South Asia

South Asia: New Year, New Beginnings

Hello from South Asia!

This week our team trained house church leaders in " Beginnings" series of Foundations of Bible Teaching in South Asia. About 30 attended the training. We taught the trainees how to effectively tell key stories from Genesis with picture and words. Then we trained the students in the Say/Teach/Do technique to summarize the Bible stories' facts about God, man, sin, and commands, the main and supporting points, and the actions to take. The trainees were very enthusiastic! They learned quickly! This training helped equip house church leaders to better disciple new believers in a region where the Gospel is spreading rapidly among unreached people groups! We are humbled to work alongside these new leaders who are on fire for the spread of the "Good news".

After each lesson, several students practiced leading the training and grasped the process & concepts well. Our translators were great - helped with the teaching too. Local house church leaders are boldly sharing the gospel. There is rapid growth in house church replication! Praise the Lord!

1. Pray that our students continue to be excited and encouraged to learn God’s Word.  Pray that our training will expand well beyond our time there and that the students will share what they have learned with others, who will share with others (2 Timothy 2:2).

2.  Look at a map and pray for South Asia.  Pray that God will open the hearts of people to the Gospel, and pray that the whole region will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:14).

We are excited to participate in the work of expanding God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Echoing the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 96:10, we are excited to “say among the nations that the Lord reigns”.  And we are excited to know that many faithful men and women are supporting us in prayer! 

South Asia: God is on the Move

We have finished our teaching for this trip to South Asia and we leave with full hearts.  How dear are these brothers and sisters in Christ! 

The class size has grown as three new house churches have been planted since we were last in this city.  

With a few babies, young children, and some brand new believers in addition to the house church leaders, the class was a bit larger than we would have preferred. But what a great job they did learning the stories! In the words of our church planting partner and network leader "Storytelling for oral learners. Tell, retell, all tell...practice, practice, practice! Each believer comes to the training saying "I can't do it!" but as they are made to practice and stand up for the first time in their lives and start retelling stories with the help of simple drawings they gain confidence and say "I can do it!"  In the end they feel competent and they go back to their homes and house churches with a commitment "I will do it!""  

The church planter in this city and his wife have adopted two daughters.  Both were abandoned shortly after birth because they are girls.  The name they gave the oldest girl means "Thankful" and she will be 2 years old next month.  The baby is only 17 days old. She was abandoned in the hospital after her mother gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.  The mother left with the boy and never returned.  They have given the baby a name that means "Creation".  How appropriate as Creation, the story of God creating everything, was one of the stories we taught this week.  

Pray with us that God will multiply His word through these believers that we trained this week.  That His word would go forth with power and accomplish His purposes.  May many new brothers and sisters be added to His kingdom as His people are faithful to share His love and His word.

South Asia: Training Church Leaders of Unreached Peoples

This week my wife and I are taking our fourth trip to this South Asian country to teach one of the courses from Foundations for Teaching the Bible.  Our students are humble people who are leaders in their house churches. They are oral learners and we teach them stories from the Bible that they can then share with others.  This time we are teaching the Beginnings Course with stories of Creation, Fall of Man, Noah and the Flood, Abraham's Sacrifice and Joseph in Egypt.  For many of them, this is the first time they have heard most of these stories.  What a privilege to share this with them and what powerful biblical truths these stories teach about God and His love for mankind.

Below are a few photos:

 Our ministry partner was able to rent a classroom for the training at a compound in the city.  How sweet it is to fellowship with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Breaking into small groups is where a key element of the training takes place as they teach one another. 

 This is a picture from our hotel window.  While the hotel was very modest by western standards and did not have hot water, we were told by one of the men we met at the compound that our hotel was "the best in the city".

 

 

This last picture is taken from the taxi cab as we head back to our hotel after having completed the training for the day.  

Clearly our time in this South Asian country is always a bit of an adventure.  But we know that our in-country hosts always do the best they can to make our stay as comfortable, and as profitable, as possible.  Each time we come, my wife and I can not help but express our thanks to God for the privilege He gives us of coming to share His Word with these people who are so eager to learn and obey.        

South Asia: Full of Joy

Our second Foundations training began at a new location for each of our four teams with a new group of hungry believers. The faces and ages were varied, yet their hearts were of one accord, eager and seeking God and His mighty Word in a way that is refreshing to those of us you who take these freedoms for granted. It was convicting and encouraging at the same time, just how God wants us. Humble before him.

In only hours of memorizing the stories (it took us months!) and scripture studies we sent these students of the gospel out to share immediately as they had been taught and shown Acts 16:31. A woman shared with a family in her local village that same evening and the whole family accepted Christ! God is showing us that we don’t have to be teachers or scholars to share the gospel but willing believers boldly led by the Holy Spirit again as promised in the scripture stories memorized. The Word is coming alive here each day!

As we left our new brothers and sisters in Christ, our hearts were full of joy and love that cannot be explained except in scripture; Acts 16:34, “and he leaped much for joy and exulted with all his family that he believed in God.” Yet our hearts are a bit sad today as we leave them, our hosts and drivers. With great anticipation and excitement, we will watch for what God will do here and be grateful that God found us useful to watch His great promises unfold in these tribes, tongues and nation. 

“For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gifts to strengthen and establish you; That is that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12

South Asia: Hallelujah, Hosanna we sang . . .

Many many hours after departing the church for this journey we touched down on the soil God had planned for us to plant seeds in now since the beginning of time. Flights were overbooked, delayed, extended, missed and Flight after flight catapulted us forward through time . . . His perfect time.

We were blessed Sunday to worship with brothers and sisters in a village none of us could have imagined. A simple beautiful heartland with dirt roads, roaming farm animals and people that do not share many of our American physical characteristics at all.  But we are all children of God and we all have a heart for Christ!! God’s limitless creativity and artistry was on display as a gift for His beloved followers who have come in the name of Jesus to encourage believers, plant new seeds and harvest the ripe. 

We experienced the giving of first fruits, first hand.  Local farm goods were brought and presented on the church alter. As only God would have it, during the sermon, one of the offering bags began to move. Then it clucked. Twice. Eventually, it was removed from the altar so we could proceed. We chuckled that the preaching was so good, that God resurrected that chicken!

Today our 4 teams began teaching the final 5 Foundation stories of the Bible (Acts, Phillipians and Revelation) that the team has been learning for months now and that we have been assisting the local missionaries here with for a year.  The teams went to 4 different places spreading Gods Word in bible foundations stories so that others may share it - to the ends of the earth.  We have been excited and nervous at the same time praying fervently that God would equip us, prepare hearts, plant seeds and harvest believers for His Kingdom and grow our eternal family of believers; but mostly we have prayed that God is glorified!

South Asia: Looking For Those Who Will Listen

After completing two impactful days of teaching, we spent a day evangelizing. Our team split up. Each of the team members had a translator and another local person with them. We took off in six different directions and canvassed the area. All six team members spent time sharing the Gospel with the people who invited them into their huts. In some cases seeds were planted. In other cases seeds were watered. Not everyone wanted to listen but we were not discouraged. Interestingly two team members crossed a river which led them into an area where there was an unreached unengaged people group (UUPG). Due to the fact that we looked very different from the local villagers we were invited into people's huts and warmly welcomed. One team member even shared the Gospel with a religious leader from the UUPG. It was an exciting day and although we did not have any decisions for Christ, we were grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the villagers.

The following day, we welcomed a new group of students to our second training session. As with the first group, the majority of the students took a train to our teaching site. Most students walked 12+ hours from their villages to catch a train and then had a 12 hour train ride. It is astonishing how much travel is involved for the students to come to a two day training. Some people even brought their children with them and the children sat through the training along with their parents. We had over 120 students at the second training and three baptisms. The students were very eager to soak up what was being taught. They were wonderful students and quick learners whose love for The Lord and burden for the lost in their villages was convicting. 

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."  Matthew 9:37-38

South Asia: The Price to Follow

EQUIPPING BELIEVERS AND HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS IN THE FIELD

Imagine being in a remote area where there are many generations of families who have never heard THE TRUTH. These are tribal people who live in villages far away from city life. Generation after generation, families are held in bondage as they strive to appease their gods. Their rituals and sacrifices are all that they have to rely on. They do not know that there is THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD that longs to give them eternal life (John 3:16). Yet in these distant places there is a smattering of believers - sometimes one believer for an entire tribe or people group - who are the game changers. These believers are sold out for JESUS. Somewhere along the way - while hiking through mountains and valleys, trekking through the jungle, or crossing the borders of nearby countries on foot - another believer shared the GOOD NEWS and instantaneously their lives were changed. TRUTH has come! Now these men and women are taking the GOOD NEWS back to their villages. They are brave individuals who have testimonies that make you weep. Most have been kicked out of their families. Many have been beatened and arrested. Some have family members who have been killed for their faith. They have unbelievable stories that illustrate the cost of following JESUS in this part of the world.

THEY PAY THE PRICE TO FOLLOW JESUS

Our team of six people has the privilege of teaching these believers and house church leaders stories about JESUS. We divided our team of six into three teaching pairs. Each morning the three pairs go their separate ways towards their respective training locations. It is there that we meet the amazing men and women who have a hunger and thirst for the Lord to a degree that is not commonly seen in the States. Since the majority of these people are illiterate we teach using pictures and oral story telling. The students learn the stories quite quickly and we dig into Scripture together. Much learning has gone on but more importantly we have encouraged one another in the faith (Hebrews 10:23-24). For the last two days we had 94 students at three locations. 15 people were baptized. Tomorrow a new group of students arrive and we will, once again, be amazed by the cost that has been paid to follow Jesus.

How blessed we are to be a witness to what God is doing in this part of the world!