“I Would Be a Christian if I Could”

A fruit vendor named Seng* lit up when she realized Trisha* could speak Thai. Seng peppered her with questions: “Where do you live? How long have you lived here? Are you safe?” Trisha answered, then asked about Seng’s business. Seng admitted that she had very few customers.

“I will pray to God,” Trisha said, “and ask for His blessing on your life. I will ask God to protect you.” When Seng’s face brightened at this, Tisha asked if she went to church.

“I am a Thai person. I must be Buddhist.” Seng replied. “But my sister-in-law lives in Germany. Her husband is German, so she can be a Christian.”

Looking at some nearby taxi drivers, Seng quietly confessed, “If I could choose, I would be a Christian too.”

“If you want to know more,” Trisha responded, “God says we can know Him by reading the Bible. I can show you how! Then, He can help you decide whether to follow Him or not.”

Through spiritual statements and questions, Trisha discovered Seng’s spiritual hunger and invited her to discover the truth of who God is. Pray Seng would be willing to read the Bible and become a follower of Jesus. 

*pseudonym

A Family Affair

Harto* is a Muslim man who encountered Jesus through a discipleship process with Shawn*. Harto was interested in becoming a disciple of Jesus and was even considering being baptized.

Then Harto’s family found out about his studies. He has not met with Shawn since they found out.

Harto’s story illustrates why it is so important for seekers to bring their family and friends to hear what the Bible says about Jesus. That way, no one is removed or ostracized from their closest relationships. Instead, whole relational groups (oikos) explore together. 

And it’s biblical! The book of Acts records over 30 instances of people becoming followers of Jesus; only three describe a person coming to Christ as an individual. In all the other instances, a large or small community became followers of Jesus as a group.

If a person’s oikos is not willing to engage with the Bible, the seeker should show love and be patient, letting their testimony be a witness of God’s goodness and power to save.  

This is why movements are often slow to begin but can then experience rapid growth as entire families come to Christ. 

*pseudonym

From Religion to Stories of Jesus

One day, Karly* and Allison* went to the park to meet people. When they arrived, they saw their Muslim friend Yasmin* who introduced them to some women she knew. “These are my friends Karly and Allison. They study the holy books and the prophets.”

Then Yasmin shared a story about Isa (Jesus). This prompted one woman to remember that her son had asked about Jesus. He had seen videos on YouTube and TikTok about the end times, one of which included a story about Isa. As a result he became very afraid and could not sleep. She and her husband also became troubled. “We sent our son to study more religion so he might understand and not be afraid.”  

Suddenly, one of the women turned to Yasmin. Motioning toward Karly and Allison, she asked, “Who did you say these women are?” 

Yasmin told the women they should talk with Karly and Allison if they wanted to study stories from the holy books. 

“I want to know the stories,” one woman said. “I know Jesus will come, but I don’t know how.”  

Later Karly and Allison talked with this woman. “When are you coming again?” she asked. “Next time, come to my house so we can study the stories.”

Obedient disciples can train reproducible groups to study the Word from the start. Spiritually hungry people immediately learn that, no matter the setting, they can hear what God is saying to them because the Holy Spirit is their teacher. As Jesus said in John 6:45, “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” 

Pray that these women will meet Jesus as Karly and Allison obediently model how to learn from God’s Word directly from the Father Himself.

*pseudonym

Going Above and “Beyond”

– By Chris McBride and Dave Coles 

A 24:14 Interview with Beyond CEO, Kent Parks

Recently I sat down with Kent Parks, the CEO of BEYOND, to talk about what is happening with the agency he leads. I had seen a chart of the work that BEYOND has done over the last few years, and I wanted to ask about how COVID-19 affected Beyond’s work globally, and to celebrate the growth with him.


Kent, how would you characterize the growth that Beyond has seen during the pandemic?
You can download Beyond’s full annual report 
here

These numbers are directly from movements that our staff are actively catalyzing and currently serve. All credit goes to the Lord and the inside leaders and the churches they are reproducing.

A quick story: one movement’s core leadership met in January of 2020 for prayer. They discerned from the Lord that they were supposed to start 60,000 churches in 2020, an increase of over 100% from the previous year! However, in March, severe lockdowns were implemented. Because of this change, they reevaluated their goal. In the online meeting, the group quickly agreed, saying: “The Lord knew this was coming when He spoke to us in January. Yes, this is what we must do!”
 
Well, a year later, this goal has come to pass! God has done it! They more than doubled. 

In 2020, we saw people making disciples at great risk to themselves, in great poverty, and [under the] threat of illness. Because the process was part of the DNA of how they were discipled, they continued making disciples, because that is what God called them to do.

When you looked at the statistics for 2020, were you surprised?

We were thrilled!  We had reported 610,000 disciples in 2019 and now 1,278,000+ in 2020, with  similar growth in churches. 

Because we know these patterns of reproduction work, however, we were not really surprised but celebrating. Disciples and churches are doing what the Lord has called them to do! People are reproducing disciples. Our response was a mix of emotions, from “not that surprised” to “can you believe this?” 

Do you think that the growth happened despite the pandemic, or do you think the pandemic played a role in the growth?

I think the pandemic brought an increase. Another movement leader we are friends with said, “The Lord stopped the world.” That was his description of how people were suddenly able to have conversations, where before they had been too busy. Out of a great disaster…people not able to work meant many were not able to eat. And Jesus’ church rose up and fed them in the midst of great poverty.

Like many organizations, we channeled some funds through Beyond, but it was not nearly enough. The disciples did what they could to keep feeding people, prayed for the sick to be healed, and kept making disciples. It was in the pandemic and disaster that we found growth.

What counsel would you give other agencies as they try to align themselves for future fruitfulness?

You need to have a process that is immediately reproducible and immediately deep. One place to start is, “How did Jesus do it?” How is it that one year after Jesus’ death, they had [Kent’s low estimate] 30,000 baptized disciples? And Jesus said that we will do greater things than that? I used to think Jesus was exaggerating when he said, “You will see 30, 60, 100-fold fruit.” Now I have met some of the heroes of the faith who are doing that. 
 
At Beyond, we even try to structure our internal financial and leadership processes (as much as possible) to replicate what we want to see in movements. If we want leadership to reproduce, we need a process that can be immediately imitated. 

So in every part of leading an agency, we have to break it down with a “what is it going to take?” focus. If we want to be somewhere in ten years, we have to break down the goal and see what kind of multiplication it will take to achieve that goal. 

We have to constantly evaluate what we are doing based on the goal.

How can agencies like Beyond collaborate together in the 24:14 Vision to see every people and place engaged?

One of the best collaborative things agencies can do is to ask existing movement leaders, “How can we help?” not, “Here is our toolkit.” At least 80% of movements have been started by other movements. One of our best roles is to help existing movements grow and multiply. 

We need to look at the goal with a “what is it going to take” mentality. Then our efforts are multiplied because we are working toward the same goal.

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