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Unleashed

Lessons from an Indigenous Revolution

July 6th, 2020 by | | Posted in Field Updates

 

Building God’s Kingdom, Not My Own

Very early in my ministry journey, God helped me make some shifts in how I thought about the work I was called to do. I served with my father in IGL and as a barefoot village pastor for about eleven years until 1988, when he passed away and I took on the leadership of the organization. It was relatively small then. Regardless, I was quite fearful of how I would lead this organization. How would I manage it? How would I run it? How would I raise the resources required to make everything work? Over the next year, through ups and downs, I became more comfortable managing, funding, and leading all of the day-to-day operations. Soon I was asking how I could grow the organization. My prayer was, “Lord, I want India Gospel League to grow. I want to see churches in every state.

At that time, IGL only had churches in one state, my home state of Tamil Nadu. And so we started a training center—a Bible school to train young people. We selected the most talented and most skilled people we could find, and we put them into training and then sent them out into the villages. It seemed like a great idea: train the best and send them out to share the gospel and plant churches where it was received. This is how we got started in those early days of trying to grow the ministry.

Over the next two years, however, the Lord started bringing people into my life who I would never have imagined as church planters. All kinds of people from every segment of society were encountering Jesus. They were so full of zeal and excitement that they were instinctively sharing the gospel with their families, friends, and communities. They simply couldn’t help but talk about what God was doing in their lives. God was busy raising indigenous people—nearly all of them new believers—as church planters. I just didn’t know it yet. It really shouldn’t have surprised me that God would work this way, but it did!

These new believers would have ten to fifteen people gathered together somewhere (under a tree or packed into a house), studying the word, sharing whatever the Holy Spirit was revealing to them, and singing songs composed from verses they’d read in the Bible. What would you call that? I may have been a little slow to realize it, but, of course, we’d call that a church! These eager believers didn’t even know that they were planting churches! Churches were being formed organically through the witness of the gospel message and the power of the Holy Spirit.

One after another, the Lord started bringing these people into my life. I spent a lot of time with these sweet servants, praying with them, encouraging them, and teaching them. They had no affiliation, they had no friends, and they had no financial support. They were all alone, just called by the Lord, witnessing and planting churches in their villages. They didn’t even know that they were planting churches, so we had to tell them. What a privilege to deliver that message!

—Sam Stephens,
Excerpt taken from Chapter 5 of Unleashed, pg 91-92

Find the book at iglworld.org/unleashed

 

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