50 Examples of Movements in Crisis Response
Compiled by Dr. Mary Roberts and Dr. Curtis Sergeant, with contributions from numerous local movement leaders across the globe.
Crises create opportunities for access, collaboration, creative problem-solving, and new initiatives. They provide opportunities to love people well in their deepest moments of need—by joining the Lord, who is close to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18), in the midst of the crisis.
Sometimes just hearing a few ideas can help someone get started. While engaging in crisis and disaster response as ordinary disciples and churches may be a daunting task, we can share many examples from Kingdom Movements. These span diverse experiences in loving God, loving people, and making disciples during the limited window of opportunity following a crisis. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus, Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to respond to urgent needs and not live unfruitful lives. As disciples and churches around the world have lived Titus 3:14, we can glean from these recent examples to kick-start the brainstorming of possibilities:
Wars and Conflicts
1. The Taliban conflicts in Afghanistan created the opportunity for a ministry serving Kingdom Movements to handle evacuation of nationals paid for by the U.S. government. That, in turn, allowed the ministry to evacuate believers in imminent danger and provided a deep level of access to many Afghans over time, resulting in many coming to faith.
2. Refugees in areas surrounding conflicts in Sudan were engaged through collaboration by a coalition of partners who would not have connected previously.
3. In an ongoing war in Sudan, the inability to have brick-and-mortar schools led to the creative development of an entirely oral-based seminary program. This paved the way for multiplication of mobile Bible storytellers, creating a growing edge for the multiplication of churches.
4. Conflicts in Myanmar led believers to find creative ways of getting supplies into high-risk areas. By working mostly underground, they were able to respond with physical, emotional, and spiritual care. After seeing the believers willing to take major risks to love people, many turned to Jesus, got baptized, and began to share with others.
5. War in Ukraine led to equipping disciples with awareness of what to watch out for in human trafficking, how to be prepared to leave as refugees, and use of preexisting sports networks to provide aid in Jesus’ name and see many thousands become disciples.
6. War in Ukraine created opportunities for believers to equip churches in surrounding countries to respond. They set up basecamps to receive the refugees, to care for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As refugees turned to Jesus, they multiplied new disciples while continuing their journey to find asylum.
7. Civil war in West Africa led believers to have open doors to share with “hard-soil” people, who became believers when faced with their own brokenness. Over time, a movement was launched out of the crisis.
8. Civil unrest in the Middle East created a bond between former persecutors and persecuted people from two neighboring people groups. Due to governmental conflicts, the underground churches multiplied quickly. Many of the same people who formerly opposed the believers and persecuted them became believers.
9. Terrorist attacks in the U.S. led to increased attention and prayer for the Middle East, which brought movement breakthroughs, such as had not been seen before. These movements continue to multiply to this day.
10. Refugees sharing about Jesus with their friends and relatives back home led practitioners to connect with existing movement leaders near the refugees’ home culture. They sent disciples to follow up with relational connections in the home country of the newly believing refugees. As the refugees shared with their families and nearby disciples within the country followed up, hundreds came to faith and were baptized, and disciples continued to multiply.
11. The scattering of North African refugees led believers to open doors to care in crisis. They formed migrating churches among the families of the refugees so the church would migrate together as the peoples moved around, multiplying as both harvest and harvest force were dispersed.
12. As disciples in Europe cared, physically and emotionally, for refugees from unreached peoples and places, the refugees eagerly asked spiritual questions. This led to Gospel conversations and discipleship breakthroughs.
13. Eritrean refugees in the Horn of Africa prompted believers to equip others in how to listen well to people, to care for their trauma. This led to new teams forming and equipping others in developing trauma healing that multiplied, producing new disciples and churches.
14. An earthquake in Turkey created an opportunity for collaboration between some above-ground and underground workers, which in normal circumstances had been uncomfortable.
15. Earthquakes in Nepal led to the use of relief to bring reconciliation among persecuted believers as they brought help to those who had beaten and exiled them. Persecutors repented and the believers forgave, leading to multiplying churches during the recovery.
16. After earthquakes in Nepal, believers began to create go-bags to store on their roofs. Then, when the next disaster hit, they could get the go-bags with extra supplies after homes collapsed and help their families and others through the chaos and relief.
17. Large earthquakes in Southeast Asia led disciples to create a phased approach, seeing thousands in medical clinics and helping with immediate food, water, tents, and portable toilets. The team followed up with trauma-healing conversations and Discovery Bible Studies, leading to house fellowships of baptized believers in previously closed communities.
18. An earthquake in Indonesia created opportunities to form small groups. Each group helped others make bricks to rebuild their homes, using supplies and skills they shared as a group. Several of these groups clustered together to be coached by a professional construction worker. By working in groups, the supplies and supervision extended further than if each family had needed their own professional help.
Lockdowns and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic
19. Lockdowns in Myanmar moved more disciples to connect online using Zúme. This led to multiplying disciples and groups online while people could not leave their homes.
20. Limited market times led to an increased willingness of believers in Myanmar to exercise their priesthood in Christ and remove their own idols because other believers could not come to their homes due to the restrictions. They shared these testimonies in the markets as they went, leading many new believers to do the same.
21. Lockdowns in India led to believers discovering creative ways to distribute rupees for relief supplies in small portions, with trackable accountability. This led to breakthroughs, with several Kingdom Movements multiplying significantly.
22. Lockdowns globally led to many disciples learning and using previously resisted technology. This opened creative and catalytic ways to train, coach, and communicate, such as Zoom and WhatsApp. Zúme also increased by tens of thousands of users during the lockdowns. Believers used various technologies to advance movements, expanding relationships and launching new streams of multiplication worldwide.
23. Government restrictions led to connecting with others in new ways. For example, many pre-existing churches asked for training in house-church models, increased media ministry, and Bible studies accessible via phone.
Pandemic and epidemics
24. Aila, a leader stewarding a network of movements, testified: “I looked at what has happened in the last 15 years of our movement in East Africa, and 2020 was the peak,” as churches that met in buildings could no longer meet, so they met in homes and the groups in homes began to multiply.
25. COVID-19 response in Pakistan resulted in the opportunity to provide job training for indentured slaves, many of whom came to faith and began to labor for God’s kingdom.
26. During COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, movement leaders asked, “Not what can we do but what needs to be done?” While suffering, they worked toward their end vision by equipping believers in basic medical care and trauma healing. These opened doors to find households of peace that were searching for Jesus, leading to baptisms and multiplication.
27. An epidemic in North Africa led disciples to volunteer in hazardous places with many losing their lives to serve Muslims. A village chief watched the Christians love, to the point of giving up their lives, and prayed for God to spare his family. When this happened, he became a believer, sharing from the Scripture in mosques, and started churches, going from village to village after the crisis.
28. An Ebola outbreak in West Africa led to believers learning trauma response using movement principles. They took a strategic long view in their short-term response to the crisis. Discipleship groups then cared for people’s practical and emotional needs, leading to an even greater harvest in the long run.
Floods and tsunamis
29. Floods in India led to believers’ homes being relocated. As they started over, they shared with new neighbors, and the ministry multiplied through their relocation.
30. Flood response in Pakistan allowed for aid and access to people in poverty, who turned to Jesus as the source of their help in times of need. This Good News then spread to others.
31. Floods in Laos led to the use of motorcycles to access hard-to-reach places with food. This opened doors to care for people who had little access to supplies. Many became new believers, establishing simple churches among unreached peoples.
32. Floods after a drought in East Africa led to many leaders and families losing all their income. After prayer, they called one another to encourage each other and shared the very little they had. This led to a multiplication of sacrificial kindness towards one another.
33. A tsunami in Southeast Asia opened up places that had been entirely closed off to access. This answered prayers people had been praying for years and led to making new disciples and multiplying churches.
34. The same tsunami in Southeast Asia led to an outpouring of finances that were stewarded across relief, recovery, and rebuilding for several years to come. This will sustain catalysts who were led, through the response, to a long- term vision of disciples who make disciples.
35. Floods in Bangladesh led to chronic unemployment. This opened opportunities for microenterprise development, equipping believers to work as rickshaw drivers and allowing them to access people with the Gospel and provide income for their families. This enabled a movement in a large urban area to continue growing significantly.
Famines and food shortages
36. Famines in East Africa created opportunities for food relief and equipping people with sustainable farming. This led to groups working together, resulting in multiplying discipleship groups.
37. In Nepal, believers provided personal assistance in the fields to farmers having trouble during planting and harvest seasons. This opened those farmers to the Gospel and helped identify Persons of Peace, thus providing a foothold in resistant areas.
38. During food shortages in India, some disciples sacrificed one meal a day to give that food to someone in need. They then shared the food and asked people if they also wanted spiritual food. This catalyzed ministry among unengaged and unreached peoples to whom they previously had had no access.
39. After a locust swarm in East Africa, believers were encouraged by the reminder that crises create opportunities for the kingdom to advance. They shared food in portions that allowed for frequent follow-up to check on people. This demonstration of love shown in a difficult time opened people up to hear the Good News and led to increased fruitfulness.
Economic hardship and persecution
40. In many countries, economic hardship has made it challenging to take care of children. As a result, some disciples have engaged children with games that introduced kingdom principles to them and their families. This has often provided a foothold for kingdom multiplication in new communities.
41. Economic hardship and labor-avoidance issues have opened many opportunities for cross-cultural tentmakers to gain employment in unreached locations where they are called to catalyze Kingdom Movements. This has led to new movements on a large scale in regions such as the Middle East and China.
42. Extreme poverty, coupled with under-developed financial structures, has opened up opportunities for microenterprise development, ASCAs (Accumulating Savings and Credit Association), ROSCAs (Rotating Savings and Credit Association), and CHE (Community Health Education) in many nations around the world. The training aspects of these tools can be used in conjunction with Gospel truth and disciple-making tools and principles. These approaches have been particularly helpful in Africa, Bangladesh, and much of Southeast Asia.
43. In Pakistan, unemployed day laborers created opportunities to distribute food and the Gospel as they shared with the people around them. When people asked why they shared, when they had next to nothing, they shared about Jesus. As a result, the kingdom grew by hundreds of thousands of new disciples and churches.
44. Compassionate ministry among persecuted Muslim minorities in India resulted in many coming to faith and being equipped to multiply disciples. These disciples have continued to minister among other Muslims, and the community of Jesus’ followers has grown steadily.
45. When believing leaders were martyred in the Middle East, hundreds of disciples stepped up to take on leadership roles, fueling exponential movement growth in the wake of persecution unto death.
Other natural disasters
46. Mudslides in India led believers to work across movement networks to find creative solutions. They learned to build shelters faster and rebuild homes stronger, opening doors that previously had been closed to Gospel access.
47. Wildfires in Central Asia led ordinary believers to respond because they loved God and wanted to love others who were hurting. This led to new relationships and skills, building a crisis-response network in the movement that continues to grow after each disaster.
48. A plethora of natural disasters in Indonesia led believers to shift to a Luke 10 mindset in their disaster response. This enabled them to find Persons of Peace among unreached peoples. Walking alongside them through physical, emotional, and spiritual transitions brought multiplication at a faster rate than normal.
49. Cyclones in Southern Africa led to disciples from a nearby movement working with neighbors to rebuild homes out of compassion for those hit by the disaster. This led to new relationships and finding Persons of Peace, which resulted over time in a multiplication of disciples and churches.
50. A volcanic eruption in Central Africa spurred disciples to learn trauma-healing tools via WhatsApp. This enabled them to listen well to people as they arrived at relief camps. This, in turn, led to new networks of relationships and follow-up, forming discipleship groups that multiplied through the camps.
This is not an exhaustive list! To connect, communicate, and collaborate in strengthening Kingdom Movements in disaster and crisis response, please email [email protected].