“Oh No! I Wouldn’t Know What to Say!”

“So, what exactly do you missionaries do?” *Betty asked.

*Lisa was surprised by the question. The two women had struck up an immediate friendship when they met in language class. Betty had retired to the same South Asian country where Lisa and *Travis had recently moved to become full-time missionaries with BEYONDBetty’s question was a surprise because she had just mentioned that she had put her trust in Jesus 50 years earlier and had been a faithful church attendee ever since. Betty said she knew many missionaries but had no idea what they did. No one had ever explained mission work to her.

“Well,” Lisa stammered, “our focus is to reach people here who have never heard the name Jesus, and therefore have never had an opportunity to say yes to Him.”  

“What does a typical day look like?” Betty pressed.

“There is no typical day, but one constant is prayer. Learning to “pray without ceasing” is not just wishful thinking. We pray a lot and schedule prayer time into our day. We spend several hours praying for our supporters, an hour each week praying for our national partners on our team, and lots of prayer for the people around us. One of the ways we pray is to prayer walk.” 

Betty didn’t know what that was. So Lisa explained that they simply walk through a local neighborhood, or sit in an open-air food court, and pray quietly for those around them. Lisa and Travis were already planning on prayer walking in a nearby village. Lisa invited Betty to come along.

“Oh, no!” Betty replied. “I wouldn’t know what to do or what to say.” (She imagined that they would be loud and obvious and thus be offensive.)

“We don’t stand on a corner and proclaim aloud,” Lisa said. “It’s all very low-key.” She went on to explain that they take Scripture verses on small note cards and quietly pray those verses as they walk along. “People looking on just assume we are conversing with each other.” 

Betty agreed to go. 

A few days later, they walked past traditional houses as they read Bible verses and prayed what the Spirit brought to their minds. “There’s a house with a tricycle in front,” Lisa said. “Let’s pray for wisdom and patience for those parents as they raise their children.” “There’s an elderly woman hanging laundry on the line,” Travis pointed out. “May she have dreams and visions of Isa al Masih, Jesus the Messiah,” he prayed. Betty relaxed, and soon she was praying too. 

Following a bend in the path, they met a woman hanging newly ironed shirts on her front door. They stopped to chat with the woman and her family and had a pleasant conversation over glasses of iced tea. Lisa asked if they could pray for them. “Yes, please do! And come back again soon for tea,” the woman invited.

Betty was delighted with the morning. It wasn’t at all like what she had first imagined when she heard Lisa mention prayer walking, Betty had to admit that prayer walking can be easy and enjoyable, as well as useful in God’s kingdom.

*pseudonyms used

Bold Risk Taking

Bold risk-taking does not come naturally to Jin Yee*so she relied on the Holy Spirit for courage to speak. She remembered the discipleship training she had attended a week before. In the training, they had read through Luke 10:1-16 and Matthew 9:35-10:16 — passages where Jesus instructs his followers on how to go out among the lost. They had also practiced what they would say to someone when moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. Finally, they had prayed for the opportunity and boldness to carry through with all they had learned.

The first woman Jin Yee prayed for wasn’t the person who had come to her mind during the training. But, recognizing the leading of the Holy Spirit, Jin Yee called the woman and asked if she could pray for God’s blessing on an upcoming medical procedure the woman was having. 

During the training, Jin Yee had felt called to pray for her work supervisor. Talking to her about Jesus was a bigger challenge for Jin Yee. The opportunity to talk did not come up naturally during the workday. Being faithful to the leading of the Holy Spirit, however, Jin Yee called her supervisor after hours. She expressed care for her and asked if she could pray in Jesus’ name over some difficulties in the woman’s life.

“I did it!” Jin Yee told Amy, the Beyond missions catalyst who had led the discipleship training. “I faced my fears and openly offered to pray for this woman, and she said ‘yes!’. Not only that, I did it again with the woman we prayed for last week, and she said ‘yes’ too! Now, I realize that this kind of conversation is not as hard as I’d imagined it was.”

Together, the women thanked God for His faithfulness and prayed for broader openings to have spiritual conversations with these women in the following weeks. In faith, they chose and practiced telling short stories from the Bible to share when those openings came.

The work of birthing and sustaining a Disciple Making Movement remains the work of the Holy Spirit. Both the sharer and the receiver of the message rely on his power and guidance.

*pseudonyms used

“What Are We Going to Do When These People Show Up . . .”

It was the night before ten of Alison’s* friends would come over to study what the Bible said about God’s heart for the lost. Her roommate, Karly, a Beyond field worker, had just finished making muffins and asked, “How are you feeling about leading the training?”  But Alison thought Karly’s team leader was coming to facilitate the training!  “Oh dear!” Alison said. “What are we going to do when these people show up in twelve hours?”  Even though Karly had only had four months of learning the local language, she was convinced they could do it without the guest “expert.” Alison could give the introduction, and Karly would lead the Scripture study herself. Feeling good about Karly’s plan, Alison turned to comfort her friend, “Don’t worry. You can speak English.”

The next day everyone arrived and began to meet, greet, and catch up in the local language. As Alison introduced the training in their native tongue, Karly started to think through all the questions she planned to ask . . .. “Who would like to read 2 Peter 3:9?”  “What can we learn about God’s heart from these verses?”  “Who does God want to be saved?” etc… “Can I do it in my new language?” Karly wondered. She knew it was worth a try.  “Give me words, Lord!” she prayed. “You are the Teacher.” 

God came through for Karly, and Alison’s friends were able to learn about Jesus’ strategy in their native language. As they closed, Alison encouraged the group to pass it on. “Anyone can lead this training. See, Karly’s had only four months of language learning, and she can lead it!” Karly agreed, “It’s not about us. I love that God set me up to lead my first training through a miscommunication, long before I would have felt ready!”

Don’t Give Up

When Ying Kai was a young student in Taiwan, he worked hard to pass an important exam that would enable him to get into a good middle school. He really wanted a new bicycle to ride 30 minutes to the new school, but doubted he would get it since his family was so poor. One day, however, as he passed his parents’ bedroom, he heard his father comment to his mother that he would buy a new bicycle for Ying. Ying was overjoyed. That night before bed, he asked his father for a new bicycle. But his father said “no!” Ying was perplexed but did not give up because he knew his father’s heart! As he persisted, his father finally said “yes.” The next day he had a new bicycle.

Ying says: “Because I knew my father’s heart, I never gave up. If I didn’t know his heart, I probably would have given up. So if we know our heavenly Father’s heart, we will have more confidence to do what He wants us to do.” 

God chooses you to save you and all those who belong to you. This is your heavenly Father’s heart. If you know his heart, then you will not give up asking Him for what is on His heart. The responsibility is yours – to witness to your own. Don’t give up! God will eventually save many of them.*

The Heart of the Father is the topic for Beyond’s first Nugget of 2020! Nuggets are free, online discipleship trainings led by experienced missions practitioners. This semester our Nugget training series will cover the essentials to building and sustaining a Church Planting Movement through a tool called “The Heart and Four Fields.” It’s easy to join. All you need is an internet connection, a device with audio and video capabilities, and a desire to participate. 

*excerpted from T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution by Steve Smith with Ying Kai

The First Christmas Celebration: Not What You May Think

This year, some people are celebrating their first Christmas ever!  Many others, twenty centuries after the first Christmas, are still waiting!

In the 1950s, my parents saw in a new way the true joy of Christmas. A young Indonesian man had recently come to faith and was thrilled that “now, I can celebrate Jesus’ birth too” as he joined the all-day Christmas celebration held by a fledgling church in a previously unreached area.

About the same time, a 70+ year old Indonesian woman heard (via a tape recording in her own language) her first story ever about Jesus.  She turned to my dad with tears in her eyes and with sobs in her voice and said, “If what this man says is true, my whole life has been in vain!  Why did it take so long for someone to tell me this news?”

60+ years later, we continue to hear reports of essentially the same question asked by many in the Middle East, in Africa, in India, in China and in many other places: “If people have known of this Jesus for so long, why has it taken so long for someone to tell us?”

Have you noticed who God selected to hear His first Christmas announcement: ordinary – you might even say poor – people (the shepherds). And people from a distant land: (the Magi / Wise Men). The shepherds responded in faith by both hurrying to the new baby and by spreading this amazing story to all who would listen.  The Magi responded with such faith in God that they understood the meaning of the star, were willing to make a long journey, gave expensive gifts, and bowed in worship to Jesus.

Please help speed the Christmas message to the 2.3 billion who have never heard and are still waiting!  Join us in the joyful urgency of getting the news of Christmas to the poor and those in distant lands. We want to do this as soon as possible, so that hundreds of thousands (or more) will celebrate Christmas for the first time next year!

S. Kent Parks, Ph.D.
President & CEO

“Those are not ancestors, but spirits who are lying to you.”

After arriving in the general area of a country where Tai Lu people live, *Bob and his team checked into a hotel and rented some motorcycles.  They were from a closely related people group and wanted to share the Good News with the Tai Lu people. After a night’s rest, they prayed together and pointed their motorbikes down the scenic, mountainous roads.  

An hour later, they saw a sign pointing toward the district they were seeking. They prayed continually, “Lord lead us to those you have prepared, a ‘person of peace’” (Luke 10: 5-7). Soon they saw a lady tending a water buffalo and dressed in Tai Lu garb.  They stopped and asked if there was a Tai Lu village near-by. She said yes and motioned them further down the road. Upon finding the village, the team soon spotted a couple working in their yard.

They greeted them, identifying themselves as being from a near culture. “We are here to visit with Tai Lu people.”  Both the husband and wife were intrigued to meet people from another country yet like themselves. After inviting the visitors inside their home, conversation gradually unfolded.

“Will you tell us about your practices of ancestor worship?” Bob asked.

After hearing about their religious practices, someone on the team said, “Those are not ancestors, but spirits who are lying to you.” Despite this seemingly confrontational statement, the couple were open and even eager to hear what they had to say.

The visitors shared a Bible story about God’s creation and ended with the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross.  Excited, the husband shared that an older Tai Lu man had visited them 20 years before. He had told them about a creator God who made everything, about Adam and Eve, and that all people are sinful.  That was all he knew of the Bible message. In faith, the husband had been acting on that message as best as he could. This couple and their son were delighted to hear the full story of God’s love expressed through Jesus.

The family believed and was baptized that same day.  The team left early in the afternoon and continued their search for spiritually prepared persons of peace in other villages.  Later that afternoon, the man telephoned the prayer-walking team to tell how he was out sharing the Bible stories with others!

*pseudonyms used

“I’m in this Job for a Reason . . .”

God convicted *John of not sharing his faith with his unbelieving co-workers. He became convinced that God had placed him in the exact cubicle, in this exact job for a reason – to tell them about Jesus and what he had done in John’s life. 

John began by laying a foundation of prayer and asking some close friends to hold him accountable for sharing his testimony. He started going to lunch with six of his colleagues. He told them how the Bible had radically changed his life and asked if they would like to read it with him to learn what it says about God and people. Some of them rejected the suggestion outright; some remained silent. 

Undeterred, John asked others: “I’ve never fully shared with you my life story. Could I share with you over lunch how Jesus changed my life?”  John got a lot of no’s.

Then one day, John asked a manager named Jason, a known atheist, if he would like to study the Scriptures. Jason had been one of the silent people in the lunch group, but when asked one-on-one, Jason responded, “Sure. Why not?” Another co-worker said, “Yeah, I’ve never really read the Bible before.” John was surprised! These guys were the ones he had thought least likely to come!

On the first week, John printed out a short Bible story, and the group read through it. He asked what it said about God and about people. He then asked: “If this is true, how should you apply it in your life?” They were intrigued and kept coming to study. Word got around the office, and in a couple of months, most of those in the office were attending the lunch gatherings. 

It wasn’t a scary or intense time. People walked in, picked up a sheet of paper, and started talking about it. Barriers came down. It was simple, straightforward, and moved beyond the office as the attendees told the stories to family and friends.

In similar ways, BEYOND mission catalysts seek to make obedient followers of Christ among the unreached. These disciples make other obedient disciples who plant churches that plant other churches. By living open lives and using simple, reproducible methods, we seek to bring God’s glory and saving power to those who don’t know him.

*pseudonyms used

Prayer Walking: An Important Part of our Strategy

*Trisha was excited when *Saeng offered to lead her through a prayer-walking exercise. “Come, invite anyone,” Saeng said. “I’ll invite people too!” When the day arrived, five ladies gathered in the busy streets of the Mekong city they loved. 

Saeng set the method and objectives for the morning. They would go in two small groups and pray aloud for one hour as they walked through the neighborhoods. Twice during the hour, they were to stop and still themselves for five minutes as they asked God what he wanted them to see. When they felt led to pray for someone, they were to ask for that person’s entire family to know God, not just that individual. Finally, they would ask God for a song to sing, since they couldn’t be certain when he would next be praised there.

A quick game of rock, paper, scissors determined who went in each group, then they decided what areas each group would cover. They chose a place to meet afterward, asked God to lead their time, and set off.

Trisha was teamed up with her language tutor, a woman she knew loved God but with whom she had never prayed before. “It was so sweet to walk through the streets, pleading for entire families to know God, with a local believer voicing agreement and pleading right beside me.”

As she walked, Trisha began to see the people in a new light. She could see the communities in which they belonged: shop owners helping each other to break a large bill, groups of women talking and children playing, street vendors swapping stories as they prepared food, motorcycle taxi drivers waiting together on the side of the road. Trisha was struck by what could happen in the families and communities if Jesus were welcomed by just one of them.

When they met up an hour later, they all discussed what had touched their hearts and what questions they had. Saeng took notes so they could read over them the next time they went prayer walking. After closing with a time of prayer, the ladies agreed not to let the experience stop with them. They would tell others about their experience and encourage them to try it for themselves.

How about you? Are you interested in seeing God’s kingdom multiplied around the world through intentional prayer and active obedience?

*pseudonyms used

Thanking God for New Disciple Makers: Jesus, Paul, and Us

Have you ever realized that all the new disciples Jesus, Paul and their teams made were the first disciples where none had ever been?  What did they do? Over and over, we find Jesus and Paul thanking God for these new disciples and leaders!

In Luke 10:21, Jesus “overflowed with joy” that the 72 had received God’s revelation and fulfilled their mission.

Every one of Paul’s letters went to the first disciples and churches in unreached peoples.  He and his team constantly thanked God for them, such as in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:  We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. Some among other such verses include Romans 1:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:4-6; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-6; 4:4-6; Colossians 1:3, 2:6-7; 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 5:16-18; and Philemon 1:1-4.

Would you join the Beyond team in giving thanks for some of the following first disciples and leaders among Unreached People Groups?

  • An apostolic team of young adults in a Southeast Asian country who, after a natural disaster, have made some of the first disciples in that unreached people.
  • For local leaders God has used to launch a movement of over 30,000 churches who went (in spite of their fear) to an area known for organized crime families – and made some of the first disciples ever among that people group.
  • For the same team who trained some from a different language group (known as the poorest of the poorest of the poor) – and came back a few weeks later to find they had started 13 discovery Bible study groups!
  • For a couple who prayed for 10 coworkers to help make multiplying disciples in an atheistic European country – and showed a picture recently of a multi-national team of 12 disciple-making coworkers God had raised up!
  • For a radio personality in a Southeast Asian country who became a disciple and has joined in multiplying other disciples.
  • For two top athletes from an Asian country who are partnering with our team to make multiplying disciples among other athletes of their region.
  • For reports of the first known believers in an Asian town.

For all of these new disciples and disciple-makers, Lord, we give THANKS and we overflow with JOY!!

Kent Parks
President & CEO