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 discipleship-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 discipleship-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.

Catalyst Live: videos to inspire, challenge and encourage you

Catalyst Live:

videos to inspire, challenge and encourage you

Catalyst Live 2018 was brilliant, perhaps even the best one yet, which is why we’re delighted to bring you a selection of some of the incredible talks and performances that made the two days in Birmingham and Bristol so memorable. Check them out right here!

The talk about using your imagination to understand the Bible

Ever used your imagination when reflecting on Scripture? Yes? No? Either way, we think you should hear what the outstanding biblical scholar, speaker and author Paula Gooder has to say on the subject.

Paula Gooder: why imagination is an important tool in biblical interpretation

The performance that made us laugh, think and sing

Just when we thought they couldn’t get any better, Harry and Chris did. This outrageously talented, humble, kind and poetic comedy-music duo treated the Catalyst Live audience to stunning performances on both days. Their final performance though, at the end of a wonderful day in Bristol, is the one we’d like to show you for the time being.

Watch: Harry and Chris get everyone in the room singing

The seminal theologian on prayer, the Church and learning to listen

Stanley Hauerwas is one of the greatest theologians of our time. And we got to sit down with him for an extended interview earlier this year. How amazing is that? We played the interview with Professor Hauerwas first at Catalyst Live. Now it’s time to make it available to everyone.

Watch Stanley Hauerwas in an exclusive Catalyst Live interview

The part about a crime writer who loved Jesus

Amy Orr-Ewing knows a lot about the life and work of Dorothy L Sayers, the famed writer of Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels. After all, Sayers was the subject of her PhD. But in her Catalyst Live talk, Dr Orr-Ewing gave much more than a biographical account of Sayers’ life. She considered how Sayers was able to communicate her Christian faith to her generation, and though this was many decades ago, remains relevant today.

‘She was aghast at the feeble articulation of Christianity around her’

Loving the intelligent comment on faith and culture from Catalyst Live speakers? Then subscribe today to Mission Catalyst, the BMS World Mission magazine that is essential reading for thinking Christians. Mission Catalyst is free and produced three times a year. If you don’t receive it, now is the perfect time to subscribe

The speaker who posed one very challenging question to us all

“How do you live in this unpredictable time when all the rules have changed?” This was the question put to the audience by Gary V Nelson, President and Vice Chancellor of Tyndale University College and Seminary in Canada. It’s one that got us thinking. A lot.

‘We’re living in this time that we thought we’d never see’

The people who came from far and wide to Catalyst Live

One person came from Sydney. Another from Brussels. Others from around the UK. We were thrilled to speak to so many of you in Birmingham and Bristol. Have a listen to what a selection of attendees had to say about Catalyst Live.

‘It talks about the questions everyone is thinking but not saying anything about’

Keen for more Catalyst Live content? We thought so. Don’t panic, we’ll be putting all the talks and performances on the Catalyst Live website by 22 November so stay tuned for news on when they go live. That means you’ll get to hear from other brilliant speakers such as Rosie Harper, David Bebbington, Helen Coffey, Ruth Gledhill, Adrian Snell, Alistair Brown, Mark Woods, Ron Choong, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and Rula Khoury Mansour. Until then, please share this article with your church.

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Catalyst Live was a success because of your support and your hunger for thought-provoking talks, vibrant conversation and great fellowship. We thank you for making all of that happen and we can’t wait for Catalyst Live 2020.

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.

Baptist church brings light to its community in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains

When one simple action raises money, helps people’s lungs, gives children a better chance at an education and introduces people to Jesus as Lord, it’s probably worth doing.

Kayanji village used to be plunged into darkness when the sun went down, but now Kayanji Baptist Church is sharing the light.

Solar power is transforming the life of the church and the entire village, which is nestled in western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains. Since solar panels were installed a few years ago through a BMS World Mission project, the church’s membership has more than doubled – from 30 to 80 people!

“The Bible says, ‘let there be light’,” says Isaiah Thembo, a BMS worker and the man who helped to install solar powered lighting in Kayanji Baptist Church. “Through the project, people are coming to see that God is love. Because the church is connecting the community to God.”

We are seeing new members in the church because of this project. They are seeing that love is here.

Watch this video to see the impact your gifts are having in Kayanji village:

Kayanji Baptist opens its doors every evening for people to come and use the light to read and to study – the whole village is welcome. The pastor also uses the light to run a Bible study every morning, that more and more members of the community are attending. Solar power is also charging local people’s mobile phones, at a small cost. The money raised through phone-charging maintains the church and is used to help widows, orphans and other struggling people in the community.

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Only seven per cent of the whole of Kasese District, where Kayanji village is, has access to mains electricity. For the vast majority of the district, the only source of light comes from burning kerosene lanterns or candles. Until a few years ago, this is what everyone in Kayanji village was doing. But kerosene is expensive and dangerous. It produces a dim light and toxic smoke, which irritates the eyes and skin and is a major cause of both respiratory diseases and harmful CO2 emissions.

In rural areas that are in darkness or reliant on this kind of light for nearly 12 hours a day, a safe source of light can completely change people’s quality of life.

Isaiah Thembo is a BMS local worker in Kasese District. He helped to install the solar panels in Kayanji Baptist Church.
Isaiah Thembo is a BMS local worker in Kasese District. He helped to install the solar panels at Kayanji Baptist Church.

“My kids come here for [school] preparation every evening,” says father-of-ten Kambala Limengo. Kambala is a member of Kayanji Baptist Church and is excited about the change the solar project has had, both for his family and for the wider community. “Our children used to learn from home using candles,” he says. “But this solar light is bright, and it doesn’t give out smoke – it doesn’t use firewood or kerosene to burn, it is just using the sun.”

Kambala Limengo has ten children and is benefitting from the BMS solar project in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains
Kambala Limengo says that the solar-powered lights are bringing new people to Jesus.

Kahoja Murugire, who has nine children, is also thankful for the light and the opportunities it is bringing. “This solar has a bright light, and it does not spoil eyes,” he says. “I think it is going to help my children, because they come here daily. I am giving a lot of thanks for this light.”

Kahoja lives in Uganda's Rwenzori mountains and is standing outside his church, which now provides light to its community thanks to BMS.
“This solar has a bright light, and it does not spoil eyes,” says Kahoja Murugire, who sends his children to the church to study safely in the evenings.

Church members like Kambala and Kahoja believe that the huge growth in the church is a direct result of the light. “We are seeing new members in the church because of this project,” says Kambala. “When it is dark, these newcomers come in. And then the pastor meets them for a Bible study and it changes their lives.

“They are seeing that love is here.”

Kayanji is one of eight rural villages that have had their churches and their evenings transformed thanks to this BMS solar project. The lights are helping children thrive at school, they are providing income for practical outreach into the community and, perhaps most exciting of all, they are providing a way to introduce people to the Light of the World.

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.

India: church grows despite persecution

India:

Church grows despite persecution

Acid attacks, beatings and arrests can’t stop the love of God reaching Indians.

A man blinded in a fight hears about Jesus and is now leading others to Christ. A woman becomes a Christian soon after seeing the Jesus film and is healed of Hepatitis B. The stories of lives transformed by the gospel in India are inspiring. And BMS World Mission is helping these stories happen.

The sheer number of those becoming Christians is amazing too. In 2016, 80,000 non-believers were introduced to the gospel and 4,000 home groups were founded by BMS worker Ben Francis and his team. The church planters have learned that connecting with people, rather than throwing Bible knowledge at them, is key to changing hearts. “It’s a lot about building relationships,” says Ben. “People on the streets of India don’t care how much people know, they want to know how much you care.” Thanks to this approach, God’s love is spreading like wildfire throughout India.

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Seeta is part of the church planting team. In this short video, she explains how she started planting churches and what God is doing through her ministry, which is supported by BMS.

No matter what they are doing, we are reacting with love

What makes the impact of BMS church planting in India especially impressive is the backdrop of persecution that challenges it.

Attacks on Christians in the country are on the rise. A report published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India stated that between January and June 2016 there were 134 incidents of Christians being targeted across the country: from burning churches to assaults against believers. A leader of the Hindu extremist organisation Dharm Jagran Samiti in Utter Pradesh said in 2014: “Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra [realm/country] by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here” (Daily Mail).

As Ben and his team of evangelists are planting churches in unreached areas, they often face hostility. “When you go to a new place, there is always persecution,” Ben says. “So we are used to all of this. If you say to my guys, ‘have you ever been beaten up?’, they can’t count how many times.”

Unlike in the Middle East, where many Christians are leaving their region to escape persecution, for Christians in India it is often impossible to go elsewhere.

“In India, Christian communities are poor,” says Ben. Many Christians are from traditionally lower caste backgrounds. “Where would they go? They have nowhere to go. So they stay, which is a very good thing. If they leave, then they have lost the battle.”

One of the most shocking cases Ben has seen is a woman who had acid thrown in her face by extremists in her village for becoming a Christian. Ben and his team are supporting her and are trying to arrange some plastic surgery for her. Despite the attack, she is staying in her village.

“Her husband has left her. She’s lost everything,” says Ben. “She is surrounded by non-believers who are saying, ‘Give up Jesus or we will kill you.’ But she’s still strong. She’s not going to leave Jesus.”

A Christian couple Ben works with were arrested and the husband was held in prison for several days. This is becoming a common occurrence.  “Now to put a Christian into prison, you don’t need a reason,” Ben says. “All you have to say is: ‘They are forcibly converting us.’ These Christians have never forcibly done anything in their lives.”

Despite increasing persecution of Christians, many seek to hear the gospel in India.

But there are signs that the peaceful stand Christians are making for their faith is beginning to have an impact.

“A lot of people who were persecuting Christians are realising that we are not resisting. No matter what they are doing, we are reacting with love,” says Ben.

Contrary to extremists’ plans, Ben and his team are finding that persecution can often lead to a greater response to the gospel. When church planters from Ben’s team were briefly arrested in a village for showing the Jesus film, they returned 48 hours after their release to show the film again. Many more people came to see it than when they showed it the first time.

Every time they show the Jesus film, Ben or other leaders like to ask a simple question: ‘how many of you want to be a friend of the Jesus that you just saw?’ “Hundreds of people usually lift up their hands,” says Ben. “It’s wonderful.”

How, then, can we pray then for these incredibly brave men and women who, supported by BMS, are growing the Church in India and transforming lives, risking their own lives to save others?

“We want to speak the love of God throughout India,” says Ben. “Pray for justice, for peace, for strength and for determination. Pray that Christians experiencing persecution will look to the Lord for help.”

Pray for open hearts and open doors in India as BMS continues to share Jesus with people in the country.