KR:24 When Kingdom Seeds Transform Society

 

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The most absolutely potent thing on this planet is a small group disciplined to great ends. The people of the Kingdom are the seeds of the new order.”        E. Stanley Jones

 

 

Call them Discipleship Groups, House Churches, Jesus-Centered Fellowships; it doesn’t matter the name. These Kingdom Seeds have potential to transform all the various spheres of their society. When small groups of Kingdom Disciples listen to Jesus speak through His written Word and through His Holy Spirit and they obey what He says, God’s Kingdom advances.

My African friend and coworker shares a glowing example of Kingdom Advance amid an unreached Muslim Tribe:

Our team went to a Muslim tribe in 2005. My family and I lived there for the first 5 years as we sought to learn their language and culture and communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom. Without a lot of visible fruit during that period, we persevered.

Now, after 12 years of work, a transformational Disciple-Making Movement is well underway! Though God used our team to ignite the movement, it’s the local disciples who are making it grow and impact every sphere of their society. The impact in each sphere started small and simple:

Sphere of Economics:

Our team began to vaccinate their own chickens. After seeing good results, they helped the neighbors vaccinate their chickens. As disease spread killing the chickens in other villages, like happened every season, the vaccinated chickens remained healthy. The village has better nutrition now because they no longer start over every season…there is a steady supply of fresh eggs.

One of our team members is a carpenter. He began to train people in these useful skills. Eventually the trainees had a new way to make an income.

In agriculture, we taught new farming techniques that the local people could apply. We showed that with the same amount of work, they could have more produce. It worked!

As these innovations spread among the people, it began to change the economy of the village.

Sphere of Government:

One of our team members became highly respected in the community. He was invited to be part of the Circle of Elders for the village. Over time some of the chiefs came to the Lord. One of them, Chief M., is a counselor to the king who rules over the tribe in our area.  Chief M. is well-respected and openly testifies to the other chiefs. He started a fellowship in his own house.

Recently Muslim missionaries from a neighboring country came into the village. They began to publically slander the Bible and Christianity. The people themselves rose up to defended the local believers. The chief rebuked these Muslim missionaries saying, “The Christians always ask permission when they want to do something here. But you didn’t ask permission. Who gave you permission to talk here?” He shamed them, gave them a fine and chased them out of the village.

Sphere of Family:

Husbands who have become disciples of Jesus are now better husbands. They walk with their wives. They spend time with their children. Young believers have learned not to take more than one wife. Those who are married do not take on more wives now that they have come to faith.

These disciples are trained to start fellowships in their own homes. Even the guy who was the strongest opponent of the Gospel came to the Lord and now leads a fellowship group in his home.

Sphere of Education:

Literacy classes were formed for women to empower them to read and write. Eventually a preschool was started. Recently Grade 1 was added. The quality of education is so high, the younger children are reading and writing before their elder sisters and brothers who are in Grades 3 and 4.

Seeing the results coming from the school, the district Chief wants to send his own child even though it is 20 kilometers away.

Sphere of Celebration:

Sports brings people together around a common interest. In the beginning, we used “football outreach,” finding it to be a great way to open doors and begin relationships with youth and their families.

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Music also draws people. The songs of the new churches—the songs sung by the local believers, are now becoming songs of the whole tribe.

As children go about playing in the community, people hear them singing worship songs to Jesus.

 

 

Children outside a village mosque

Sphere of Media:

As the singing continued, the national radio station even came to get the story. They recorded songs written by the believers in the tribal language and using the real tribal musical style. The beautiful name of Jesus is broadcast across the airways.

We gave copies of the Jesus Film to the local video shop where they show movies. It’s now a popular movie, they love it.

Sphere of Religion (Faith):

One of the Imams recently said publically, “There is no salvation outside of Jesus.”

We have distributed Audio Bibles widely. Every one of the fellowships in the movement has at least one. God’s Word is making a powerful impact. In the fellowships they use oral Bible stories and “Discovery Bible Studies” involving group participation, prayer, fellowship and practical on-the-job training. 

Early on, in helping the believers learn to worship, we avoided the temptation to translate our songs from the outside. We relied upon the Audio Bibles. They listen to the Bible and then create their own lyrics. God gave two brothers gifts in music and the lyrics are turned into beautiful worship.

The Movement Spreads:

Beginning with the first fellowship (which was started by our team) reproduction has taken place. That fellowship started a new fellowship. A pattern of disciples making disciples, fellowships starting fellowships was set. A movement has emerged, led by the local disciples. At this point, there are now 83 fellowships. Most of them made up of people of this previously unreached tribe.

We helped obedient disciples of Jesus work toward starting a transformational disciple-making movement that is spreading out into their community and into the spheres of their society. It has brought Kingdom-change and continues to bring more Kingdom-change.

This is a move of God. “His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” All glory goes to Him.

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Question for reflection: Consider these spheres of society:

  • Government
  • Education
  • Media
  • Celebration
  • Economics
  • Family
  • Religion (Faith)

In what ways is your team or fellowship making an impact? What else might you do to bring about transformation?

Kingdom prayer: Lord Jesus, we believe You have the power to transform individuals and You have the power to transform societies. Thank You for inviting us to work with You to bring about both. Amen

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KR23: Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work

At any moment, throughout the earth, we may see Kingdom Disciples doing good works:

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  • Abdul shares the Gospel with his Muslim neighbor. He helped answer many questions about Isa al Masih. 
  • Stephen gives the chief an audio version of the New Testament in the tribal language. Being unable to read, the chief’s eyes light up as he listens. 
  • Though young believers themselves, Mohan and Bina are hosting a new fellowship in their home. Their extended family and some friends will soon arrive. 
  • In the heart of a slum, Jangbin and Seunsoo begin a new day at their preschool. A Buddhist mother, (aware the school is led by followers of Jesus) turns to say, “Thank you for loving and teaching my little ones while I go to work.” 
  • Luis guides his small boat along the banks of the Amazon River. Twice a month he cares for the sick and also teaches simple nutrition and hygiene, assisted by a local village health-worker he trains.
  • Anil is showing Goutam how to get a micro-loan. Goutam plans to start a shoe repair business for he and his son.

These are all good works. Paul urges us to “…live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work…” (Colossians 1:10) What fruit do we hope will come as a result of every good work?

Jesus says, “Let your light shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Jesus’ words lead me to think the fruit of good works ideally looks like this:

  • God gets people’s attention
  • God gets glorified
  • God becomes better known
  • People grow closer to Him
  • Non-believers grow closer to becoming disciples
  • Believers grow in becoming more mature, fruitful disciples

This is the fruit I love to see resulting from my good works—People grow closer to Jesus and become His obedient disciples.

George Patterson, my church planting mentor, taught me that Jesus’ command to go “make disciples” includes:

  1. Evangelism (calling people to repent and believe the Gospel)
  2. Teaching new believers to obey all Jesus commanded
  3. Training and multiplying leaders to who do the same

As Kingdom Disciples, we make Kingdom Disciples. Through both word and deed, we plant Kingdom Seeds.

Paul explains the process in I Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Through our good works, God gets people’s attention. God then responds to people. Those with open hearts, respond back to Him…and grow. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God Who gives growth.” We glorify our Father who is in heaven, as we do our work and God does His.

In our good works we plant Kingdom Seeds. We plant with the hope they’ll bear fruit. Not all seeds spring to life–Jesus explains this in Matthew 13:1-9. Yet we plant with this clear picture of the fruit in our hearts and minds: non-believers growing closer to becoming disciples; those who are ripe, repenting, believing and receiving Jesus; believers growing in becoming more mature and fruitful disciples…who bear fruit in every good work—30, 60, 100 fold!

Kingdom ReflectionQuestion for reflection: What are some of the good works you are currently doing? Describe the fruit you desire.

Kingdom prayer: Lord we pray for ourselves as Paul prayed for the Colossians. “We ask that You fill us with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that we may live lives worthy of You and please You in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in our knowledge of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

KR22: Productive & Fruitful Lives

KR22CMC-Icon06We, as Kingdom Disciples, believe it is God’s will that everyone on earth has access to opportunities to lead a productive and fruitful life spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally and physically.

Two months ago my friends Willem and Mee Hyae told me a story beautifully illustrating the statement above:

Many people in our region of Africa believe handicapped children are the result of a curse upon their parents. Fear and shame connected with their belief leads to children hidden in the house, dark and away from the public’s eye.

It was for handicapped children that our friend from Holland, Janneke came to visit us in East Africa. Janneke has a unique connection with children who have special needs. She herself was born with hands which do not function well.

And she is nearly blind.

In her early 20s, Janneke is a woman of faith, courage and compassion. She traveled to Africa by herself with a life message for children and their families. We planned a week-long seminar with Janneke and got the word out in the surrounding community.

On the first day 22 children attended along with 12 parents. The children went home filled with such enthusiasm that eventually all the parents came. Motives for attending seminars can be mixed. Aid organizations often offer to pay people to attend and then give away food, crutches, wheelchairs and other free things. Our offer was to set people free, to offer a new world view. Parents need to recognize the value of turning from superstition and to see their children the way God sees them.

During the seminar one little girl simply laid on the floor seemingly unable to do anything. Janneke said, “You must participate too.” Gradually the child began to get up and move slowly. As time went on she became so confident, she walked all the way home with her mother—5 kilometers!

A boy, unable to use his legs, moves himself with his hands and arms with agility and speed. His limitations did not get in his way, serving his new friends. He noticed one child who would not play. Rushing across the dirt, he offered the child a ball so he would join in.

Both the children and the parents were amazed at what could be accomplished with love, hope and everyone’s encouragement.

These families are discovering a new way to live. “Let’s not hide our handicapped children, let’s celebrate them.” They and all people should have opportunities to be productive and fruitful spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally and physically.

Kingdom ReflectionQuestion for reflection: What beliefs hinder people in your community from the fruitfulness God intends? What new beliefs would set the people free?

Kingdom prayer: Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Lord Jesus, please help us with this so we will be living examples of productive, fruitful people.

KR21: Basic Needs Met

KR21CMC-Icon05We, as Kingdom Disciples, believe it is God’s will that everyone on earth has access to…the basic necessities of life: food, clean water, clothing, shelter and health care….

If time permitted, I would tell of Kingdom Disciples I know who:

  • Set up “grain banks” for storing millet each year with nomadic tribes in a famine-ridden region in Africa
  • Created simple systems delivering clean running water in Tibetan Buddhist villages in the Himalayas
  • Provided emergency clothing and blankets for Syrian refugees last winter
  • Built small houses for hundreds of homeless families in Mexico
  • Established clinics to treat malaria victims

The inspiring list could go on for pages, but let’s take a look at one story from West Bengal, India.

While we sat in a circle on a dirt floor in a small house, one of the Hindu-background followers of Jesus told us a story from the Gospels. Another led us in a few Bengali praise songs. Someone else served us the Lord’s Supper. After my delightful visit, I heard an example of how these believers are responding to the command: “love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

A simple health care workshop was hosted for the fellowships. Among the issues, was how to help a baby sick from diarrhea. Diarrhea is the world’s leading killer of children. About 1.2 million die each year! Mothers learned how to make Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) using clean water, sugar and salt.

One day after the workshop there was a knock on the door at the home of one of the mothers. She opened to find her Muslim neighbor holding her dehydrated baby in her arms. She was in desperate need of help. It became obvious the baby was suffering from diarrhea which led to dehydration. Quickly the clean water along with correct measurements of sugar and salt were gathered. One mother showed the other how to make ORS.

Gradually they gave the ORS drink to the baby. As they sat together, the neighbor learned that this life-saving skill was taught at a gathering of followers of Jesus. She left the home hopeful her child would get well.

A few days later came another knock at the believer’s door. It was a happy mother with her healthy child. She poured out her heart, “Thank you for helping save my baby. Now I know how to do it too. When and where does your group meet? Do you think I could come?” She was a Muslim, her neighbor a Hindu now following Jesus, yet God’s love—so practically displayed—overcame any barriers.

The love of God shines through when Kingdom Disciples help others, whether near or far away, receive the basic necessities of life.

Question for reflection: Do you or any of your neighbors lack any of the basic necessities of life: food, clean water, IMG_0648clothing, shelter or health care?

Kingdom prayer: Matthew 6:32-33 says, “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Like the Bengali mother, help us to live as Kingdom Disciples and to help others do the same. Together we will see You meet all of our needs.

KR20: Children Well Taught

KR20CMC-Icon04We, as Kingdom Disciples, believe it is God’s will that everyone on earth has access to education that equips their children for godly living….

From the beginning of Judaism, from which Christianity is derived, there was an emphasis on the written word. But the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in the Protestant Reformation.

In order to promote Bible literacy, Christians have been leaders in education. This trend was accelerated with the advent of the printing press at about the same time as the Protestant Reformation. Many of the world’s languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible.

Jesus was not discriminatory in who he taught. Both men and women came under his instruction. And later in history it was bishops who taught things like reading, Bible doctrine, writing, logic, math, geometry, music, grammar and astronomy. During the Reformation men like Luther and Calvin advocated, universal state sponsored education. It was Luther who told authorities that children should be compelled to attend school. Now the Western world has this concept in their laws.

Benedictine monks were the people who started the universities in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. And some of the most respected universities in the world today began as Christian institutions: Harvard and Yale for example. The interesting thing is that all the way up through 1932, out of 182 colleges in the United States, 168 of them were founded by Christian denominations.

Robert—Trained a local man to go to a village of tribal Buddhist people in Cambodia. Over the course of many months he taught God’s story chronologically. Eventually in this village of 500 people, 60% committed themselves to follow Jesus. As they learned more about God’s love and concern for all aspects of their lives, they decided they wanted to help their children. The village did not have access to good education for the children. The Lord stirred them to action. They found a way to start an appropriate schooling system for the village.

Children are learning to read and write and do math. Meanwhile these believers have gone out with the Good News and have already made disciples and started fellowships in other villages.

My friends went to a tribe in the Upper Amazon region to make disciples and start churches. As new believers began to mature in their understanding of God and His Kingdom, they realized they needed to help their children with education. Eventually, the new church started a school. Later, as the Gospel took root in another community, a new church emerged—they too decided to start their own school. Children, families and communities are being transformed.

Question for reflection: One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them.Kingdom Reflection But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering Him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them!” In what ways could you bring children to Jesus so He can touch and bless them?

Kingdom prayer: Lord, show all families of the earth, who put their faith in You, creative ways to teach children about You and Your Kingdom. Amen.

KR19: Fellowships Grow & Multiply

KR19JCFWe, as Kingdom Disciples, believe it is God’s will that everyone on earth has access to fellowship with followers of Jesus to freely worship Him, learn to obey Him and join in His global purposes….

2,000 years ago a cry went out, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also….”  Jesus’ disciples rocked the world in the first century. The transforming, life-giving, community-changing power of Jesus’ message spread like wildfire.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter presented the Gospel with clarity and power. Three thousand people repented of their sins, believed the Good News, were baptized and then added to the church. Next, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42

By AD 100 there were about 25,000 Christians by AD 310 up to 20 Million Christians.

Then came Constantine. The beginning of Christendom. Marriage of church and government. Church buildings, paid ministers, passive Christians. Gradually church became more and more complicated. Momentum slowed down.

How do we regain that original impact for our broken, hurting world today? By following the original example! Keeping things simple is one of the keys. Originally Jesus’ followers met with one another in homes. Many “barnacles” have attached to the word church over the past 2,000 years which can tend to hide what was seen in the first century. Many find it helpful to use words like simple churches, discipleship groups, fellowships, etc. These gatherings are reaching many who would “never darken the door of a church.”  Many of today’s traditional churches are positioned well to reach people who are more likely to walk into a church building. For those who would not be drawn to traditional church, we use something different.

fellowshipToday, all across the world, believers are rediscovering the value of gathering for fellowship with friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members and, most importantly, with Jesus in the center.

Just like in the first-century, we find these fellowships can be planted in the midst of communities of people who don’t know Jesus yet. People who have never heard of Jesus are now meeting Him and eagerly working to start Jesus-Centered Fellowships that reach their families, friends and neighbors.

Jesus said “Wherever two or three gather together in My name, I am there.” For pioneer regions, Loren Cunningham urges us to “Keep It Small and Simple—K.I.S.S.” Fellowships like these have the potential to reproduce rapidly.

One of my friends who worked in Mongolia tells of a Mongol man who met Jesus one morning. The one who led him to Jesus urged him to immediately go share his faith. Joyfully, home he went to tell his family. Before long he went to the neighbors on the right side of his house.  He went to the neighbors on the left side of his house. By the end of the day, 24 people met Jesus!

He went back to report the exciting news. Rather than being invited to bring this group of new believers to an existing fellowship, he was taught how to lead this new fellowship in his own home. Thus one fellowship gave birth to a new fellowship.

To start disciple-making movements we need multiplication, following the example in the Book of Acts, we can Keep It Small, Simple, Easily Duplicated—K.I.S.S.E.D.!

Question for reflection: What changes might make your fellowship more easily reproduced in an unreached community?Kingdom Reflection

Kingdom prayer: Lord Jesus help us to multiply small, simple Jesus-Centered fellowships which reproduce daughter fellowships, granddaughter fellowships, great-granddaughter fellowships and on for many more generations. May they be filled with Kingdom Disciples spreading the blessings of Your Kingdom within their families, among their neighbors, throughout their societies and across the nations. In Your name, Amen.

KR18: God’s Story

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We, as Kingdom Disciples, believe it is God’s will that everyone on earth has access to God’s Word in their own language….

The majority of the world’s unreached people groups are made up of people who prefer to learn from information passed on through the spoken word rather than written. How will people like these have access to God’s Word?

Storytelling is a key. OneStory is a partnership of organizations working with mother-tongue speakers to develop and record chronological Bible “story sets.” Mother-tongue speakers then spread the stories to others. The sets form the beginnings of an “oral Bible” to be told and retold for generations.

In the northern mountain provinces of the Bontoc Region, there are many tribes with unique dialects. Though most dialects have portions of Scripture available, very few can read their own language, only the trade language.

In 2007, a OneStory partnership formed to create three different Bible story sets in tribal languages spoken in these villages. A team came together led by Patrik, a local leader involved with evangelism and church planting. He shared the Gospel in story form and for tribal discipleship training, he utilized Bible storytelling as a main format of training.

Roweena has been actively involved in the serving the villages. She is a widow with six children and weaves cloth for her livelihood.  Twice a week, she came down from the hills to work along with Patrik and the small team crafting stories from the Bible.  She took the stories to the village, tested them with the people to make sure they were understandable and to get their feedback.

Now the full story set—from Creation to Christ—in the local language has been completed. Roweena continues to share Bible Stories village to village.  She is respected and empowered as a fruitful storyteller and evangelist!

When asked if she would consider doing the hard work of creating story sets again for another language, she immediately replied, “Yes!” Roweena has personally witnessed the impact upon people hearing God’s Story told in their heart language.

Patrik has watched these easily told stories equip villagers to share the Gospel with confidence and success. This has led Patrik to the conviction that he would like to see the ten other languages in his region provided with OneStory sets as well.

Go to YWAMOneStory.org to find story sets already available for use or to be trained to create a new story set. Another option for providing access to God’s Word is using resources provided for free by Global Recordings Network. GRN produces audio recordings of Bible Stories in 6,098 languages for the least reached language groups in the world. Contact them at GlobalRecordings.net

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Question for reflection: What are you doing to get God’s Word out to others?

Kingdom prayer: Lord God, Your Word is lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  Your Word will shine the way toward Kingdom Transformation of families, communities, and nations. Help us make Your Word accessible to all.