In the commissioning of his followers, Jesus made it clear: we are to be nation-disciplers. What an immense privilege – and responsibility – to partner with the Holy Spirit to propel the transforming message of the gospel throughout entire nations and regions! But what does it really take? What tools and strategies has the Lord given? In Bangladesh we see his wisdom, in the hands of a willing and dedicated national team, producing fruit for the transformation of a nation!
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In May 2017 a cyclone spun off the Indian Ocean and slammed into southern Bangladesh, devastating the already broken lives of 200,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. A Muslim-majority people group from an extremely isolated region of Myanmar, the Rohingya have had very little access to the gospel. Sensing God’s heart for desperate people, the Alpha Relief initiative jumped in to provide aid. Thisis an ongoing effort, because late last year the Burmese military attacked thousands of Rohingya villages, tripling the number of refugees in Bangladesh.
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But Global Advance is not a humanitarian organization. As Christians, our acts of compassion are driven by the glory of God and his love, not by the needs of man. And where isGod’s glory and love more beautifully displayed than on the cross of Christ and the message of his gospel? So every act of compassion is motivated by the gospel, and caring for the Rohingya is no different, which is why Alpha Relief partnered with a national team of local church leaders to reach the Rohingya. Every gift of lentils, water, blankets, and tarps is provided by the hands of a believer with the message of the gospel. They also take down the names and phone numbers of every person so they can reach out to monitor needs and continue sharing about Christ.
In South Asia, where the largest concentration of unreached people groups remains, the needs go beyond physical provision in disaster situations. As thousands come to faith in an explosion of church growth in the region, God is raising up leaders from within. They need training and discipleship. Recognizing this need in the team in Bangladesh, Global Advance convened an inaugural Frontline Pastors conference in Bangladesh this March. This was followed up in July with a second-tier Church Planting conference for a smaller group of dedicated pastors with visions to plant new churches throughout the nation. This year Global Advance also flew two of the women leaders from Bangladesh to India for an Esther conference and summit of the leadership from the surrounding nations to dream together. They received vital encouragement for reaching the women of their nation for Christ and received the training they needed to launch the Esther Initiative in Bangladesh. And, as much as they need hands-on training, new church leaders also need resources so they can continue going deeper in their discipleship journey. Global Advance gives all indigenous leaders access to a free online resource library, including the Lifebook series for pastors, the Church Planting Curriculum, and the Esther Manual.
Jesus promised to build his Church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:17). The true discipleship of every nation will happen in local churches. As the national team of leaders in Bangladesh is empowered in compassion ministry, trained and resourced, and equipped with God’s Word, they are reaching across their nation to plant churches in every province. Now they are recruiting and commissioning ten leaders to work with the Rohingya full time.
It doesn’t stop here. Global Advance is working to raise up national teams in each of the eight South Asian nations. Even now in Afghanistan leaders of the local Christian community – fractured and broken by mistrust - are meeting together to discuss how they can reunify and reach their nation through a similar framework and holistic approach. Partner with us as we lock step with them to say, “You are not alone, we are with you, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!”