Making disciples is a journey. It takes each believer along a learning curve that is continually ebbing, flowing and growing. The vastness of strategies, ideas, trainings and books that offer suggestions for what’s best can be overwhelming. In the midst of all these amazing ideas and tools, one truth remains, the plumb line, the best strategy, the Word of God. As missionaries and national partners go out proclaiming the gospel and seeking to make disciples it’s important to take many things into consideration including context, reproducibility, longevity and end goal. It’s also just as important to know “what’s next”. Each time a new relationship is formed or a group meets, the missionary or national partner, every believer, should ask themselves, “what’s next?”
In Fort Dauphin and the surrounding bush villages much thought, discussion and planning has gone into this process of making disciples. There is continuing discussion on best practices and consideration for what needs to change. Two years ago a group consisting of the six leaders over Antandroy and Antanosy work met together. Recently, another group of leaders over these same two regions met. This time there were 30 leaders. The gospel is spreading. Disciples are making disciples. Workers and leaders alike are rising up. As you pray for this work to continue, don’t forget to ask yourself, “What’s Next?”
The people were all smiling as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their cactus lined village. The national partner arriving with the missionaries made introductions as they all sat down on the woven mats laid over the dirt. The nationals and missionaries exchanged proper greetings. The missionaries asked, “Do you want to hear about Jesus Christ and sing a song to God?”
“Yes!” the villagers responded.
“What song do you know?”
“We don’t know any songs to sing to God. Teach us.”
The missionaries proceeded to teach them a song along with the gospel. A few people showed interest in following Jesus.
Within a few months, as the national partner continued visiting and sharing with the people, many came to Christ. They were hungry for more stories from the Scriptures and insights into how to follow Jesus.
The missionaries were able to visit every once in a while, but the national partner was key in meeting with the villagers regularly. The time came for the new converts to follow in baptism. In the deserts of South Madagascar water is scarce. Finding a water hole deep enough to baptize is a huge challenge. On this day, the villagers and missionaries walked 10 miles to get to the ocean and back. The lead missionary, along with a few volunteers from Louisiana, stood on the shore surrounded by the new converts and modeled how to baptize. After a little more teaching and verification that the people understood what this step in their faith meant, the leaders of the village took each new convert one by one and baptized them! The people from the village sang praises to God and celebrated with a meal on the beach; rejoicing in this step of obedience in their new found faith.
Teachings continued and the new converts gained more and more understanding of the Scriptures. After some time the missionaries were asked to come back and teach about taking the Lord’s Supper. The people were all smiling again as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their village. The missionaries had permission to set up a tent and stay for the night. They got the tent up and began fellowshipping with the people. Some women missionaries were cooking with the women in the cooking house. The missionary kids were teaching the village children how to play hop scotch and the men were sitting and beginning to discuss the steps to take the Lord’s Supper, described by the Scriptures. It was an incredible experience to be a part of these milestones in the lives of new Christians who had no preconceived ideas of what these actions should look like. From the time they confessed Christ as their Lord and Savior and learned songs to sing to praise him, to following him in baptism and then learning what it means to remember the Lord through taking the Lord’s Supper, the missionaries were determined to teach them to do everything based upon what the Scriptures say.
Pray the people in the village of Amby will grow in their faith according to the Scriptures. Pray they will weigh every action in light of the Scriptures and that they will be able to stand firm in the midst of persecution and temptation. Pray for the people in the church to grow stronger in their faith and be diligent in sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
In just 5 days a very exciting event is beginning in the city of Pretoria, South Africa. Proverbs 27:17 says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” – and for the next 5 days 70 leaders from all over Africa will gather for a “sharpening” time. During this week we will all participate in what we call a “SWARM”, which is when we all enter an area, walking down the streets of downtown, two by two, sharing “My Story” (our testimonies) and “His Story” the Gospel with those we encounter. Is it any coincidence that there are 70 missionaries due to attend, and in Luke 10:2 it talks about “70”?! This SWARM event is an opportunity for the participants to find God Prepared People (GPP), and Houses of Peace (HOP). Please pray now for this very important meeting, also pray throughout the next month that much fruit would result from this teaching time.
“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” (Samuel Chadwick)
This is the month that a brand new discipleship group begins in a Pretoria home! This group will be training men and women on how to be a disciple who makes disciples! Already much spiritual warfare has been experienced by those preparing for this training. Ephesians 6 tells us clearly that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”. Therefore, we are commanded to put on our spiritual armor each and every day, and to “pray always” (Ephesians 6:18) for each other.
Will you do this now? Satan is working overtime to stop this teaching from beginning. Pray now for this group, that God would strengthen them and establish them for His glory. Pray for their protection from the schemes of Satan. Ask God to use this group to bring much fruit for God’s kingdom.
For two years God was telling us to start a church in our home for the purpose of modeling the Acts 2 church model. We resisted wondering if it was putting too much dependence on us, as outsiders. Finally in October 2015 we started a church meeting in our home. The name of the church group became “The Refuge” and it continues until today.
We spent all of 2016 modeling healthy church and took the group through the books of Acts. It was very basic teachings with emphasis placed on simple obedience. Our structure has been much different than traditional church meetings and the “Three-Thirds Process” became the structure of each meeting where we would spend time together in fellowship, pastoral care, prayer, small group accountability, vision casting, learning the new lesson and goal setting with prayer. (Look back, Look Up & Look Ahead). 2016 was a growing year for us as we saw individuals get stronger in the faith and in evangelism & discipleship. Every believer in the group is considered an active disciple with a role in Kingdom work.
2017 has looked much the same in regards to individuals growing deeper, but we’ve also seen a shift where churches are being birthed out of this initial church plant. It’s been exciting to see this evolution take place since our goal is to have a healthy church in every village here! In 2015, we envisioned this to be the role of The Refuge as we started, but it was obvious that this would be a gradual process initially. The group is thinking multiplication now and that has encouraged us. Sometimes a church group meets on a different night of the week so the church will come to join The Refuge meeting on Sunday night. This has been a perfect time for accountability, training and follow-up conversations.
We praise the Lord for how He has taught us to just obey even if we have doubts about how things will turn out.
Please Pray for The Refuge as it has become a training center for multiple leaders and church groups. We get constant feedback each day from people being impacted and challenged. Please pray for the new church plants on the island… House of Prayer, Amazing Grace, & House of Faith to name a few.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin! Zechariah 4:10a
Until There is No Place Left!
A new discipleship group has started among the street markets of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. This group is made up of curio and flower sellers who work in the city center. This group was started as the result of street evangelism by members of Bulawayo Baptist Church, and as an outgrowth of a discipleship group already established at another area of the city center. Each week, as missionary Ramona shares the lesson, they seem more and more hungry to learn the things of the Kingdom of God. Others come to listen who are not believers, but are curious about this group of people sitting in the middle of the market. Please pray that these onlookers will hear the truth of the gospel and come to believe. Pray also that group members will have boldness to share what they are learning, and will feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to share their faith with family, neighbors, and friends, and that God will raise up one or more of them who are willing to start other groups to then teach others what they are learning. Pray that like the apostles that these sellers will “turn their world upside down” (Acts 17:6b) with the Gospel.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19
A Testimony from a National Believer
“The Lord is revealing himself in a big way. Three weeks ago (I) sensed the Lord was telling (me) to call one of (my) former employees, *Ashley, who I lost contact with for three years. I felt the Lord was telling me to tell her “My Story” and “The Gospel”. I had met Jesus during the same period that we lost contact.
So I called her and met with her down in the South. I shared with her and she was so excited about Jesus because she met Him about the same time as me but she was sad because she didn’t feel that she could fit into the local church because of bad teaching, mainly prosperity gospel. Of course, I had to ask her the “three questions” as she was so thirsty for the Word: when and where can we meet, and who will you invite?
She gathered about 12 people in her mother’s modest hindu home a week later and two people gave their lives to Jesus and there were also many “yellow lights” (people who are hesitant to accept the teaching of the Bible and/or Jesus). The week after, we started to teach them about obedience to Jesus Christ and they accepted Jesus and were baptised that same week.
From the public baptism at a local beach, a cleaning lady (hindu) from the public toilet saw the baptism and was compelled to know more. So she asked *Ashley about what was happening. Even as an immature believer, *Ashley began to share her faith for the first time and asked the “three questions”. Now the cleaning lady is open for more. (I) was so humbled by the power of the Holy Spirit, at that moment, in the life of *Ashley.
Please join (us) in prayer for many more laborers like *Ashley.”
Pray for trainers who instill immediately in the DNA of a new believer the command of Christ: “Therefore GO and Make Disciples”! We are so excited as we see the simple commands of Christ obeyed and the fruit that emanates as a result.
Like much of Africa, the entire region of southern Madagascar has been experiencing an inconceivable drought and subsequent famine. As a result, many have died, are severely malnourished and have no hope of future harvests. Some villages have sold the last of their livestock and are surviving off of bitter, often poisonous, manioc.
In October, we partnered with BGR and coordinated the “Seeds of Life” seed distribution project. Through the sacrificial giving of Southern Baptists and others all over the world, we were approved to help aid in this time of crisis by providing seed to the Mahafaly people, in hopes of a reproducible harvest next year. Despite being limited on preparation time, God heard our prayers and provided 165 tons of seed. If you are like me, and struggle to understand how much 165 tons really is, imagine about fifty-five elephants! You can imagine what it took logistically to get that much seed way out to the remote Mahafaly villages!
Our first generation church leaders played a major role in the planning and implementation of the seed distribution. They received training from BGR on distribution protocols and worked hard to develop an evangelism strategy. Each first generation church/village was given the seed for their village, along with the bags of seeds for the villages of their second, third and fourth generation churches. Each first generation church took seed to the second generation church and helped them distribute within their village. This continued on with the third and fourth generations.
In all, we were able to distribute over 3,000 (50 kilogram) bags of corn, cowpeas and peanuts to 55 villages with a combined population of nearly 41,000 people! The Gospel was spread to thousands who have never heard God’s saving message and over 700 people have received Christ. Over thirty new villages have new groups of believers meeting!
Now that the people have seed to plant, please pray God would send rain to the dry, parched land. Pray for a bountiful harvest, not only in their fields, but also among their hearts. Pray for many more to come to Christ and for the believers to continue to grow in their faith and commitment.
Thanks so much for praying for the Urban Conference in Harare. Urban Specialist, Kurt Holiday, showed us how to learn more about our city, the people in our city, and how we can be pro-active in bringing God’s “shalom” to our cities.
The discussion groups were lively as people began to generate practical ideas their churches could use to engage in Kingdom activities in Harare.
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We are praising the Lord that very recently 20 believers were trained in the Malherbes community in T4T/4-Fields. Many of these trained believers then went into their community and shared the Gospel over one weekend. From that one weekend there were 34 who accepted Jesus as their Savior. We give all glory to God for what He has done in this community. Now we ask that you’d please pray as these new believers are grouped into Houses of Peace (HOPs). Pray also that they’d continue to be obedient disciples, who make disciples, and that churches will grow from this one community.