Earlier this month, thirty nine men and women graduated from our lay leader training program. The graduates were all ages, from four different training locations. It was heartwarming to hear each of them share how God has shaped their character, evangelism, and biblical knowledge. They went from angry and bitter to calm and self-sacrificing, from fearful to actively sharing their faith with Muslims (thirty-nine of whom came to faith this year), and from ignorant to understanding enough to lead several Bible studies with Muslims who have come, or are in the process of coming, to faith in Christ.
Here are a couple stories that have come out of this disciple making process:
(1). Two years ago, Pastor Benny* learned about interactive Bible studies at our lay leader training. Immediately afterwards, he introduced this concept to his youth, then later on to the other adults in his church. His church thrived as a direct result, and he told other local pastors about its effectiveness.
When a new training cycle started this year, Pastor Benny* recruited three local pastors and their lay leaders to come and join in. All of these pastors have since implemented the interactive Bible studies into their churches. They’ve also asked Pastor Benny* to monitor this implementation to make sure they don’t fall back into non-effective teaching methods. They trust Pastor Benny because, as a blind man, he has had to overcome several obstacles in order to become a pastor.
A year ago, Pastor Benny shared with me that the Lord had been prompting him to share his faith with a member of his wife’s extended family, who are all Muslims. Because of fear, he didn’t share, and felt convicted when this relative subsequently died. Now Pastor Benny is sharing his faith with everyone he meets, including Muslims, and his lay leaders are all following his example. This has also let to him volunteering to teach classes at the next training.
(2). Back in 2007, Pastor Isaiah* and his wife graduated from our lay leader training program as part of our second graduating class. Prior to coming to our training, Isaiah was leading a group of thugs who extorted “protection” money from drivers at the bus terminal, and he cried during the training when he came face to face with the anger and bitterness that had been in his heart for some time.
Since the training, Pastor Isaiah* and his lay leaders have won over one thousand Muslims to faith, over half of whom have since been baptized. However, many hundreds of these new believers are not being discipled regularly, as there are too many new believers that are too spread out for him to visit with any regularity. Every time we meet, I push for
him to utilize the lay leader graduates in his church to lead interactive Bible studies. He has always been a “one-man leader,” which is a concept dominant in Indonesian culture.
On the second day of graduation, I came down with severe laryngitis. Because of this, I was only able to whisper my request for interactive Bible studies, starting with youth and utilizing the former street children we had just trained. Pastor Isaiah’s daughter, who leads the youth ministry, heard my whisper, and I sensed a new resolve in her to finally take action. When shaking hands at the end of the sharing time, she raised my hand to her forehead, something children do here as a sign of respect to adults. In my twenty-four years in Indonesia, I have never had an adult give me that sign of respect, and this family of former thugs are all as hard as rock. I think she was trying to thank me for sticking with her stubborn father for all these years.
Please pray that:
- This young lady will utilize these former street kids to start interactive Bible studies with the many Muslim street children who are coming to faith.
- Once established, this interactive Bible study model can then expand to the many isolated villages where whole extended families have come to faith through Pastor Isaiah’s ministry.
Although only thirty-nine Muslims came to faith through our trainees this past year, almost two hundred others have come to faith through the network built as a result of our lay leaders’ work. An additional 156 Indonesian churchgoers came to faith last year, mostly through our Youth Transform Indonesia ministry.
Through all of our ministries over the last year, we have had twenty-eight Bible studies among Muslims and 325 discipleship groups among Indonesian believers.
Thanks so much for your support for the work the Lord is doing in Indonesia!
*Names changed for security reasons