EDITOR'S NOTE: This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 2-9 with the theme of "BE His heart, His hands, His voice" from Matthew 16:24-25. Each year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists' 5,000 international missionaries' initiatives in sharing the Gospel. This year's offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to www.imb.org/offering.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (BP) -- No one wanted to hear his words, Agni Amrit* says, hanging his head so low it almost rests on his checkered tie.
Amrit asked 10 people in Kathmandu, Nepal, if he could share a story about his God. Everyone he approached told him to scat. No one wanted to hear about another God -- they already have plenty in Hinduism.
Drew Neely*, an IMB representative and church planting trainer, repeats what Amrit has told him.
"I hope that gives you joy," Neely says, pausing for Amrit to meet his gaze.
"Brother, when those 10 people rejected you, you shared in the suffering of Christ and that should be cause for rejoicing."Called to serve
Both Neely and Amrit feel called by God to be His heart, hands and voice and see new churches start in Nepal.
Neely met Amrit at a Bible college in Kathmandu where the International Mission Board worker was invited to teach on how to plant new churches effectively.
Neely hopes that a few of the students as a result of training will take up the calling to see the Great Commission fulfilled in Nepal.
Neely doesn't intend to train the Bible college students and depart. The training is designed to help him spot those called as church planters, those he'll continue to disciple.
At the training, he found Amrit.Following Jesus
Amrit, a former drug addict, spent many days, many he can't remember, ignoring his future.
He grew up in a Hindu and Sikh family. His mother was healed after she believed in God.
"I went to church, but I never believed in God because I thought that was my responsibility to go, just because of my mother," Amrit says.
A pastor asked Amrit if he knew about the sin in his life. Amrit didn't realize his sin condemned him. He soon made a commitment to follow Christ.
Now, he's a little older, has a faint shadow of a moustache and hopes to plant a church to minister to his drug-addicted friends.
Amrit says Neely's training showed effective ways to share the Gospel with his friends, how to find someone to invest in and how to disciple in a way that leads to church multiplication.Journey of joy
During a training session, Neely invited Amrit and his classmates to join him in a journey of joy.
"I'm pleading to you, for your joy, and the joy of those people who will come to know Christ ... take this and make it a part of your life and for the glory of God," Neely tells the students.
Accepting the call to plant churches, Neely says, sometimes will lead to unfamiliar territory and far-flung villages.
"I'm going to warn you, the Jeep ride is going to be hot and bumpy and long and your dahl bat [a popular Nepalese dish made from lentils] isn't going to taste like what your momma makes. It's going to be difficult and the culture is going to be different and you are going to suffer," Neely says.
"But in exchange for that suffering, you get to tell someone who has never heard the Gospel about Jesus Christ."
At the end of the training, Neely reiterated his call to the students.
"Are you the grain that's willing to fall to the ground and die to self so that a great harvest could emerge from your life and influence?" Neely asks as he looks around the room at each student.
The room is silent, save for the whirring of the fan. Amrit nods his head yes. He understands the gravity of the situation. Although he's been rejected 10 times, he knows it's worth it.
"God, I am ready to obey Your Word, even if it costs my life, I don't care," Amrit says he told God. "If You think I am worthy of suffering for You ... worthy to suffer for the Gospel ... You can use me anytime."Learning by obeying
Finding joy in the midst of suffering is something both Amrit and Neely learned through radical obedience.
Amrit says it's sometimes hard to be around his friends because they don't understand his new life. There have been taunts and teases, but Amrit's resolve hasn't changed. He sees the struggles as a cause for joy because he gets to tell his addict friends about Jesus.
Like Amrit, Neely has found joy in obedience and perseverance.
At the close of a rest period in the U.S., Neely knew God wanted him to return to southern Asia to serve. Neely and his family packed their suitcases and boarded a Pacific-bound plane.
Because of the family's obedience, Amrit and dozens of other Nepalese now have a vision and a plan to reach their people with the Gospel.
Equipped by Neely's training, the third-year Bible college student is going home to embark on a 14-month internship in church planting out in a region of Nepal where Christ is still an enigma.
Even if he runs into more rejection, Amrit says he has joy because he's becoming more like Jesus.
*Names changed. Caroline Anderson is an IMB writer living in Asia. Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and through the Cooperative Program help Southern Baptist missionaries around the world share the Gospel. Gifts for the offering are received at Southern Baptist churches across the country or can be made online at www.imb.org/offering
where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. Download related videos at www.imb.org/lmcovideo