Dick Eastman is international president of the global movement, Every Home for Christ. This article was published in Charisma as ‘The Days of God’s Visitation’.
Nothing in the history of world evangelization
compares with what is happening today
Also, see Blog:
LOOK WHAT GOD IS DOING!
by Dick Eastman
Ch 3: People of the Trees
Pygmy tribe of 6,000 saved in 3 years
Ebola area miracles
I ’ve made 11 trips around the world in the last 15 months, and I’ve witnessed God’s hand at work. Nothing in the history of world evangelism compares with what is happening today.
When our three-man team arrived at an encampment called Boteka, located on the Momboyo River in the heart of Zaire’s equatorial rain forest, it seemed to me that we stood on the edge of nowhere. In less than 24 hours, though, I knew we would be right in the middle of it.
My colleague Wes Wilson and I had joined with Dia Mbwangi, the French African director of Every Home for Christ (EHC), for this unique journey to see with our own eyes the miraculous harvest of souls being reported among the Pygmies. Five years ago, there had been almost no believers deep in that part of the rain forest. Now we understood the number of Christians had surpassed 300,000. Could this be possible?
If it was true, this was one more indication of the amazing work of the Holy Spirit being reported around the world in recent months.
We almost never made it to the rain forest. While trying to obtain our visas back in the United States, the ever-smiling clerk at our local visa office begged Wes and me not to go into the region. She explained that the State Department had issued serious warnings about that area, primarily because of instances in which outsiders had been kidnapped and murdered. And besides, she said, the worst diseases in the world came from that region.
We soon discovered she was right. In fact, a few days later I would learn the deadly Ebola virus had resurfaced just south of our destination. The Momboyo River, along which we planned to journey, was a stone’s throw from the famed Ebola River from which this dreaded virus acquired its name. The AIDS virus too is thought to have come from a nearby region.
Apparently we were heading straight into a ‘hot zone,’ a medical term for an area in which a deadly virus is active and transmittable. More importantly, we were heading into a spiritual hot zone where satanic activity has ravaged humanity by the spiritual virus of sin for centuries. Yet, as we would soon discover, the cure – Christ Himself – was setting multitudes free in one of the most remote locations on earth.
Every tree for Christ
When our workers first went into the Pygmy regions of the equatorial rain forest in 1992, the trip required an 11-day, motorized canoe trip up the mighty Zaire River (formerly the Congo River), and an additional journey of several days down any number of smaller rivers, such as the Momboyo. Then workers had to travel by canoes up tiny tributaries and creeks until they reached the remote areas where the Pygmy peoples live.
Fortunately, when Wes and I arrived in Kinshasa, Zaire, and linked up with Brother Dia, we were able to enlist a pilot to fly us deep into the forest, dropping us off at a small, grass landing strip near an encampment called Boteka. There we were able to obtain a 40-foot canoe with two outboard motors from a Belgian Catholic mission. This made it possible for us to journey even further up the Momboyo River to another encampment called Imbonga.
From Imbonga, we traveled 20 miles directly into the forest until we arrived at our ultimate destination, a Christian village called Bosuka, made up of hundreds of Pygmy converts.
And what an arrival it was! Hundreds of Pygmies lined the footpath as we neared Bosuka, joyously dancing and waving palm branches while singing in their dialect a song they had written themselves: ‘Jesus is Lord, and He’s coming back soon!’
The fact that these Pygmies were a part of an actual village was something of an anomaly. Pygmies are generally nomadic peoples who traditionally do not live in permanent villages. This was clearly a Christian phenomenon, the result of a transformation in the hearts of thousands of Pygmies who were turning to Jesus en masse after an EHC evangelistic campaign.
We had learned that these people actually lived in the trees. In the initial progress reports that came back to us from Brother Dia in the forest, he explained that he was unable to say specifically how many ‘homes’ were being reached because Pygmies are ‘tree people’.
With his customary humor, Dia wrote on one report that he had now launched an ‘Every Tree Crusade,’ a modification of EHC’s standard ‘Every Home Crusade’ strategy. Instead of pursuing our long-standing ministry goal of reaching ‘the last home on earth with the gospel,’ Dia wrote: ‘We will not stop until we reach the last tree on earth!’
The settlement of a Pygmy village – established around a church – was something unique and unusual in the forest. Yet it had happened in only about 14 months. In fact, out of a tribe of 6,000 Pygmies in the region, 4,000 had come to a knowledge of Jesus, including the Pygmy chief of the area and his entire clan of some 40 relatives.
While in the forest, we heard other amazing reports. In one neighbouring area where 32 Pygmy fellowships had been planted 36 months earlier, a remarkable 300 additional fellowships had been established even deeper in the forest, the result of Brother Dia challenging the leaders of those fellowships to each plant at least one new church by the year 2000. To our amazement, they exceeded the goal by almost tenfold – and they did it four years early!
The Healing Stone
One month after our trip into Africa’s equatorial rain forest, I travelled to the other side of the world to witness a similar miracle in a mountainous region of the Solomon Islands chain. In a rain forest deep in the interior of the island of Malaita, 11 Christian villages had emerged in just three years.
Our workers in one area had tried several times, unsuccessfully, to witness about Jesus. A huge stone – called ‘the healing stone’ by the people of the region – seemed to be a visible stronghold keeping the people of the area held in some kind of demonic grasp. Almost daily, chiefs from several villages brought their sacrifices of chickens and pigs to the huge stone.
A two-man mission team decided to camp out on an adjacent mountain overlooking the stone to fast and pray for seven days. Early on the seventh day, clouds began gathering above the area.
A Kwaio priest from a nearby village made his way to the giant stone to offer a sacrifice. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning streaked out of the ominous black clouds and struck the stone with such force that it split in two. Half the stone rolled down the steep mountain. Panic-stricken, the priest dropped his sacrifice and ran for his life.
Several village priests, who earlier had rejected the gospel message, now were filled with fear. One of them invited our evangelists to return and tell them again about Jesus.
Soon, many villagers, with their chiefs, had received Christ. On their own they burned their huts to the ground as an act of repentance and moved to a nearby Christian village that had been established only 36 months earlier.
A Season Called ‘Afterward’
My journeys into the rain forests of Africa and the Solomon Islands were part of some eight trips I made around the world in a 12-month period, mostly in preparation for writing my latest book, Beyond Imagination, which documents some of the amazing miracles occurring in world evangelization today.
These global journeys a year ago, followed by three additional trips around the world in a 60-day period while preparing this article, convinced me of several significant trends that indicate the church of Jesus Christ may have entered God’s ‘afterward’ season.
That expression is found in Joel’s ancient prophecy: ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions’ (Joel 2:28, NIV). The prophet adds, ‘And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (v. 32).
Of course, the initial fulfillment of this prophecy was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church. However, there is also a strong biblical sense that this promise likewise foretells a great end-time harvest and awakening in the very last days.
I believe the church may be on the threshold of this exciting ‘afterward’ time. Certainly the body of Christ is closer to the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission than many believers are aware.
Nothing in the history of world evangelization compares with what’s happening today. Recently, missions researcher David Barrett told me that he is preparing for publication an updated version of his highly regarded, 1,000-page World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press in 1982. So vast has been the progress of world evangelization since the first publication, Barrett says the revision will require three volumes, each as lengthy as the original.
Every Home for Christ has a strategic vision to systematically take a clear, printed gospel message (or recorded message for illiterates) to every family in a nation. EHC can testify that the recent acceleration of the harvest has been dramatic.
In the 36-month period from 1989 to 1991, an encouraging 1.3 million decision cards were received in our offices. But as exciting as that number was, in a similar 36-month period from 1993 to 1995, the ‘decision for Jesus’ responses jumped to 3.7 million.
Specific evangelistic advances in some previously restricted nations illustrate this dramatic acceleration. For example, only a decade ago, in the once ‘closed’ nation of Nepal, anyone caught witnessing to or responsible for converting a Hindu to Christ could be put in prison for several years. In fact, in the early to mid-1980s, as many as 200 Christians were incarcerated at one time in Nepal for this reason.
Then, a miracle involving democratic reforms came to this Hindu nation, not unlike what transpired in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Suddenly there were opportunities to communicate the gospel much more openly.
Until that time, our evangelists in Nepal had been conducting home-to-home visits in a cautious way; now workers were able to witness freely. Within a few short years our Kathmandu office had received more than 200,000 written decision cards, each requesting a four-part Bible-correspondence course.
Especially exciting has been the formation of hundreds of small church-fellowships called Christ Groups in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist villages as the result of these house-to-house campaigns. At the time of this writing, a remarkable 4,730 Christ Groups have been formed in villages and towns in Nepal, and some have grown into sizable congregations. In addition, the original goal of reaching every home in every village of this Hindu land by 31 December, 2000, is expected to be completed four years early – as this is published.
Campus Crusade for Christ has seen a remarkable harvest in response to the showing of the Jesus film, which is now in 342 languages. Campus Crusade staff estimate that more than 732 million people have seen the film in 16 years, and the acceleration has been especially dramatic in recent months.
The Christian Broadcasting Network also reports amazing results. Network founder Pat Robertson notes that it took CBN almost 20 years to see 1 million people pray to receive Christ; in the last five years, however, that number increased close to 50 times, to some 50 million responses.
Even preeminent evangelist Billy Graham is seeing an increase. In the spring of 1996, his organization presented a one-hour global television broadcast with an estimated potential audience of 2.5 billion people in more than 200 countries. Of the 450 million pieces of follow-up literature prepared, most were used up almost immediately after the program.
Other isolated examples of church planting activities clearly indicate dramatic increases. Varanasi, India, for example, has been a known Hindu stronghold for generations. As recently as five years ago there were no churches in that city of 1.5 million people. Today there are at least 230 churches with an estimated 5,000 worshipers.
In Cambodia, where almost all religious expression was wiped out during the notorious ‘killing fields’ of the Khmer Rouge two decades ago, an average of one new church is being established every week – just among the churches related to the Khmer Evangelical Church. This group alone has a goal of 300 new churches by the year 2000.
In the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, a church in Tashkent that began with just a handful of believers nine years ago has grown to more than 3,000 believers. They’ve also planted 46 additional churches across Uzbekistan. The main congregation in Tashkent is said to be growing by as many as 100 new baptized believers every month.
The Force of United Prayer
No doubt a major reason for this incredible acceleration of global harvest is the amplified and intensified increase of united prayer sweeping the globe today. David Barrett says there may be as many as 170 million Christians worldwide involved in praying every day for spiritual awakening and world evangelization.
Of this number, Barrett says there may be up to 20 million believers who see intercession as their primary ministry. Barrett further believes there may be as many as 10 million prayer groups meeting regularly with a primary purpose of praying for global spiritual awakening.
Showing the possible sweep of this movement, Barrett suggests there are approximately 1,300 separate prayer-mobilization networks organizing believers to pray for God’s work globally. Highly focused prayer that strategically targets satanic strongholds–which some, such as professor C. Peter Wagner, define as ‘warfare prayer’- has also dramatically intensified in recent years and even more so in the last 36 months.
The global Praying Through the Window events in 1993 and again in 1995 targeted prayer to the under-evangelized and least-reached peoples of the so-called 10/40 Window, a geographic region between 10 degrees and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator, stretching from West Africa across the Middle East to East Asia. More than 20 million Christians participated in the first campaign in October 1993, and 249 teams made prayer journeys to the region. Two years later, an astounding 35.3 million intercessors participated, representing 143,447 churches, and 407 prayer teams journeyed into the 10/40 Window.
I immediately saw fruit from this highly focused prayer effort. Before the first 10/40 Window focus in 1993, our EHC campaigns were being conducted in 70 countries. In the next 24 months the number grew dramatically to 108.
In the past, it was considered a miracle for EHC to begin four or five new national initiatives in a single year. But to average more than one new national work per month for two years was unheard of! And many of these were begun in nations within or bordering the 10/40 Window.
The strategic prayer also impacted our church-planting efforts. In India, for example, over the 36-month period before the first Praying Through the Window campaign, EHC saw the formation of three Christ Groups every day, an average of 90 per month. Though this number was encouraging at the time, in the six months after the 10/40 Window focus, that number increased beyond 500 percent to more than 15 per day.
I recently heard another confirming testimony from a Middle Eastern worker with Operation Mobilization, based in Atlanta. In the two years before the 1993 prayer campaign, this man had carefully visited hundreds of families, witnessing to them and offering evangelistic literature. Yet not one person showed interest in knowing more about Jesus. However, in the 24 months after Praying Through the Window, a remarkable change occurred.
In the very same region where the man’s previous efforts had been unsuccessful, more than 2,000 Muslims prayed to receive Christ! He’s convinced that targeted, warfare prayer made the difference.
Signs and Wonders
Perhaps as significant as any factor associated with the current global work of the Holy Spirit is the obvious amplified and intensified increase of miracles throughout the world. What God did in establishing the New Testament church 20 centuries ago is clearly taking place today in increasing ways.
For example, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ recently wrote his ministry partners about the ‘astounding phenomenon of dreams and visions confirming the reality of Christ, particularly among Muslims.’ According to Bright, thousands of letters from Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East responding to a radio program aired throughout the region, described dreams in which Jesus appeared to them saying, ‘I am the way.’ When these Muslims heard the radio broadcast, they suddenly understood what they had experienced in their dreams and requested more information about Jesus.
I have received similar testimonies from our home-to-home evangelism outreaches in Muslim areas. In North Africa, an EHC worker in a city of 1 million people tried to give a Muslim man a booklet about Jesus. The man tore it up and threw it in the evangelist’s face, threatening to kill him.
The following morning at sunrise, the worker was startled by a knock at the door of his tiny apartment. To his amazement, the same young Muslim stood before him asking for another booklet.
‘Where did you get my address?’ the worker asked.
‘Oh, the voice in the night told me your address,’ the Muslim responded. He then described a remarkable encounter in which ‘a voice with no body’ explained that he had torn up ‘the truth’ earlier that day when he ripped apart the booklet. The voice then told the young man where the EHC worker lived and explained that if he got another booklet and believed its message, he would have eternal life.
The next morning the young man obeyed the voice and joyously received Christ. Recently he finished a six-month Bible training course and is now a full-time missionary.
Signs and wonders are occurring among other peoples, too. Recently, on a journey to India, I talked with Jacob George, an EHC worker also serving Wycliffe Bible Translators. Jacob and his wife, Susan, had gone to evangelize the Konda Dora tribe in southeast India in 1979. Yet not a single member of this tribe had responded to the gospel in 10 years.
A breakthrough occurred when Jacob’s assistant, a believer named Devadas, visited the Konda Dora village of Sopha. This village was steeped in witchcraft, and Devadas soon learned that sickness had prevailed throughout the population for two years. No amount of sacrifices to their Hindu gods brought relief.
Devadas told them Jesus Christ could heal them, but the Hindus were skeptical. On a subsequent visit, however, the village leader declared, ‘You’ve been telling us about this person called Jesus. What must we do to believe in Him?’
Devadas instructed them to remove all their Hindu charms from around their waists, arms and necks, and place them in a pile in the middle of the village. He also told them to bring all their objects of Hindu worship from their homes and place them in the pile.
All the fetishes were burned that day in a huge bonfire. Within several days every sick person in the village was healed, and 50 villagers gave their lives to Christ.
Soon, the impact spread to four neighbouring villages, and a church was established at Sarsu Podar, the largest of the four. Eighty people now attend this growing congregation. In addition, hundreds of Konda Dora people have turned to Jesus, and 11 villages have embraced Christianity.
Recently, a Buddhist monk high in the mountains of Myanmar (formerly Burma) was worshiping a statue of the Buddha when he heard a voice plainly declare, ‘Go find Jesus!’ So clear was the voice that the monk went immediately to his superior and told him: ‘I must leave today. The Buddha has told me to go find Jesus!’
‘Who is this person called Jesus?’ the superior asked.
‘I’m not sure,’ the monk replied, ‘but the Buddha has said I must find him!’
As the monk entered a neighboring town, he was amazed to see a poster on a wall that said simply, ‘Come see Jesus!’ It was an invitation from Campus Crusade for Christ to a showing of the Jesus film that very evening.
By nightfall the monk had ‘found’ the Saviour. And today he knows it wasn’t the Buddha who spoke to him but God Himself.
These are indeed amazing days. God is moving by His Spirit, creating hunger for genuine spiritual awakening in the hearts of His children everywhere, and setting in motion the greatest global ingathering of souls in the history of the church. Truly, the work of the Holy Spirit today -touching even the uttermost parts of the earth – is beyond imagination.
* The feared Wa people of northern Myanmar rejected Buddhist statues sent as a peace offering by the government and requested 100 Bibles and Christian missionaries instead. The chief of the tribe of 3 million, a headhunter, recently became a Christian and was baptized – asking to be immersed 100 times, once for each head he had hunted.
Source: Discipling a Whole Nation
* Fugong County, in China’s Yunnan Province, has so many believers that it is known as ‘Christ County,’ with about 90 percent of its 70,000 people professing faith in Christ. Impressed with the falling crime rate and other social benefits, local government authorities are actually encouraging people to believe.
Source: World Pulse, April 1996
* In 1900, South Korea was considered ‘impossible to penetrate’; the country did not have a single evangelical church. By 1986, the country was 20 percent Christian; by 1992, 40 percent. The church doubled to 12.5 million members in only six years, from 1986 to 1992. In 1986, South Korea had 25,000 churches. By 1992, the number had swelled to 37,200. There are 7,000 churches in Seoul, including nine of the 21 largest congregations in the world.
Source: Youth With a Mission
* Hoping to derail an October 1996 crusade in an unreached area of India, a local Hindu faction cut off the town’s electrical supply. But evangelist Sadhu Chellappa brought along a generator to power the lights and 32 loudspeakers, and in the absence of any competing noise, his voice was heard throughout the town of 6,000 people. More than 150 people now attend a newly planted church there.
Source: Discipling a Whole Nation
* Ten house churches have been started among Khmer refugees in eastern Thailand along the border with Laos and Cambodia in the last year. A Khmer believer, Sunthon Rawang, is training the 250 believers to start churches among their people on the other side of the border. Christians have been praying for God to multiply the number of Khmer believers and for the success of Sunthon Rawang.
* Before 1990, there were very few Christians in Saudi Arabia. Since Desert Storm, more than 3,000 Saudi Muslims have come to Christ.
Source: Youth With a Mission
© 1996 Strang Communications. Used with permission.
From Every Home for Christ website – ehc.org
What we have done
Every day our workers visit more than 200,000 homes. We have reached over 1.4 BILLION homes in the last 64 years, and seen over 101 million people respond to the gospel! Just last year alone we reached over 77 million homes! We continue to hear amazing stories and testimonies of this work and have exciting pictures and videos from the field.
How we do it
Every Home for Christ has created a strategy for reaching every home on earth with the gospel. We use local indigenous workers with face-to-face evangelism whenever possible, and when it’s not, substantial gospel literature for both adults and children in the local language and dialect are left at the home. Each response is followed up, and many times results in individuals – and even entire families, giving their hearts to Jesus. Every Home for Christ disciples new believers, and channels them into local churches. If there is no local church, we establish Christ Groups — small fellowships of believers that are then nurtured and discipled in their spiritual walk.
Also, see Blog:
LOOK WHAT GOD IS DOING!
by Dick Eastman
Ch 3: People of the Trees
Pygmy tribe of 6,000 saved in 3 years
Ebola area miracles
© Renewal Journal 9: Mission, 1997, 2nd edition 2011
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