Corey and Angelika Booher: Making Disciples of Jesus in Poland

“Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”  Habakkuk 1:5

Today, in over 650 places worldwide, and on almost every continent, God is using what has become known as the Disciple Making Movements (DMM) or Church Planting Movements (CPM).  It brings salvation to people who have never heard the Gospel before, and brings it to places where it has long been forgotten. A disciple-making movement is characterized by a rapidly multiplying increase of indigenous churches and disciples within a group or population segment. In short, we are seeing the book of Acts lived out today, all around the world – it is exciting!

How has DMM turned out to be an amazing strategy to bring in the harvest in nations all throughout the world and specifically in Poland? By simple obedience to the Word of God – the Bible!  We read the words of Jesus, believe them, draw crucial principles and practice them. Our focus is on:

  •  Making disciples, not just converts (Matthew 28)
  • Baptizing and teaching all the disciples to baptize
  • Teaching to obey and not just listen to the Word
  • Healing the sick, casting out demons and sending others to do the same
  • Sharing the Gospel with boldness as a lifestyle everywhere
  • Finding “the people and families of peace”.
  • Intentionally working on going out and bringing the Kingdom to families, villages and towns; not pulling individuals out of their cultural contexts.

Angelika and I live and work in Warsaw, Poland, as a “movement catalyzer”. That weird terminology simply means we train believers to make disciples who make disciples, in obedience to the Word.

Corey Training Disciplers in Poland

At the same time we go and share the Gospel and search for those called “people of peace” in the New Testament. People of peace are open to hearing the Word, accept our message, and invite us into their homes. When such a “person of peace” is found, we start a simple, reproducible Bible study which develops over time into a simple house church and quickly reproduces itself as new disciples are made.

But, before we talk more about the amazing things God is doing in Poland, we should talk about the elephant in the room Why Poland?” Poland is 99.5% Roman Catholic. So, how does Poland fit the “unreached” picture?

The evangelical population of Poland is only 0.25%, which makes Poland as unreached as the Hmu people of Northern China, the Hindi of Myanmar or the Brao of Cambodia. In my 19 years in this country, I’ve come to call it “a cultural Catholicism”. The reality is, an average Pole has no understanding of the Scriptures and does not read it.  Our experience is this: if someone is searching for true faith in a living God they don’t know where to find it. Angelika is a great example: she heard the Gospel for the first time when she was 18 and got saved right away. With only 0.25% of the population being Evangelical, and of those, a very small percentage actually shares their faith.  The need for the Gospel here, and across all of Europe, is dire — but God is doing a new thing in Poland and we are very excited!

A Disciple of Jesus Teaching New Believers to Evangelize

Let me give you an example of how a disciple-making movement starts:  The other day, a wealthy business owner named George (not his real name) showed up at our door.  He had been given our contact information through a mutual friend. He came to faith six months ago and was baptized. His wife, Rachel, got saved four months ago and was baptized last week. Standing in our living room, George said, “I am a Bible-believing Christian now. I don’t want to be in a system.  I want to live out my faith. What can you do with me?”  We told him about the importance of sharing the Gospel with his friends and family and that we could teach him and his wife to be a disciple of Christ who makes disciples. He immediately caught the vision of what God could and would do through him and his wife.

We offered to meet again to teach them how to do the Bible study with their friends who are searching for God. Even though we had already been talking for hours, Rachel said, “Teach us now so we can start this week!” This is the kind of passion we love to see and are seeing more often. So, we taught them.

The following Tuesday, they invited us to their apartment where they had gathered several families from their neighborhood to study the Bible.  We led the first study to show them how, and that was the last one we led! Since then, George and Rachel have been leading the study by themselves and we have kept in contact with them to give them advice, encouragement or any other help needed.

Their excitement about their friends’ reaction to the Gospel has been exhilarating. And the best part? We have not been at the meetings!  We help, but the Holy Spirt and the Scriptures are   their most important teachers. God will multiply that group, as they teach their friends how to lead Bible study and as they, as disciples, make further disciples!

Bible study with friends at home may sound ordinary for an American, but for us seeing it happening in Poland, is so exiting! Poles never read the Bible by themselves, never pray out loud in their own words and never consider faith as something which should be lived out in everyday life outside of the Sunday mass.

We hear reports often of new groups having started. All Across Poland today, God is raising up an army of ordinary people who are obedient to the words of Jesus and dare to believe that what is written in the Bible is still true today.  As someone comes to faith, often after a miracle is done in their lives, or after study of the Word, they are immediately led back out to lead others.  They pray for healing, they baptize and do everything else which a believer is called and empowered to do! We do not make them wait to be “qualified” to be obedient to the Scriptures. We model obedience; assist them to do it themselves, watch them as they do it alone and then we move on to start the fire in new places and people groups.

Pawel Sharing his Testimony

Those new believers boldly and radically share the Gospel with their family, friends, at work, in the streets, and through social media.

Pawel is one of many examples of what we see happening in Poland. He was pursuing a career as a New Age life coach. He would travel the world to get involved in spiritual rituals. One day he watched a YouTube movie about the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pawel contacted a Christian friend and coworker of ours who traveled with his wife to Pawel’s town and shared the Gospel with him. That day he received Christ, confessed his sins, got baptized in water, delivered from demons and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The next day he got up and felt led by the Holy Spirit to burn all of his New Age books and material. Then, he went to the train station and began sharing the Gospel,  but returned home, discouraged at “how hard it was.”  He fell to his knees, asked God for boldness, and went back to continue sharing. He recorded his testimony and put it on social media where he gave his phone number and encouraged people to contact him.  He stated he was no longer a New Age coach,  but a follower of Jesus and could help others to become Jesus-followers, too. During the first three months of his walk with Jesus, he baptized 11 people.  Today, Pawel no longer counts how many people he baptizes, but rather counts the number of disciple-making disciples he is training all over Poland.

This is God’s story in Poland today.  We believe we are close to seeing multiple generations of house churches planted in streams all across the country.  This means that one day, we will be able to say like the Apostle Paul, that the Gospel has covered all of Poland, no part has been missed!

R.K.’s CORNER

I met Paul and Gloria Booher and their two sons in the local church I began attend in the Fall of 1981 after I had moved from New York to Florida. Corey was then five years old. Paul had a heart for missions, and after the launch of The Bridge in 1983, he became very much part of its initial intercessory prayer group.  A few years later, the Booher family moved out of town, and we more or less lost touch with them for several decades.

Four years ago, Paul and I intersected, again, with the result that he has, once again, become an integral part of The Bridge as head of the intercessory online prayer group for our field partners abroad.  He told me that his son, Corey, now lives with his Polish wife, Angelika and their two sons in Warsaw, Poland, leading an exciting mission outreach. Their emphasis is not only on preaching the Gospel, but also on training people to be disciples of Jesus!

It is thrilling to learn that a new generation in Poland is coming to faith and demonstrating the Lordship of Christ, especially since, during the Communist era in the early eighties I crisscrossed Poland while distributing Bibles to the persecuted, underground, evangelical believers!  They were few and far between!  One sows, another waters,  but it is God who gives the growth!

I have asked Corey to share with you a report on his life and ministry in Poland.  Please mark gifts to the Boohers and their ministry 8350 Polish Workers”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yermek Balykbekov — The Gospel Prospering among Ethnic Groups in Central Asia

BRIEF BACKGROUND INFO. ON CENTRAL ASIA

Central Asia includes the five republics of the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan pop. 17.5 mill, Kyrgyzstan pop. 6 mill, Tajikistan pop. 8.5 mill, Turkmenistan pop. 5.4 mill, and Uzbekistan pop. 30.3 mill – a total population of almost 69 million. Afghanistan pop. 31.5 mill, is also sometimes included. Central Asia is historically tied to its nomadic, Turkish language-based peoples, of which there are 25 ethnic groups, and the Silk Road, which has acted as a crossroad for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between Europe, Western Asia, South Asia, and East Asia.  In the 3rd – 4th Centuries, the region was Christian, evangelized by Nestorian, Assyrian missionaries, but later Buddhism and Islam became the dominant religions. Today, there are less than 3% Christians in Central Asia, including the Orthodox Church. They are increasingly being discriminated against by the authorities – Uzbekistan perhaps being the most restrictive country against Christian believers.

REPORT FROM YERMEK BALYKBEKOV

In June, my wife and I, and our two daughters had a great opportunity, to spend our vacation in a very special way. In the middle of June, we traveled from our northern city Karaganda to Almaty, located in southern Kazakhstan, near the Chinese border.  We participated in a Turkish language speaking gathering of Pastors, (“kurultrai” in the Kazakh language), where national pastors and Christian leaders from Central Asia came together – from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tatarstan,  Turkey, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Karakalpakstan, and Christian leaders from the Uighur people.

During our gathering there were so many great and powerful testimonies that touched our hearts. Some of the pastors and church leaders have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.  They are experiencing opposition from their families, the authorities, Muslim leaders, and their neighbors.  In spite of the many trials facing the followers of Isa (Jesus Christ), there is a deep hunger for God, so,  the number of those coming to faith and learning to be disciples of Jesus, keeps growing!

A leader from one of the Central Asian countries shared his testimony.  He told us how God used persecution for His own glory. That man (let’s call him Omar) was imprisoned for 15 days for simply being a believer and being unable to pay a fine of 1.500.00 USD, which is the penalty for being a Christian and doing religious activities in this country.  While in prison, he was placed in the same cell with an inmate who had been convicted of  terrorism.

Omar shared the Gospel, not by words, but by living out his faith day by day. Although the prisoners were given only one meal a day, he always prayed for the food.  His cellmate was amazed by Omar’s daily prayers for the food and for his joyful attitude towards every situation he faced. After a while, the Muslim prisoner began asking a lot of question about Omar’s beliefs.  Just before he was released, having daily been watching Omar’s life, he came to faith in Christ, expressing he had never met a man like Omar who was so full of hope, joy and faith – he wanted that!

When Omar himself was released from jail, he was sternly warned by the authorities not to preach about Jesus. You all know how the Apostles in the Book Acts responded when they were threatened not to share their faith; they just continued to preach!  

This was one of dozens of similar testimonies I heard in this conference. It proves that Central Asian believers are becoming more mature and eager to make disciples. Many of the them are working underground, due to safety issues for the believers and their families. Supernatural healing, visions and dreams are taking place in people’s lives, which also contribute to the spreading of the Gospel among Muslims, and the growth of the Church in Central Asia. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. I also strongly believe, it is due to the work of intercessor groups who have been faithfully praying  without ceasing.

During this vacation, my family and I also had the opportunity to visit brothers and sisters in Uzbekistan. It was great to be with them and hear so many testimonies, as well as sad stories of persecution. But, it is the price of being a believer who is a Christ follower!  There is a great hunger for the Lord among Uzbek Christians and they have great courage in spreading the Gospel. One of the Karakalpak (Central Asian ethnic group) brothers said to me this: We never pray that God will stop persecutions – we pray that God will give us boldness to preach the Gospel”.  These people are heroes of faith!

Dear partners, I want to encourage you not to give up in praying for the Central Asian nations and partnering with us the way only you can! Sometimes, we don’t see the results and get discouraged, but I tell you, they are there. Praise the Lord! We are all coworkers in His Kingdom! May God bless you!

In His Field, Yermek Balykbekov, Karaganda, Kazakhstan

FROM R.K.’S CORNER

Those of you who have been with us throughout the years know that The Bridge has been active in supporting the Christian faith in Central Asia by partnering with a number of indigenous faith-based groups various countries  It goes  back as far as 1993, when we helped establish the first Bridge-sponsored Bible-based Leadership School with Agape Evangelical Center in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Gradually, our ministry began serving other groups and individuals in other areas. One of them is Yermek Balykbekov.

The partnership between Yermek and The Bridge began in 2004. To familiarize yourself with Yermek, his ministry, and our history together, please go to our web address on the Internet:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/category/kazakhstan/

The hallmark of Yermek’s passion as a Pastor, is to see his Kazakh people, not only have faith in Isa (Jesus Christ), but become His disciples who reflect God’s Kingdom in every aspect of life  In this issue, Yermek reports from two gatherings of indigenous Christian leaders he attended in June, one in Kazakhstan, and one in Uzbekistan.  If you desire to join us in helping sponsor Yermek, please note Kazakh Workers 2 on your gift.  Thank you!

 

 

 

Disciple Support Ministries — Paul Cowley Ministering Outside the Camp!

Today, those of us who publicly confess and openly live out our faith in Jesus Christ as His disciples in the midst of our contemporary society saturated by atheism, secular humanism, anti-Christian “activism” and political correctness, may be tempted to get discouraged. It’s difficult to follow Christ, even in our private lives. Acting Christ-like in public will typically get you a strange stare, if not outright ridicule or arrest. Use the name of “Jesus” and you’ll be risking a riot.

This is not peculiar to decaying Western Christendom societies. This norm is global. We live in an age where most any “religion” is tolerated, but Christ’s ethics is not. Because Christ’s morality necessitates a God-ordained, fixed compass on what is “righteous” and what is “unrighteous.” And this generation simply won’t tolerate such “intolerance.” What is a Christian to do in such a depraved popular Culture as ours?

If we look at the context of Jesus’ days on earth, we find it was not so different. His standard of “right” and “wrong” was mocked and maligned by the popular religious elitists. His acts of kindness were twisted and turned into fanatical frenzies of mere miracle seeking. His humility was scorned, His Words largely ignored and His passion became a parade of perverse public voyeurism on the lonely, narrow road to Calvary. In that sense, not much has changed, after all.

Mankind rarely invents new depravities, but simply repeats, popularizes and institutionalizes them; then call them “Culture.” This begs another pertinent question, “What is a Christian to do when Culture clashes with Christ?”  The answer is simple, but certainly not easy: We are to follow Him!

It will require doing things that are God-pleasing, but viewed by others as ignorant, if not intolerant. It will require passing by “golden opportunities” offered by the world, but rejected by Christ’s “narrow” standard.  We should not expect applause, appreciation or admiration for faithfully following Christ. Indeed, we should anticipate much the opposite, and still, continue following in His Steps:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Phil 2:14

In the slums, this great Spiritual Conflict is readily apparent. The Pastors of the slums confront such contradictions daily. If they faithfully follow Christ, they contravene much of the common Culture.  Poverty has as culture of its own, seeped in deceit, dependency and vicious competition. In extreme poverty, things that would normally assault our spiritual senses quickly become “culturally acceptable” and are swept under the carpet of carnal convenience.

The conditions of spiritual “poverty” are even more stunning. Mob justice, prostitution, sorcery, witchcraft, chronic lying, fleecing the church flock, fornication, stealing and cheating are often viewed as culturally allowable and acceptable, and as basic survival techniques. This is not to disparage a particular culture, this is simply the truth about life in the slums.

Our Pastors minister in conditions of extreme material poverty, yet God still requires them to rise to the occasion as representatives of Christ.

Poverty is something God cares deeply about, but it provides no excuse for sin by the poor man. Illness and infirmity are conditions that Jesus directly addressed and abated, but they provide no excuse for sin by the disabled. Unrighteous discrimination, be it tribalism, racism or sexism, are sinful in God’s sight, but they provide no excuse for sin by the one discriminated against.

All of us have conditions, circumstances or a conscience afflicted by abuse, neglect and oppression by others. But in no way does that excuse us from responding in a Christ-like manner. And the more we respond like Christ, the more abuse, neglect and oppression we can expect from the world around us. We may be shunned, as Christ was shunned. We may be set aside, as Christ was set aside. We may be considered, if not literally pushed, “outside the camp” of “normal” society.  Just as Christ was!

“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”  Hebr. 13:12

In the local Culture of our Pastors, physical deformity is considered proof of either God’s curse, the work of the devil, demon possession or all three! Consequently, those with birth defects are typically killed at birth. Those who live are confined indoors for life!  Their presence outdoors is socially unacceptable. People are afraid their presence will bring curses to others in the community. Our Pastors live and minister within that context. And again, our Pastors suffer for confronting discrimination against the physically or mentally infirmed. A Pastor permitting such people in his church will quickly see his congregation disappear. Hence the magnitude of the moment on the picture below.

The man in the wheelchair is Peter. He has no use of his legs, and limited use of only one hand since birth. He has lived a life of being shunned. He learned to read and write at home, because no school would accept him as a child. He attends a popular church, but due to his infirmity, they will not let him do more than attend the church and receive his tithes. He is not permitted to serve in any capacity, due solely to his visible disability. He lives in a neighborhood that is not his tribal community, because he has been rejected by his own family and his clan. He lives among the poorest of the poor in a place that is the very bottom of the slum housing hierarchy. He knows what it means to be “outside the camp.  He was “outside the camp” and that is where Jesus expects us to minister.

Peter and I first met many years ago in a Bible Seminar.  Nearly ten years later, he happened to see me walking out of the Kibera slum. He asked me if he could come to the Bible School even though he was not a Pastor or leading a Ministry. We accepted him immediately without any regard to qualifications, culture, conflict or consequence. He was “outside the camp” and that is where Jesus expects us to minister. The next Wednesday morning, just after the sun had risen, Peter was already at the Bible School in his wheel chair waiting for us. He was grinning from cheek to cheek. “Good morning Brother Paul! I am ready to begin learning the Bible!” The other Pastors arriving with me were confronted front and center with a most culturally uncomfortable situation. Peter was physically deformed from birth, from “another” tribe, and from “that” most despised part of the slum! I watched and waited along with the ten Pastors who came to open the Bible School. And I prayed. And waited.

The Pastors welcomed Peter heartily! They greeted him with the genuine and sincere enthusiasm I would expect from a Christian, but would not expect from the Culture. They then did what Jesus  would do, they washed not just his feet, but his mud encrusted wheelchair! They carried him up the steep and narrow Bible School steps in his wheelchair.  They carried him down at every break, and back up, again. It takes four grown men much effort to do so. And then they pushed, pulled and mostly carried him every step of the muddy way back to his shack in the worst corner of the slum.

Every week since then, the Pastors of DSM meet Peter at his shack in the early morning hours to bring him to the Bible School. Four men volunteer in the morning, and four in the evening, come rain or shine! One Pastor takes notes for Peter, another coaches him through the class, tests and assignments. A third Pastor writes out his homework. Everyone welcomes him as one and the same as any other student. Surely this is not following Culture. This is the narrow road of following Christ. Peter has not brought a curse to us, as the prevailing Culture predicted. He has been a blessing to us. As the Pastors minister to Peter each week, I see what a Christian can do in these days.

In the final analysis, it just doesn’t matter what is going on around us the depravity, the antagonism, the opposition or discouragements of the current Culture. When in doubt, just do what Jesus did. Wash feet. But not just any tidy, acceptable or obvious feet nearby. Even “culturally-relevant” do-gooders do that much.

Begin with feet Outside the Camp. That’s where Christ is!

FROM R.K.’S CORNER

Last week, Steve and I had a delightful visit from Kenya by Paul Cowley and his 14 year old son, Isaac. Paul gave us updates from the mission field where he, with his wife, Marcia, and their three children, have served among the poorest of the poor.

Fifteen years ago, in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya – Africa’s largest urban slum, Paul founded Disciple Support Ministries, a non-denominational Bible Training and Disciple school for local pastors and ministry leaders who are serving their own people.  They are the Pastors of the Least”.

Steve and I have known the Cowleys for nearly two decades. We have followed their walk of faith from a prosperous lifestyle in South Florida to the slums of Africa. Embracing the small beginnings through hard work and prayer, Paul and Marcia now see good fruit.  DSM has expanded into a recognized, reputable agency for positive, long term change in the personal lives and communities of the approx. thousand pastors/ministers who have already graduated, as well as in the current student body of 250.

The key is solid Bible teaching and training at being, not just believers, but disciples –  followers of Jesus Christ!  Paul’s moving report from DSM in this issue of The Bridge Report, confirms the quality of training received.  The Cowley’s and the Pastors of the Least are indeed worthy of our prayers and financial support.   Please mark your donation to DSM: KENYAN WORKERS