How God is Sweeping Through South Asia – Part 1
– By the “Walker” family –
Our team consists of a married couple, another expatriate, and two national coworkers, Sanjay* and John* (Sanjay’s younger brother). We are co-laborers. There’s no sense of “us” or “them.” We are all just disciples of Jesus, people trying to listen to Him and do what He says. Whenever one of us senses a need for a change or a new approach in the work, we present it to the rest of the team as humbly as possible, and then seek the Lord for confirmation in His Word.
We expatriates didn’t come to the field with this perspective. We spent many years on the field spinning our wheels. We were busy but unfruitful. In 2011, we attended disciple making trainings sponsored by our agency. The trainings changed our lives. For two weeks, we studied God’s Word. We didn’t read books about missions or study modern patterns in missions. We simply opened our Bibles and looked for answers to questions such as, “Did Jesus have a strategy for reaching lost people?”
God used the trainings to shift our paradigms. Most importantly, we faced this question: “What if, instead of focusing on what we can do (engineering, teaching, administration, communication), we focus on what needs to be done?” In all the years we’d been on the field, we had concentrated on using our skills. What if the question had never been about our skills, but rather, “What needs to be done in order to save the lost?” The answer to that question would necessarily include skills we don’t have (like befriending strangers, praying with unbelievers, and following the instructions given in Luke 10). What a relief to realize that obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) doesn’t revolve around our methods, personality types or intelligence levels. Jesus didn’t invite His first disciples to follow Him because they were the best or the smartest. They were uneducated fishermen, vile tax collectors and oppressed underdogs. But they obeyed Jesus.
We were so excited. For the first time in our lives on the field, we began to focus on God’s desire that none should perish rather than on our skills. We began trying new things, including:
- personal obedience (searching for people who would open their households to the gospel),
- increased prayer (no longer just a personal, devotional time activity; prayer became part of our job description),
- casting vision to existing believers to partner in this endeavor,
- training interested Christians, and
- receiving coaching from those ahead of us.
A few months after receiving training, we ran across an acquaintance named Sanjay, a man we hadn’t seen for several years. What follows is Sanjay’s perspective of that meeting.
I was born into a Christian family. We followed the Christian traditions. When I was old enough, I received four years of Bible training, and then became a Bible teacher. Over time, I started 17 different churches in rural areas over a large geographical area of my country.
In December 2011, I met Brother Walker on the road in Delhi. He asked if I would like to come to his house for training in church planting. At that point in my life, I was a very proud man. I had a large ministry. I had started a school and a Bible training center. I thought, “What can this guy teach me?” I decided not to go.
However, a month later I called him to wish him a Happy New Year. When I called, he said, “I spoke with before you about a church planting training. Why don’t you come?”
This time, I gave in. I said I would come and bring some friends.
When we arrived, he gave us water to drink and thanked us for coming. Then he gave us paper and pens and said, “Today, we are going to study Scripture. I’m going to go make chai for everyone. While I do that, all of you please copy Matthew 28:16-20 from your Bibles onto your piece of paper. Next to the passage, write how you are going to apply it to your life.”
I thought, “What kind of training is this? All he did was give me a piece of paper and a pen!” I already had Bible college training. I had completed 12 years of very successful ministry. But, in 10 minutes time, I was a changed man.
I read in Matthew 28 that Jesus said we must go and make disciples. I wrote that down. Later, after I shared what was on my paper, Brother asked me, “Sanjay, you have a very large ministry, but do you have any disciples?”
I thought, “I don’t have a single one. In 10 years, I have done nothing for Jesus. He said to make disciples, but up to this day, I have none.
The next month, I came back to visit the Walkers again. We sat together and studied God’s Word. I decided that from then on, I would leave behind all other things. I returned home with one desire – to do nothing less, nothing else, than disciple making. I resigned from the school I had started, my position with the international ministry that paid a good salary, and my job as president of the Bible training center. I left everything. Since that time, I have focused on obeying Jesus’ command and nothing else. And God has faithfully provided for our every need.
We began meeting roughly once per month with Sanjay and 15 friends he invited from various districts in his state. Most were Christian-background believers, while a few were Hindu background believers. Those who applied the CPM principles began to quickly see fruit. Sanjay was the head coach and cheerleader for this group.
- By December 2012, there were 55 Discovery Bible Groups, all consisting of lost people.
- By December 2013 there were 250 groups (churches and Discovery groups).
- By December 2014 there were 700 churches, and an estimated 2,500 baptized.
- By December 2015 there were 2,000 churches, and an estimated 9,000 baptized
- By December 2016 there were 6,500 churches, and an estimated 25,000 baptisms.
- By December 2017, there were 21,000 churches and it became impractical to try to count baptisms.
- By December 2018, there were 30,000 churches.
In part 2 we will share a few of the many lessons we learned during this process, the roles of various people involved, and key factors in progress.
The “Walker” family began cross-cultural work in 2001. In 2006, they joined Beyond (www.beyond.org) and in 2011 started applying CPM principles. They were joined by “Phoebe” in 2013. Phoebe and the Walkers moved countries in 2016, and have been supporting the movements from a distance.
This is expanded from an article that appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers and includes material excerpted from the book Dear Mom and Dad: An Adventure in Obedience, by R. Rekedal Smith.