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Give the Gospel for Christmas

Discipleship in Action

TEAM missionary Brian Flickner regularly leads a group of pastors, all graduates of Durban Bible College, in weekly prayer meetings. Pastor Shaun Pillay, a member of that group in the mid-2000s, now disciples new believers while serving as a missionary for the North America Mission Board in Connecticut.

Shaun Pillay was a student at Durban Bible College (DBC) from 2001 – 2003. After graduating, he became a pastor at Moorton Evangelical Bible Church. I used to meet with Pillay and two other graduates who were pastors, Anton and Craig, every week for a TAP (training/accountability/prayer) meeting. In this discipleship group, our covenant was: “We will share our true feelings (authenticity), encourage each other (mutuality), support each other (sympathy), forgive each other (mercy), speak the truth in love (honesty), admit our weaknesses (humility), respect our differences (courtesy), not gossip (confidentiality), and make this group a priority (commitment).” We were accountable to each other for our growth plans and 10 accountability questions. Anton, who is now a missionary in China with SIM, wrote this in his book Biblical Portrait of a Disciple: “I must place on record my gratitude to the person God used to teach me the value of accountability partners and that was my Professor in Biblical Studies, Pastor Brian Flickner. He always had a passion for being there for people and this naturally spiraled into him setting up accountability sessions with pastors who graduated. God used him to sow that important seed of accountability.”

Pillay attended a world conference on evangelism in Brussels, Belgium. The speaker, Dr. Billy Kim from Korea, asked all the delegates from Africa to stand. Kim said that Christianity in America and Europe is dying, and that passionate believers from Africa needed to go and revive the church in the West. That was Pillay’s call to serve in the United States. Sometime later, he visited a Connecticut Baptist lay leader who had stayed with Pillay in Durban during a short-term missions trip. While in Connecticut, Pillay visited Norwich, was drawn by the needs of the city, and felt that this was where God wanted him to serve. He went back to South Africa, married his wife Deshni, and they set up house in Norwich. They started a church called Cornerstone International Church, and Pillay is now serving there as a North America Mission Board missionary.

Pillay starting leading people to the Lord, including two drug lords named David and Derrick. David now spends his Sunday mornings driving people to church. Derrick is a barber whose barbershop used to be a drug den of iniquity. Now he talks to clients about Jesus. When my wife and I visited the Pillays in June of 2013, we stopped in at the barbershop, and Derrick was reading David Platt’s Radical. Pillay introduced me as his professor and said that I told all my students that I would ask only one question when I came to visit them: “Where are your men? Where are those disciples you have poured your life into that are the leaders of the church?” Derrick was one of Pillay’s men. He meets weekly with about 10 men, including David and Derrick, for discipleship. There are about 130 who attend Cornerstone Church; almost all led to the Lord by Pillay or one of his disciples. They have several strategies for evangelism. Some will go to the pier and fish and talk with other fishermen about the Lord. Some will offer to pay for peoples’ laundry at the laundromat, and then share the gospel while they are waiting for their clothes to get done. They will have block parties where the gospel is shared.

Pillay is kind of the poster boy for doing inner city church planting among the Southern Baptists. At one national Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Phoenix, he found himself sharing the platform with Rick Warren, John Piper and Anne Graham Lotz. Seven SBC inner city missionaries are interning under Pillay, who also serves as the Church Planting Strategist for the SBC of New England. In January 2014, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and his entourage visited Cornerstone Church. Malloy became interested in the church after hearing from the Norwich city council about their vision for Norwich and the leadership development happening at Cornerstone. Malloy stayed for worship and encouraged the church to continue making a difference in that community. God is great and God is good.

Learn more about Pillay's church here.

-Written by Brian Flickner
-Photo provided by Brian Flickner

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