Dewi (pronounced DEH-vee, not her real name) was just a young teen when our CRM / Novo staff members in East Asia first met her. Dewi was a bit quirky, quiet but creative, an artist, and a real thinker. She was from a Hindu family, the majority religion in her area.
Teenager. Hindu. Quiet. This might seem like a surprising profile for someone who would become a key player in a gospel movement that would touch her family, her city, and her country. But that’s exactly what was about to unfold in God’s plan for this young woman.
Our staff got to know Dewi when she started coming to the youth center—the base of their ministry—to learn English. A lot of youth came through the center to take a class, grab a cup of tea, or use the indoor skate-park. Not long after Dewi started spending time there, she was in a motorbike accident. She ended up in the hospital for a week with a cracked skull.
After the accident, our staff invited Dewi over to her house to chat and see how she was doing. They sat on the living room floor, sharing tea and snacks.
“Dewi, what if you had died that day?” our staff asked her. “What do you think would have happened?”
“Uhh, I dunno. I’m too young. I’ll think about that when I get older.”
Dewi’s life-and-death experience left her unmoved.
As Dewi continued to come to the center, one of the staff there—a national who followed Jesus—began to mentor her. Through this relationship, Dewi’s interest in Jesus started to grow.
And then one day, Dewi had a challenge in her life; she didn’t feel at peace and didn’t feel like what she was doing to solve the problem was working—like giving offerings and praying to her gods—so she decided that she’d try praying in Jesus’s name.
At that moment Dewi felt a different kind of peace that she’d never felt before.
That was the turning point for Dewi. She wanted to find out what it really meant to be a follower of Jesus, and what it really meant to access that kind of power—the power of God’s unrivaled peace—in her life. What a life-and-death experience couldn’t accomplish in Dewi’s life, a sense of powerlessness did. Dewi knew she needed something different. The powerful peace she experienced when she called on Jesus was the answer to her need.
“I love the story of Dewi’s journey toward God,” our CRM / Novo staff shares, “because we see so many people in East Asia go through a similar process. It takes several different encounters where they hear the truth and have some kind of personal experience of Jesus being real to them—be it a healing, or praying and feeling something different, or experiencing the power of God in their lives.”
Dewi formed a Discovery Bible Study group with two other girls who went to her high school. After a few months of studying the Bible, Dewi decided she wanted to get baptized.
Dewi started talking to her family about what she believed, and why she believed these new things about God. In Dewi’s country, there can be huge consequences to changing your religion, including your family disowning you or being cast out of your village. But Dewi didn’t talk to her family about religion; she talked to them about Jesus. Being wise and contextual in how she shared her faith kept her from losing relationship and influence with them.
Dewi’s family ended up coming to her baptism even though they were not believers, because they wanted to respect her and be part of her journey. It was a really interesting scene to watch. As Dewi was baptized, her family was right next to her, giving their own offerings to their Hindu gods in the water.
After college, Dewi began to work with us at the youth center. Within a few years of joining the team, she became team leader! Dewi is a quiet leader and prefers not to be in the spotlight, but her vision and passion for the ministry is huge! Dewi can share her faith in powerful ways because she speaks the local dialect—a huge plus when you’re talking about spiritual things!
These days Dewi has three or four Discovery Bible Studies going in the community, one of which meets in her parents’ home. Both of her parents now follow Jesus as well. Dewi’s faith is growing and reproducing itself in deep ways. She’s continuing to grow in her leadership and ability to make disciples. “It’s been a sweet blessing to me to be Dewi’s mentor for the last three years, discipling and supporting her as she disciples others toward faith in Jesus!” our CRM / Novo staff shared.
CRM / Novo staff no longer run the youth center (which is still the main hub for their ministry). Dewi does. Handing off leadership of the center to Dewi has meant that our staff can focus on leading the expanding gospel movement across the country—overseeing seven teams in different cities across the nation, each made up of national believers like Dewi. These teams are working in both Muslim and Hindu areas, looking for people of peace, starting Discovery Bible Studies, and engaging unengaged people groups. Despite the fear of persecution that most new believers face, the more long-standing teams—like Dewi’s—are seeing this gospel movement multiply to the second and third generations of disciples, as new followers of Jesus share their faith and form new discipleship groups.
At CRM / Novo, we do what we do so that the Dewi’s of the world can discover the peace and power of Jesus for themselves, and come to know and love him. But we don’t want to stop there! The only way for us to fulfill our mission to multiply movements of the gospel and mobilize the church for mission around the world is to empower these new believers to share the good news, to become disciples who make disciples. This is the kind of gospel-movement-making-disciple that Dewi has become. We trust that this is only the beginning of the story.
Dewi is just one example of the disciples who make disciples that CRM / Novo works to reach in challenging areas of the world. You can support CRM / Novo’s efforts to expand gospel movements in the coming year by giving to our Gospel Movement Fund.
For more details about the impact of our work around the world this year, check out our 2018 Annual Ministry Report.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This story comes to us from an anonymous staff member in East Asia, where the good news is taking root and spreading undercover.