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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nepal and a Movement of God

Testimony from Bryan Plyler, Lead Pastor at The River Church

For my entire Christian life and ministry, I have wanted to witness and participate in an authentic "movement" of God.  By the grace of God, over the course of 21 years in Christ and 16 years in the pastorate, I have seen God move in the lives of many individuals and even in the corporate life of individual congregations.  But until now, I could not say that I have witnessed or participated in a widespread movement of God reminiscent of the Great Awakenings we read of in history and the great Gospel outpourings we read about in the book of Acts.  But what I witnessed recently in Nepal and northern India seemed to me like being in the 29th chapter of Acts!

I have counted it a privilege over the past seven years to lead our church in partnering with AIM in support of indigenous leaders reaching some of the most unreached and difficult mission fields in the world.  My recent trip to Nepal and northern India only served to amplify my conviction that this is the most strategic missional investment our church makes.  What I witnessed and experienced showed me that we are not merely partnering to address a need, but we are joining God where he is already doing a genuinely mighty and miraculous work.

In the national leaders with whom I was privileged to interact, I witnessed a display of inspiring sacrificial and dependent prayer and faithfulness that God is honoring with open doors for the Gospel, answered prayers that pave the way for the Gospel, and a harvest of disciples who are trusting in Christ in response to their sharing the Gospel!  Over and over, I heard testimonies of healing and deliverance through prayer.  And I also heard the stories of how God is using such attesting signs to open people's minds to the Gospel and move them from darkness to light.  I saw again and again men of no standing with little formal education who had led hundreds of people to Christ and were overseeing the growth of literally hundreds of churches in villages in their regions!  I witnessed first-hand "people of peace", influential households not yet even in Christ themselves, whom God is using to bring the Gospel to thousands in a culture that ranges from ignorant of the Gospel to hostile toward it.  I did not see complex strategy or methodology, but I saw faith, prayer, sacrifice, faithfulness in service and preaching over and over again like I have never seen--except in the pages of the New Testament.  And I saw results like I have never seen--except in the pages of the New Testament!

My trip to Nepal and northern India left me more committed to our partnership with AIM than I already was because of what God is clearly doing with this ministry.  But along with that, my trip inspired me personally.  This trip revived me--it renewed my first love in our amazing savior and my own sense of wonder at his power to save and transform.  It convicted me of my own American self-reliance, encouraged me, inspired greater faith in me, and motivated me like never before to turn to God in prayer and seek what HE can do in and with me.  Having seen what a movement of God looks like in person, I am encouraged that God still moves as he did in the book of Acts, and furthermore, I can no longer be satisfied with what I can do for him with my best efforts.   I have returned from Asia with a renewed faith that God is moving there and we can participate in the work.  I have also returned believing that a movement in America is no further away than the distance between our stiff necks and our knees, and by the grace of God, I hope and intend to participate in that movement as well.        

Bryan Plyler
Lead Pastor
The River Church
Camden, SC

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