We had almost had it with Cambodia. We were doing work for our house churches that they would not do for themselves. I had in mind to save donors money by doing countless small repair jobs myself. But while some church members labored in ministry projects for others, many people sat through church services so that they could corner us afterward and ask for something. While some were insatiable Bible students, most did not know how to share their faith. We didn’t either.
How I was operating was not benefitting the people. They were enabled, not empowered. They were not learning what was within their power and the power of God to do.
So I spent every waking hour of the last two months asking Jesus what it would take for a disciple-making movement of His to spread throughout the Great River People. I started a chat group with missionaries in similar situations. I reached out to mentors, reviewed notes from AFM training, and scoured websites like movements.net and dmmovements.net. God even orchestrated our team to have two in-person meetings with Laurence Burn, AFM’s training director, when he was in Cambodia on other business.
I learned that giving financial handouts can poison motivation and kill a movement. Besides fear, people were motivated by rewards and money, which opened them up to others constantly asking them what they were given to convert. Instead, they should be free to honestly reply that they were never given anything.
With gratitude to God, our team is now working on a model for disciple-making that fits the unique needs of the people here. Our goal is to build momentum for a movement that will reach the whole population in less than 20 years. We will focus on attitudes and activities that generate the greatest commitment of the people to follow God and reach others, and we will never be afraid to say no to an opportunity that appears attractive but does not match our movement’s principles. We will also work to ensure all steps, tools, and principles we undertake will be clearly defined and easily reproducible by the humblest disciples.
Our foundation will be to obsessively share God’s love with the people to access their hearts. We want them to believe and understand that God has an overwhelming heart filled with love for them and that His vision for them is vast—a wildfire movement of restoring the guilty and broken to His image.
To reach the people, we will share the good news with everyone and emphasize prayer at every turn. Making prayer a ministry, we will visit others, asking how we can specifically pray for them. Praying for people increases the love a missionary has for them, enabling the missionary to be in tune with the person to see if they are open to more dialogue and study. Members will make a list of everyone they know and pray detailed, extraordinary, intercessory prayers on their behalf, telling God of the desperate situations—divorce, abuse, disease and the satanic lies enslaving them—and how the individual needs Him to work mightily. And we will pray to God to lead us to people already respected in the community, relationally connected, and generous, who will multiply their faith. We will not get stuck judging who those multipliers might be.
As we demonstrate to others that we love them, we will give short personal testimonies to allow them the opportunity to signal when they are open to transformation. Here is the basic formula:
I was transformed.
Do you have a story of transformation?
Would you like to?
Call your family together, and I will tell you a story that helped me. Below is an example:
Before I knew Jesus, I was legalistic and depressed. I thought I was better than others because my parents served God. But I got angry quickly, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop saying cross words to my wife when I was stressed. When I met Jesus, I experienced unconditional love and an invitation to serve Him. Now He helps me every day. I prayed to Jesus to make me gentle like Him. I listened to His voice, and He showed me how the root of my arguing came from my ego and impatience. Now my life is filled with joy and love for others.
Do you have a story like that? Would you like to? Is there something you worry about, or is very difficult to change in your life? Call your family together, and I will tell you a story that helped me.
After gaining access to their hearts through love, we will center our evangelistic efforts on telling Bible stories to families. Storytelling is the next obsession of a movement-maker. Stories develop a person’s worldview, and movements happen in families. Project members will prepare and memorize three to six Bible stories that address the most significant areas of brokenness affecting the people group and share them with individuals. We will tell Old Testament stories in the light of New Testament fulfillment.
Suppose those Bible stories go well with the individuals. In that case, we will ask to meet with their whole family at least three times each week to engage in chronological Bible stories tailored to the needs of our people and with specific points to emphasize. While sharing with them, we will develop their capacity to ask questions about the story and discover its meaning on their own.
We will begin using our mid-week meetings to train existing believers, helping them discover their testimony, keep it simple, write it down and memorize it. Believers will practice with and critique each other. They will also make a list of everyone they know, dividing the list into groups of five names. Each week, believers will tell their testimony to the five people on that week’s list. We will teach them how to bridge from their story to Jesus’ story, and we will meet with them for accountability, discussing their successes and failures.
This last Sabbath, I apologized to the church group for all the gifts missionaries have given over the years. I told them that outreach led by a missionary with donated money would be too slow and bottleneck the movement. I apologized for modeling to them a ministry method that they could never reproduce. I also apologized for being here so long without training them to share simple testimonies. We read the parable of the sower and had a vibrant discussion ending with everyone raising their hands to multiply 30, 60 and 100 fold. I could feel the excitement building as they sensed they were to be empowered to know who to share with, what to say, and what to do if interest builds.
When I leave this project, I want every disciple to be well-equipped with simple tools that enable them to train others from generation to generation. I want to ensure that evangelism and spiritual growth materials are available in their language and that the people are trained in using those materials. And I want each generation to have plenty of practical experience sharing and growing their faith, ready to send each other out in ministry teams wherever they can find Great River People or anyone sincerely eager for a relationship with the Living God.