“I’d Hit Them Back!”

As Job* sipped hot tea and puffed on his cigarette, he asked, “Did Jesus really say, ‘Turn the other cheek’?” 

“Yes, he did,” Frank* replied. “He also said if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. And if anyone makes you carry their stuff for one mile, carry it for two miles.” (Matthew 5:38-41) 

“Do you think he was being literal?!” questioned Job. 

“That’s a great question. What do you think?” 

“I’m not sure it’s possible to ‘turn the other cheek.'” Job responded. “Why would someone do that? If someone hit me, I’d hit them back.”

Job peppered Frank with honest questions about Jesus and Christianity for several hours. Job is from a minority Muslim people group that has experienced a great deal of repression and persecution. 

Job teared up as he said his goodbyes. “I just can’t believe the statement about ‘turning the other cheek.’ If [my people] turned the other cheek … we wouldn’t be around anymore. These ancient churches are empty because Christians turned their cheeks. Look at the [other people groups who used to live here]. Where are they now? They turned the other cheek, and they are no more. I can never turn my cheek.” 

Frank sensed that Job wasn’t seeking answers but only wanted to express his pain. So Frank simply said, “I understand your feelings. Let’s talk more about this next time.” 

Since then, Job and Frank have begun reading the Bible together. Pray that the Father would continue to draw Job to Himself and that Job would become an obedient disciple of Jesus. Ask God to bless Frank with spiritual wisdom and to use him to start a disciple-making movement among this Unreached group.

*pseudonym

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Obedience Even When It’s Dark

A couple of years ago, a young college graduate in Indonesia got connected with *Wes and *Angie’s local team. *Yurba had learned about the unreached people groups in her country and God’s vision to see them all respond to Jesus. She responded in obedience by learning how to make disciples and spending time looking for people God was preparing. 

One night at a prayer event on campus, she heard about the C people.  She heard God speak to her very clearly, “This is the group to whom I am calling you. Bring My light to them.” 

Yurba jumped in. She started a year-long preparation class where she was taught about cross-cultural living, Jesus’s strategy for reaching the lost, and how to cast His vision to others. Her heart grew in its love and burden for these people who have never known who Jesus is. 

Then COVID caused lockdowns and mobility issues, so she was not able to launch in her expected timeframe. In that difficult time, she asked, “Lord, what does obedience look like in this season?” She pursued lost people around her and began studying the Bible with a spiritually open family. But God had a surprise in store for her. During this season she met another young woman with a heart for the unreached. *Tashi decided to join Yurba in reaching the C people; they want a disciple-making movement to break out among them.  

Please pray for lasting fruit as they serve and obey the Lord among the unreached C people.

*pseudonym

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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.

About the authors: 
Dave Coles: Dave Coles is an encourager and resourcer of Church Planting Movements among Unreached groups, serving with BEYOND. He has served among Muslims in Southeast Asia for 24 years. He has dozens of articles published (plus videos and podcasts posted) about Church Planting Movements, contextualization, reaching Muslims, and the nature of the church. He is coauthor of Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying, coeditor of  24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, and associate editor of Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations.

Stan Parks: Stan is a Church Planting Movements trainer and a coach for leaders of Church Planting Movements around the world. He has been serving Unreached People Groups since 1994 while based in Indonesia, Singapore and Dubai. He is Co-Facilitator of the 24:14 Coalition which is focused on Kingdom Movement engagements in every Unreached People and place by 2025.

“Where is Heaven?”

While at a restaurant, Karly, Alison, and Megan met the owner. They asked the woman how they could pray for her. Her request was that her six children would seek God. They had grown up, become rich, and forgotten the importance of spiritual things. She shared how she had raised them as a single mother because of her husband’s addiction. Her gratitude for God’s help in that time inspired her to be close to God (as she understood him in her religion), and to lead her family in that too.

“It’s like I always say to my kids, ‘Heaven is under the mother’s feet,’” she said. The three friends asked about the saying’s meaning. Does it mean the mom is already in heaven? Does she have the power to bring people there? The woman explained that it means children should respect and follow their mother. “Nobody can be certain if they will go to heaven or not,” she continued. “Everybody has sin. Even prophets — all of them have sin.”

“Actually,” Alison said, “there is one prophet who doesn’t have sin.”

“Who is that?” the woman asked eagerly.

This opened the door for the friends to share a story about Jesus and his mother from Luke chapter one. The story resonated with the woman and she agreed that she would like to discuss more prophet stories sometime.

Join us in praying alongside one of our BEYOND donors: “Father God, we ask that as Muslims who are spiritually hungry search the Qu’ran, it may fall open to passages that speak about Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Through the power of the Holy Spirit open their eyes to the Truth that will set them free.”

*pseudonym

Global Movement Dashboard

by Justin Long

For nearly a decade, I have gathered information on a new trend: rapidly multiplying church-planting (or disciple-making) movements. For the past five years in particular, I have condensed this information into a single “dashboard” presentation—sometimes delivered as email, and sometimes as a PowerPoint. The latest version was just released on the 24:14 Network’s website (under “Global Movement Statistics”) and the following is a summary of the findings I normally present when sharing in public.

Since the mid-1990s, we have witnessed the remarkable and explosive growth of disciple-making movements globally, with much of that growth happening in the past 10 years. From a very small handful of known movements in 1995, the number has grown to over 1,850 movements globally, encompassing over 99.9 million believers in 6.8 million churches (typically small, house-church type gatherings). This means over 1% of the world’s total population are Christ-followers in rapidly growing movements!

These numbers are the tip of the iceberg—or, as I frequently say in presentations, the “floor” and not the “ceiling.” Certainly, the numbers are higher than this. These movements can be found in every UN region, though their largest numbers are in Africa and parts of Asia (mostly Southern Asia). Movements have spread broadly, touching each of the Affinity Blocks identified by Joshua Project and over 222 of the 271 People Group Clusters. Growth is especially significant in the world’s least-reached places.

Movements are touching every religious block, growing markedly among Muslim and Hindu peoples, with progress also among some Buddhist peoples. While we have so far seen less progress among Western groups (Europeans, North Americans, and Australia-New Zealand), this may be largely due to the fact that movement-style work is much newer in those regions. Burgeoning movements are already happening among a few Western people groups, showing it can work there too.

However, in many places, this remarkable growth is still a just drop in the bucket among the much larger populations. The well-known Bhojpuri movement, for example, is one of the largest in the world, and yet still a relatively small (though rapidly growing!) percentage of the provinces in which it is found. Much work still remains to be done.

The 24:14 Network’s goal is to see a CPM engagement team in “every people and place” by 2025. How close are we to that goal? COVID-19 has made information gathering difficult in 2020 and 2021, but I estimate there are at least 170 languages that are less than 2% Christian and not engaged by CPM/DMM teams. They should be a priority for movement efforts. Likewise, I estimate there are at least 458 provinces that are less than 2% Christian and are not known to be engaged. If CPM teams can be focused on each of these priorities, we will be very close to reaching the overall goal.

Our great God is doing amazing works in our time. We look to him in earnest prayer, with strategic effort and global partnership, keeping our eyes on the goal of Jesus’ glory filling the whole earth. Engagement of every people and place is our initial faith goal; our ultimate aim is fulfillment of Matthew 24:24 – proclamation of the gospel to all peoples (ethné), and the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

About the author: Justin has spent the last 30+ years developing and contributing to various missions efforts including: the World Christian Encyclopedia, the strategicnetwork.org, the Ethné network, and the Movements Database. His research findings and missions articles have been published in several places, and currently publishes a weekly newsletter at justinlong.org.

 

Chinese New Year

This year, Chinese New Year (CNY) begins on February 1st, marking the new year’s arrival (on the traditional Chinese calendar) for nearly one-sixth of the world’s population. The whole celebration lasts 16 days, from New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the new year. For a portion of those days, nearly 1.4 billion people return to their family homes, making it the largest annual migration of people on earth. 

Once home, families usher in the New Year by eating a family meal together, honoring their ancestors with offerings, exchanging gifts of money, and generally welcoming good fortune into their lives for the upcoming year.

The reunion meal, eaten on the Eve of Chinese New Year, is considered to be the most important meal of the year. Before the meal begins, the family honors their ancestors by offering food and lighting incense. Then the family enjoys many symbolic foods, which, when consumed, are believed to ensure a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. On the stroke of midnight, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. Many cities have huge public displays, but some families and businesses also have private ones. 

Liberal use of the auspicious color red also courts good fortune in the new year. Red lanterns, banners, couplets, and symbols decorate businesses and homes. Red clothing is a must and is thought to protect people and bring good luck and fortune. 

Giving money in bright red packets is a way to pass on good luck. Children delightedly receive the envelopes from family members and close friends. Married people pass these packets to their single friends, and businesses often give them to their employees and loyal customers.

During this time, people adhere to many rituals and taboos. There is to be no cleaning of the home, laundry, or even oneself on New Year’s Day. To do so would be to sweep or wash good fortune away, ensuring a difficult year. One should not use sharp objects such as knives, get a haircut, break anything, say unlucky words (“death” or “sickness”) or do anything taboo that could cause good fortune to leave the family. 

Please pray that people would realize that wealth alone can blind one to their true state of being. As Revelation 3:17 says: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

HOW CAN WE PRAY:

  • Pray that Beyond field workers would be ready to engage those celebrating CNY with the truth of the Gospel.
  • Pray that the seeds sown during this time will find fertile soil and will take root, and pray that those who hear will come to know that life in Christ is the best choice they could ever make.

No Place Left as the Benchmark

By Steve R. Smith

I was walking with Church Planting Movement initiators during an outing at a conference. One of the most fruitful ones sidled up and asked, “Steve, is CPM all there is?”

He was experiencing second- and third-generation churches, and perhaps even some were fourth-generation. The kingdom was growing by leaps and bounds. New reproducible churches were being formed. My friend was rapidly becoming a poster child of CPM breakthrough in the Western world.

I said, “No, a movement is just the beginning. The movement is not the goal. The goal is what Paul declared in Romans 15—no place left for the gospel to be proclaimed. Every people group, neighborhood and ethnic segment with multiplying disciples and churches among them.”

Relief spread across his brow. “Whew! I’m glad. I knew there must be something more.”

What registered with my friend was critical in whether or not the movement in his city would move toward the end-vision of the whole city being reached or plateau out. He realized that a movement is not the end; it’s just the beginning!

Seeds of Movements
In all likelihood, Paul’s mind [in Romans 15] was ringing with Jesus’ parables of the mustard seed and leaven. That handful of churches he and his partners planted were the mustard seed in each region. As they began to multiply, Paul felt free to move on. Movements were starting with sufficient life and momentum to carry the proclamation of the gospel to every nook and cranny.

Paul didn’t have to plant every church—just a few church-planting churches with a vision for their region and beyond.

Recovering the Real End-vision
The danger my friend faced was succumbing to the wrong end-vision: movements, rather than no place left. Paul could have stayed to build upon the foundations, but that was not the role of an apostle. The eyes of an apostle are on the horizon, where Christ has not yet been named.

An all too present temptation is for movement catalyst(s) to pull out before there is sufficient momentum to get to no place left. The astounding numbers within a movement so thrill us that we lose sight of the bigger vision: every community reached with the gospel and embraced by life-giving, multiplying churches.

The temptation to slow down and not finish the task is great amidst an explosive movement within a city or people group, but greater still is the same temptation globally.

Getting to No Place Left Globally
Paul sensed a divine urgency associated with his apostolic stewardship. He seemed compelled to bring all Gentiles as an acceptable offering to His Lord (Rom. 15:15-16).

He and other believers vigorously gave themselves to Jesus’ mandate (Matt. 24:14, 28:19-20). They pushed the frontiers of the gospel from province to province and from district to district.

The question for our generation is whether we will finish the race that others have started and run so faithfully. With over 3,000 people groups, both unengaged and unreached with the gospel (UUPGs), it is easy to become complacent and stop running. Instead, we have the opportunity to increase our pace and run the final lap. We have the resources but do we have the resolve?

The finish line is in sight. Sacrificial effort could result in the completion of the original mandate. In two thousand years, a multitude of people groups have been reached. We are in that number. But the benchmark is no place left. Will we take up the baton to get there?

Set an Urgent Deadline
In getting to no place left, setting a deadline seems to galvanize believers toward a sense of urgency. It is as though we realize that time is running short and faith-filled efforts must be employed.

Will our generation rise up with new urgency? If we resolved to bring the gospel fully to the remaining 3,000+ UUPGs by a date such as 2025, what effect would that have on our efforts? Would great sacrifice match a great effort? Would it move us toward a spiritual wartime footing in which we called every believer to be part of a global effort to eradicate areas devoid of the gospel?

A Costly Deadline
The remaining UUPGs are in the most difficult-to-reach and most overlooked places. Getting to no place left in any generation—ours or another—will come with a great price. Jesus declared and demonstrated the path toward fruitfulness. It requires death—death to self and, not infrequently, physical death.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24, ESV)

He is Worth It
A clue to Paul’s motivation in settling for nothing less than no place left (Rom. 15:23) is found in the same chapter: But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:15-16, ESV)

Paul, filled with gratitude, longs to bring every ethné back to his Lord as an acceptable offering. In this way, he could declare the Son’s unique worthiness.

Throughout history, great pushes toward finishing the task have been matched by great sacrifices. We cannot have one without the other.

The end is in sight in individual movements, but let us not rest until we reach no place left.

The end is in sight in bringing the gospel to the remaining 3,000+ UUPGs, but let us not rest until there is no place left.

The commission is worth it.

He is worth it.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers. It was edited with permission.

Empowered Disciples

Zaul,* an Indonesian movement leader, partners with Bret,* a BEYOND movement servant. 

During COVID, Zaul has been visiting a local prison. There he formed relationships with some radical Muslims and sought to bring God’s truth and love to them. As a result, a number of these men began to study God’s Word and eventually bowed to the sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. One of the men, Berkah,* wrote a letter to his whole family telling them of this great change in his life. He asked Zaul to deliver the letter to them personally. 

Even though Zaul is comfortable in many settings, he was very nervous about delivering the letter. Nevertheless, he stayed close as Berkah’s family read it. 

After they had finished reading, they asked if Zaul was a spiritual leader. “Yes,” he responded. Then they asked if he would be willing to more deeply discuss the things their son expressed. 

“No,” Zaul responded. “But your son would be happy to walk with you as you read from the Holy Book.” 

By handing the responsibility and privilege of sharing the gospel over to Berkah, Zaul is empowering a new disciple to immediately become a disciple-maker. This key component allows for the rapid multiplication of new believers in new households and regions.

No Sign of Christmas

Christmas of 2020 was different for many of us. It was for *Charlie and *Sarah too. They had recently moved to a new country to serve God through BEYOND

The tropical heat and humidity were unusual, but the thing that stood out most significantly was the lack of any signs of the Christmas season. 

“It really grieved my heart,” Sarah shares. “It was almost as if Christ had not come. There was no celebration, no acknowledgment that He came, that there is victory over death, that our sins have been redeemed, that He reconciled us to the Father.”

Yes, over two billion people in the world still live in darkness — as if Jesus never graced the earth with His presence. 

We rejoice that Jesus came to reconcile us to our Father and that, through the faithful obedience of thousands of disciples, tens of thousands are celebrating their first Christmas this year. But so many still need to hear the Good News.

You can help bring the Light of the World to the darkest places.

READ ANOTHER STORY FROM CHARLIE AND SARAH

*pseudonym

Rediscovering God’s Heart and Vision

One of the most beautiful aspects of working toward movements of disciples who make disciples (a Disciple Making Movement) is the joy of taking other believers back to the Word to rediscover God’s heart and vision. All too often, the meaning and significance of Scripture get taken for granted, simply overlooked, or never applied.

But what a joy to open the Word with sincere brothers and sisters and ask, “What does God want to tell me through this Scripture, and how will I obey?” Those simple questions — those remarkable thoughts — have changed many lives already!  

Take, for example, the simple verse 2 Timothy 2:2:And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (NIV)

What do you notice about that verse?  Did you catch the number of people mentioned at each step along the way: “of many witnesses . . . people. . . others”? They are all groups!  What does that indicate? Have we overlooked something important about discipleship?  What would happen if we focused on discipling groups rather than individuals? 

We are inspired and given new ideas when we go to God with his Word and then purposefully understand, apply, and obey it!