“One day we went very far. The Holy Spirit was leading us. We went to a place where the lady welcomed us very well. She was a woman of God but she was only pretending because she had a very confused gospel, which is very common here in Africa. I know this because people would come from far to see her and she would require money from them. When we were there and talking, the spirits that were coming from her began to scream and do many things, especially when we prayed. I told you before, people in our place have learned a different kind of gospel. They require from people to bring a cow or bring some chickens, but for the true gospel, you don’t need to bring anything. It is God who is doing the giving. This gospel we preach is simple. It is the message that God loves you. Up til now, I can tell you that lady has received the true gospel, she is making disciples by using Discovery Bible Study. She is doing some work and no longer asking people for money. She started inside her own home and she is doing very well.” - Irenie, Uganda
Questions. There are lots of questions as our trainings unfold. This time we were working with those seasoned in making disciples who are working hard to become trainers themselves. They have been doing the training this time with Roger coming alongside and coaching them for the past few days and it’s been pretty amazing. We are learning so much from them!! Even from the front one of the guys said, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. NEVER have any of us seen mzungus (whites) sit down while an African does the training…and look they are even taking notes while I speak!”
Questions for newcomers to the movement come often and well thought out. This time we were with a group of folks from Western Uganda, near the border of DR Congo. One of their questions was, “But, how, how do you find someone you can make into a disciple?”
For this question, John Omondi (Kenyan church planter) stepped up to answer from one of his many experiences. Laughing and shaking his head he said, “It’s easy, you guys, it’s so easy! For example, there was a time I was eating in a hotel (restaurant) with my friends. We saw this old, old man come in with a boy. They were coming from the hospital because they had been in a motorcycle accident and the boy had a big long cast on his leg. They were from the village and come far. They only had 20KSH left and were so hungry. We told that old man to order anything he wanted to eat and we paid for their food. About a week later that man saw me in town and came to me. He invited me to his home. (After spending time with him and developing relationship with him) now that man has a church in his home and he has reached out to so many people on his own and started groups.”
“Now, I can tell you another story. For me, I am looking for someone we call a person of peace from Luke 10. This is a story about a woman I saw by the road who was living in great poverty. She had a big, big bag of sukuma wiki. I bought that whole bag even though I am the only one that likes those greens. The Holy Spirit was leading me. I saw that woman and could see she had a need and she had something to share. Now…the next time we passed by that lady, she came up to me and said, ‘Anything you are saying or want to say, I will accept.’ We told her, ‘We just want to come to visit you at your home.’ Now, I can tell you that woman she has begun five house churches.”
This is just one example of the amazing people we get to work with. Their passion and love for their people and their God is truly inspiring.
You may remember six months ago five nations (Kenya, Uganda, DRCongo, Burundi, Rwanda) were represented in Kampala to learn about storytelling. There were about 40 of us altogether. Mike Foster and Kenyan Joseph taught us the simplicity of using stories to share the gospel in oral cultures. So, we’ve been wondering if any of the participants found the information helpful and if they are able to use this tool, and if so, if they are finding it effective. Here are just a few stories from some of the women I asked:
Anna Maria (Burundi): “Yes! Yes, I am very happy about this. People love stories so much, especially those of us who are Africans. I have memorized very well the story about Zacchaeus. I tell this story and people listen and they are interested and they want me to tell them even more stories.”
Eugenie: “Yes, for me, I use this so much. Many, many of the people, especially women I talk to they cannot read and they are suffering so many things. It is very simple for me. I tell them the story of the widow in Luke 20:1. You may remember that story. Jesus was at the Temple and he saw some rich people putting money into the Temple moneybox. While he was still watching them, there was a very poor widow lady that came. Jesus saw her put in more money than the rich people. Jesus told the followers, ‘You can see the woman is living in so much poverty but still she gave everything she had.’ These women like this story so much because I tell them, ‘Everyone can start from somewhere; everyone has some small thing that they can give to help someone else or even help themselves to produce more.’ I use this story to do a Discovery Bible Study by asking them these questions:
What is this story about?
What did you learn?
How are you going to obey this Scripture?
Who are you going to share this story with?
“This way is helping me so much to make a disciple who can go and tell the same story to someone and do the same thing I have done.”
Irenie (Uganda): “I love that training so much. For me, I was trying so hard to teach those women how to read so they could have the Bible for themselves. But, this training has helped me so much with them. Now it is going much quicker and easier for me.
“For me, I can tell you how I am using it. First, I find someone or even a group of women. I ask them if I can tell them a story. For example, I love the story in Acts 3 about the time Peter and John went to the Temple. Do you remember the story? There was a man just there who had been crippled his whole life. He was always begging for money there. When Peter and John passed by, he even asked them for some money. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any such thing as money, but I have something else.’ And he told the man to stand up and walk by the power of Jesus Christ. Peter lifted him up and the man jumped and started walking. He was even jumping and walking and praising God.
“So, first I tell them the story and then we talk about the story. I ask them some questions as we discuss. After that, I tell them we are going to put on a play about this story and I tell this one, ‘You are the crippled man’ and I tell that one, ‘you are Peter’ and the other one ‘you are Paul’ and ‘you people will be the crowd passing by going to the Temple.’ And, so they act the story out and many people from just around and children, they come to watch. After that we sing a song telling the story about what has just happened. The people, they are so happy for this. They are clapping and singing and jumping with the song.
“I use many stories from the Bible in this way, using storytelling, then acting, then singing. Another example, I can tell you. They love so much the story about small, small David and how he defeated Goliath. Ah, there are so many, and we have really loved this training. It will make our work go far.”
Because of your help many much-needed water filters are being provided to families in Burundi. This is a tool being used by church planters to not only provide a way to give clean water to people, but also entry into the lives of people. Recently I heard a story of one family impacted in such a huge way, by such a simple act of care and love.
Before going out, the disiciple who has a water filter to give away prays asking the Holy Spirit to lead him and show him the person of peace in the region he is entering. So, one such church planter went out. He found an old man who had some wealth. He had a house, cows, goats and chickens, and, of course, a family. The man welcomed the disciple into his home and was very, very happy to receive him and also to receive the gift of the water filter. After some time, the old man who had heard the gospel before but many years earlier had become very disillusioned with the god he was taught about. Because of the gift of love and because of the way of doing simple church within his own home with his family, this old man became very excited about God and how much God had reached out to prove His love to him.
However, on his own, this man discovered through the Discovery Bible Study with the group, that there was a problem. “The problem is now I have two wives.” Rapidly transformations were happening in this man’s life. He no longer cared about going to the bar every night. Now, he was staying home and helping his children with their homework at night. But now he had discovered he had a big problem.
The church planter advised the old man, “Ask God to help you. Just pray. Talk to God. Ask Him what to do with this problem.” So, the old man prayed. The second wife also had two children with this old man. After sometime on her own, shockingly the wife went to the old man and told him, “I am leaving you.” He wanted to give her a house and a cow, but the lady told him, “No, I have decided to go and don’t want anything. You keep them.”
The story doesn’t end there…it continues…
This old man started a church in his home. Simon, the original church planter, discipled him and from that one house church the people started reaching out. Within three months they reached 38 new believers, who they then baptized. One of those new believers was the son of the old man. The son had such a desire to share what God had done in his life that he went very far from his home up to the area of the pygmy tribes. Because the water filter had helped his family so much, he thought, “Maybe I can learn to make a filter like that one and take it there.” So, he went there and started with telling the story of the woman with the 12 years of bleeding who was healed by Jesus. There was a woman among the pygmy’s who told the son, “I need prayer for such a healing.” When the son prayed for her, she “jumped up and there was a demon that started speaking things.” That woman was healed. He said, “I believe the story in Matthew 17 where I am told those who follow Him will do even greater things.”
Even though this man had only been baptized for ONE week, this is what God is doing through one willing to go and share God’s love with their neighbor…near or far.
This is the goal set by 30 people sitting in a room together from Rwanda and Burundi.
These key leaders had come together from distant provinces, traveling a long way, leaving their farms and simple lives to be with us in the capital city. It has been a humbling, powerful, and inspiring time.
And, the thing is, they could achieve this!
This number of baptisms was not pulled out of the air like some pie-in-the-sky goal. Rather, they were looking carefully at the hundreds of churches and over a thousand new discipleship groups already in existence throughout their network. Then they spent much time going over what they could expect from these churches and groups in each province. Finally, they calculated what they felt was possible over the next three years by the grace and power of God. It is a realistic faith-goal.
Based on what we have seen from these teams to-date, it could surely happen!
AND, here is the best part: this is just the beginning. For these teams, a person baptized is not just a convert or someone who will sit on a church pew. Every new believer is brought into a discipleship relationship and taught to become a joyful discipler of others. So, when 30,000 new disciples are unleashed on these nations with the passion to reach and disciple still more… well, you can do the math yourself! Explosive potential.
Here are a few of our amazing, faith-filled friends that you helped us gather with…