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Articles Tagged with: Issue 8

Life at the Edge of God’s Kingdom

Marseille, France: Europe’s Gateway to North Africa

Marseille provides a critical access point to several North African people groups who would otherwise be extremely challenging for Christians to reach – including the Algerian Moabite Berbers who have no known Christians among them.

We are reaching out to the secular (anti-religious) French nationals as well as Muslim immigrants in Marseille. One example comes from Mayra – a BGU senior who just returned from her 16-month internship. She developed a relationship with an Algerian Muslim family befriending their daughter Fatima. Through Mayra’s encouragement, Fatima attended a Christian church with her for the first time. Fatima experienced God’s love and continues to pursue further understanding of Christianity.

East Africa: Ethnic Somali Villages

Somalia is 99.6% unreached and is in a state of crisis due to famine and violence. Kenya, which neighbors Somalia, has an estimated 2.3 million ethnic Somalis and 400,000 Somali refugees.

Our Bethany team, partnering with various other missionaries, is working with unreached Muslim ethnic groups including Somalis living in Kenya. Jason and his team are equipping church planters and, in turn, Muslim villages, with sustainable farming techniques in a climate prone to drought. They have witnessed amazing result thus far – both in farming and Muslims opening their hearts to know more about Jesus. In the last month, church planters started two Discovery Bible Studies with Muslims and all those attending have their own Bible.

India: The Chamar People

The “low caste” Chamar number over 51 million in India. Only 0.5% of these 51 million are born-again believers. To be in the low caste is often regarded as “untouchable” or “undesirable”, with unemployment and illiteracy being widespread.

We have focused on engaging and bringing the hope of Jesus to the Chamar people. Edward Jesudhas, our local partner, began reaching out to the Chamar. Edward moved his family to northern Delhi, started a church in his home, and grew his church to over 70 people in the first year. He also established a missionary training school to equip Indian missionaries to reach their native people. Today, his congregation, mission training school, and the number of workers among the Chamar have grown.

New Delhi: Hindu and Muslim Communities

India has more unreached people groups than any other country in the world, with a staggering 2,291 unreached groups. The capital city, New Delhi, alone has 441 unreached people groups.

Through multiple missional efforts in New Delhi, we provide education to children and their mothers who have no access to it including English and sewing classes.

The Kingdom of Bhutan: The Bumthangpa People

Nestled in South Asia’s Eastern Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan has deep roots in the main religion: Buddhism. Thinley, a “Buddhist Monk Turned Missionary”, is reaching the Bhutanese unreached peoples. Thinly and his wife are establishing a church in a village with 4,500 Bumthangpa people. The Bumthangpa number 24,000 people and are only 0.59% Christian.

Buddhist Thailand

The Thai people are profoundly unreached people group. There are many smaller tribal people groups through Thailand as well. Many small Buddhist villages have virtually no Christian witness of any kind. And those Christian churches in the region often do not reach out to the Thai people. Our Bethany team befriended a local pastor. Through their interactions and encouragement, the pastor began to lead his people in outreach to the village. The church took on a new sense of urgency to be a light in an otherwise dark village.

This article is from the Spring 2019 Issue of coMission Magazine.

Bringing Life to Lifeless Places

In 2012, I was given an offer that would forever change the direction of my family’s life and ministry. I was asked to consider the role of International Director of Bethany Gateways – Bethany International’s sending agency. At that point, we had been living in Africa for 13 years with no intention of leaving any time soon. Saying yes would mean relocating to the US and providing strategic oversight to our mission force around the world.

A DREAM OF THE FUTURE

The night I was offering the job, the Lord gave me a very powerful dream. I was in the presence of three American men when suddenly standing beside us were four men of a given ethnicity. They were standing absolutely motionless and expressionless – they almost looked lifeless. Within a short time, this group of four seemingly hollow men became a group of about 15 men and women, bursting with praise and worship to the Lord. As I woke up, the Lord said to me, “If you do this thing, life will be brought to otherwise lifeless places.”

A little lover two years later, I was the International Director and my family and I were living in the US. Throughout my time as International Director, that phrase “…life will be brought to otherwise lifeless places” continued to echo through my memory as a promise to my family that such a major change would be worth it. In fact, one of my daughters even painted a picture that hangs in my office with that phrase on it.

STREAMS IN THE DESERT

It is now 2019, and I am writing this article from SE Asia. Our team here was involved with a small Buddhist village, in an area with no Christian witness of any kind; however, they discovered a tiny struggling church in this village. They befriended the pastor and church members and became one of them. Through their interactions and encouragement, the pastor began to lead his people in outreach to the rest of the village. The church took on a new sense of urgency to be a light in an otherwise dark village.

In a public school classroom across the country, the class rose to do their morning ritual Buddhist chants. A six-year-old boy stood up, and with confidence told his teacher, “I will stand with you, but I won’t chant. I am now a Christian.” His mother abandoned her life of prostitution and came to the Lord through the faithful ministry and discipleship of one of our missionaries and global partners. She now serves the Lord and is teaching her son to stand for truth.

In another part of Asia, one of your missionaries, together with BGU interns and global partners, have been serving in a Muslim village. Months ago, while interactions were very positive, there was no indication that anyone was interested in anything beyond education. Just last week, things turned a corner: two women and their whole families came to the Lord. One of the ladies shared with a missionary, “I now pray to Jesus, but please, come and teach me how to pray. I don’t know how, but all day I say, ‘Thank you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus.’”

Across the ocean in Africa, recently one of our missionary families was able to baptize nine Muslims who came to faith in Jesus. In the same region, another one of our missionary families had been serving for eight years in a Muslim village and had yet to see anyone interested in hearing about the message of Jesus. Some trained African missionaries came to join them in the village for a month and, within two weeks, they started two Bible studies among Muslims.

The African missionaries came to our Bethany missionary and said, “We have found that YOU are the person of peace in this village. Because of your faithful service, and because the people in the village know we are connected to you, we had the freedom to begin these Bible studies. But, it is only because of your faithful service, and because the people in the village know we are connected to you, we had the freedom to begin these Bible studies. But, it is only because of your faithful service over these many years.”

Life is being brought to otherwise lifeless places because faithful men and women are willing to go to the hard places, sacrifice, and let their lives shine forth in the darkness. Please pray for our missionaries and partners across the globe who are serving in very difficult regions and circumstances, all with the purpose to bring life to the lifeless.

 

This article is from the Spring 2019 Issue of coMission Magazine.

Edward Jesudhas: Celebrating the Life that Started a Movement

There I found myself, at the Delhi National Hospital morgue in India, mourning the death of my dear friend Edward. Edward was a man of God in every sense. This past December, God brought him home suddenly at the age of 42. This is the story of Edward Jesudhas, profound missionary, and my personal friend. A few of the moving testimonies I learned about Edward before I preached to Edward’s congregation after his passing:

“He led me to the Lord and counseled our family.”

“The day he prayed for me to get a job, I got the job!” “God used Edward to pray for many people. He surprised me one day by saying, ‘God will use you to pray for others and see them touched by God as well.’”

“Edward came to our poor slum and began to tell us about the One True God. No Christian had ever visited us before.”

I was in India, one country amongst many ministry sites I was visiting in Asia, away from my home in Mexico. I had plans to see Edward just hours before tragedy struck – excited to sit with my friend and discuss the happenings of his ministry.

Edward strived each day to make an impact – in his family, his communities, and ultimately in this world. He devoted his life to the mission field, serving in North India seeking to reach a people group who previously had no access to the Gospel.

AN UNEXPECTED LOSS

The day Edward passed he traveled with a ministry partner to visit sites among the “low caste” Chamar people in the Rohini area of Delhi, India. He walked through a slum area where they teach young Chamar girls to sew, shared time with a number of locals he had helped lead to the Lord, and paid a visit to the missions school that he started just one year prior.

On this same day, I was teaching in a missions’ school just outside of Delhi. My wife and I were scheduled to visit and teach at Edward’s newly formed missionary training school and his church over the upcoming weekend. Hours before he passed, I received a text from Edward that read “Where are you my friend? You are very silent.” I quickly replied that we were in transit to his part of the city, and were looking forward to being with him the next day.

Upon returning home from his work, with his wife at his side, Edward had a major heart attack. There was nothing that could be done to save him. He was gone in minutes.

AN UNFORGETTABLE IMPACT

My friend Edward was a pastor, missions mobilizer, Ph.D. Candidate, and ministry partner. We worked together in the GlobeServe network of missionary training schools; our goal through GlobeServe being to establish churches among 500 unreached people groups over just a few years.

Edward targeted a number of unreached, “untouchable caste” people groups in the Delhi area. In fact, his doctoral thesis was set to cover the Chamar people. The Chamar number over 51 million in India. Only 0.5% of these 51 million are born-again believers. God used Edward to start a movement among the Chamar people.

It was my honor to be at his home when he first planted a church in the cramped living room of his apartment on the north side of the bustling Delhi metropolis. Just one year later, I was in the same apartment, only to find 70 people tightly packed and worshipping Jesus.

BUILDING ON EDWARD’S LEGACY

Within two hours of his passing, at about 11 pm at night, more than 1,000 people showed up to mourn Edward and console his family. The following day, about 300 of us gathered together for an informal home-going to honor a man who fought the good fight, who finished the race, who is now home with Jesus. Edward’s life and legacy shine like a beacon.

Two years have passed since Edward began his work among the Chamar people. Over this time his congregation and missions school have moved to a larger facility. But Edward lived understanding how much work had yet to be done. He had planned to give his life to this cause, and those now in leadership roles here strive to keep building, sharing, and giving.

Edward wasn’t just a minister. He was a husband to his wife, Hersia, and a father of two children in their teen years, Allen and Edwin. Even in the midst of processing their loss, Hersia and Edward’s ministry partners have taken up Edward’s ministry to build on the church and missions school.

It is my opinion, as well as everyone else who knew him, that Edward had too few years on this earth; he had so much left to give and accomplish. But in God’s great wisdom and sovereignty, I recognize our loss is heaven’s gain. As I sought to console Edward’s son, Allan, shortly after his father’s passing he made a remarkable statement, “Here in India, my dad accomplished more in two years than many could in 70 years.”

Allan is right. Edward lived with eternity in mind. He set forth every day – in a region where many efforts are made to keep the light of the Lord away – to bring God’s kingdom to unreached peoples. Edward, my friend, you are an inspiration. You introduced hundreds to the redemption found through Christ and gave your life to the most important cause. We will strive every day to build on your legacy, through India and beyond.

 

This article is from the Spring 2019 Issue of coMission Magazine.

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