top of page

The New Roman Road: Engaging in Disciple-Making Virtually

Let me tell you about my friend Hassan.


When I first met Hassan, he was leading an online community of over 1,000 Iraqis who were eager to learn and practice English and who had never spoken to a native English speaker before meeting me. Hassan’s proficiency was incredible. He told me that the reading comprehension studies in school allowed him to escape the conflict and instability he had always known growing up in southern Iraq. Through English, he was transported to places like the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, and the tulip fields of the Netherlands. He read about scientific discoveries, the American frontier, pastimes, innovations, and leisure. Hassan befriended these subjects, giving him a sense of freedom and inspiration. He had no idea the world beyond his own was so beautiful. English became a pathway to hope for the things he could not see.


Hassan and I became quick friends. I shared early on that I was a follower of Jesus. I told him about my life in Texas, my family, the sports we followed, the things we celebrated, and the hard things we had endured. We compared stories about our childhoods and our relationships with our fathers. 


I shared how my dad had been diagnosed with a life-ending illness, but then had a dream about Jesus, believed, and died with peace, joy, and hope. I also shared how Jesus drew near to me during that time of sorrow, supplying me with joy, strength, peace, and his presence. I told Hassan about my journey to faith in my twenties, how I chased after worldly things but found true fulfillment only in Jesus.


Hassan revealed that he had always been interested in Jesus and was drawn to him, but that he had never seen a Bible or met a Christian. If he had a Bible, he said, he would certainly read it. We began reading the Bible together over Zoom. It was clear that the Lord was drawing Hassan into the Kingdom.

What if we could meaningfully make disciples among UUPGs online? The Lord has provided a way.

Hassan asked if we could facilitate a Discovery Bible Study about the life of Jesus with members of his online community. Soon, many of his friends were joining us on Zoom to read stories of hope. Some even professed faith, having never met another follower of Jesus before. 


I connected with a close friend in a nearby country to deliver Hassan an Arabic New Testament as a gift. My friend, who took annual trips into Iraq, traveled far south to meet Hassan and give him my gift. Hassan’s family welcomed him as an honored guest. His grandfather, a prominent Sheikh, assembled a feast and invited extended family and members of the community to honor my friend. 


Though I have never spent time with Hassan in the same room, I love him like a brother. I care deeply for him, and he knows it. I know Hassan feels the same way about me. We are brothers. I pray for him, care for him, and believe that the Lord has set him apart.

Today, the internet connects the world, and English has become the lingua franca of our time.

The Lord Has Prepared the Way (Again)

When I take a step back, I’m in awe of all the things the Lord prepared for this unlikely friendship and brotherhood to exist. It’s not just about Hassan being a God-prepared person of peace; it’s much bigger than Hassan or me.


When I studied church history, something significant stood out to me about the early church. Even before the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples in Acts 1:8, the Lord had gone ahead to prepare the way. He had connected the known world physically through the Roman roads, and relationally through a common trade language. This, by the power of the Holy Spirit, accelerated the spread of the gospel as people traveled from city to city, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Messiah.


These two realities mirror our age. Today, the internet connects the world, and English has become the lingua franca of our time. As I keep pulling on this thread, I've learned there are over 550 million proficient English speakers among the top ten unreached countries by population (according to the English First Global Proficiency Index). 


The hard truth is that the overwhelming majority of the remaining unreached people groups live in restricted-access countries, meaning they are hostile to westerners and missionaries of all kinds. These countries are sometimes referred to as “creative-access nations,” and they make up about 78 percent of the world’s remaining unreached. How will they hear if workers can’t go or stay long enough to make disciples that multiply?


Yet, despite the present barriers to missionary entry, increasing numbers of people in these countries will buy a cell phone pre-loaded with Facebook, WhatsApp, and internet access. For instance, in Pakistan alone, there are nearly 110 million proficient English speakers, and over half of the country is online. 


Tens of millions of people in these “creative-access nations” are actively learning English, and many are proficient enough to have spiritual conversations like those I had with Hassan. 


There is no replacement for life-on-life discipleship and evangelism. In-person relationship is the ideal. But what do we do when that is not an option? To do nothing would be to reject the gift the Lord has prepared for our age. What if we could meaningfully make disciples among UUPGs online? The Lord has provided a way.


Building Kingdom Builder

As my friendship with Hassan continued, I saw an opportunity for believers like me to make a meaningful impact among the unreached. I formed teams with leaders and volunteers, outlining and testing strategies for starting virtual, spiritually forward relationships with those in closed-access countries. The opportunities became too great to ignore, and last fall I started Kingdom Builder.


Kingdom Builder finds and filters God-prepared, English-proficient seekers in restricted-access countries and attempts to love them into the Kingdom. We are also committed to their discipleship when there are no believers or workers near them. By God’s grace, it is possible to identify and engage UUPGs digitally and to target specific geographic locations.


We are still learning and striving, but we see evidence that what we’re doing is making an eternal impact. God is showing us just a glimpse of what is possible. I eagerly ask for your prayers for us in this work, and I also invite you to join us. We can’t do this alone, and there is always more room for more laborers.

 

Adam is a disciple-making and multiplication practitioner who has spent the last ten years recruiting and training missionaries and building teams in the local church for work among UPGs. Adam is the Director of Kingdom Builder and is passionate about awakening the local church to join Jesus on his global mission, as well as developing innovative strategies to accelerate Kingdom impact on the ground. Adam would love to connect with churches and likeminded (or aspiring) practitioners. Reach out to him at adam@kingdombuilder.digital.

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page