Go, Rather Than Invite

*John was excited about his first-ever international trip.  He was going from his homeland in India, over the border into Nepal. He was eager to share with the 30 local pastors and leaders who gathered to learn. One of his primary goals was to share the vision of what could happen if God began a disciple-making movement in Nepal.

During the training, the men and women read and learned from Matthew 28, Luke 10, and Acts 2. They began to grasp a new understanding of God’s commissioning of all of His followers, the authority Jesus gave them, and what a church could look like according to a simple biblical model. 

When John shared his own experiences about following God toward a disciple-making movement, the participants felt encouraged and excited. God could use them to do something similar in Nepal!

A couple of weeks later, BEYOND’s Nepal team met with some of the attendees to follow up and review what they had learned. The team asked how the participants had obeyed and applied what they had learned from the training. 

One leader explained that she now knew she was called to “go,” rather than “invite.” She said, “When I used to invite people to my church, maybe one person would come. But when I went to share the gospel in their homes, I was able to share it with seven families!” Another had prayed for a paralyzed man who had returned from the Middle East, and God had healed him! As a result, two people from his family came to faith and were baptized. 

We have seen the first steps of obedience in this group and some first fruit. Pray for them as they continue to learn and apply God’s word, seeking Him for steps of obedience.

*pseudonyms

“You Can’t Say You’re a Christian”

A Tazig* believer recently shared with Joel* a problem that many new Tazig believers face.

Five of his family members had come down from their mountain village to spend the winter with him in the big city. The six of them passed the months in his 300 square foot apartment. They were unhappy to learn that he had become a follower of Jesus and rejected the Buddhist way. 

The young man, however, loved and cared for his family and used the opportunity to tell them about Christ. He shared Scripture with them, prayed for them, and shared his life day by day. They could see the positive changes in his life. 

Before they left to return to their village, his sister pulled him aside. “It’s okay for you to be a Christian here in the city. We think it’s good for you. We can see your life is different now. But you can’t say you’re a Christian when you are in our village. You will bring shame on our family.

“While we celebrate the progress this brother had with his family,” Joel says, “community shame is a powerful force among the Tazig people.Our hearts long to see whole families and villages turn to Christ together. When whole families choose to follow Christ together, it mitigates the power of shame. When a person responds favorably to a gospel presentation, the next question to ask is ‘would your family and friends also like to hear this Good News?’ We are asking God for whole families and communities to turn to Him.” 

*pseudonyms

Global Movement Dashboard

by Justin Long

For nearly a decade, I have gathered information on a new trend: rapidly multiplying church-planting (or disciple-making) movements. For the past five years in particular, I have condensed this information into a single “dashboard” presentation—sometimes delivered as email, and sometimes as a PowerPoint. The latest version was just released on the 24:14 Network’s website (under “Global Movement Statistics”) and the following is a summary of the findings I normally present when sharing in public.

Since the mid-1990s, we have witnessed the remarkable and explosive growth of disciple-making movements globally, with much of that growth happening in the past 10 years. From a very small handful of known movements in 1995, the number has grown to over 1,850 movements globally, encompassing over 99.9 million believers in 6.8 million churches (typically small, house-church type gatherings). This means over 1% of the world’s total population are Christ-followers in rapidly growing movements!

These numbers are the tip of the iceberg—or, as I frequently say in presentations, the “floor” and not the “ceiling.” Certainly, the numbers are higher than this. These movements can be found in every UN region, though their largest numbers are in Africa and parts of Asia (mostly Southern Asia). Movements have spread broadly, touching each of the Affinity Blocks identified by Joshua Project and over 222 of the 271 People Group Clusters. Growth is especially significant in the world’s least-reached places.

Movements are touching every religious block, growing markedly among Muslim and Hindu peoples, with progress also among some Buddhist peoples. While we have so far seen less progress among Western groups (Europeans, North Americans, and Australia-New Zealand), this may be largely due to the fact that movement-style work is much newer in those regions. Burgeoning movements are already happening among a few Western people groups, showing it can work there too.

However, in many places, this remarkable growth is still a just drop in the bucket among the much larger populations. The well-known Bhojpuri movement, for example, is one of the largest in the world, and yet still a relatively small (though rapidly growing!) percentage of the provinces in which it is found. Much work still remains to be done.

The 24:14 Network’s goal is to see a CPM engagement team in “every people and place” by 2025. How close are we to that goal? COVID-19 has made information gathering difficult in 2020 and 2021, but I estimate there are at least 170 languages that are less than 2% Christian and not engaged by CPM/DMM teams. They should be a priority for movement efforts. Likewise, I estimate there are at least 458 provinces that are less than 2% Christian and are not known to be engaged. If CPM teams can be focused on each of these priorities, we will be very close to reaching the overall goal.

Our great God is doing amazing works in our time. We look to him in earnest prayer, with strategic effort and global partnership, keeping our eyes on the goal of Jesus’ glory filling the whole earth. Engagement of every people and place is our initial faith goal; our ultimate aim is fulfillment of Matthew 24:24 – proclamation of the gospel to all peoples (ethné), and the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

About the author: Justin has spent the last 30+ years developing and contributing to various missions efforts including: the World Christian Encyclopedia, the strategicnetwork.org, the Ethné network, and the Movements Database. His research findings and missions articles have been published in several places, and currently publishes a weekly newsletter at justinlong.org.

 

An Aha Moment

Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission, but taking a closer look could be life-changing — for ourselves and the lost.

Matt* recently led his Christian language teacher through Matthew 28:16-20. When he asked who Jesus was commanding to make disciples, she thought for a long time. 

Finally, she responded. “I have always been told that only some disciples make disciples, but it is clear that all of us are to do this. Jesus was commanding us all to make followers by teaching them to observe all of His commands, and of course, this is one of His commands.”

“She had one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments,” Matt said. “It thrilled my wife and me and gave us hope that more of Jesus’ followers here would understand His principles for making disciples.”

Matt and his wife live in an East Asian city of about 100,000 people. There are some Christians, but, according to their local language teacher, only a handful are truly trying to follow Jesus’ commands. Ask the Father to open the hearts of His children to the teaching of the Spirit. For Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)

*pseudonyms

“It Must Be Jesus Who Did This!”

Your generosity brings healing as broken people encounter God’s demonstrated love for the first time.

*Uhn was the town drunk and the senior patriarch of his large extended family. Over a year ago, *Scott’s local partner, a capable movement catalyst, led Uhn to faith in Jesus. After prayer, he was able to stop all drinking and has taken deliberate steps to walk in obedience to Christ. After completing a short set of lessons with his discipleship group, they dug into the book of Mark using an obedience-oriented discovery process. Uhn even took upon himself the task of memorizing the Gospel of Mark. Scott was very moved when he followed along as Uhn recited Mark chapter 10, word for word.


Uhn’s change in behavior is captured in the words of his Buddhist brother-in-law: “It is miraculous how he has changed. We used to be afraid of him, [but not now]. How can I explain it? It must be Jesus who did this!”

Since November 2021, Uhn and the leader working with him have actively gathered his extended family and shared God’s word with them. Some have already come to faith and obeyed in baptism. Even more encouraging is the weekly Discovery Bible Study group with his extended family. Pray they grow into maturity as a church and function as one among their extended community to the glory of God.

Thank you for impacting the lives of unreached peoples and spreading God’s glory among the nations. 

*pseudonym

True Discipleship

On Monday mornings, Joel* meets with Tazig* church leaders for debriefing and coaching. For several weeks, the church has been studying the book of Romans. On the week they studied Romans 7, several questions arose. One verse, however, was easy for everyone to understand: Paul’s confession in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” 

One of the church leaders shared a member’s response to this verse. The man had spoken up saying, “This verse is my experience. I have been doing something that I know is wrong, but I keep doing it.” 

The leader asked him to share more, and the man confessed to asking for inflated receipts from hardware stores, which he then submitted to clients for reimbursement – a widespread practice. But the Spirit had convicted him as they read from Romans. After his confession, the church made a plan to help him get free from that sin. 

Joel was so proud of the church leaders when he heard how they helped this man walk the path of Christ. “This is true discipleship in the Body of Christ,” Joel says. “Jesus commanded his disciples to make other disciples and teach them to obey everything he commanded them (Matthew 28:19). I praise God for the wisdom he is giving the Tazig church leaders.”

*pseudonyms

Modeling Reproducible Leadership

Not long after arriving in Nepal, Brian* and Ellie* advertised for a language helper through a social media site. God, in His goodness, led them to Hom*. 

 The couple soon learned that Hom came from a traditional church background and that his father pastored a local church. As the relationship grew, they began sharing about God’s calling on their lives for Nepal and how they obey that calling. Hom began reading Scripture with Brian and obeying what God spoke to him. 

After a small disciple-making training, Hom converted his traditional, leader-led home group into a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) group. Additionally, though he had always actively shared the gospel with people, he began asking if he could share more with them and their families in their homes.

Two Hindu families agreed to read God’s stories with him. They now meet weekly for a DBS. The families have recently received Bibles so they can read and grow on their own. 

Hom has grown too. At first, it was a challenge for him to allow an unbeliever to facilitate the DBS group, but God directed him to invite the daughter of one family to lead the most recent meeting. “He’s clearly listening to the Lord,” Ellie reports. “He did a great job of modeling leadership, and now he is shifting into growing other new leaders. He is really catching on to the fact that God’s word and the Holy Spirit are the teachers.” 

“Hom is doing incredible work for the Lord,” Brian declares. “He has expressed his desire to see all the peoples of Nepal come to know the Lord. We are so thankful for the partnership the Lord has given us, and we are proud to call Hom our brother.”

*pseudonyms

Because They Stayed

When they arrived in their country of service, Joel and Becky knew that most church planting movements began with local followers of Jesus who caught God’s vision to reach all peoples. So they started looking for people who would set aside tradition and focus on God’s Word as their guide for church planting. 

In the beginning, very few people were interested to hear what they had to say about God’s vision for his church. During the first four or five years, only one local believer joined them in pursuing a church planting movement. 

Then, suddenly, more and more believers joined their team. Their influence grew among local believers who were pursuing evangelism and church planting. Consequently, they were able to train in increasingly larger spheres. Those local believers said they noticed that Joel and Becky stuck around. “Expat (foreign) workers come in and out of our country all the time,” Joel says. “Unsurprisingly, it seems many locals prefer to wait and see who sticks.” 

Additionally, while Joel and Becky were proving themselves to be invested long-term, they also gained experience working in local cultures and languages. “We can now serve our local brothers and sisters as trusted servants of God and help them catalyze movements in their own country,” Joel says. “We commonly ask, ‘What’s it going to take to see God’s Kingdom come to these people that God loves?’ Many times the answer is commitment and perseverance.” 

*pseudonym

Chinese New Year

This year, Chinese New Year (CNY) begins on February 1st, marking the new year’s arrival (on the traditional Chinese calendar) for nearly one-sixth of the world’s population. The whole celebration lasts 16 days, from New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the new year. For a portion of those days, nearly 1.4 billion people return to their family homes, making it the largest annual migration of people on earth. 

Once home, families usher in the New Year by eating a family meal together, honoring their ancestors with offerings, exchanging gifts of money, and generally welcoming good fortune into their lives for the upcoming year.

The reunion meal, eaten on the Eve of Chinese New Year, is considered to be the most important meal of the year. Before the meal begins, the family honors their ancestors by offering food and lighting incense. Then the family enjoys many symbolic foods, which, when consumed, are believed to ensure a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. On the stroke of midnight, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. Many cities have huge public displays, but some families and businesses also have private ones. 

Liberal use of the auspicious color red also courts good fortune in the new year. Red lanterns, banners, couplets, and symbols decorate businesses and homes. Red clothing is a must and is thought to protect people and bring good luck and fortune. 

Giving money in bright red packets is a way to pass on good luck. Children delightedly receive the envelopes from family members and close friends. Married people pass these packets to their single friends, and businesses often give them to their employees and loyal customers.

During this time, people adhere to many rituals and taboos. There is to be no cleaning of the home, laundry, or even oneself on New Year’s Day. To do so would be to sweep or wash good fortune away, ensuring a difficult year. One should not use sharp objects such as knives, get a haircut, break anything, say unlucky words (“death” or “sickness”) or do anything taboo that could cause good fortune to leave the family. 

Please pray that people would realize that wealth alone can blind one to their true state of being. As Revelation 3:17 says: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

HOW CAN WE PRAY:

  • Pray that Beyond field workers would be ready to engage those celebrating CNY with the truth of the Gospel.
  • Pray that the seeds sown during this time will find fertile soil and will take root, and pray that those who hear will come to know that life in Christ is the best choice they could ever make.

How Was Jesus Sent?

Part of our culture at BEYOND is to be lifelong learners so that we may do whatever God asks of us.

Recently, Joel* was working on a disciple-making lesson he would share with Tazig* followers of Jesus. It covered two main Scripture passages: John 20:19-23 and Philippians 2:1-11.

Joel commented: “These two passages are so theologically rich, and so much could be said, debated, and fought over. But if we take that approach, we can easily miss the simple message. In John 20, Jesus appears to his disciples, gives His peace, then says, “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 

Jesus sends out his disciples in the same way He was sent to earth by His Father. We must therefore ask, “How was Jesus sent?” Philippians 2 tells us of Christ’s attitude in His obedience to His Father, and the Apostle Paul tells us to have the same “mindset” or “attitude.” Jesus’ attitude was a servant’s mindset, willing to forsake all His rights, being completely obedient – even unto death on a cross. 

“These passages always challenge me,” Joel says. “Compared to what God asked Jesus to do, my task is rather easy, and my burden is light. Yet I struggle to have the same mindset and attitude as Christ. It has been particularly difficult with the challenges COVID has introduced. But as so often happens, in preparing to train others, I find myself being trained. Perhaps that is why Jesus’ statement in John 20:21 and Great Commission in Matthew 28 is for all believers. In making disciples, we become better disciples. I invite you to look at these two passages today and ask, ‘God, what do you want me to do?’ Then take the challenging and more critical step: be obedient to what He tells you.” 

*pseudonyms