“How many people have decided to follow Jesus?” That can’t be right. Seeing one person make a decision to follow Jesus in the Middle East is incredibly difficult. How could 300 former Muslims have made a decision to follow Jesus in the past few months?
During our last year and a half in Jerusalem, our leadership granted us the ability to begin training as church planters and form a church planting team. As part of that training, we worked with others to organize an international church to better disciple people in our area. I also had opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to learn about church planting movements and during the training learned about the ten characteristics of church planting movements, which are:
- Abundant sowing of the Gospel
- Intentional church planting
- Scripture as authority
- Local church leadership
- Lay leadership
- People meet in small groups or homes
- Churches plant churches
- Signs and wonders
The list described (not prescribed) what Kingdom Movements had in common as they were developing all around the world. What is a Kingdom Movement? Obedience-based discipleship that sees disciples reproducing disciples, leaders reproducing leaders, churches reproducing churches and movements reproducing movements. The average movement has close to 75,000 believers. And if you think that’s crazy, listen to this…there are over 650 documented church planting movements that encompass 53.4 million believers in the world today!¹ Praise God! If that doesn’t get you excited, check your pulse. You might already be dead.
After finishing the training in Kenya, I went back to Jerusalem to continue preparing our team for what we believed God wanted to do in our area. We read books like Any-3, T4T, Miraculous Movements and others to practice principles that could lead to movement with the people we’d grown to love the past several years.
We were finishing up our time in Jerusalem and preparing to spend a year back in the U.S., to once again travel and talk about what God was doing in the Middle East. We then planned to return, with our team, to fully implement all we were learning about church planting movements and how God was unleashing His Kingdom all around the world.
Our last year was busy: leading a school, leading an international church, and training a church planting team. As we were occupied with all that, we also had the opportunity to see the Spirit move in extraordinary ways as Muslims in different parts of the Middle East began to turn from Islam and put their faith in Jesus. A movement was among us, not one we were responsible for, but one the Lord allowed us to see, to build up our faith for what He could do, given the right conditions. But what was causing this to occur? Why were so many Muslims becoming disillusioned with Islam and deciding to follow Jesus?
The spring before we landed in Tel Aviv, much of the Islamic world experienced anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions. It was called the Arab Spring. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, but the underlying cause was a dissatisfaction with Islam and its effects on everyday life. God was causing a spiritual awakening in the hearts of Muslims and they were looking for a better way to live.
Jesus proved to be the better way.
But Islam has a strong hold on this part of the world, so the cost of following Jesus would prove to be great. As former Muslims made decisions to follow Jesus, oftentimes they lost jobs, were treated poorly by family and friends, and some lost their lives. However, a commitment to living like Jesus was and is breaking down spiritual strongholds, setting people free, causing a Kingdom Movement to be unleashed throughout the Arab World.
What does it mean to live like Jesus? A person lives like Jesus by: being who Jesus was, doing what Jesus did, believing what Jesus taught and obeying what Jesus commanded. This lifestyle, combined with principles such as extraordinary prayer, scripture as authority and everyone committed to reaching one person a year, catalyzed a Kingdom Movement that continues to spread across the Arab world today.
Before we knew it, it was June of 2015 and our family was headed back to the U.S., full of faith for what God can do to catalyze movements among people committed to Him and His way of making world-changing, disciple makers among the lost. Hundreds and then thousands of Muslims were making decisions to follow Jesus and we couldn’t wait to get back to be part of what God was doing to redeem the lost in the Middle East.
America, here we come! But we don’t plan to stay for long, for God is doing an incredible work and we want to be a part of it. We’ll be glad to visit, but we hope the year goes fast, for we have work to do in the Arab World!
We’d Love to hear from you!
What events in your life has God used to grow your faith in Him? Share your comments below.
1 Galanos, Chris. From Megachurch to Multiplication. pg. 31.