Rick and I discovered when we lived and worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan that it was best to train local Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) to reach their Muslim brothers and sisters who were still in Islam. We also found that it is best to reach Muslims by planting churches, or Jamaats so that a Muslim can come to faith in community with other believers and as “part of” vs. “separated out of” community. These MBBs know better than we ever will the language, culture and community. What they need from us is equipping, training, mentoring, resourcing, prayer, disciplining and encouragement.
So this has been our focus, and what we believe God has sent us to do here in India, and as we transition to Nepal while still working here in India: to train and equip MBBs to plant Jamaats among their Muslim brothers and sisters. We hope the Sewing Center will provide open doors for this ministry, and it has and now we will begin this new Project.
Actually this is not a new ministry, it has always been our focus, it is a new project for Alabaster Jars, Inc.
When an individual Muslim comes to faith it is highly likely that he or she will experience isolation, persecution, estrangement from his family, community, job and may struggle in growing in his knowledge of our Lord, and it is likely he may leave his community and seek out a traditional “Christian” community. In this situation he may not be able to be a witness to those in the community who are still in Islam. But, if a Muslim comes to faith with his family and has a community, or Jamaat to be a part of in that community, he may still suffer persecution, but he is likely to grow in faith, and with the right equipping, training, resourcing, encouraging and discipling, he is likely to stay in his community plant Jamaats and share the Gospel with his brothers and sisters…..this is where we come in.
Our ministry has been to equip, train, encourage and disciple those MBBs that are strong in their faith, want to stay in their communities, want to plant Jamaats, want to reach their brothers and sisters, but don’t always know how, understand their faith well enough to lead their Jamaats, have the tools or discipling to lead and grow their Jamaats or how to reach their brothers and sisters with the Gospel.
We only meet with Jamaat Leaders, we never go into the Jamaats themselves, we don’t want any Western influence. We only meet with the leaders and we meet in private or we meet through our main ministry partners, Abu and Daya Sagarm.
Many of these Jamaats Leaders who attend our trainings have 5-20 Jamaats, some with up to hundreds of disciples that have been baptized. We have found that many of these Jamaats are not growing like a Biblical Jamaat or Early Church did (Acts 2).
These Jamaats are meeting under one leadership, praying, studying the Word but they are not growing and they have reached out to us. Many of these Jamaat leaders, and their disciples suffer persecution, like loosing jobs, beatings, children being rejected from schools, denied access to shops and wells.
Many of the Jamaat leaders need help with travel to their Jamaats, like bicycles. Some need help with food, some need help with their children’s education, clothing, some need help with resources like SD Cards, Bibles…some need help with their rent sometimes….these are some examples of what this new project will provide; funds to help these Jamaat leaders stay in their communities so that they can either start, lead or disciple Muslims in our Lord in their communities. We plan to help these leaders with about $50/month.