Nomadic People Now on the Move with Jesus
An increase in terrorism in the region had kept Timon* from returning to the mission field for the past three years. Now he was going back. His flight was to leave Sunday afternoon. After a day of air travel, he would land in the capital city. He would reunite with friends from the nomadic, Muslim tribe he’d served since the early 2000s.
Like so many of us across the world, Timon’s travel plans were disrupted by the Corona Virus pandemic.
Over previous months anticipation of the reunion had filled his heart. He had been out of communication with his tribal friends, expecting to see them soon. Normally they stayed in touch through cell phones. WhatsApp made it easy to talk with one another when they were on opposite sides of the world.
Face-to-face is always better. “Let’s just wait until we are together.” That was their plan. He would soon be with them for months: lots of time to talk, pray, plan, and enjoy each other’s company.
Then, suddenly, the flight had to be rescheduled. The trip delayed by eight months.
Those Early Days
Timon felt disappointment creeping in. He remembered back to early days when he and the YWAM team began to work with the tribe.
The young team members had finished their Frontier Missions Discipleship Training School (DTS). Most were beginning a 2-year internship. Jason and Heather* were YWAMers who served nearby in another unreached tribe. They helped as wise and experienced mentors.
Each team member worked hard learning the language. Adjusting to the vast cultural differences had often been painful. Offering literacy classes was one way they’d built relationships. What a difference there was, once local friendships formed!
Timon always loved the outdoors. Eagerly, he would spend weeks at a time traveling with his new nomadic friends as they tended their herds. At night, they sat around small campfires and slept under the stars.
He and the team became effective in telling Bible Stories and sharing the Gospel. In time, they saw a few people come to faith in Jesus. They taught new believers the basic commands of Jesus and urged them to spread the Good News. With transformed lives, believers grew in love for one another and in obedience to Jesus.
A few years back, the tribal believers were introduced to using audio recordings. Bible Stories, the Gospels, and the New Testament were made in the local language. Ministries like Gospel Recordings and Faith Comes By Hearing produced these resources. Special “radios” were loaded with the Good News. Many also started to use SD Cards in their mobile phones. These are ultra-small flash memory cards. They are becoming powerful disciple-making tools in the hands of the believers.
People With Potential
Timon saw the potential. He did all he could to equip his brothers and sisters with these new, simple ways to grow and to communicate their faith.
“How are they doing now?” Timon wondered. Since he would not hear stories around a campfire any time soon, it was necessary to revert again to phone calls. He must get a sense of how things are progressing within the emerging movement. Over the next two days, he reconnected. He spoke with nine of the twelve followers of Jesus he worked closely with.
How Are They Doing?
Each one expressed such excitement! He heard story after story of an amazing openness to the Gospel throughout the land.
One friend said, “Timon, these are same Muslims that would beat people twenty years ago for talking about Jesus. Now they want to hear about Jesus.” The believers cannot keep up with the requests for more radios and SD cards. People don’t want to hear the stories one time, but want to listen over and over.
Journeys are being planned out to the bush to visit the people. They learned about Jesus in town and now want to learn how to follow Jesus in their daily lives in the bush.
Going to Other Tribes Too
They are not only reaching out to their fellow tribal people. They are reaching beyond to three other unreached people groups. Multiple tribes share these grazing lands. Muslims throughout the area are becoming interested in following Jesus. It’s the first time in their long family histories anyone has shown a desire to know Christ.
In terms of advancing God’s kingdom, we are in an unprecedented time. People are begging for discipleship. It’s more than the local believers can keep up with. They are asking for help. Hearing this, added to Timon’s frustration of not being there and not having more to offer. Yet this was balanced by a sense of deep joy.
“Our labor was not in vain. God chooses to bless the work.” As Timon spoke to one of his closest tribal friends, he heard, “We baptized three people at my house today. Another five were baptized at my house on Sunday. People are getting baptized all the time.”
On another call, one of his coworkers shared this unexpected report. “The number of people who have recently come to Jesus is uncountable!”
Even though the believers ask for further help, the spread of God’s Kingdom is not slowing down. It continually grows. Timon wonders what else would happen if they got the extra help they are asking for.
The coronavirus is hindering foreign travel, but it’s not hindering gospel spread! In fact, in many places, we see an acceleration of movement growth.
Join us to pray for many new Disciple-Making Movements to be launched during this season of global crisis. Pray for workers like Timon to have wisdom in how to continue to assist and mentor from afar. Believe with us for hundreds of new movements to begin during this time of crisis.
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* Names changed