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

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

A young 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. 

THROWN INTO SLAVERY
Bahar and his paternal uncle, Navi, traveled to a faraway province in their South Asian country in search of work. read more …

ONCE FROM PRISON …
Not long after his miraculous escape from slavery, Bahar moved his family to a new town. But catastrophic flooding read more …

AFRAID OF HAVING SPIRITUAL CONVERSATIONS WITH MUSLIMS?
Don’t be intimidated, watch this short video to learn more … watch now

Friends of God

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.

*pseudonym

READ MORE STORIES ABOUT SOUTH ASIA

IF JESUS SUFFERED A JUDAS, …
The leaders estimate that every day about 50% of the movement faces persecution in some form: verbal abuse,
read more …

THE “CURSED” SON
In North India, a young follower of Jesus tutors in the home of a neighboring Sikh family read more …

8 MONTHS, 5 GENERATIONS, 64 BAPTIZED
Ranbir met Chara, a woman interested in discussing spiritual matters. He invited her to a Bible study to  read more …

Obedience to God’s Word Overcomes Systemic Prejudice

Obedience to God’s Word Overcomes Systemic Prejudice

by the Walker Family
The movement with which we are connected is bringing transformation—not just to the lives of families and individuals, but also to deeply rooted social problems including systemic prejudice.

The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper: “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46 NLT). A few years ago, we learned of some churches in the Listening Movement that were not taking the Lord’s Supper. India’s systemic sin of casteism was the root of the problem. Casteism dictates that eating with a low-caste person makes a high-caste person spiritually unclean. “We cannot take the Lord’s Supper across caste lines,” they explained. 

Sanjay,* the main leader in the area, didn’t know how to tackle this issue. We were out of the country at the time, so he wrote to us for advice: “What should we do?” 

Teaching obedience is very different from simply teaching about Jesus or about the Bible. Jesus’ final command to His disciples was to make more disciples, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). At its core, casteism is racism. Prejudice in any form is unacceptable to God. It runs contrary to the truth that all of us are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). Within His Church, racism violates the Lord’s commands to both “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34), and “in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil. 2:3b). Casteism, meanwhile, teaches that from birth, some people are better and more valuable than others. 

In the Indian context, caste is a huge issue. The churches needed heart changes about this systemic Indian problem. Mere verbal assents to a teaching we might give weren’t going to suffice. We needed God to touch their hearts. To get there, the churches needed to learn from the Bible, not from us. We gave Sanjay a list of verses addressing the equality of all people in God’s kingdom, and how in Jesus, all barriers – including gender – are dissolved. We also prayed like crazy. 

Sanjay took these Scriptures to the leaders of the movement. They studied God’s Word together. They discussed what God was saying regarding casteism and the Lord’s Supper. Sanjay did not preach or teach. He gave them the Scriptures. He prayed. He asked questions. They all looked at Scripture together. Finally, the leaders (not Sanjay) came to the conclusion that, “If I am in Jesus, I am no longer Brahmin (or whatever caste I was born into). I can either be a Brahmin, or in Jesus, but I cannot be both. If that’s the option, then I want to be in Jesus!” 

It is important to note that we are not turning the above personal application statements into doctrinal statements for all the churches. These particular churches wrestled with the Scripture, then applied it to their personal lives in this context of casteism. This is what it means to teach others to obey Jesus. From the very beginning, even before these Brahmin families called themselves followers of Jesus, they had been taught to not just listen to Bible stories, but to apply them. Thus, when this issue arose, the DNA of “obey the Word” was already established. They had no idea that casteism was anathema to Jesus’ kingdom. So we gave them the Word, they wrestled with it and then applied it to their personal lives. They chose unity over disunity, to count all things as loss compared to knowing Jesus. And since they are committed to teaching their disciples to also obey Jesus, we know they will share the Bible verses with others. 

How do we know they really meant what they said? Through their actions. After declaring they wanted to be “in Jesus,” the leaders did something seldom seen in their context. They apologized. In front of each other, without attempting to save face or defend themselves, they admitted: “We are sorry; we were wrong” both to Sanjay and to their disciples. Apologizing in public is a big deal anywhere, but it’s huge in Asia. Usually, apologies here are passive at best. For someone here to take ownership of a wrong they have done and apologize, not just to someone they consider “above” themselves (Sanjay), but also to people who look up to them (their disciples), is stunning. We were speechless! 

That’s not all. After apologizing, the leaders intentionally gathered multiple churches with mixed caste-background people, and they all took communion together! This may sound like a small thing to outsiders, but this is a huge thing for India. Casteism is the filter through which the vast majority of Indians think about relationships and community. God broke into their hearts and minds through His Word alone. Hebrews 12:4 says, “For the Word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart” (AMP). We have always believed this to be true. Now we have seen it in action, bringing transformation to individuals and to whole churches. What a joy! 

“Teach them to obey all that I’ve commanded you.” Sadly, we Christians tend to believe that lectures, sermons and codified theological doctrines will accomplish this task. But we need to ask ourselves: is all the sharing of information resulting in obedient disciples of Jesus, even when His commands run directly counter to their deeply ingrained cultural patterns and habits? When the Holy Spirit speaks through the Bible, people recognize that they are accountable to Jesus for their obedience (or disobedience). Praise God that discovering His will through group study of His Word helps people learn to obey Jesus for themselves. It is a priceless, humble privilege to watch God tear down destructive attitudes and practices, and build up an out-of-this-world fellowship among people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds. Hallelujah!

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

Bearing Fruit in a Radically Different Culture

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

If Jesus Suffered a Judas, So Could We

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