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

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

The Cross in the Store

A large cross is displayed in Mr. Li’s* store. It’s a bold move in a country where following Jesus can bring persecution. In suitable moments, he shares his faith with customers. 

Matt* wanted to know Mr. Li better, to encourage him, and to impart some tools that would help Mr. Li become a multiplying disciple-maker, so he invited Mr. Li to his home.

Matt gave him a series of Bible stories chosen to help people learn who Christ Jesus is and what he has done for them. He showed Mr. Li how to read over the stories and then ask questions designed to lead seekers into a relationship with Christ and help them immediately share the truths they learn with others. 

Matt warned Mr. Li of the potential restrictions and persecution that could occur if he pursued this approach. But when asked if he wanted to learn how Jesus made followers that made more followers, Mr. Li agreed eagerly and without hesitation.

“I was so encouraged to hear his story,” Matt says.  “and to know his desire to understand and apply Jesus’ principles to make followers, no matter the suffering he might have to endure.” When they meet again, Matt plans to take Mr. Li through a simple training on making disciples that multiply. 

*pseudonyms

Day 15: Shinbyu ceremonies in Myanmar

Nyan was excited as he dressed in the clothes of a prince for his Shinbyu ceremony. At 11 years of age, his family had finally saved enough money for him to spend a week at the Buddhist monastery. This event, which usually takes place in March, during school holidays, is the most important tradition for Buddhist families in Myanmar. Sending a son to the monastery for the first time is considered a blessing that will benefit the whole family and be a spiritual gift that will last a lifetime.

Everyone came out to watch Nyan parade to the most important pagoda in the village. Riding on a horse, he followed his parents around the Buddha statue. His mother carried a box with the white robes he would wear at the monastery. Later, Nyan’s hair would be shaved and kept in a cloth for his parents, and he would be formally accepted as a novice, observing the monastery rules and studying Buddhist scripture while he was there. But first – there would be a feast! 

Buddhism is practiced by approximately 90% of the people of the Myanmar and has the highest number of monks in terms of the proportion of the population of any country. 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray for Buddhist parents in Myanmar to know the good gifts that their Heavenly Father has for them and their children. (MATTHEW 7:7-11). 

Parts of Myanmar have seen ongoing conflict between different religious groups. Pray for peace and reconciliation through Christ. (COLOSSIANS 1:21-23) 

Pray a blessing on the children of Myanmar as Jesus did. (MATTHEW 19:14) 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 14: Buddhism In America

American culture celebrates hard work and rewards individual accomplishment. A successful life is often recognized by the acquisition of material things. Buddhism, with its pursuit of the acceptance of suffering and a focus on suppressing desire does not seem like it would easily integrate into the American way of life. And yet, Buddhism is ever ready to adapt. 

Buddhism arrived in America with Chinese immigrants seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the mid- 1800s. Japanese immigrants helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the mid 1900’s and young Americans travelling in India and Thailand developed an interest in Buddhist meditation in the 1960s and 1970s. Around this time, there was also an increase in immigration to the United States from East Asia. This created a Buddhist population which is a combination of immigrants and converts, who adapted traditional practices to suit their own needs. 

Today, only about 1% of the US population identifies as Buddhist and the majority of those are immigrants. Some Americans have incorporated Buddhist traditions such as meditation, yoga and the burning of incense in an effort to acquire the peace they hope it will bring. 

HOW TO PRAY
Pray for Buddhist immigrants to the US to meet Christians who will share their friendship and their faith. (MATTHEW 25:38-40) 

Pray for American Buddhists, seeking peace and wisdom, to find the truth that sets them free. (JOHN 8:31-32) 

Pray for the church in America, to be light and salt to Buddhists in their nation. (MARK 9:49-50) 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 13: The Buryats

About 500,000 Buryat people live across northern Russia. Bayrma was born to a Buryat family in Siberia. Her maternal grandmother practiced shamanistic rituals when there was a family need. At school, Bayrma was taught that God was an outdated belief. Her paternal grandfather prayed with Buddhist prayer beads, burned incense before a small Buddha statue and visited a Buddhist temple once a year. But Buddhism was a mystery to Bayrma. No one talked to the children about it. 

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Bayrma’s father announced they now had freedom to follow the Buddhist path. It was the way of their ancestors. Bayrma’s first visit to a Buddhist temple left her with many questions. Why were the prayers in Old Tibetan, a language they couldn’t understand? Why did they have to pay money for the rituals? Why were there so many Buddha statues and why could you not turn your back on them? Her father had no answers. He too was learning Buddhism. They were Buryats so they were Buddhists, he said. 

In college, Bayrma was asked by some foreigners to help with some translation work and she became friends with them. She began attending a Bible study with them and was fascinated by a Bible in her own language. She began finding answers to many of her questions in its pages. She found stories in the Gospels that she could relate to. Putting her faith in Jesus gave Bayrma a new identity, one that was clear and free and led her to salvation. 

HOW TO PRAY

The Buryat are surrounded by many religious – and non-religious – belief systems, but few Christians. Pray that they will experience the living Christ. 

Pray for the Buryat to discover their identity as God’s beloved children. (1 JOHN 3:1-2) 

Be inspired to pray for the Buryat from PSALM 115. 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 12: Buddhism in Vietnam

Whenever they could, Mai and her friends took weekend trips to visit nearby temples. It was refreshing to get out of the city, especially to visit temples in the mountains, and the Huong temple has a cave which shelters many different shrines to deities and even special rock formations which are considered sacred. 

There are many others visiting the temple on a pilgrimage. Mai is not particularly devout, but Buddhism is a part of life in Vietnam and she makes a point of stopping at two particular rock formations called Nui Co (the girl) and Nui Cau (the boy) to ask  for the blessing of a child, which she and her husband have been longing for. When she leaves, she will pay a dollar to a person holding small birds in cages. The dollar pays for the bird to be released, which Mai hopes will mean merit for her in a future life. 

Buddhism has a long history in Vietnam and although many Vietnamese practice traditional religions or no religion, Buddhism has influenced the culture of the nation significantly. Buddhism is the largest organized religion in Vietnam, with about 15% of the population calling themselves Buddhist. 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray that Buddhists in Vietnam will experience the Father’s love for them. (MATTHEW 10:29-31) 

Pray for churches in Vietnam – whether they have been able to take services online or have had to stop meeting due to COVID-19. Pray that church members would grow in their faith and be witnesses to their neighbors. (EPHESIANS 6:14-15) 

Vietnam has a vibrant culture, globally renowned cuisine, and a growing economy. Pray that their leaders will promote justice and peace in the nation.
(1 TIMOTHY 2:1-4). 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 11: Sinhalese Buddhists in Malaysia

An and his family were building a special sandcastle to celebrate the new year. Each grain of sand in the castle represented a wrongdoing and would be washed away when the tide came in, enabling their family to start the new year well. An worked to make the castle higher! 

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the night of the first full moon in April, Buddhist groups such as the Sinhalese celebrate the Theravada New Year. This marks the beginning of the lunisolar calendar, a system that marks both the phases of the moon and the solar calendar. This calendar was commonly used in many east Asian cultures and several Buddhist celebrations are determined by it. 

The Sinhalese in Malaysia originally migrated from Sri Lanka, an island nation south of India, in 1890. Many of them came to assist the British colonial government with the administration of Malaysia and they brought their own form of Theravada Buddhism with them, funding some large temples which are still active and prosperous. About 30,000 Sinhalese Buddhists live in Malaysia today, and Buddhism is the second largest religion in Malaysia, with about 20% of the population, mostly ethnic Chinese, identifying as Buddhist. 

This excerpt is based on a prayer entry from Global Prayer Digest, now merged with Joshua Project’s Unreached of the Day, https://joshuaproject.net/pray/unreachedoftheday 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray that the Sinhalese in Malaysia, as well as in Sri Lanka, come to realize that Jesus Christ Himself is the Light of the World, the true source of spiritual truth for which they hunger. 

Pray for faithful workers who live out and communicate well the message of good news that Jesus has come to light their darkness. 

Pray for every Sinhalese family to come together in gratitude and worship of the One who created the sun, moon, and the stars. 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide

Day 10: Buddhists in Thailand

Nung tugged at her mother’s sleeve. “Ma, why are the monks here?” she asked. Her mom answered, “Your little brother has been sick for two weeks and the doctors don’t know why. We have asked the monks to chant for him to bring him healing.” The monks set up in the boy’s room to chant while Nung’s parents prepared gifts to give them after the ceremony. 

At the end of the chanting session, one of the monks took special string and tied it around the little boy’s wrists. He warned his parents, “Don’t break or cut the strings, or let him break them. They will keep his spirit safe in his body while he recovers from his illness. The boy’s parents then formally offered the gifts to the monks in thanks for their services. 

Nung’s brother recovered slowly. She was very happy when he could finally run and play with her as usual. Until primary schools were provided by the state, the only place for boys like Nung’s brother to receive early education was at the village temple. It is still common for many boys to become ordained and serve as a Buddhist monk for a few years before returning to secular life. 

HOW TO PRAY

Pray for boldness for Thai Christians to pray for Buddhist friends or family members when they are sick. Ask God to heal in response to these prayers. (LUKE 9:6) 

Pray for ongoing efforts in Thailand to improve access to healthcare and education in rural areas. (2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-10) 

Pray for young men serving as Buddhist monks in Thailand to find Christ on their journey. (MATTHEW 7:8) 

Sourced from the Buddhist Prayer Guide