Are you sitting comfortably?

Are you sitting comfortably?

The journey of a believer in
four simple steps.

Benjamin Francis challenges believers to think about where we stand (or sit) on sharing our faith. Are we moving forwards in our journey of faith? Or are we sitting comfortably?

Benjamin Francis sits down in the last of a line of four chairs. “But even this is not the destination,” he says. “This is a journey”.

Ben is a BMS World Mission Team Leader, working in India at the forefront of disciple-making movements whose highest purpose is seeing people come to know and love Jesus. He’s using the chairs as a metaphor, each one a place where a person might stop and sit on their journey of faith. It’s a compelling picture that asks Christians to consider where they’re at on their walk with God.

The four chairs stand for ‘seeker’, ‘believer’, ‘disciple’ and ‘disciple maker’. The chairs aren’t destinations, Ben emphasises, but stops on a journey that the people in your local church congregation are all on.

Ben is passionate about disciple-making, and he holds the Great Commission close in his heart – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28: 19). Ben believes this command of Jesus worked out in our lives will mean everyone developing in Christlikeness as they move along their Christian journey, from ‘seeker’ to ‘believer’, to ‘disciple’ and ‘disciple maker’.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations

Four metal chairs stand against a white wall, with captions above them in a black font saying 'seeker', 'believer', 'disciple', 'disciple maker'.
The four chairs stand for ‘seeker’, ‘believer’, ‘disciple’ and ‘disciple maker’. Which chair are you sitting in?

To many across the world, this is the destination of a Christian.

But that is so wrong.

It’s challenging to see Ben sitting in the final chair, saying that even this isn’t the end of the journey. Even more so, when he explains that many Christians are sitting in the second chair, the ‘believer’ chair. “To many across the world, this is the destination of a Christian,” Ben laments. “But that is so wrong”.

Ben’s vision for the Church is one of constant movement, growth and development. He wants to challenge us not to carry on just sitting comfortably in the chairs we’re in.

Which chair are you sitting in? And where do your friends and neighbours in church sit? Watch Ben’s explanation of the journey of a believer in four simple steps, then share it with Christians around you. Get them excited about sharing the good news of Jesus, discipleship-making and growing in Christlikeness.

And be encouraged! As a BMS supporter, you are enabling this message to go out into all the world, where disciples are being made right now thanks to your giving and prayer. Ben and his team are making disciples who are making disciples, in the power of the Holy Spirit and the light of the gospel. It’s so exciting that we can be a part of it.

Thank you for your generosity and commitment to God’s work in the world. Thank you for supporting BMS.

Words by Hannah Watson, Editor of Engage. Video by Laura Durrant.

Pioneer mission: The church planters who need your prayer

Pioneer mission:

The church planters who need your prayer

Being Jesus in a village that is 100 per cent Buddhist is challenging work. Our church planters Helen and Wit Boondeekhun would love you to partner with them in prayer as they live out their faith in Wang Daeng village. Meet them and their new neighbours in this video brought to you straight from Thailand!

“We have one secret believer. But nobody really knows about this. She hasn’t been brave or bold enough to tell her friends yet, because it’s hard.”

It’s really difficult for people to convert to Christianity in Wang Daeng, in northern Thailand. BMS World Mission workers Helen and Wit have been living out their Christian faith in the village for the last two years – faithfully serving the community and trying to meet the practical needs of their new neighbours.

if you're praying for Wang Daeng Click Here

They’ve been building friendships, teaching English, and helping women develop new skills. They’ve also hired a youth worker called Tah, who is training young people in football and guitar, and building relationships with their families.

Helen, Wit and Tah have become part of the community – and they’re so happy that their new friend Suree has become a believer. Now, they would love to see more fruit!

Would you pray with them for Wang Daeng? Download our prayer poster at the bottom of the page, print it out and stick it somewhere you will see it to remind you to pray for Helen, Wit and Tah, and the village of Wang Daeng.


  1. Pray for ten people to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal saviour in the next 12 months, through the ongoing witness of Helen, Wit and Tah. Pray that they will be the beginnings of the first church in Wang Daeng.
  2. Pray for Suree. Pray that she would continue to grow in her faith, and that God would give her boldness to share the gospel with her family and friends. Pray too that he would give Wit and Helen the wisdom to support her and disciple her well.
  3. Pray for Tah, as he seeks to build relationships and share the gospel with young people in Wang Daeng. Pray for energy, discernment and opportunities for him to pray with and encourage his football players and guitar students.
  4. Pray for God to bless Wang Daeng and all of its inhabitants with peace, joy and opportunity. Pray for real hope to drive out despair.
  5. Pray for Helen and Wit as they live and serve in Wang Daeng. Everyone knows that they are Christians, and they feel like there are thousands of eyes on them. Pray for protection and blessing on their lives, so that they can be salt and light.

Click the image to download and print the prayer points.

The kingdom builders: meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

The kingdom builders:

meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

Today, they’ll face everything from apathy and suspicion to persecution. Yet nothing will stop these BMS World Mission workers sharing Jesus’ love in hostile, remote and hard-to-reach communities.

The couple opening minds in a secular nation

Names: Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol

Location: Mus, southern France

The challenge: serving in a country where evangelical Christians are almost non-existent, the Muslim community is the largest in Europe, and secularism is a hallmark of national identity.

The ministry: Facebook. YouTube. Email. And also in the church they planted. Pastor Samuel Duval and theologian Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace every way possible to tell people about their faith. People from across France are sending them questions about the Bible and Jesus, reaching out for answers. BMS workers Samuel and Valérie are listening, engaging, and telling them about Jesus.

A man wearing glasses and in a jacket and wearing a waistcoat, stands next to a woman with glasses and wearing a light blue shirt
Church planters Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace traditional and modern means to communicate their faith.

“The one thing that French people have is that they are thinkers,” says Samuel. “The French Baptists are just a few, but we have a massive impact with theology. When someone is a Christian in France, he can’t just be a regular Christian, he is a strong Christian.”

The youth worker using football and music to share his love for Jesus

Name: Ajarn Tah

Location: northern Thailand

The challenge: alcoholism and drug taking are destroying lives in the Thai Buddhist village where youth worker Ajarn Tah works. BMS workers Helen and Wit Boondeekhun brought him in to try and stop young people from drifting into addiction.

The ministry: starting a football team takes hard work, patience and, critically, players. Tah managed to form his team of ten to 13-year-olds in just one afternoon. Clearly the recruits knew what to do as they not only won their first match, they did so 6-1! And more than just the beautiful game, young people are hearing about a meaningful life. Before each match, the entire team goes to a local church to sing Christian songs, play games and hear a short message.

A woman in a white t-shirt stands next to a man in a white t-shirt in a forest.
Football ministry is helping Ajarn Tah, pictured here with his wife Ajarn Baeng, connect with young people in a village in northern Thailand.

Tah’s work in the village of Wang Daeng also sees him teaching guitar to pupils at the village school, using Christian songs to share his passion for Jesus.

The multi-tasker who's all about bringing new light

Name: Isaiah Thembo

Location: Kasese District, western Uganda

The challenge: helping people turn their lives around when they’ve dropped out of school and have no qualifications, money or hope.

The ministry: teaching skills like tailoring, carpentry, mechanics and hairdressing at a BMS-supported training centre.

“People have businesses now,” says project manager, Isaiah. “And that means they can earn money, rent a house, and send a child to school.”

A man wearing a smart suit and tie stands in front of trees, smiling at the camer
BMS worker Isaiah Thembo is supporting projects in western Uganda that help bring people out of poverty.

And Isaiah has not only helped to turn lives around at the skills centre. He’s also helped to install solar powered lighting in churches in western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, where communities have no electricity. People use the churches to read and study because they have light, instead of burning kerosene lanterns which produce a toxic smoke.

“These projects are connecting the community to God,” says Isaiah. “They are helping people, and transforming hundreds of lives.”

Watch: this is the difference your support has made to a mountain village

The pastor who takes on the Amazon to connect with believers

Name: Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly

Location: the Peruvian Amazon

The challenge: reaching rural communities accessible only by boat or through dense rainforest where Christians are very isolated. There’s also the very real threat of being bitten by mosquitoes, tarantulas and snakes.

The ministry: providing theological and leadership training to rural pastors who have never received it. Pastor Luis visits river and jungle pastors, inviting them to stay at the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre where they get biblical training and lessons in how to care for their land.

Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly looks at a camera
Pastor Luis is strengthening pastors in rural Peruvian communities.

Combining a relentless passion for the gospel with a brilliant smile and a heart for the poor, Pastor Luis is inspiring Christians to be stronger, better leaders in their communities.

The woman resisting persecution to help people find Jesus

Name: Gillian Francis

Location: Kolkata, India

The challenge: working in communities where Christians are persecuted, threatened, imprisoned, and killed. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist groups attack Christians, angry that people are believing the gospel and accepting Jesus into in their lives.

The ministry: Gillian helps lead a huge church planting movement in villages in West Bengal by overseeing the critical and complex administrative work that’s needed. With her support, tens of thousands of people have heard about Jesus for the first time, giving their hearts to him and opening their homes to become places of worship and transformation.

A woman wearing a grey top and holding a microphone sings
Gillian Francis is playing a key role in helping house churches to flourish in West Bengal, India.
Partner with us in mission

We’re so proud to call Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Pastor Luis, Gillian, and Isaiah our colleagues. All this work can only happen with your help. If you commit to giving regularly to BMS, you can help us to plan ahead and meet the needs, both spiritual and physical, of people who would otherwise have little hope.

Become a 24:7 Partner today and commit, at whatever level you can, to stand with us every day in mission. You will also be standing with Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Luis, Gillian and Isaiah.

He preached the gospel and they poisoned his daughter

He preached the gospel and they poisoned his daughter:

David's story

When you give to BMS World Mission, you’re supporting people like David. Read his incredible story today and be inspired by the way God is at work in India.

David wanted to end his life. His unhappiness ran so deep, he was desperate for a sense of peace. His father was an alcoholic and, despite promising to quit, he couldn’t break the addiction that was destroying his family.

A church gathering in a tent in Odisha, India.
Thanks to you, people are able to worship God in an area where it's difficult to be a Christian.

The situation quickly got even worse for David, who lives in Odisha (formerly Orissa) in India, when he suddenly got very sick. “It seemed like I had many heavy things on my head,” says David. “I could hardly breathe and my heart used to beat very fast.

“I was told that I had serious problems with my brain and I might not live.”

As David’s health deteriorated, his family did everything they could to make him better. They took him to several different doctors, but none of them knew what was wrong with him or how to improve his condition. Next, they tried magicians and witch doctors. But their attempts were futile. No-one knew how to heal David.

“Everyone in my family thought I was going to die and was very upset,” says David. “I was unable to recognise people because my brain was not working. I had become bedridden and completely senseless, more like a dead person.”

As they prayed, I felt a kind of touch like an electric shock in my body. God touched me and gave me new life.

One day, as David lay on his bed in despair, his father met a Christian pastor. The pastor started to tell David’s father about Jesus, and when he heard about David’s sickness, he offered to pray for him. David’s father was desperate to save his son’s life, and said that if God could heal David he would give up drinking alcohol forever. The pastor gathered his church, and together they prayed and fasted for David for seven days. Then they came to see him.

A man baptising a woman in a lake
A woman gets baptised in Odisha.

“As they prayed, I suddenly felt a kind of touch like an electric shock in my body,” says David. “At that very moment I sat up on my bed and was healed. God touched me and gave me new life.”

Everyone who watched on was amazed. Just moments before, David had been like a dead man. Then, in an instant, his senses were restored and he was professing his faith in Jesus Christ and surrendering his life to Christian service. It was completely unbelievable. It was a miracle.

Knowing that he owed his life to Christ, David decided to train as a pastor. He began to tell Hindus in his district of Odisha about Jesus. As they heard David’s testimony, people gave their lives to Jesus, and David planted three churches in the area. His life had been completely transformed and he wanted everyone to know about it.

But his newfound faith was about to result in the greatest sadness he had faced yet.

People are looking to kill me.

A fundamentalist group began to target David, angry that he was converting people to Christianity and away from Hinduism. They sought an opportunity to harm him. David’s daughter got sick and was admitted to hospital, and while she was there she died. “She was poisoned by the fundamentalists as they came to know that I had become a follower of Jesus Christ.” She was just three years old.

“My daughter’s death was very tragic to my wife and myself,” says David. The couple were forced to leave their home and move to another district in Odisha, fearing for their lives. They’d lost their daughter, but they held tightly to their faith in Jesus and have continued telling people about him to this day.

Man spreading the gospel in an Indian village on an island in the north of the country
You're supporting church planters all over India, including in the Sundarbans, where people are hearing about the gospel for the first time.

David is a BMS-supported church planter and has been involved in starting 50 house churches in Odisha since his conversion. When you give to BMS, you’re helping people like David share the gospel with people who have never heard it.

“Though I lost my daughter and I am deeply sad, the Lord is using me greatly to win souls for him,” says David. “Many new people are coming to the Lord and many miracles are taking place. People are still looking out for me to kill me, but so far God has protected me and my family. So please pray for me, that I may be faithful to the Lord at all times.”

Give to support people like David Click here

BMS supports 48 church planters in Odisha – a region known for persecuting Christians

These pastors are risking their lives to tell people the gospel message. By giving to BMS, you’ve helped them to plant 1,700 new house churches in the region since 2010. Thousands of people have come to know Jesus through their work.

Please keep praying for these church planters. Pray that God would protect them and give them boldness to continue proclaiming his good news and sharing his love.

Please also make a donation to support our work by clicking the big red button above.

The pastor, the passion and the escaped slave

The pastor, the passion and the escaped slave

A woman tricked into slavery and locked in a house escapes her prison by climbing through a window. She runs for her freedom. Years later, she steps into the room in the picture above and shares her story with a BMS World Mission worker passionate about showing people the love of Jesus. That love means other stories are being heard.

The homeless women who visit the day shelter in Massy, near Paris, are first offered a cup of tea and a biscuit. That’s what most of us want after a hard day. But we already have what the women get next: warm clothes, something more substantial to eat, and a person to talk to.

BMS mission worker Christine Kling often has the privilege of being that person. Christine helped set the centre up early last year, prompted by and partnering with the pastor of the local Reformed church. Some of the women who come are young, pregnant and alone. All are deprived of rest.

“There are not many places for them,” says Christine, who is the pastor of the Baptist church in nearby Gif-sur-Yvette. “As a woman, you think, ‘I have to do something’.”

The essence of the gospel message is to welcome the foreigner. We have to lead the way.

BMS mission worker Christine Kling gives a sermon in France
Pray for BMS worker Christine Kling, who is telling people in France about Jesus.

Some of the women reveal glimpses of what they’re going through. The stories are of extreme poverty, of living outside the securities of shelter and nourishment. One story is particularly harrowing. A woman, now in her 50s, arrived in France many years ago, travelling on the promise of a job, of income she’d never enjoyed up to that point. What she’d actually been led into was slavery.

She was locked in a house, forced to work as a cleaner, and given no bed to sleep on, just a chair. One day she managed to escape through a window and was taken in by a family – and worked for them as a domestic servant for ten years. She married, but was soon abused by her husband and had to escape again. This is how she ended up on the streets; homeless, unable to read or write, and needing someone who cared. Her story is the story of many women who visit the shelter. Most are asylum seekers with no friends or family to help them. This is where the Church steps in to help.

“The essence of the gospel is to welcome the foreigner,” says Christine. “We have to lead the way.”

Pray for Christine and the women
  • Pray for God to use Christine and for the Holy Spirit to guide her to make every encounter rich with Christ’s love.
  • Pray for God’s blessing on the women who use the shelter.
  • Pray the shelter would have all the resources it needs to help the women.
  • Pray for wisdom for all the volunteers who serve these vulnerable people. Many of the women who use the shelter will get moved on to another place before they can visit again. Pray that they would know how to show the kindness and compassion they need.

“Some of these women are from a Muslim background, some could be Christian,” says Christine. “The idea is more about conversation, about healing, about taking care of the most vulnerable in our society.

“If they ask for prayer we will pray for them. Through that, perhaps they will become a Christian, but the point is about hospitality, it’s about kindness… everything after that is in God’s hands.”

Without your gifts, Christine wouldn’t have been there to show kindness to the woman who escaped slavery. By supporting BMS, you stood alongside her, and helped her to feel valued and loved, even if only for a few hours. Please remember her in your prayers and when you give. Think of the love in the room she stepped into and how others so desperately need to feel that love today.

Inspired to give? Click here

Vive La Revolution


Vive la revolution

God is turning lives around in hyper-secular France, where evangelical Christians make up less than one per cent of the population. You are part of the revolution.

Twenty young people become Christians at a youth conference in October 2015. Another hundred go forward to be prayed for, desiring to step out in faith when they get back home. An angry man who has had a very difficult childhood and gets agonising stress migraines makes friends with some Christians. He meets Jesus, becomes part of a church community and finds peace. His headaches stop completely.

A man who believes in God but has never had a relationship with him has a physical, almost tangible encounter with the Holy Spirit while reading Romans 6 in a Bible study with a BMS World Mission worker. He sees himself completely differently. Sees his sin nailed to the cross. He gets baptised.

The gospel is shared, heard, encountered. The revolution has begun.
It’s not the revolution of a nation – huge, unmissable and hard-won with guillotines and bloodshed. It’s a revolution of lives. Of individual men and women, won and transformed by Christ’s love in one of the most fiercely secular nations in Europe. It’s happening in the whisper. It’s happening through your support. It’s happening right now.

French-ness and the gospel – a real explosive mix

Connexion 2017, a youth conference in France, is causing a revolution amongst young French Christians.

Statistics about the evangelical Church in France are pretty discouraging. While Muslims make up seven per cent of the population, evangelicals comprise less than one per cent. France prides itself on its secularism, and the French Church has a turbulent history, which doesn’t help. “There are two worlds in France,” says BMS pastor Christine Kling, “people who go to church, and people who have no contact at all with faith.”

And yet some stories defy the statistics. They’re miracles, really. Christine’s is one of them. Until a few years ago, Christine was in that other world she describes: she barely knew anything about Christianity.

It wasn’t until 2010, when she moved to Scotland following the death of her husband, that she came to hear the gospel message and have her life utterly transformed.

Six years later, Christine came back to France with BMS, ready to share Jesus with French people who are still as far from him as she once was. Now, she’s working to revitalise a dying church.

Christine Kling
BMS worker Christine Kling, who is a pastor of a Baptist church near Paris.

Understanding that broken relationships and loneliness are huge issues for the French, Christine is using her personal experiences to share Jesus. “I always speak about relationships to explain that in Jesus I feel accepted,” she says. “I feel loved. I never feel alone anymore. There’s this new sense of freedom. I was freed of my sadness.”

Christine’s call back to France is already having an impact.

A man and his wife pray and pray for a pastor to come and serve in their rapidly shrinking church, which has been without a leader for 15 years. Just months before he dies of cancer, Christine arrives to see if she can help. He calls her an answer to his prayers.

Homeless and refugee women of all religions and none gather in Massy at a day centre organised by Christine and the pastor of the local Reformed church. They find safety and rest. They find a place to share their stories. Some of them ask for prayer.

Flashes of light in the darkness. 

Even the fact that the evangelical Church is a minority within a minority in France (evangelicals = less than one per cent, Protestants = two per cent) is actually, in some ways, a strength. “Because we’re so small, there’s no hesitation about what our role is,” says BMS pastor Philip Halliday, who heads up the Home Mission Department of the French Baptist Federation (FEEBF).
“It’s obvious – it’s to live out the gospel and to find fresh ways of communicating the good news of Jesus.”

That’s what Christine is trying to do in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris. And it’s what BMS workers Claire-Lise and David Judkins are doing in Brive-la-Gaillarde – in the physical and social centre of France. They’ve moved away from a traditional church service model in order to better share the gospel with people who have not yet encountered Jesus.

BMS workers Phillip and Rosemary Halliday travel across France, offering pastoral support.

They meet around a table, sharing food and stories, studying the Bible and praying together. The first Church Around the Table officially started in September 2016, and by January 2017 they’d grown large enough to split into two Tables, welcoming around 30 people altogether.

Six people have been baptised since the BMS church plant started.

Six people whose lives have been radically transformed. Who’ve seen the light.

Louise* is going through a difficult separation when she meets Claire-Lise and David. She’s into Buddhism, and when she finds out Claire-Lise is a pastor she tells her she is wrong. Louise is totally against Christianity. But then God touches her heart, and she starts asking questions. Amazingly, she asks for a Bible. She reads it, believes it, gives her life to Christ. She finds peace, forgives and accepts herself and reconciles with her husband. She gets baptised.

And she gets sick with cancer.

Louise’s non-Christian husband prays for her to get better and, by prayer and radiotherapy, she is healed. He gives his life to Christ and is baptised too.

Michael Harrington, David Judkins and David Braggeal
BMS worker David Judkins and part of his church planting team.

“Their whole family is transformed,” says David. “He is somebody who’s struggled with depression, and now we’re struggling to control him in the group because he’s such a goofball, making jokes all the time.”

Beyond the local church, in the very centre of the Federation, BMS workers have helped to instil a hunger for mission that is permeating the life of French Baptists. “They have given their fire and passion for mission to others at the heart of the Federation,” says FEEBF General Secretary Mark Deroeux. “People are now able to say that, yes, as Christians, it’s possible to give your life to Christ and not be afraid of being a witness.”

In a mining village in the north of France, a struggling young pastor called Thierry Auguste receives a BMS grant to pay his salary. Fifteen years later he is the President of the Baptist Federation, helping to drive the vision of churches across the nation. He says he has never forgotten the gift. Says that, “When I had nothing and BMS helped me, I felt very rich all of a sudden.” Says that the gospel is worth all the sacrifices he now makes to volunteer for the Federation, that “the fruits we receive from the ministry are most precious – they’re men and women who give their lives to Christ.”

When I had nothing, BMS helped me – I felt rich

Following a terror attack in Paris, 200 people gather together for an ecumenical service in Brive, organised by BMS workers and their church planting team. In the midst of tragedy, non-Christians come into a church to pray.

The evangelical Church in France is small, but it’s not weak. At its heart is this fire to share the good news. To reach more people. To save more hearts. And the Christians here are a tiny minority, but they are strong. They believe what they profess – if they didn’t, they’d walk away from the Church and never come back. Because it’s not normal to be an evangelical Christian, it’s hard.

And yet, there is so much in France and the French that is already a reflection of the image of God. As church planter David says: “in their creativity, hospitality, and relationships, there’s so much there that is reflective of God’s plan and desire.

“If the two could go together – this core French-ness and the gospel that’s embodied in that –then you’d have a real explosive mix.”

Fifteen new Baptist churches are being planted across France.

The number of evangelicals here is nine times greater than it was 60 years ago.

The revolution has begun. It’s not the revolution of a nation, not yet. But it’s a revolution of individual lives. It’s people coming to life. The challenge for the French Church is to dare and to keep on daring. To be bold and to speak out for the gospel. The challenge for us, France’s neighbour, with a larger, stronger, better-resourced Church, is to keep helping them to shine.

*name changed

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John and Sue Wilson
BMS workers John and Sue Wilson pastor a church in Paris, and Sue also organises the national youth conference.
Beaux Guests

They’re shining God’s light in France, with your support.

Philip and Rosemary Halliday

Philip is President of the French Baptist Federation’s (FEEBF) Home Mission Department, overseeing the 15 church plants across the country and encouraging FEEBF churches to be more outward looking. He and Rosemary travel across France offering pastoral support and vision to pastors. Rosemary is also involved in a local church’s young adults’ ministry.

John and Sue Wilson

John and Sue are breathing new life into Avenue du Maine Baptist Church in the heart of Paris. John also leads FEEBF’s Ministry Commission, while Sue heads up the Federation’s Youth Committee, which includes organising the national youth conference.

Christine Kling

Christine is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris, working to replant and grow the congregation. She also helps run a day shelter for homeless women, works as chaplain at a residential home in Gif and does project management for FEEBF.

Claire-Lise and David Judkins

Claire-Lise and David are pioneering Church Around the Table in Brive-la-Gaillarde. They’re building relationships and sharing Christ as they lead the church plant, which they hope will become a movement of disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

Stop, look, listen: restoring community through exercise

Stop, look, listen:

restoring community through exercise

Mending rusted exercise bikes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ways to bring back a sense of community. But in Thailand, it’s working.

Listening to people and responding to their needs can be an extremely powerful way of demonstrating Christ’s love. In a rural village in Thailand, this is exactly what BMS World Mission workers are doing.

Helen and Wit Boondeekhun moved to Wang Daeng village in the Thai province of Uttaradit with the long-term goal of planting a church. With no Christians or churches in the village of five hundred families, the locals didn’t know what Christianity looked like. Instead of engaging in a battle of words with the majority Buddhist population, Helen and Wit decided to take a different approach. They listened. Upon arrival, they carried out a survey of the village, asking what the main concerns and needs in the area were. One of the biggest issues identified was the state of the gym.

The state of the gym when the Boondeekhun's arrived in Wang Daeng village
What the gym equipment looked like before its renovation
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In times past by, Wang Daeng’s small open air gym gave people a sense of community. It was a place for the youth to go instead of engaging in drink and party culture. But it fell into disrepair. It lay there, dilapidated. A rusted exercise bike, a broken step machine and corroded weight lifting gear, spread out in a row, neglected and unused.

After hearing the results of the survey and seeing the gym for themselves, Helen and Wit believed that restoring the exercise equipment would bring back a sense of community to the village. After applying for a BMS grant, they were able to employ a local worker to restore the gym. He got to work fixing, painting and rebuilding the old exercise bikes and other machines. A roof was built to protect the equipment from rain and people from the sun when exercising. Lights were also added, meaning the villagers could exercise any time of the day.

Mr Charn, the local worker who restored the gym
Mr Charn, the local worker who restored the gym

Once the gym was restored, a grand re-opening ceremony took place. A local government representative came to unveil a plaque and give a speech. Leaders from all over the area arrived, ready to celebrate. Many people from the village rushed to try out the newly oiled and bright green exercise bike. Since then, the gym has consistently been used by the people of Wang Daeng, helping to restore a sense of community once more. “The village were really excited about the revived gym,” said Helen. “It’s been a great way for us to serve, and we hope God will continue to use it to bring people together.”

Helen and Wit are just getting started with BMS in Wang Daeng, having been there for only a year. But, by listening to the needs of the community and acting upon them, they’ve demonstrated the love of a God who hears, and who wants to bring people into community. Your support is helping them show their faith in a village with no Christians. We believe God is at work in Wang Daeng and can’t wait to tell you what he does next.

Unveiling of the plaque at the re-opening ceremony
Unveiling of the plaque at the re-opening ceremony
One of the locals trying out a newly renovated exercise bike
One of the locals trying out the newly renovated gym

Watch the videos below to find out more about Helen and Wit and what they’re up to.

From witch doctor to church planter

From witch doctor to church planter

The gospel is bearing fruit in India. BMS World Mission church planting projects are seeing men and women from all kinds of backgrounds, ages and places coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Including witch doctors.

There aren’t words strong enough to describe the impact the gospel is having in India. Its reach, depth and power is incredible. It’s even more impressive in the face of the real, dangerous and sometimes violent persecution and opposition Christians there are facing.

296 - Sundarbans

Selim* had wanted to be a witch doctor since childhood. He was fascinated. He was committed. He studied under a master and honed his witchcraft. He practised where he lives in West Bengal, making his livelihood selling potions and charms to heal the sick.

Selim’s sister Maya* is a BMS-supported church planter. She always tried to convince her brother to come along to church with her. They would fight, and He would refuse. He had always been resistant to hearing the gospel.

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BMS’ involvement in church planting and leadership ministries in India goes back a long way. Indeed, back to some of our founding mission work. We want to see the local Church continue to be empowered today.

BMS Associate Team Leader for India Ben Francis and his team of BMS church planters travel across the country, sharing the good news of Jesus with men and women, young and old, in cities, towns and villages. They are able to share the gospel with some of the least evangelised people on the planet. And the Spirit is using their work in powerful ways.

Watch this video to hear an update from Ben on what’s happening in India.

Here is the story of how Selim and Maya’s lives have been transformed by Christ. Here’s what knowing Jesus has meant for them, for their relationship and for their communities. Here is their story, in their own words:

My life has been completely changed.

“My sister, the church planter. The local fellowship she leads meet faithfully. I can hear people singing and praising God.

“One member had been severely ill for a long time. He was dying. His family members had bought him to me many times for healing, but I had not been able to help him.

“Unable to walk, the people of the village carried him to the fellowship one day and the members of the church started to pray for him. They prayed without ceasing. After three days of prayer he was completely healed and started walking and eating and doing everything that he had before.

“I thought I was healing people by myself, with black magic and witchcraft, but I knew I had witnessed something amazing; this was a miracle. I understood my sister’s faith in this Jesus. My eyes were opened to the truth and I started to ask questions of my own.

“With Maya’s encouragement, I started going to church. I heard the word of God, and wanted to know more. My sister gave me a Bible to read. The words transformed my heart, and I understood that there is no power greater than the power of the Lord Jesus.

“I decided to abandon the wicked ways I knew and give my heart over to the one and only true God. I was baptised. I even changed my name.

“My life has been completely changed. I am now running my own fellowships, as well as supporting my sister, sharing the gospel. We are part of a wider team, proclaiming the good news and worshipping our Lord together.

“I am thankful to the Lord for leading me to my new work as a church planter.”

Selim and Maya’s story is just one of many of God’s power changing hearts and minds in India.

BMS is excited to be a part of God’s plan for this great nation. Lives are being transformed thanks to church planting ministries your giving to BMS is supporting. We are seeing incredible things happening.

Keep praising God for these wonderful works. Keep praying for safety. Keep praying for growth. Keep supporting this ministry.

Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

Six Cambodian students have become Christians and been baptised through a BMS-supported Christian hostel in the country’s capital.

Have you ever been on the edge of your seat at a baptism service, wondering if the tall man being baptised is going to hit his head on the edge of the baptismal pool? Or watched with a mix of dismay and hilarity as your friend gets knocked over by a wave on a mission to get baptised in the sea?

Well, in Cambodia, new Christians are facing a slightly different baptism experience, as they publicly commit their lives to Christ by being dunked in a barrel.

We’re really excited that Cambodian students are coming to know Jesus thanks to a project supported by BMS World Mission and set up by a mission worker from Mizoram in India. Watch this video to see the wonderful moment when one of the new believers is baptised! (Yes, in a barrel.)

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Srei (featured in the video) came to meet Jesus through the Horaios hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. The hostel was set up with BMS support and is helping poor students from rural villages who would otherwise not be able to afford to pursue further education. Youth unemployment is a huge issue in Cambodia, and 63 per cent of young people in the country are unable to complete their schooling due to poverty.

While providing a safe home and subsidised housing for 15 village students, the BMS-supported hostel is also sharing the love of Jesus. Six students have become Christians since it opened two years ago. A father of one of the students also gave his life to Jesus and got baptised!

Students from the hostel gather for church.

Chan is 20 years old and has become a Christian through the work of the hostel. Her family are Buddhists and she first got to hear about the Bible and Jesus when she moved in. “In the dormitory every night we have English class with a devotion,” says Chan. “In the beginning I didn’t understand about the Bible and I had many questions in my mind but felt shy to ask the missionary. But as time passed, I came to know more about Jesus Christ. I came to know about the love of Jesus Christ, who gave his life for us.”

The missionary Chan speaks of is from Mizoram, a region of India where BMS missionaries helped share the gospel in the 19th century. Today, 100 per cent of the Mizo population identifies as Christian and, thanks to your giving, BMS is supporting Mizo mission workers going beyond their borders to share God’s love in the rest of Asia. The latest barrel baptisms are just one example of the fruit you have helped God’s people to bear.

Leading worship and sharing testimonies
A moment of prayer following Srei's baptism
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It was experiencing God answering her prayers that led Chan to devote her life to him. “God answers our prayer,” she says.

Please pray for the work at Horaios hostel, and for Rev J Lalduhawma from Mizoram who is running it. Pray that more young Cambodians would be able to complete their education and would come to know the God who answers prayer.

French Find Faith

French Find Faith

Healing, baptisms and people wanting to know more about Jesus – exciting things are happening in the ministry of BMS World Mission church planters Claire-Lise and David Judkins in France.

BMS church planter David Judkins leads a game at Church around the Table in Brive, France
BMS church planter David Judkins leads a game at Church Around the Table in Brive, France

After 18 months of living in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Brive), the Judkins are starting to see the fruit of the friendships they have formed in the town. They are seeing God move in extraordinary ways and believe the prayers of BMS supporters have played a vital part.

“I’m pretty sure that many of the things we have seen wouldn’t have happened but through prayer, both the prayers that we have committed to locally and also the prayer of BMS supporters,” says David. “I see them equally part of the ministry here.”

There have been three baptisms in the last year and at least two more are being planned. Those who have been baptised are not only growing in their faith but also sharing it and attracting others to know more about Jesus.

In this short video, Claire-Lise shares about the challenges of being a church planter in hyper-secular France and tells the story of one woman whose life has been transformed by the gospel.

Max* became a Christian and was baptised in October 2016 after spending several months reading the Bible and discussing it with David. Since his baptism, he has been sharing his faith with a work colleague called George* who has been having a hard time. David met up with them both and prayed for George who was struggling with neck pain. The prayer helped ease the pain and has led George from being an atheist to wanting to be prayed for more and being open to hearing about God.

Jasmin*, Max’s wife, is not a believer but goes with him to L’eglise autour le table (Church Around the Table), the meetings Claire-Lise and David lead each Sunday, which explore faith in a non-threatening way over a meal. “She calls it her church and is growing in her understanding of a God she doesn’t believe in,” David says. As the church plans to multiply to two groups, Jasmin has offered to host one group at their house.

Max’s keenness to share his faith has encouraged Claire-Lise and David. “One of the things we want is young disciples making other disciples and not always coming through us,” says David. “It is the beginning of what we want to see.”

Another life changed has been Christophe*. Claire-Lise first met his wife, Eliane*, who was their post lady for a few months, and they had many conversations about faith. They lost touch but then saw each other again at a party and Claire-Lise met Christophe there too. From a Catholic background, Christophe got talking about faith at the party and soon both he and Eliane started to attend Church Around the Table. Christophe is now planning to be baptised and is also wanting to show his new faith in action. He has started the church’s first social action project, collecting toys for a local charity which works with children from deprived backgrounds.

Becoming a Christian does not guarantee an easier life. Louise*, who was Claire-Lise and David’s first convert in Brive, has been struggling with cancer over the last few months. She has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions but her faith has remained strong, and the experience has had an impact on her husband Victor*, too, who wasn’t a Christian. He has been actively praying for her, and has seen those prayers sometimes miraculously answered, releasing Louise from some of the pain she was feeling while undergoing radiotherapy. Victor is now exploring baptism.

These are just some of the lives being changed by God through the work of Claire-Lise and David. The couple are continuing to learn how best to respond when God transforms lives.

“When God is working in people’s lives, it is beautiful, it is like flowers coming out and it is amazing to see,” says David. “What is scary and challenging, is that it can be much messier than we expect. We are constantly having to re-envision the way we are doing things, to create a structure where people can grow but not feel stifled.”

Many of the things we have seen wouldn’t have happened but through prayer

Church gathering round a table
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As well as planning new groups, David has formed a band with two of his church planting team. The band is called the Dizzy Delectables and they have been performing locally, singing songs about hope, some of which they have written as well as some cover versions. They hope to do more gigs and through them to make more connections with people open to exploring faith.

Claire-Lise and David are encouraged by what God has been doing, and so are we, but they know there is so much more he wants to do through them in Brive.

“We are seeing these green shoots but there is so much more to do,” says David. “We want to see the dams breaking and God’s power really spreading out across the town. Prayer is required and more of it.”

*Names changed

Pray for the church in Brive

• Thank God for the ways he is working in Brive through the ministry of Claire-Lise and David. Pray for wisdom and guidance as they aim to reach more people

• Pray for Max, Christophe and Louise and all those at Church Around the Table as they grow in faith and share Jesus with others in their community.

• Pray for the Dizzy Delectables folk trio as they engage with the people of Brive through music.