Simplicity Versus Tradition

Lata* lives in North India. A few years ago, she was a regular church attendee, but her family did not like this and kicked her out of their home. 

Dedicated to Jesus, she moved into her pastor’s house. Unfortunately, the pastor was not a good man. She saw bad things happen. She returned to her family and stopped attending church. 

Then her nephew became ill. One day as Lata took him to the doctor, she met Brother Chander*. He asked what was wrong and if he could pray for the boy. Lata agreed, and the boy was healed. 

Lata invited Chander to her home. She liked his simplicity. Lata’s brother was also impressed. Chander’s approach to life and ministry was different from that of other pastors. They asked Chander to come again. 

Chander returned and started a DBS in their home. Lata’s brother liked the discovery approach. He was challenged to share with others what he learned. He asked Chander, “How can I follow this religion?” He became a disciple of Jesus. 

To date, Lata’s brother has reached 12 families with the gospel. At least 72 people have been baptized so far, and they joyfully pass to others all that’s shared with them. Several have made disciples to the third generation; one to the fifth generation in four villages!

*pseudonym

In the Midst of the Storm

Our disciple-making movement in India recently sent an update. The following messages are from *Sanjay, a movement leader:

  • In two years, brother *Manu helped birth 48 churches. Two weeks ago, he was suffering from COVID, and today he died. He leaves a wife and two children. They do not have a permanent house. Please pray. 
  • Yesterday, we [heard that] . . .  many families have been cured of COVID in the name of Jesus. But 23 families [in one region] have experienced death.
  • There are families in which mom and daddy have died, and the kids are all alone. That is, 17 children age 6 to 9. Pray for these children. 

While this news is heartbreaking, we know that despite whom one follows, storms come. It’s a certainty. And we praise God for the thousands of Hindus and Muslims in North India who are now building on the Rock by listening to and following Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 7:24-27)

*Sanjay also shared that movement churches have helped repair 127 typhoon-damaged homes or roofs, fed about 23,000 people, have given money to 884 families for COVID medical expenses, and have seen 873 families miraculously healed from COVID.  

In these difficult days, disciples in North India are not holding back or retreating. They are listening to God and obeying by sharing with the needy and caring for widows and orphans

*pseudonym

“Your Home Would Pollute Me!”

Raj*, a high caste Hindu man, hated that his low caste neighbors worshiped Jesus with friends in their home. Intent on stopping them, he convinced all the neighbors to join him against them. However, even through the persecution they continued to meet.

One day, the couple asked him, “Why are you against us?”

I am a high caste Hindu,” Raj said. “I don’t want you in my village.” 

Without knowing us, you are against us,” the wife said. “Only if you see our work can you judge properly.” 

“Entering your lower caste home would pollute me.” 

“We will give you a chair so you can sit outside and watch through the doorway.” 

So Raj went. When the gathering ended, he no longer hated them. Rather, he was so impressed that the next week he brought his wife. They sat outside. At one point, Raj’s wife asked for prayer for her knee. The church prayed and her pain disappeared. Later, they studied the crucifixion story. Raj and his wife had never before heard of a God who died for people. After the others left, they stayed to hear more about Jesus. 

Six weeks later, Raj and his wife received baptism along with seven other families they brought with them—107 people in all!

Raj declares, “I used to be so bad toward the disciples. They always responded to me graciously. Now I will share the Word [with others] like they shared with me.”

*pseudonym

30,000-50,000 New North Indian House Churches

In 2012, Ethan and Nicole began to focus solely on disciple-making in North India. They have seen abundant fruit. 

“By God’s grace alone,” Nicole says, “we think that roughly 100,000 families have become disciples of Jesus. We stand amazed.”  In 2020 alone, they estimate that 30,000 – 50,000 new house churches were birthed. How do we know these were churches? 

It’s simple: The poor are fed, widows and orphans are cared for, the sick are healed in Jesus’ name. People are prayed for in the name of Jesus. Demons flee. Disciples are made, and they reproduce. Those disciples reproduce and launch churches that plant churches. And it goes on and on, just as described in Acts 2:42-47. That is how we know they are churches.

A report of impressive numbers, though, is just a snapshot of the Holy Spirit’s work. These numbers represent new followers of Jesus who are living new lives. 

In a recent newsletter, Ethan and Nicole shared: “Every day in these new churches we see:

  • Husbands stop beating their wives and begin to spend their income on family needs instead of alcohol
  • Wives and daughters are accepted and honored as equal
  • Families freely share with their neighbors during times of need
  • Individuals practically and wholeheartedly love former enemies — regardless of caste, religion, or political leaning
  • House churches fund literacy projects and micro-enterprise efforts in their communities
  • Miraculous healings and deliverances

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! (Ephs 3:21). 

BEYOND donors, you have been a part of this life-changing news!

*pseudonyms.

How the Bhojpuri Church Planting Movement has Started Other Movements

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) . 

One Illness, 63 House Churches

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!

*pseudonyms

 “Can You Deliver People of Evil Spirits?”

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!

*pseudonym

 The”Cursed”Son

 In North India, a young follower of Jesus tutors in the home of a neighboring Sikh family. She learned that one of the boys could not hear or speak and that the family was being ostracized. Because of their “cursed son,” extended family members would not let them visit. 

The boy’s parents had spent a lot of money trying to heal him, but nothing worked. They felt deep shame. The father had tried to kill himself several times. The whole family even ingested poison once, attempting to end it all.  

For weeks, the young woman prayed with the family. Then her father, Sanjay, went to their home and read the story of creation: how God created mankind. He explained that as God’s creation, it wasn’t right for them to try to kill themselves.

The family began visiting a nearby house church and listened to the testimonies. After six weeks, they asked to learn how to start a Bible study group in their home. Their lives improved in many ways! The son began responding to his name, and now even says “Mama” and “Dada.” Though some of their extended family members still reject them, they are strong in Jesus.

If you are a Beyond donor, you have helped make this story possible.

Destruction and Imprisonment . . . What Happened Next

Two weeks ago, we shared about the imprisonment of some North Indian believers. Here is an update.

Fourteen men and women were arrested as they prayed. All were members of families whose homes were burned last year by local Hindu extremists. Why were their homes burned? They had recently become followers of Jesus. The families stayed with relatives in surrounding villages for a while, but, fully aware of the risks, they all decided to return.

As of August, they had rebuilt their huts in the village. This time, radical Hindus went one step further. They got local police to join them and barged into a home during a prayer meeting. The police destroyed the home while the disciples were dragged into waiting vehicles. Police jailed all 14 and demanded extortion for their release.

Twelve disciples were quickly released, and, as of September 9th, all 14 were home with their families. Other churches have gathered around them, providing food and helping to fix the house that the police wrecked. Glory to God! Thank you for praying! Please keep it up! Pray that everything that has happened would actually serve to advance the gospel. (Phil. 1:12)

Burnings, Imprisonment, and Extortion

About one year ago, some house church leaders in North India had their homes burned to the ground. They are facing difficulties again. 

A few months after their homes were burned, all the families moved back and rebuilt their huts. Last week, a local Hindu extremist group joined forces with the police, damaged their rebuilt homes, and arrested fourteen people. 

Two are still in jail. The police are demanding extortion to release them.

However, we have reasons to rejoice! In the midst of very real persecution, the church continues to advance! Sanjay, a leader in the movement, recently read through old diary entries from the first movement meetings in 2012. He had written, “God, give us North India.”

We praise the Lord for the big vision of these committed disciples! Today, the work has spread to nine states and over 200 caste groups (people groups). Thousands and thousands of families have become strong disciples of Jesus, working to make more disciples of Jesus. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters to remain attached to the Vine, and for their joy to increase even in the midst of their persecution. Pray our Father will bring forth much fruit that the devil cannot snatch away.

*pseudonyms