/ Tuesday, September 12, 2023
In her modern-day missionary journeys throughout Asia, Teresa has been focusing on training leaders and equipping them to facilitate disciple-making-movements, primarily through the tool of Discovery Bible Study.
She began using Discovery Bible Study (DBS) in two countries, in Asia, at the end of 2020 and recently returned for another trip to continue her work in that area.
Curious about her most recent trip, I asked her, “How many leaders were trained on your last trip, Teresa?”
“178,” she answered.
“Wow, 178 leaders!?”
“Oh sorry,” she responded, “178 churches. 1568 leaders!”
How inspiring to hear how Teresa’s commitment to making disciples who make disciples is turning into an entire disciple-making-movement across several countries.
In Part 1 of this series “How an Introduction to Discovery Bible Study led to a Disciple-Making Movement across Asia”, you can read about Teresa’s introduction to DBS (Discovery Bible Study).
In this article, we are delighted to share some of Teresa’s stories from her recent trip to Asia.
In the first country Teresa visited, she ended up being delayed for six weeks. Instead of being frustrated by the delay, she recounts how the Lord used the delay for good.
“I’ve been praying for [a specific family member in that country] for many years, sharing the gospel time and time again with no response. Because I was delayed, I was able to connect [my family member] with some of my friends who are Christians.” Teresa had trained these friends in Discovery Bible Study and she shares how these friends shared several meals with her family member, and ultimately “invited him to their DBS study group … I don’t know the process, but [my friends] told me that [my family member] has accepted the Lord!”
Although her time was short in this country, Teresa shares how between the in-person visits, virtual training, and encouraging the leaders, the work in that country has advanced!
One becomes three (or four or ten)
When she finally made it to the next country she had planned to visit, the schedule became “so packed, way beyond our expectations.”
The whole itinerary had been planned. We would “plan to do a training in one church and then usually they would invite leaders in the vicinity. It became three or four or ten churches at a time [participating in the training] and then immediately after they tried a DBS taster.”
Then, as leaders heard the presentation and participated in the taster group, they would ask Teresa to connect with other churches or friends. “So usually when we planned to train one group in a day, it would end up to be two or three groups. That’s why we were able to train so many”.
Presentation & Response
In each location, Teresa would give a simple presentation and then follow up with a DBS taster session. She encouraged leaders to step back and consider what has not been working. She asked simple questions:
- “Are we really making disciples?”
- “If we are making disciples, why aren’t our disciples making disciples?”
- “And if this continues, how are we going to fulfill the Great Commission?”
She continues, “I think these are the fundamental questions. [We need to] examine the model of disciple making from the life of Jesus Christ and the early church. The early church would bring the gospel wherever they went, and it was every disciple engaging the communities, right?”
And the response of the leaders?
“And the response is phenomenal,” Teresa shares.
Grief at what has been, and hope for the future.
“One [leader] just wept and said ‘I have been serving for about 30 years, and sent out many church planters and planted churches, but honestly, those disciples that I have sent out have not been able to reproduce themselves by and large. And if they can, the growth is very slow.’” Not only that, but Teresa shares stories from various leaders who, previously, would see new believers come to Christ, and be baptized, but within a short time range, 60-70% of those new believers would drop out, and return to their own religion. And the youth, in the past, would “come to church and sit because the parents want them to. The young people are very obedient to their parents. But to them it means nothing, and many are depressed.”
BUT, when the youth leaders “began to do Discovery Bible Study with them, the youth were telling their parents that they now understand the Word, and they see the meaning of Christian faith to their life.” As the youth began sharing with their parents, the parents approached their churches, who in turn opened the door for a DBS presentation and training.”
Teresa shares about another young woman, who was invited to be part of a DBS group. “Two sessions in a row, [the woman] did not say a word. No matter how we tried to engage her, she did not say a word.” Teresa pulled her aside to ask her what was holding her back. “I said, ‘We haven't heard you responding or engaging. Tell me whether you are afraid to talk or what is holding you back.” She said, ‘No one ever listens to me.’ I said, ‘We are listening, and we want to listen to you.’ And then she started to speak up.” The woman began to participate, and now she, along with her father, are leading a house church, and using Discovery Bible Study groups to reach out into the community!
“People who are doing DBS, they focus on the content, and they respond with actions of obedience. And I observe that the disciples who are doing DBS, their lives change…they change their habits…broken families reconcile, they become on fire for the ministry and reaching out to their neighbors.”
As Teresa continues to tell stories of her time in Asia, she again points the glory to the work of God. “These church leaders, they have just an hour of presentation. Who am I? It is the movement of the Holy Spirit. [The leaders] take action and the ministry is transformed. And most importantly, report after report of how their own family is changed.”
“And these people, they are not on fire with all these ‘aha’ moments or emotional manifestation. They are on fire for the word of God. They are on fire to practice obedience.”
Don’t miss Part 3 "Discovery Bible Study: A Common Concern & A Challenge for Canadian Ministry Leaders" where Teresa addresses Canadian ministry leaders - addressing a common concern with Discovery Bible Study, and also a challenge for Canadian Ministry Leaders as to how they approach disciple-making.
Teresa is currently raising funding for the project in Asia, called “The Catalyzing and Training Initiative.” The project has a goal of 24,000 US dollars. We would invite you to support this initiative by donating here: Donate to "The Catalyzing and Training Initiative"
We also invite you to pray for Teresa and the movement in Asia. Specifically, please pray for the leadership teams, national leaders, and regional leaders in a few different countries throughout Asia. Pray for good collaboration, continued focus, and that the movement would continue and even accelerate. Pray for those leading DBS groups - for ownership, for the discipline to practice obedience, and for continued breakthrough in collaboration amongst leaders.
If you’d like to learn more about the DBS method, you can read this practical article, “How the Church can Make Disciples in 2023” or sign-up for a “DBS Taster Group”.
Melissa Berry is the Digital Content Coordinator at Outreach Canada. Her favourite part of her role is getting to share stories - the stories of OC people, & the stories of how God is working! If she had a free afternoon, you'd probably find Melissa on an adventure with her husband & two children (with a chai tea in hand, of course).