When Bold Pioneering and Obedience Leads to a Movement
Twenty-five years ago, a passionate young Indian man attended a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS). His name was Ezekiel.* He was from a Hindu background and had
Six People and a Van
After the school he sensed God calling him to focus his efforts on a particular state in Southern India. This state had 6,500 unreached villages – places that had never had a gospel witness. He and a group of six other people found a van to use. They then travelled from village to village sharing Jesus with people. They went out for 21 days of outreach, then returned home for a week of rest. Then they would go again. Ezekiel joyfully spread the gospel in villages for four years.
As he traveled, God began to speak to him about four particular cities in that state. He wanted to see more permanent churches started there. He felt God shifting him from gospel proclamation to a role in disciple-making and church planting. He shared this vision with his YWAM leader who encouraged him to do a School of Frontier Missions (SOFM). After three months of intensive training, they were ready to get started. They wanted to plant churches where there were none.
Research and Prayer
As he had learned in his school, he began with prayer and research. Leaving his wife in a nearby city, he went to one of the four cities and began to talk with people there. He gathered information about the area and met with a few pastors who were working there. One of the first things he needed to do was locate a place where he and his wife could live.
Over a few months, he made three trips to this town but had a hard time finding a house. The landlords were hesitant to rent to a Christian. They would agree at first, then when they heard he was a believer, would back out of the agreement. Ezekiel and his wife prayed fervently that God would open the door to the right housing situation.
As he prayed one day, God gave Ezekiel a clear mental picture of a house with a small compound. In front of it stood two ladies. It was as if he had seen an actual picture. As he went around the city, looking for houses, he kept searching for the one he’d seen. But he couldn’t find it.
Steps of Faith
Feeling a bit frustrated, he went back to his wife and they prayed together. He decided to go to a mountain and spend three days in prayer and fasting. While on the mountain, God led him to the passage from Genesis chapter twelve. God told Abraham to go to the land He would show him. Ezekiel felt he needed to take a step of faith and move forward, even without a house secured. He returned home from the mountain and announced to his wife “I am going!” This time, he packed his luggage and took it with him. He was going to stay there somehow.
The eight-hour journey went smoothly, and he reached the city around 6:30 pm. It would soon be dark. He found himself standing with his luggage by the railway station. He didn’t know what to do except pray.
Suddenly, a boy came up to him and asked, “What are you looking for?”
“I need a room to stay,” he told him. The boy took him to a house where there was a “TO LET” sign. It was the exact house he had seen in my vision, with the compound and two ladies standing out in front!
When he explained to them that he was a Christian and looking for a place to stay, one of the ladies told the other one, “Give it to him.” But there was a problem. She had already given the key for the house to another potential renter.
The lady told him to go and ask them if they still wanted the house. “If they don’t want it, and if they will give you the key, you can have this house”, she said. With faith rising in his heart, he tracked down the other potential renters.
“Last night, we decided not to take that house,” they said. Happily, they gave him the key. God had provided a starting place for their ministry. He went back, moved in and unpacked their things, staying two days. Then he brought his wife to their new home.
Prayer Walks and First Believers
The next few weeks they attended the few local churches in this large city. They built many relationships. Then, they began to do prayer walks in the villages nearby. For three months all they did was pray every day. Sensing the time was now right, they then began to distribute tracts and share the good news with those who expressed interest.
Ezekiel tells how the first person in that area believed. He says, “We met one lady who had a twelve-year-old son. He had run away from home. She was deeply distressed about her son and asked us to pray that he would come back. Two days later, he returned home! She was so grateful to the Lord. As we shared the gospel more fully with her, she put her faith and trust in Jesus for His salvation.”
They immediately started a fellowship in the street in front of her house. God began to move in powerful ways. Many people were delivered from evil spirits and healed.
After eight months, two people decided to obey Jesus’ command and take baptism. Shortly after, twelve more people also decided to take that step. They then trained those local believers to share the gospel with others.
Multiplication Takes Off
A few years ago, Ezekiel learned about Disciple-Making Movements and Training for Trainers (T4T). According to him, that was when the real multiplication in his area began. Ezekiel says, “For 10-15 years we mostly started cell groups and did our best to raise up elders. But we only started seven churches. Then, we heard about how to start a church planting movement or DMM. We learned how to equip every believer to start new groups using simple teaching and stories. We understood that everyone must be involved and do something to make disciples. We began to cast vision and inspire all of the believers to become disciple-makers.
It was then that we began to multiply. This was much easier for me! I didn’t have to go to all the villages myself, I could train and disciple them to reach their own people. If I find someone, I train them, then they can go and start a new church. I coach and inspire people and they do the work.”
When Ezekiel began his work in 1994 there were only .040 Christians in his area. “Today our area is 8% Christian!” he proclaims with a huge smile on his beaming face. That is what multiplication and Disciple-Making Movement in South India looks like.
Do you have a passion to see God’s Kingdom established among the unreached? Find out more about YWAM Frontier Missions training. Be equipped to start a Disciple-Making Movement in your area as Ezekiel did in his.
*Not his real name.