want to find bridges and ways to share the good news of Jesus with my neighbors. This is true even though I now travel a great deal and my ministry is more global than local.

Learning Thai has been hard. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m now over 50, or maybe because it’s a tonal language, or it could be because I travel in and out and have a full ministry schedule. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve found it exceedingly difficult to gain even market fluency in Thai.

At times I feel determined to learn. At other times, I’m deeply frustrated and want to give up. In all honesty, I’m ashamed to have lived here so long and to speak so poorly. My heart aches to be at a place of fluency where I can share the message of my wonderful Savior freely. Many, many Thais around me don’t speak English and have never heard the gospel in a way they could understand.

As I read Atomic Habits, I realized I should change  my focus. Instead of the goal of being fluent in Thai,  it may be more helpful to concentrate on developing   a consistent daily study habit. Now, each day after my quiet time and writing hour, I study Thai for 30 minutes. That consistent habit is already making a difference! It has set me on a trajectory where I definitely will reach my goal of speaking Thai one day. I’m no longer feeling discouraged but can trust the system to get me there. I’ve habit stacked Thai study (a concept he talks about in the book) on top of two other habits I already have in place in my life and enjoy.

Another helpful concept from this book is what James Clear calls the Law of Least Effort. It’s followed by the Two-Minute rule (Chapters 12 and 13). They come under the habit law he describes as, “Make it easy.” The basic premise is that a new habit should be so simple you can’t talk yourself out of doing it. If you can do it in two minutes, you don’t need much willpower to put that habit into place. Thus, it is far more likely to become a sustained practice. After a simple habit is established, it is far easier to increase it.

Again, allow me to demonstrate how I’m applying this personally. I find motivation for strength-building difficult, though I know it’s important at my age. I’ve recently started doing just five pushups and five sit-ups every day. This takes two minutes and is so easy that I can’t talk myself out of it. From there, I can increase to seven, then 10, and in six months I’ll be doing 50 a day.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers and used here with permission. 

About the Author: C. Anderson is an experienced field practitioner and leader. The past 27 years, she served in Asia with YWAM Frontier Missions. Anderson trains and coaches both international and indigenous church planters toward the launching of Disciple Making Movements. She blogs weekly about DMM related issues at dmmsfrontiermissions.com

“I’m Baptized!”

“I’m Baptized!”

After months of doing Discovery Bible Studies with Sue, Havva decided she wanted to be a Jesus follower. 

Knowing that it’s generally better to baptize someone together with their closest community, the women pondered whether to wait for Havva’s husband to come to faith too. And where could they hold the baptism? Bathtubs are rare in their part of West Asia. They brought these matters before God. 

When Havva remembered a public pool she once visited, she called immediately. “Okay, I’m just going to tell you straight,” she said to the owner. “I’m going to be baptized, so I want to come when no one else is around.”

“Oh really?! I’m so happy for you!” the man said. “Yes, please come early. We open at 10, but you can come at nine before anyone else arrives. We’ll be waiting for you.”

Havva and Sue were not expecting that response! On the contrary, a more expected reaction in a 99%-Muslim country would have been anger and a lecture on why she shouldn’t do it. They were amazed! God had made a way.

Later that day, Sue saw a man with a Matthew 28:19 T-shirt walk past … in the middle of Islamic West Asia. “All I could do was gawk as he walked by,” Sue says. “When I finally collected myself, I breathlessly read the verse to Havva, and in [Havva’s language] the verb “baptize” is written in the command form. It hit me like a ton of bricks: the Father is confirming His will to us: ‘Do it.’ I had been worrying, but God had given us a place and a command.”

The following morning when they were in the warm pool waters, Sue got momentarily caught up in the mechanics of how to baptize someone in a pool with no shallow end. “But Havva was focused and got it done,” Sue recalls. “She said, ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I’m baptized!’ And then she dipped under the water and popped back up. 

“I love that Havva was so determined that she didn’t need me to say or do anything; I just put my hand on her back as she went underwater. It was such a joyful morning! Our Father showered us with His kindness and care because we’re His beloved daughters.”

Sue asks that we pray for Havva to have the opportunity to baptize her husband and daughter when they, too, become followers of Jesus. Her husband is close, but something is still blocking him. Ask the Father for another miracle of faith. 

Related Stories:
Baptism in Risky and Hostile Places
Balking at Baptism
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No More Searching, They Seek Us Out

Refreshed for Multiplication

Refreshed for Multiplication

Do you remember when a shaman met Jesus? The Lord is still at work in this family.

Ryan* and his local partner, Rio, felt the need to pray for boldness in a group of five young followers of Jesus they had discipled. These young disciples include Soleh’s daughter, Hajay, and his nephew, Dylan. They are university students and former Muslims who have followed Isa (Jesus) for the last few years. 

Concerned about a lack of multiplication, Ryan and Rio began to pray that God would embolden these students, and that the Lord would bring them to people He had prepared. Wanting to revive their vision, Rio spent three days retraining them in God’s vision for kingdom multiplication from Matthew 28. He also reshared a few simple methods to start conversations that would lead to Isa. After their refresher, the students went out to apply what they’d heard. 

Hajay went to visit Nuria, a friend she had been praying for. They immediately began speaking about spiritual things. Nuria stopped Hajay saying, “I’ve had two unforgettable dreams I want to tell you about.” In the first dream, a man wearing a white robe made from light reached out his hands to welcome Nuria into his arms. Nuria knew it was Isa al Masih from stories she’d heard. In her second dream, she saw the whole earth from outer space. It was dark, and there was no sun. Suddenly, a very small lantern was lit in one part of the world and then another and another. The light grew until a great light shone. From that light, a cross rose up from the earth, and a great star appeared at its head. The star cast its light throughout the whole universe.  

“You’ve clearly been given guidance from God,” Hajay responded. “I would like to help you learn about Isa al Masih by reading through His holy book.” Nuria agreed, and they made a plan to begin later that night.  

Another of the disciples, Kaji, called his friend Iyan. Months ago, he had told Iyan about his new understanding of Isa al Masih, but he’d never followed up. With this fresh encouragement, Kaji boldly said he wanted to get together to talk about something so important that only the Word of God could explain it. Iyan agreed, and they set a time to meet.

Hilar, another of the young disciples, had class immediately after their training — a religion class at the Muslim university she attended. In class that day, the professor taught that God had handed down four holy books: the Alquran (Qur’an), the Taurat (Genesis – Deuteronomy), the Zabur (Psalms), and the Injil (the New Testament). Then the professor built a case for why they only ever needed to read the Alquran. 

After class, the girl sitting next to Hilar (Novi) asked her why God would give books they didn’t need to read. “I’ve read them,” Hilar quickly replied, “and they have greatly helped me.” Novi introduced herself to Hilar and asked if Hilar would teach her about the other three books. “Actually,” Novi said, “let’s go to the bookstore right now!” 

After purchasing a Bible, Novi said she wanted to read it every day with Hilar. “I want to become a new person. I have a pile of sins from my past, but I want to go to heaven.” Hilar returned to her fellow disciples with a huge grin on her face and told them all that God had done.

Pray for Hajay, Kaji, and Hilar as they grow in boldness to proclaim and point to God’s word.  

Pray for Nuria, Iyan, and Novi as they begin to grapple with new truths about God’s plan to rescue them from sin and darkness.  

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