A Fresh “Macedonian Call”

– By Stan Parks and Dave Coles

What is the most strategic role you can imagine for a Jesus follower in the Western world who wants to see all peoples reached with the gospel as soon as possible? 

Today, God is rapidly advancing His Kingdom among unreached peoples through Church Planting Movements. These movements are indigenous and moving by the power of God’s Spirit, so they don’t need Westerners to build something from scratch or play a leading role. However, in the midst of the amazing explosion of disciples making new disciples, some movement leaders have given a fresh “Macedonian call” for disciples from the outside to “come over and help us.”  

A great many things need to be done, but they vary from one movement to another, and sometimes from one year to another within any given movement. Distant-culture workers can play a vital role in strengthening and deepening a movement, and/or in assisting a movement to expand and catalyze fresh movements among other UPGs. The key lies in a willingness to serve the needs being felt and expressed by movement leaders. They don’t need outsiders showing up with their own plans and ideas. They want people humble enough and flexible enough to do whatever needs to be done. 

In some cases, this might involve a specialized skill, but more often it involves applying a basic-level skill in an area of need. 

Possibilities include:

  • Communication 
  • Job and business training
  • Computer and technical support
  • Video/Audio recording and/or editing
  • Fundraising that does not create dependency
  • Social media
  • Prayer and mobilizing prayer
  • International networking
  • Hosting vision trips
  • Administration help
  • Hosting/Supervising outside interns
  • Disaster response services
  • Medical service and equipping medical response
  • Anything and everything needed

In many cases, the movements cannot give a specific job description, as their needs keep changing. Or they may start with a specific need, but circumstances change the needs. They want people who are willing to do whatever is needed. 

A Movement Servant will help increase the capacity of the movement to go further and faster, to become even more effective in advancing the movement(s) in which they are involved. 

Consider, for example, the kingdom impact of working with a movement of 8,000 churches that has minimal computerization. They need help setting up a computer system for tracking church health and distribution, which will also help them know which peoples and places are still untouched by the gospel. This assistance brings the potential to reach tens of thousands more people and plant thousands more churches within a few years.

We can share a few examples of people serving movements. For one large family of movements, some translation experts currently supply help from the outside for movements translating Scripture. These movements are in areas that an outsider cannot enter due to political or religious realities, but the service of technical and translation experts has been invaluable to help those in that area do a church-based, computer aided, expert assisted translation process. These professional translators have allowed God to change their paradigm from personally doing the translation to helping “amateurs” in the movement learn the skills and group processes that will produce an excellent translation.

In another movement with over 300,000 believers in a very large geographical area, some Westerners (who are not professionals) are helping with video editing. They work with movement leaders to produce short leadership training videos that can be shared from phone to phone. 

A third example comes from a Kingdom Business project where outsiders help movements identify near-culture gaps needing movements. They assist with business training, prayer and supplemental fundraising as movement families relocate and re-start businesses to sustain them long-term in reaching the new group. This has already resulted in reaching many new population segments.

What kind of people can fulfill the Movement Servant role? The essential qualifications, skills and experience include:

  • Follower of Jesus 
  • Trying to be a disciple maker
  • Advocate of CPM principles 
  • Good people skills
  • Willing to submit to non-Western leadership
  • Willing to learn local trade language (at an appropriate level)
  • Willing to learn and be sensitive to a new local culture(s)
  • Faithful to keep commitments; a person of honor and integrity
  • Willing to do whatever they can to serve the expansion of God’s kingdom

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). What if the most effective thing you could do truly looked like being a servant? What if your best way to reach the unreached involved an assortment of jobs, chosen and assigned by someone from another culture? Would you be willing to lay down your life and some of your preferences in order to play a role in rapid kingdom multiplication among the unreached? Movements are already moving, and you’re invited to play a part in increasing their growth. 

If you’re interested, please contact us via this form. We already have relationships with networks of movements – in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. We cannot guarantee connection, but we will do everything we can to help you find a group who is looking for Movement Servants. 

Take a moment to thank God for what He is doing through movements in our day. Thank Him for the spontaneous multiplication of movements planting other movements among the unreached. Then ask Him what role He might want you to play. May the Lord guide you and use you for His glory, to the ends of the earth.

Movements Start Movements in the Middle East

– By “Harold” and William J. Dubois –

When the encrypted message came across my phone, I was stunned by its simplicity and boldness and humbled again by the words of “Harold,” my dear friend and partner in the Middle East. Though a former Imam, Al Qaeda terrorist and Taliban leader, his character has been radically transformed by the forgiving power of Jesus. I trust Harold unconditionally. Together we lead a network of house church movements in 100+ countries called the Antioch Family of Churches.

The day before I had asked if any of our former Muslim, now Jesus-following brothers and sisters would help rescue Yazidis. He replied:

“Brother, God has already been speaking to us about this from Hebrews 13:3 (NLT) ‘Remember… those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.’  Are you willing to stand with us in rescuing persecuted Christians and Yazidi minorities from ISIS?”

What could I say? We have a deep bond to walk the same path with Jesus. Together, we train leaders who multiply our passionate surrender to Jesus, carrying His message of love to the nations. Now Harold was asking me to step deeper into rescuing people from slavery to sin and the horrific crimes of ISIS.

“Yes, Brother, I am ready. Let’s see what God will do.”

Within hours, teams of trained, experienced local church planters from the Middle East volunteered to do whatever it would take to rescue people from ISIS. What we discovered changed our hearts forever.

God was already at work! Broken by the demonic, barbaric actions of ISIS terrorists, Yazidis began pouring into our “Community of Hope Refugee Camps.” We mobilized local Jesus-followers to provide free medical care, trauma counseling, fresh water, shelter and protection. One movement of Jesus-following house churches lived out their faith to impact another people. 

We also discovered that the best workers came from nearby house churches. They knew the language and culture and had the heartbeat of evangelism and church planting. While other NGOs had to restrict their faith message, our non-formal church-based efforts were filled with prayers, Scripture readings, healings, love and care! And because our team leaders had been lavishly forgiven by Jesus, they lived completely surrendered and filled with courageous boldness. 

Letters began to pour in:

I am Yazidi. For a long time the condition of my country has been bad because of war. But now it is worse because of ISIS.

Last month they attacked our village. They killed many and kidnapped me along with other girls. Many raped me, treated me like an animal and beat me when I didn’t obey their orders. I begged them, “Please don’t do this to me,” but they smiled and said, “You are our slave.” They killed and tortured many people in front of me.

One day they took me away to sell me. My hands were tied. I yelled and cried as we walked away from the men who sold me. After 30 minutes, the buyers said, “Dear Sister, God sent us to rescue Yazidi girls from these bad people.” They had purchased 18 girls.

When we arrived in the Community of Hope camp, we understood that God sent His people to save us. We learned that the wives of these men gave up their gold jewelry and paid for us to be free. Now we are safe, learning about God, and have a good life.

(From a leader of one of our Community of Hope Refugee Camps.)

Many Yazidi families have accepted Jesus Christ and have joined in serving their own people. This is very good because they can share in their own cultural way. We are praying for the affected people that God will provide for their needs and protect them from the Islamic fighters. Please join us in prayer. 

A miracle had begun. A movement of surrendered Jesus-followers from nearby nations – all formerly trapped by Islam – had been freed from sin to live for Jesus. They were giving their lives to save others. Now, a second movement of Jesus-followers has begun among Yazidis. 

How could this happen? As D.L. Moody wrote: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” 

“Harold” was born into an Islamic family, raised and schooled to be a radical jihadist and Imam.  After his radical conversion to Jesus, Harold used his education, influence and leadership capacity to grow a movement of Jesus Followers.   Now, 20+ years later, Harold helps to mentor and lead a network of house church movements among unreached peoples. 

“William J Dubois” works in highly sensitive areas in which the gospel is spreading powerfully. He and his wife have spent the last 25+ years training new believers from the harvest to grow in their leadership capacity and multiply house churches among unreached people.

This is article has been edited with permission and was first published in the January-February 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.mission frontiers.org, and published in the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon..

“I am not Christian. I’m Thai!”

Last year, Dean* took his son, Andy*, to the international school every morning. Each day before Andy entered his classroom, they would stop to pray.

One morning, Andy’s Thai friend, Bun Ma*, came by just as they were about to pray, and Andy invited her to join them.

“What’s [prayer]?” Bun Ma asked.

Dean explained that they prayed to Jesus and asked for His blessing over their day and to help them be kind.

“Oh,” Bun Ma replied, “I’m not Christian; I’m Thai.”

Dean shared her response with his wife. This new cultural insight shook them.

Bun Ma did not say that she was a Buddhist or give any reference to religion. Rather, she verbalized that if she were a Christian, she would not be Thai. At seven years old, she already “understood” that she could not be both. 

This type of “understanding” is true of many peoples around the world. They associate their ethnic or national heritage exclusively with one religion. The two are inseparably tied together. Pray as our field workers live out a shema lifestyle — one where speaking about spiritual matters is a natural and regular habit. Pray they find many who are willing to listen and share what they learn within their relational networks.

*pseudonym

“How Could God Answer our Prayers from that Dark Place?”

*Karly and her roommate *Allison re-visited a family who had previously welcomed them and the Scripture stories they shared. 

During the first visit, the family had asked for $50 to help pay their rent. The young ladies didn’t know what to do. They didn’t want the family to rely on them financially. That is not why they had visited. Instead, they prayed. Sitting on the floor in the dark, they all lifted the family’s needs to God.

Two weeks later, Karly and Allison met with the family to study the story of Joseph. They asked the couple, “How do you see God from this story?”  

“God doesn’t sleep,” the wife answered. “God always has a way to help. When we prayed last time, I felt God very close even though it was so dark. After you left, I continued to pray and cry to God. The next morning, someone we didn’t know came and gave us exactly $50 and groceries too.”

The husband asked, “How could God answer our prayers from that dark and dirty place?” Referencing the Islamic ritual of washing before prayers he added, “We didn’t even wash our hands!”

Beyond donors, you have played a part in this story! Pray for this family as they continue to encounter our Heavenly Father.

*pseudonym

“Tell us: Why do you follow Jesus?”

After discussing several Bible stories with *Rayyan in his shop, *Karly and *Julie asked if he had friends who might like to discuss Scripture outside of work hours. He did!

On the day of the scheduled meeting, Rayyan texted that 10 guys might come.  Karly and Julie were worried.  “How will this work in the public restaurant setting? Will these guys be okay with our topic or just want to debate?” The ladies prayed they would at least leave knowing who might be interested in studying further.

That night they were surprised to see 17 men present!  An older man dove straight in with the first question: “Tell us: Why do you follow Jesus?”

Using lots of Scripture, Julie explained. Everyone listened. Some had questions, but there was no debating.

The ladies were amazed and reminded of Cornelius from Acts 10. After gathering people together, Cornelius addressed Peter: “Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”   And Peter declared: “Jesus is the one all the prophets testified about… everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

Pray these men would find and embrace the Truth they seek.

BEYOND donors, your support enables spiritual discussions just like this one in the story.

*pseudonyms

“Well That’s Easy! I Can Do That!”

Each day, Niah teaches Dean and Penny the Thai language. She also helps them understand Thai culture and religious beliefs. She has become their friend.

Dean and Penny share stories about Jesus with her and answer her questions about the Christian faith. In December Niah asked, “Why do you give gifts at Christmas?”

Penny happily told Niah about the gift of forgiveness and love that God gave through Jesus and that this amazing gift is free and for all people. 

Thai Buddhists, Niah said, carry their good and bad from life to life, never putting it down. They hope their good will outweigh the bad so their next life is better. When Penny asked how she knew if she’d done enough good, Niah said, “You don’t until you die and face judgment.” She agreed it would be nice to set it down and not pick it up again.

As the discussion continued, Penny shared that followers of Jesus read God’s word, obey what it says, and share it with others. “Well that’s easy,” Niah responded. “I can do that.”

If you give to BEYOND, you have played a part in Niah hearing the Good News. Pray that spiritual conversations like these, happening all over the world, will yield ever-increasing fruit to the glory of Father God.

*pseudonym

Ten Characteristics of a Book of Acts Church

Roh’s* parents came to faith and were baptized, but Roh wasn’t around when her parents studied the Bible. She is 15 years old and had been spending lots of time at a friend’s house. In Indonesia, girls her age often get married, so Anisa,* a national colleague of Beyond’s field leaders, met with Roh to express her concerns. She invited Roh to study the Bible with her. 

God used his Word to open Roh’s heart. She became a follower of Jesus and was baptized.

Pray for Anisa as she disciples this household to apply the ten characteristics of a healthy house church, as seen in the early church in Acts. A group covenants to follow Jesus together. They are baptized and study and obey God’s word together. They fellowship together and care for one another in many ways, including through the giving of offerings. They celebrate the Lord’s Supper, worship, and pray as a group. They live out a commitment to share the gospel with non-believers. As the church develops, caring leaders are raised up from among the group.

Pray this family would be joined by others and become a church that would birth similar churches for God’s glory. 

*pseudonyms

Destruction and Imprisonment . . . What Happened Next

Two weeks ago, we shared about the imprisonment of some North Indian believers. Here is an update.

Fourteen men and women were arrested as they prayed. All were members of families whose homes were burned last year by local Hindu extremists. Why were their homes burned? They had recently become followers of Jesus. The families stayed with relatives in surrounding villages for a while, but, fully aware of the risks, they all decided to return.

As of August, they had rebuilt their huts in the village. This time, radical Hindus went one step further. They got local police to join them and barged into a home during a prayer meeting. The police destroyed the home while the disciples were dragged into waiting vehicles. Police jailed all 14 and demanded extortion for their release.

Twelve disciples were quickly released, and, as of September 9th, all 14 were home with their families. Other churches have gathered around them, providing food and helping to fix the house that the police wrecked. Glory to God! Thank you for praying! Please keep it up! Pray that everything that has happened would actually serve to advance the gospel. (Phil. 1:12)

Burnings, Imprisonment, and Extortion

About one year ago, some house church leaders in North India had their homes burned to the ground. They are facing difficulties again. 

A few months after their homes were burned, all the families moved back and rebuilt their huts. Last week, a local Hindu extremist group joined forces with the police, damaged their rebuilt homes, and arrested fourteen people. 

Two are still in jail. The police are demanding extortion to release them.

However, we have reasons to rejoice! In the midst of very real persecution, the church continues to advance! Sanjay, a leader in the movement, recently read through old diary entries from the first movement meetings in 2012. He had written, “God, give us North India.”

We praise the Lord for the big vision of these committed disciples! Today, the work has spread to nine states and over 200 caste groups (people groups). Thousands and thousands of families have become strong disciples of Jesus, working to make more disciples of Jesus. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters to remain attached to the Vine, and for their joy to increase even in the midst of their persecution. Pray our Father will bring forth much fruit that the devil cannot snatch away.

*pseudonyms

An Invitation They Couldn’t Refuse

*Karly and her roommate, *Julie, went back to visit the vendors at the fruit stand. Earlier, the young women had shared some Old Testament prophet stories with them, and they had been eager to hear more.

However, when they returned to share another story, the couple only wanted to debate. Karly and Julie disappointedly bought their fruit and turned to leave.

A man who had overheard their conversation followed them as they left. “Would you come to my house?” he asked. “We need to clean our minds with this kind of talk. Come and tell that story to the women at my house.”  The roommates looked at each other.  They were tired but this was the kind of invitation they prayed for. They couldn’t refuse.

Later, as Karly and Julie shared the story, the ladies served tea and freshly roasted peanuts. Everyone discussed the story, then the roommates prayed for those who were sick. They exchanged phone numbers to keep in touch.

Pray for this family as they encounter the truth of Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Pray too for Karly and Julie as they obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings concerning this new family.

*pseudonyms