“They Liked This Better Version of Me!”

God’s word has the power to change people’s lives, even without the input of an “expert” or an invitation to “church.” 

Here is Prakesh’s story:

Life was not peaceful. I was cruel. My children did not want a relationship with me. Then one day, I was walking along the road when I heard a loud story (like a radio) coming from a nearby house. I stopped to listen. It was about miracles. When the story finished, I asked the people there, “What are you listening to?” 

They looked at me and asked, “Who are you?!” 

I told them I wanted to know about the story. Could they give it to me? 

They said, “Yes, you may have a copy,” and they gave me a speaker with stories on it. I took it home. 

I used to drink every night, and do other bad things. But that night, I did not drink. I stayed home and listened to the stories. My family was happy that I did not drink. They liked this better version of me. The next day, again, I did not go out drinking but stayed home and listened to the stories. The third day, the same. 

After three days of this, my wife said, “I am seeing a change in you. You are not bad, like before.” I told her I didn’t understand it myself, but that when I listened to the stories, I had no desire to do (bad) things. 

My wife asked, “Can we all listen to the stories?” And so we did.

My whole household changed. The neighbors noticed. One of them asked my children, “What’s going on in your home? Your father doesn’t do bad things like before.” 

They replied, “Uncle, our father has changed. We listen to stories, and he does not do bad things.” 

“Is there truly something that can change your father?” 

“Uncle, you can also come and listen.” 

He went home and got his whole family. Together we listened to Proverbs on the speaker. When I turned off the speaker, he said, “These are great! I’d like a copy of the stories, also.” 

I replied, “I only have one copy, but I can play the stories for both of our families.” 

So now, every evening, 30-35 people meet to listen to Bible stories in this village in North India. A mentor is helping them take their first steps of faith, and a baptism service is planned. Pray that from this early fruit a disciple-making movement will grow.

*pseudonyms

Related Articles:
30,000-50,000 New North Indian House Churches
In the Midst of the Storm
One Illness, 63 House Churches
Sharing the Gospel with Hindus

Friends of God

In India, God continues to rescue Banjara people from darkness and mobilize them for His Kingdom! In the process of learning their value before God, their lives change dramatically. Before following Jesus, they have no hope, believing they deserve only to live among trash and sewage, unable to rise above their station. But when they become children and friends of the King, they learn that God has provided work for them to do, and they joyfully do it!  Five months ago, Mr. and Mrs. Jothi turned their backs on their idols and committed themselves to following Jesus while attending a Discovery Bible Study group. Though poor and illiterate, they have since birthed eight churches among other Banjara families. The new disciples in those churches all recently took baptism.

One of the baptized men is the village head in a nearby area. His whole family worships idols, but he told Mr. and Mrs. *Jothi, “I [also] want to do the work for this God.” He has faith that one day all 37 families in his community will become followers of Jesus.

Pray for more Banjara people – and those from other people groups – to discover the God who gives them dignity, and calls them His children and His friends.

Thank you for supporting new disciples like Mr. and Mrs. Jothi. Hundreds are rescued from darkness every month through your faithful partnership!

*pseudonym

Bearing Fruit in a Radically Different Culture

What is it like to be among people who don’t speak your language, whose beliefs and worldview are radically different from your own?  

Last year John*, one of our partners and a movement leader in India, visited a Muslim area in eastern India to see if anyone was open to hearing stories of Jesus.  

John felt uncomfortable, though. The men had beards and wore traditional clothing – evidence of conservative Islam. They didn’t speak Hindi, and he didn’t speak their language.

But God led him to a man named Benju* who could speak Hindi. They agreed to meet the next day. Benju said he would bring friends to hear about Jesus. John prayed for people to come and have ears to hear. 

The next day Benju arrived with about 12 people. They had heard of Jesus before, but they had no idea how to follow him. They asked many questions. John was amazed and excited. 

Since that first visit, Benju and all of his friends are moving toward saving faith in Christ. They have received ongoing training and coaching, and are facilitating Discovery Bible studies in their homes. They have asked John for Bibles in their language and are growing in their understanding. 

God is growing His kingdom through humble, sometimes even fearful, followers like John who follow God’s command to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

*pseudonym

A Former Hindu, a Former Muslim . . . Partners for Jesus

A couple of years ago, a young unmarried man in North India became a follower of Jesus while studying the Bible with his family through a Discovery Bible Study (DBS). The DBS process focuses on applying the Word in practical ways. It emphasizes hearing and doing, not just hearing and understanding. Thus, when he read Matthew 28:16-20, he didn’t ponder IF he was to obey. He simply sought how.

The nearest people who weren’t followers of Jesus were Muslims who lived in the next village. He went. He told those he met the simple truth: as a follower of Jesus, he had to obey all of His Lord’s commands. So, he was there to make them into disciples of Jesus.

The young men beat him and ran him out of the village.

Weeks later, he returned. They beat him again.

He returned. They beat him again.

The young disciple had no training. He didn’t know the “correct way” to speak with Muslims. All he knew was that he must obey his Lord. Regardless of the cost, he would keep obeying.

Amazingly, one evening, after they had beaten the disciple yet again, one of the Muslim men thought, “This guy is so determined! What in the world could he have to say that’s so important?” So he asked.

Within a short span of time, the Muslim man became a follower of Jesus, too. Today, these two young men, a former Hindu and a former Muslim, co-labor together in the Kingdom, empowered by the Spirit and compelled by their love for Jesus.

You can accelerate the gospel among Hindus and Muslims by sending out more determined disciples.

If Jesus Suffered a Judas, So Could We

“Where the persecution is strongest, the work will be the most. We have seen it before.”– Sanjay, a North Indian movement leader

Disciples of Jesus in India face persecution regularly. Recently, movement leaders sent BEYOND teammates photos of a bruised young man. He’d been beaten by radical Hindus and the police. In another area, police arrested two disciples for studying the Bible and imprisoned them for five days.

The leaders estimate that every day about 50% of the movement faces persecution in some form: verbal abuse, intimidation, being barred from village wells, abuse from unbelieving relatives, house church raids, even martyrdom. 

Sadly, it is not uncommon for “traditional institutionally focused” believers to betray house churches to radical Hindu groups, but we shouldn’t be surprised. According to Jesus, disciples aren’t greater than their master. If Jesus suffered a Judas, so could we.  (John 15:20)

By the same token, if Jesus taught His followers about persecution early in their walk, so should we. Thus, leaders share biblical examples of persecution with each family who wants to follow Jesus. Then they ask, How will you apply this story when persecution comes?

Leaders also pass on wisdom learned from their own arrests. Call your mentor. Tell the police that no one forced you to follow Jesus, and no one is paying you.

Finally, leaders teach new followers how to stand firm when “traditional” Christians attempt to hinder them. Jesus’ disciples shared the Good News without being ordained. They baptized others and met in their own homes. So can you.

The movement churches are not shrinking back. They’re loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors while boldly obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of the lost. It’s a modern-day echo of Acts chapter four.

And just as God grew His church in the book of Acts, He is growing it today. Last year, there were 60,000 house churches in the movement. This year, there are 120,000!

You can help launch more obedient and fruitful disciples among the unreached.

*pseudonym

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) .