coMISSION 04/18/2022 The World Says Stop By: Alison Goldhor, Bethany Partners When Rhakho made the decision to follow Jesus and become a missionary, he knew the road ahead would not be easy. Despite experiencing persecution and opposition, the Bethany Partner from northeastern India does not let challenge deter his obedience to go. His goal in life remains the same: to bring as many people as possible to the saving knowledge of Jesus. However, a new challenge in the form of a global pandemic brought unimaginable tragedy. In the span of just a few months, 15 of his closest supporters, friends and family members died from the virus. Faced with grief and uncertainty, Rhakho said it was difficult to see how his ministry would move forward. But rather than slow down, he pressed on with strength he testifies only God could provide. “Our time is short, so I don’t want to stay back and mourn,” Rhakho said. For nearly 20 years, Rhakho has dedicated his life’s work to training disciples. In 2003 he founded Harvest School of Missions in Nagaland. Close to the border of Myanmar and home to many colorful tribes, it is a strategic place from which to send missionaries into places where people have never heard of Jesus. More than 300 students have graduated since then, and Rhakho’s missionaries have planted churches among 34 unreached people groups. Some of these churches are now sending out their own missionaries to reach remote peoples inaccessible to outsiders. Realizing the pandemic offered opportunities as well as challenges, Rhakho and his trainees began reaching more people with the Good News than ever before. When COVID restrictions brought severe economic hardship, Rhakho mobilized relief teams to villages worst affected, distributing rice and other supplies. They discovered that out of desperation, some parents had even had to sell a child to keep the rest of the family from starving. Seeing how hungry people were for God, Rhakho’s trainees began to invite him to put on conferences in remote mountain areas. People would gather from villages all around, and many responded to the Gospel. At the beginning of 2021, Rhakho’s prayer was to see 100 souls saved. By the end of the year, he had seen more than 2,000 come into God’s Kingdom.“In these three years, especially during the pandemic time, we’ve trained more people, we’ve brought more disciples into the kingdom, we’ve planted more churches,” Rhakho said. “When I look back, the Lord gave us more open doorsto reach people.” Rhakho said this success is a direct result of Bethany’s Exponential Disciple-Making seminar (EDM) that he took in early 2020 just before the pandemic. The seminar equips teams to make disciples that make new disciples, multiplying the impact of the Gospel among the unreached. Despite all of the COVID barriers, Rhakho was able to lead a total of 17 seminars, both in-person and online. Just one seminar brought in as many as 400 people. “Praise God, because I know the Lord called me. I praise God not because of what I can do, but because of who is praying for us and praying for our work,” he said. Rhakho’s calling to the mission field came early in life. He grew up in a Christian home where he was encouraged by his family to pray often for persecuted nations. Now as he faces the same challenges as those he prayed for, God is opening doors no one else could.