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.

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Miracles, Demonic Exorcism, and Reignited Passion

Miracles, Demonic Exorcism, and Reignited Passion

After prayer walking with a local partner, sowing gospel seeds with whoever was receptive, Scott* asked the Lord what he should do with the time before his afternoon appointment. 

Scott felt that he should accompany his friend who was going to a church on the other side of town from his afternoon appointment, so he did. When they arrived, they found Kamnan* and Tida*, a couple Scott had not seen for 20 years.

That morning the Lord had told the couple to find Scott, so they had traveled to the church to inquire after his whereabouts. Their surprisingly immediate reunion with Scott was warm, and they readily accepted his invitation to a disciple-making training he was giving the following week.  

Despite several scheduling conflicts, Kamnan and Tida came. They later said it was a complete revival of their spiritual well-being and reignited a passion they had not felt since becoming new believers.  

Full of faith, they went out to do what they had learned in the training. Through their obedience, God has performed a few miracles, including a demonic exorcism, and several people have become followers of Jesus. 

In reflection, Scott realizes how easily he could have missed out on God’s plan. Had he enacted his own efficient planning that day and not submitted his schedule to the Lord, he would have missed Kamnan and Tida. Their ministry would not have started, and Scott would not have seen what he trusts is an answer to his prayer for new apostolically gifted workers.

*pseudonyms

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“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. 

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Queens, Killer Bees and Multiplication

Queens, Killer Bees and Multiplication

Charlie and Sarah have been stretched a lot lately, and at times they have felt quite discouraged. They continue to find people who seem interested in following Jesus, only for them to lose interest or push away for various reasons. Language is a constant challenge. And recently, three disciple-makers they have invested in for 18 months decided to head in a different direction. 

“As we took our discouragement to the Father,” Sarah shared, “God reminded us of a seemingly unrelated experience a few
years ago …. with bees.

“Several years ago, while stateside, we discovered a colony of bees living inside a wall in our house. After relocating the hive to our backyard in a newly purchased beehive box, Charlie began learning the art of beekeeping while watching the bees grow in numbers. Unfortunately, the colony was lost when the queen bee mated with an Africanized drone, a “killer bee.” The resulting colony was extremely violent; it even tried to kill Charlie when he accidentally bumped the hive while mowing. We thought of buying a new queen and some worker bees to restart a colony, but we sensed God saying to just put the now-empty beehive box into the garage and wait. Maybe our beekeeping days were over. 

“Then, lo and behold, a neighbor found a large clump of bees in a tree and called us. Charlie immediately knew this was a swarm protecting a queen looking for a new home. So, we relocated the swarm to our beehive box, and the colony started growing and multiplying. It is still going strong to this day, making honey that, God willing, will be enjoyed for years to come.

“You see, God provided the first bees. He took them away. And, then he provided us with the second set of bees which continues to multiply to this day. All Charlie did was scoop them off the tree branch while giving them a healthy environment in which to live!

“Job 1:21 says: The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. God has reminded us that any fruit in ministry is His fruit. We are only called to be obedient disciples. The fruit is not a burden we are asked to bear. 

“Jesus told his disciples: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mat 11:28-30)”

When we face discouragement, let’s go to our knees to ask how God wants to mold us to be better servants and witnesses for Him. 
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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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