I used to work with the five major national house church networks in China, equipping them in church planting and missions. One time I was doing a training event for the network, that was called the born-again Network. At that time, they had 16 million people in their network. And at this training, were leaders from each of the 30-plus provinces for this network. They were the ones in this training event.
On this one particular day, our topic was tracing the theme from Genesis to Revelation of how God was redeeming for himself people from among every people, tribe, tongue, and nation for his glory.
We finished that overview starting early in the morning and going to mid-afternoon. Then we stopped, had a little bite to eat, and then the rest of that afternoon evening into the night. I put a big, world map up on the wall and started talking through country by country: the state of the gospel, the state of the kingdom in that nation, what were the strengths and the weaknesses of the church, what was the remaining task, what were the major unreached people groups in that country, the barriers, and so on.
Now this is back in the 90s and these people had not had contact outside of the country since 1950, essentially. They had for more than 40 years been cut off from news on what was happening in the kingdom. So they are all taking copious notes and we finished doing that at about 11 o’clock at night.
When I finished, the Lord really impressed it upon my heart that he wanted to call someone who is in that room to go as that network’s first missionaries outside of the country. Now they had sent many missionaries to other people groups within the country but none outside. So I shared with them that God had impressed that on me and they agreed that we would pray for the Lord to indicate who He was calling.
In that sort of situation, what they would do is everybody would pray simultaneously out loud, so it’s, you know, kind of loud and confused sounding. We did that for about ten minutes and at the end of that ten minutes I got everyone’s attention, and I asked, “has the Lord called anyone yet?“ There was no response.
So we prayed for about 10 more minutes and I stopped them again. Still no response. I did the same thing again and again and again and again and again, by now it was midnight, and the seventh time I asked, ”Has the Lord called anyone yet?”
A woman sitting over on that side of the room broke down just weeping uncontrollably. She told the group that the Lord had called her to go as a missionary to Burma (the country of Myanmar). She said, “He called me this afternoon when we were talking through the map, but I was afraid.” She said, “I don’t know how to speak Burmese. I don’t know how I will support myself. I don’t even know how to get there. But God has called me and I will obey.”
When she said that, I shared with the group that when the Lord had told me he wanted to call someone to go as a missionary, he had also laid a specific passage of scripture on my heart, but I had not understood why or the significance of it. But now I did. The passage was the showdown that Elijah had on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal.
You remember, the Israelites had started worshipping Baal, and through Elijah, God announced his judgment on the nation. He sent a drought. So now this is a few years later and Elijah is basically saying enough is enough, let’s settle this issue once and for all.
So he summoned all of these 400 prophets of Baal to a contest up on Mount Carmel. They were to build an altar, put wood on it, put a sacrifice on it, and then pray to Baal (who was the god of the storm, so lightning should be right in his purview). They were to pray for him to send lightning to burn up the sacrifice. So all day they prayed, they danced, they cut themselves, they did everything they could, no response.
Then at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah also built an altar put wood, put the sacrifice, and then he drenched it with precious water and he prayed and immediately God answered with fire from heaven, consumed all of it, even the stones.
Then Elijah called the people for a decision and said if you’re going to follow the Lord you need to kill the prophets of Baal. They killed the prophets and then everyone went home, except Elijah and his servant. They stayed up on Mount Carmel. Elijah began to pray for an end to the drought.
He prayed for a while and then he sent his servant to look out over the sea, because Mount Carmel rises from the sea there. and so the servant went and looked out over the sea and he came back.
He said, “I don’t see anything.”
So Elijah prayed some more, and sent him back. Still nothing. Elijah did the same thing again and again and again and again and again. The seventh time, the servant came back and he said, “I see a small cloud the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
Elijah told him, “Run quickly, tell Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen, to hurry back to Jezreel, so they’re not hindered by the floods. Sure enough God sent a huge rain and broke the drought.”
I said, “Just as Elijah prayed those seven times and then God revealed that small cloud, so we have prayed these seven times and God has revealed this woman.” I said, “I believe she’s the first sign of first token of a great pouring forth of workers from this nation into the harvest fields in these days.”
I then took them to the passage in Acts where the church of Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas for the first missionary journey. As they commissioned them, so we gathered around this woman to commission her.
She knelt and I placed my hand on her head, and everyone stacked their hands on top. We began to pray for her, to commit her to the Lord.
Everyone else was praying, “Lord, please give her great fruit. Provide for her needs.” and so on.
I could feel — because my hand was on the bottom — I could feel that, as they were praying they were pressing down and the weight of all of those hands was really heavy. So I got my other arm under there and both legs and both arms and I was lifting as hard as I could and I was praying, “Lord please just let her survive the prayer.”
They just kept praying and praying. Finally they stopped. I was happy my prayers had already been answered. So, I stepped back and then I was really tired. I went over to the men’s side of the room and laid down and went to sleep.
I woke up about three hours later and was getting around for the hour of prayer — that you start with every morning — so as I was getting around, getting ready for that … I looked and noticed that this lady wasn’t there.
Now you’re not allowed to leave these training events for any reason — for security. Only two people each day leave, and they go out and buy food for the day.
I asked someone, “Is today her day to get the food?”
They said, “No, she left.”
I said, “She left? Where did she go?”
They said, “Don’t you remember? God called her to Burma.”
I said, “She already went to Burma?”
They said, “Yeah. You’ve been asleep the last couple of hours. The rest of us have been up all night. First, we had to pray to see who God would call to go with her, because we always go out in pairs, just like in Scripture. And the Lord indicated another woman who was in the group. Then, we emptied our pockets, put all our money on the table. There was just enough money for two one-way bus tickets to the border with Burma. So, we just went down to the bus station, and they caught the first bus out of town at 4 a.m. We just got back from the bus station. So … hope you enjoyed your sleep!”
No … they didn’t say that last part. But I was just shocked.
You know … immediate, radical, costly, obedience. That is the kind of disciple God delights to multiply.
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More Multiplication Concepts
This concept is part of the “Multiplication Concepts” series by Curtis Sergeant. Consider working through the entire series and challenging someone you know to do it with you. See an entire list of the concepts in the article titled “Multiplication Concepts”.
This same concept is taught in the Zúme Training course using video animation and is translated into 40 languages.
Zúme Training is an on-line and in-life learning experience designed for small groups who follow Jesus to learn how to obey His Great Commission and make disciples who multiply.