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.
by Chris McBride and Dave Coles
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..