Shanti: A True Person of Peace

*Hannah had just moved into a 12 story apartment building when one of the two elevators stopped working. At first, she was annoyed. But soon, the Lord showed her how many people she was meeting right after moving in. 

One was a single mom named *Shanti. They ran into one another about once a week and chatted about Shanti’s kids. One day, Shanti said, “You see my problems, don’t you?” Hannah learned that Shanti wasn’t a single mom. Her husband had all but left the family, and the burden to support their four sons was on her shoulders. 

Through Hannah, Shanti has heard the Good News many times. She is not yet a Jesus follower. She carries hurt from a brother who became a Christian and began treating the family very poorly. How different his family’s lives could have been if he had brought them into the Kingdom as he was first learning! 

Hannah, however, feels the Lord wooing Shanti and sees signs that she’s softening to his call. As a potential person of peace, Shanti has already opened the community in the building to Hannah. Pray God would move mightily and draw Shanti and the entire community to Jesus. 

*pseudonym

Don’t Hoard, Share the Food . . .

“This is the kind of fasting I want: . . . Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless . . .. Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” –  Isaiah 58:7-8, 10

News about COVID-19 is bleak. The virus is in virtually every country. The numbers of those infected and dead continue to rise. Many of us in the U.S. are entering our sixth week of quarantine. We have exhausted our self-entertaining options and are dealing with personal struggles. Even as we cope with these daily stresses, we should keep in mind the horrific situation multitudes around the world are facing.  As you heard last week, many people around the world are daily wage earners. Each day they don’t work is a day they don’t eat. 

 But . . . 

God’s people in one North India movement are mobilizing to help those hit hardest by shelter-in-place restrictions. Below is a translation of a voice message received from *Sanjay, a national movement leader and Beyond teammate:

. . .We give thanks to Jesus Christ for today’s work!  We left our house this morning at 7:00 because we had set a long journey for ourselves.

. . .We made 133 food parcels to give away. Each pack contained 10kg rice, 10kg wheat flour, 2kg sugar, tea, spices (coriander, turmeric, chili), 1l oil, 2kg lentils, and salt. We were able to take these rations to each place we visited. 

We are very happy because God helped us with all this travel. It’s very hard to travel these days due to the coronavirus lockdown, but even so, we were able to be out all day without getting stopped by the police . . .. We were able to distribute food in four locations. All these people are so very poor. There are more than 70-80 house churches [families] in these four areas. As we hand out these food parcels, we encourage those receiving them to share with their neighbors . . .

Tomorrow, more such visits are planned closer to town, but *John and I will not go because other house church leaders have volunteered to distribute rations.

We thank the Lord Jesus for all the work that happened today. We also give God great praise for the prayers you pray and the help you give.

Then this dear brother in Christ expressed his concern for all of us! We have seen the news about coronavirus in the US. There are so many cases there. How is everyone with our team and all those associated with you? Are they OK? We are worried for them and feel concern for all who care for us. Please let us know if anyone gets ill. We are praying for all of you.”

The beauty of this story is that these same leaders who are distributing food parcels to the starving don’t have very much themselves but share with others out of their own lack. Join us in praying for the 50,000 house churches in the North India Movement. Pray they will continue to wisely yet boldly apply Isaiah 58 to their lives. Pray that God would protect them as they obey, and that God’s Kingdom would greatly advance in these days.

*pseudonyms used

The Quiet Guy Disappeared

In 2018, Sanjay and John, national partners of BEYOND’s South Asian field leaders, conducted a series of disciple-making trainings in Northern India. One of the participants was a man named Satish. He was a quiet person. He listened intently to the discussions but didn’t say much. He was not the kind of man that many people noticed. 

The trainings occurred monthly. After eight or nine months, Satish disappeared. Sanjay and John didn’t know why, but knew that this happens sometimes. People return to their home state or move to find work.

Then, in early 2019, Satish suddenly reappeared at a training event. And he had a testimony to share. He had indeed been home (he is from one of the poorest states in India), but not for work. He had gone home to share with his people all he had learned in the Bible through Sanjay and John’s trainings. In all his years as a Christian, no one had ever told him that, as a disciple of Jesus, Matthew 28 was his to obey. He had never heard that making disciples of Jesus is not only for paid professionals. 

Satish had been so overjoyed to learn this truth that he’d decided to go home and share the good news with his family and neighbors. He couldn’t believe it, however, when no one seemed interested in listening. He even asked one pastor, “Who will lead your church if you die suddenly? What will happen to your work?” The man had no answer. Did no one care that Jesus’ commands are for all of us — not just a few? 

Then Satish met Krish. He was thrilled when Krish wanted to hear more. Soon, the two men were partnering together. Krish is a truck driver. He and Satish began traveling through their district village by village, proclaiming the Kingdom (Luke 10) as they went. They began to see fruit. Along the way, Satish learned Krish’s story (read Krish’s story here). Read Krish’s miraculous story

To date, Satish and Krish have had the privilege of seeing churches birthed in three different districts in their home state. Those churches are birthing new churches. In one area, they have already reproduced to the fifth generation! 

Disciples are formed through obedience, and we make disciples by teaching them to obey Christ. What is a disciple? Is there a difference between converts and disciples? Join us on March 19th for our free, online Nugget training titled “What are we Reproducing: Converts or Disciples?” 

*pseudonyms used

“My Lip Has Fallen Off!”

You never know how God has prepared people to receive truth from his word. Sometimes we think we are the first to bring the gospel into an unreached place when, in fact, God has already been at work. *Krish’s testimony illustrates God’s work in his life before he met a man from a spreading movement in North India and became an industrious disciple-maker himself.

Krish grew up in a devout Hindu family. For six years, he had been an active member of a radical pro-Hindu group. He persecuted followers of Jesus and led others in doing so. 

One day, Krish’s doctor told him he had mouth cancer. The disease progressed until Krish’s mouth became so disfigured that he started wearing a handkerchief to cover it. 

Krish continued persecuting followers of Jesus. As Christmas approached, Krish called together a group of friends to attack a prayer meeting being held nearby. When they arrived, however, Krish realized that the pastor facilitating the meeting was a personal acquaintance. The man invited Krish to sit with them. He did. He told his Hindu friends to leave; he would “take care of things” on his own. They left, and Krish sat through the whole service. He heard about Jesus. The testimonies people shared touched him. Then they offered to pray for his healing! Krish was shocked. These people who had been the target of his aggression had welcomed him in, and then prayed for him? Krish went home befuddled but hopeful. Maybe he’d get better?! After waiting three days, his cancer remained. 

At this point in the disease, his face had become so severely deformed that he could no longer drink by himself, even through a straw. His mother had to pour water into his mouth from a cup. Krish began to feel foolish for believing he’d get better. Then he got mad. He became so angry at the pastor for building up his hope that he decided to return and beat him up. How dare the man say that God could or would heal him?! 

Krish’s mother caught him as he was heading out the door. She said, “We have paid many doctors to heal you, and they could not, yet you did not beat them. Why are you going to beat the pastor?” Her question stopped Krish cold. He had no answer. He turned around and went back inside. 

Five days later, Krish called his mother to pour water in his mouth. As he removed the handkerchief, he realized he could no longer feel his mouth. ”My lip has fallen off!” he thought. “Or maybe I am dead?!” In his terror, he began to scream. His mother ran into the room. She took one look at him and exclaimed, “Your mouth! It’s completely normal!” He had felt no pain because he was completely healed! The very next day, Krish visited the pastor and pledged his life to Jesus.

Krish’s life would change again when he later met a man named *Satish and learned how to become a disciple-maker. In two weeks, we’ll tell the story of their meeting and the fruit that has come from their partnership. Don’t miss it! 

*pseudonyms used

Friend, Peon or Manager?

In the West, it is the general practice for a business owner to hire a manager if he or she doesn’t have the time or desire to manage it themselves. In India, however, this is not the custom. The owner is the manager. He or she trusts no one else with the business. The owner manages, and everyone else is a peon. Yes, peon is a commonly used word in India. 

Imagine the wonder, then, that people living in this rigid society of hierarchy feel when they hear Jesus say that He freely shares His authority with us (Matthew 10:1; 16:19; Luke 9:1; John 1:12; Acts 26:16). But He goes further than that! Jesus says, You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends . . .. (John 15:14-15). What?! The God for Whom there is no idol doesn’t consider me a peon? He calls me friend, and entrusts to ME the task to make other disciples? What a message! 

Beyond’s South Asian field leaders, Ethan and Nicole, learned that the disciples in India were sharing Matthew 28:18-20 as part of the Gospel Message. “I love that they had eyes to see something about the Gospel that we with our western eyes and deeply rooted Christian traditions could not see,” Nicole says. “Have you ever included Matthew 28 in your Gospel presentation? I’m guessing not. But, for those coming out of slavery, for those who live in a culture where peon is still in common use, sharing in the Master’s authority and carrying responsibility IS Good News. They’re so excited about having a purpose for their lives that they can’t hold themselves back. They embrace the honor to be given the chance, and they quickly share the opportunity with their friends.”

Praise God for obedient friends of Jesus who diligently share His message! 

Our field leaders ask for prayer as top Indian movement leaders travel to meet with local leaders to check on the wellness of the churches, gather reports of persecution, pray over needs, and pass on new trainings from God’s Word. The traveling is difficult; they can be harassed by the local police; they are away from their families. Your prayers for these trips are greatly appreciated.

Secondly, we can be praying for the disciple makers’ financial provision. God is giving them creativity to make money/work with their hands. Many are farmers. Some own small shops. Please pray that God would bless their labors so they can continue in the work of making followers of Jesus. Pray, too, that they would continue to be generous with one another like we see in the book of Acts.

 

*pseudonyms used

Balking at Baptism

Three thousand people believing and being baptized in one day?! It sounds too good to be true, yet we know it is. The second chapter of Acts records this supernatural event. Thousands of people “from every nation” heard the loud arrival of the Holy Spirit and came to investigate. Filled by the Holy Spirit, Peter’s words pierced the hearts of 3,000 people. Answering their stricken question, “What should we do?” Peter responds, “repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” In verse 41, we read, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.”

Perhaps you can think of other instances of groups of people believing and being baptized the same day or soon thereafter? (Cornelius, Lydia, the jailer, etc.) Actually, in the book of Acts, there are only three times when a lone individual comes to faith in Jesus. The vast majority of people who came to Christ in Acts came as part of a group.

And we see it happening today. 

In North India, the Banjara are a poor and marginalized people. They live in tents next to open sewage at the side of the road. They eat leftovers that people throw to dogs. They get run out of town. Their children don’t attend school. Society has taught them that this is what they deserve. Life is very difficult for them.

But through Sanjay, a movement catalyst in India, many Banjara have heard the Good News and become disciples of Jesus. Among them are a man named Arjan and his family. Soon after believing, Arjan’s entire family (he, his wife, and their three young children) were baptized. In a nearby town, however, other Banjara believers had reservations about being baptized. As baptism is a public declaration of loyalty to Jesus, many feared retribution from their neighbors and their old gods. They wondered, too, if God would test their newfound allegiance with trials they could not bear. They were afraid. Wasn’t life already hard enough?

Wanting to embolden them to take this step of obedience, Sanjay brought Arjan to speak to this Banjara community about his baptism experience. When Arjan spoke about Jesus, he pointed out that Jesus Himself had experienced testing. He was tested by the devil for 40 days in the wilderness. And He prevailed. He was not defeated by His enemy. And so, because He has already been tested and come through victorious, we, too, can face our fears, our potential tests or trials, knowing that anything we face is nothing when compared to what He faced. He walked the road of testing before us so that when our turn came, we’d be able to walk it, too. We have nothing to fear.  He went on to say, “I thank God that when my child was about one year old, my whole family, came to God together,” Arjan told them. “From the oldest to the youngest, we came . . . all five of us took baptism together. And you would think that after this, we would have fallen into big (troubles). But no. Not at all. Everything changed. For the better. We felt joy.

Far from regretting his decision, Arjan shared that his family was only glad they had been baptized. The terrible tests and pressures that he thought would come never materialized. Their greatest fears did not come true. In fact, the opposite happened. Blessings came. “And so I am telling you,” Arjan concluded, “you should absolutely remove from your minds any thoughts that after baptism, insurmountable (afflictions or persecution) will occur . . .. Please do it. Because Jesus has already given proof of his superiority, (and) you have already put your faith in Him. We are left with absolute life. Hallelujah!” 

An announcement was made that a baptism would occur in three days. When the day arrived, more than half of the families were baptized together as a proclamation of their faith and allegiance to Jesus. Hallelujah, indeed!

*pseudonyms used

Going Out Among the Lost

Evan and Anna, BEYOND’s Austronesian field leaders, recently shared tips on how they purposely go out among the lost to share the love of Christ. One of the ways they do this is by praying for the felt needs of people they meet. Anna shared this recent example from her life.

Anna and Tess, another Beyond missions catalyst, were in a sunny Austronesian cafe looking for the person or people they felt the Lord would lead them to talk with. Earlier that morning, they had prayed, “God, give us the sensitivity to know the exact felt need of whomever You will lead us to.”

Before long, a couple at the cafe caught their attention. The women started a conversation, sharing upfront that they were followers of Isa (Jesus). They found the couple to be friendly and polite. In the course of talking, Anna and Tess both noticed that the topic of last year’s earthquake sparked something in the couple.

Anna mentioned that she and her husband, Evan, had been on the island during the earthquake, and they too had experienced some fear because of it. They stayed, however, because of their love for the SaSumBi people and, more importantly, God’s love for the SaSumBi people. 

Right away, this couple teared up, and both of them began talking, expressing their thoughts and feelings on the earthquake in rapid-fire conversation. Anna and Tess looked back and forth between the husband and wife trying to keep up with what each of them was saying. “The flow was just uncorked,” Anna recalls. “Obviously, this was the felt need.”

So Anna transitioned the conversation towards spiritual matters by saying, “You clearly have some intense feelings about the earthquake still. And many people are struggling with trauma. Can I tell you a story that’s been really powerful in my own life?” Eagerly, the couple responded, “Yes!” and Anna shared the story of Jesus calming the storm.

The couple agreed that they had heard from the Koran that Isa has the power to heal the sick and raise the dead. When Anna offered to pray for the couple in the name of Isa, therefore, they agreed. With palms up and eyes open, Anna and Tess prayed for them in the matchless name of Jesus.

The couple expressed a desire to hear more. Since Tess had to return to her family on another island, Anna suggested they meet with Evan and herself. “We can come here and talk with your family. Gather them, and let’s talk further about how God understands our hearts and knows our needs. He’s committed to pursue us and meet us exactly where we are.”

Please be praying as Evan and Anna share more about Isa with this couple and their family.

*pseudonyms use

When Persecution Becomes Celebration

The Bhojpuri movement is an ongoing Church Planting Movement in North India. Persecution is a common component of becoming a follower of Jesus in India. The following excerpt illustrates the commitment of new believers in the midst of persecution and how God chose to intervene in one case. It comes to us from the book Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying by Victor John, an Indian movement leader who Beyond has had the privilege of working with and learning from. It is co-authored by Dave Coles, an encourager and resourcer of Church Planting Movements serving with Beyond. 

In the 2001 persecution, one group of believers received threats that they would be forced to reconvert to Hinduism in a ceremony called *Ghar Wapsi. The people threatening them said, “On a particular day, we will come and re-convert you to Hinduism.” So on that day, five Hindu priests came from Varanasi. Their team set up a tent, prepared food, and readied cow urine for purification of the Christians reconverting back to Hinduism. They arranged everything and forced everyone to come out of their houses and attend the gathering. 

As the ceremony began, the priests used a public-address (PA) system to make abusive speeches against Christians. Suddenly five women in the crowd became demon possessed. They were very violent. The priests threw water on them to try to get rid of the demons. But the women became even more violent. So the five priests got scared. They packed up their things, got in their car and returned to Varanasi. 

The stage was set up, people had gathered, they had the tent and PA system, and the food was prepared. Everything was ready for a celebration. So the believers cast out the demons and the five women were delivered. Then the believers went up on the stage and used the PA system to preach the good news and share their testimonies. They said, “We followed Jesus because of our own free choice; not because of any inducements or any other reasons.” Many people came to faith through this and many others became sympathizers of the good news. Meanwhile, the newspapers printed a picture of the tent that had been set up and falsely reported that 200 people had been reconverted back to Hinduism! 

Pray for ongoing movements in India and around the world. Pray for new believers as they commit to obey Jesus as Lord knowing they must be ready to face persecution.

Want another story about the Bhojpuri?  Read about a girl raised from the dead! 

Excerpted from Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying  by Victor John with Dave Coles (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2019)

 1. According to Wikipedia, “Ghar Wapsi (Hindi, meaning “Home Coming”) is a series of religious conversion activities…to facilitate conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism.” The article “India: ‘Ghar Wapsi’ [a Return Home] and the Not-so-veiled Threat of the Sangh” reports: “I have had occasion to document Ghar Wapsi events in various villages of Orissa . . . where the process has involved shaving off the head of men and women, their purification through a mixture of cow dung and cow urine, the chanting of mantras around the fire and, wherever possible, the burning of “alien” books such as the Bible….My own observations after field studies are of Ghar Wapsi as a movement that uses armed force and violence, certainly the threat of violence, towards a conversion of neo-Christians to Hinduism.”

“Did God Answer this Prayer 15 Years Ago?”

Recently, Brian and Allison*, Beyond mission catalysts in Austronesia, learned of answers to prayers they and their partners began praying back in 2004! They had challenged their team to pray for several critical components of seeing a movement to Christ start among their unreached people group. Among the prayer requests, they asked their partners to pray for dreams and visions of Jesus to be granted to their focus people.

Earlier this year, 15 years later, Brian and Allison learned of multiple dreams of Jesus among their group – dreams dating back to 2004! One new believer had three dreams of Jesus in 2004 and 2005…the very same time that everyone began praying! One of Brian and Allison’s local teammates is now meeting with this man and discipling him face-to-face. The team is confident that there are many other answered prayers like this one that they have yet to know about!

Starting any ministry with prayer is vital. It is futile to launch into our work, relying on our efforts alone! How much better it would be to first ask God for His plan, His guidance, and His supernatural power to do what only He can do. We are then free to move in sync with Him as He guides us. To launch a movement of disciples who reproduce and transform their society is a God-sized goal, and only God can accomplish it. 

Join us for Beyond’s next Nugget training entitled “Who’s job is it? The Necessity of Prayer in Missions” on September 12th at 7:00 pm CST. Together we will examine the role of prayer in movements, and share strategies for increasing the quality and quantity of our prayers. 

*pseudonyms used