What’s in your hands? This question has been the title of our Small Business Development (SBD) curriculum for more than 15 years. SBD training has helped disciple-makers and church planters launch several thousand small businesses in the last five years.
These small businesses give disciple-makers an identity that makes sense in a Muslim village or a Hindu neighborhood and provide support for their family. Through their businesses, at least 43,667 people have come to Christ in 1,407 newly churches planted.
Starting a business based on what’s in their hands has borne much fruit. This strategy makes sense. And the small business/church planting stories that have emerged are fascinating and inspiring.
“What’s in your hands?” is a good question for each of us to consider. Recently one of our Global Disciples Facilitators from Ecuador was sharing about the perspective his church has on reaching least-reached people.
He said, “We tell the people of our church that everyone works in the mission: the knees of those who pray, the hands of those who give, and the feet of those who go. No matter what area of the mission you are involved in, either praying on your knees, opening your hands to give, or moving your feet to go, it must be done sacrificially. Sacrificially pray, sacrificially go, and sacrificially give to reach the unreached people.”
What is your role in reaching the one-third of our world that has never had the opportunity to respond to the Good News of Jesus? What is in your hands? The Bible reminds us that God our Savior “wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
It is inspiring reading stories of the early Church after Pentecost. “They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). Their engagement in God’s mission began with what they had in their hands. It’s a great place for each of us to start in making God’s glory known in the nations.
Life was good for Lucas. A young pastor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, he was gaining influence among the leadership of his church cluster in Brazil. His business as a barber was flourishing, and so was his family. Blessed with a wife and two young children, he seemed to have it all.
Then God broke his heart for an isolated people group living in poverty in a remote region far from schools or healthcare. Even running water is not part of their lives. As Lucas listened to the Lord and absorbed His compassion for these people, he knew a change was in order.
“God was calling me to go and be a church planter among them,” he said.
The leaders of his church thought Lucas was crazy. Why would he give up his business, turn his back on the security and success of his position, and move his family to a place where life would be harder than what they knew? Lucas faced a wave of criticism for his plans. But he wanted to follow God with his whole heart. He knew this was what God was asking of him.
Lucas moved his family to the nearest community with a school for his children—but it was still 170 miles from the people he wanted to reach! So, each week he makes the long trip on rough back roads, stays for several days, and shares the Gospel. He uses his barbering skills to offer inexpensive haircuts and open conversations. He takes along fruit, vegetables and used clothing—things not easily available to this people group—and sells them for a minimal price. This helps to support his efforts and again, gives him an opportunity to talk about Jesus.
It’s hard. He’s away from his family for days at a time and the long journeys add up. Stepping into the isolation and poverty of those he seeks to reach with the Gospel takes its toll.
But Lucas doesn’t see this life as a burden. “I have such joy,” he said. “Making the choice to leave everything of significance is not difficult because of the joy of sharing the Good News with these people.”
About three years ago, Lucas began equipping disciple-makers using the Global Disciples model. So far, 36 have been trained and joined in the outreach, planting 5 new churches, and leading about 75 people to faith in Jesus Christ.
Lucas has dreams for the future; he wants to build a cistern to provide water for the community. And he plans to build a base to continue training the new believers as disciple-makers who can multiply and plant churches throughout the region.
God also opened the heart of Lucas’ home church to catch his vision for reaching those without the Good News. They’re now asking him to help them train more whole-hearted disciples, ready and equipped to follow Jesus, just as Lucas does.