Editor’s note: This is the eighth post in a 10-part series that highlights information found in IMB’s Annual Statistical Report. The report is based on 2020 research data. A full copy of the report is available at imb.org/asr.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD — SOUTH ASIAN PEOPLES
After hearing the gospel for the first time, Padma* asked the women who had shared with her, “How can I believe in God?” Her decision to follow Christ soon led to her being kicked out of her home and her husband threatening to abandon her. Perseverance in the face of persecution, and continued focus on sharing the gospel, led to three family members including her husband, coming to faith. Their home is now a light for the gospel in their community.
In 2019, lay believers experienced the joy of walking in obedience to the Lord by sharing the gospel boldly and broadly among hundreds of villages in this South Asian country. The Lord opened many hearts and a few thousand professed faith in Christ. However, the baptism numbers were incongruent with the reported new believers. Many were not able to come to church buildings but did gather in homes for prayer. After months of being coached in simple, Biblical discipleship patterns, these same lay believers began implementing basic discipleship in small groups throughout many villages. Consequently, in the last three months of 2019, the baptism numbers increased. In the first six months of 2020, despite limitations due to COVID-19, an additional 574 new believers have chosen baptism!
Exit to Partnership
After ten years of investment, one network of new churches has launched an emphasis to see generations of new church starts in every district of their state. Out of 22 districts, this network now has multiple church starts in each district and multiple generations of church starts in 19. They are actively engaging every formerly unengaged people group in the district. Not only are people coming to faith and following Jesus, this network is also equipping pastors with seminary level training to ensure that healthy doctrine is being preached in every church. God is at work as IMB missionaries “exit” this area and refocus efforts in other areas!
*Names changed for security
All data, except for active field personnel and unreached people group counts, reflects information from the 2020 Data-Year Annual Statistical Report (IMB).