Women and men explore the Gospel as they learn how to share their faith in Asia. Photo: Paula Shrock
KOKOMO, Ind. – Humbled. That is how I felt as I prayed for and with a few hundred people during a recent mission trip to Asia. I prayed individually and corporately for the participants, as well as the facilitators during five training sessions in South Asia and Singapore September 21 through October 9. These sessions used a specific strategy called Train & Multiply (www.trainandmultiply.com) to teach indigenous people how to evangelize, train others and plant house churches throughout their own countries.
The group we traveled with was Dynamic Women in Missions, an arm of One Mission Society in Greenwood, Ind. Eight women, some of whom had made a similar trip last March, trained via group Skype calls for eight weeks prior to the trip, walking through plans for each of those five training sessions as each session was a bit different. Some participants were well educated, while others were illiterate. Some spoke English and others understood only a few words of English, so we were blessed with three translators. In addition to a language barrier, there were also cultural differences that needed to be taken into account making the training calls invaluable once we arrived at our destination.
Our team of eight traveled to a rural area of a south Asian country to meet with women chosen to be local leaders for the Train & Multiply (T&M) effort. Over the course of two days, they reviewed and practiced leading T&M sessions. A few days later, 48 other women joined us and were trained with the help of these new trainees. It was a privilege to share my testimony of how I came to faith in Jesus with these groups as an example of how to write a personal testimony, however, my main role on the team along with a Singaporean woman named Annie, was as an intercessor. We began praying weeks before the trip but did not meet one another until we were both in South Asia. I am sure she was as apprehensive as I was about praying with someone new, because after all, prayer is personal, revealing who we really are. It is very difficult to hide one’s true self when in deep prayer. After just one prayer, all fears were set aside and intense prayer for the facilitators and students in South Asia began.
For five days Annie and I prayed. We listened to each participant’s needs then prayed for protection, healing, fruitful ministries and more. We continued with that same assignment at the next training in a larger city where we, along with those twelve original women, trained a group of about 60 young people, male and female, in T&M. At the end of the training they committed to sharing their faith with 1,557 people by the end of the year. They are now influencing their circle of friends and acquaintances with the Gospel of Jesus and discipline them in their new found faith.
As the trip continued, our next stop was Singapore where I continued to pray for those in the training sessions, while Annie served as the praying hostess, because the training sessions were held in the church where she is employed as an assistant to the pastor. During the two trainings in Singapore, men and women from across Asia joined with members from the host church to learn more about taking the Good News to their cities, towns and villages and discipling their converts. Ultimately, the training will help them shepherd congregations in house churches.
One session stands out among the many amazing hours we spent in the sessions and praying in a prayer room. The participants were filling out a chart with three columns – obstacles, opportunities and scripture reference – on a large flip chart paper. One by one they listed the obstacles to their ministries – war, family opposition, persecution by the predominant religious groups and the like. Not having printed scripture either because of government regulations or other religions not tolerating Bible distribution was also an obstacle listed. The opportunity was a breath of fresh air as a Pakistani pastor said having the printed Word is less important, because he could show people how to download a Bible app on their smart phones. Even in remote areas, people now have smart phones.
While the obstacles were weighty, the opportunities were encouraging to one another and to us. And once again humbled, my prayers for them were fueled by the fervor they had for spreading hope in the person of Jesus to the world. The scripture they applied was Romans 10:14: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
I took a journal with me to write my thoughts and impressions of the countries and people of Asia and while I did fill a few pages with my musings, I filled many more with names of people and specific prayer needs -- protection, health, financial needs, family members, ministries that thrive, and new believers in Christ. I also learned (or relearned) a lesson while praying with Annie and for the people of South Asia and Singapore: Prayer ministry is the same all over the world when we pray, as the Holy Spirit directs.