Extending Gospel Ministries Around the World
Partners with the President with Rick Burke
Every month, EFCA President Kevin Kompelien highlights stories, vision and leadership from around the EFCA in his monthly e-newsletter, "Partners with the President." This month, Kevin sat down with EFCA Unreached People Initiative Leader Rick Burke to discuss extending gospel ministries.
I remember a specific moment from when I served as the international leader for Africa with ReachGlobal.
I was in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the home of Claudine and Nubako Selenga, former president of the Congo Free Church and current leader of ReachAfrica. I remember watching a group of about 10 young women at the Selenga’s home gathering with Claudine to study the Scriptures.
Claudine had a heart for the young women in her city with little hope in life and who were prime targets for prostitution and drugs. That’s why she’d invited this group to her home. When the women came to study the Bible, the Lord put another idea on Claudine’s heart to help these women provide for themselves economically and reduce the risk of prostitution and drug use. She would teach them to sew.
Today, the ministry that began in the Selenga’s home has grown to 215 locations—Tabitha Centers—in churches across Kinshasa. And all of it started from Claudine seeing a need in her community, asking how she could help and following God’s lead to help these young women. She wanted to see the church actively engaging people with the gospel in ways that brought transformation into their lives.
In May, I talked through this idea of extending gospel ministries—seeing the needs around us, creatively finding ways to engage people and intentionally sharing the gospel message with friends, neighbors and community members. With the help of pastors Randy Discher and Sean McDowell of Constance Free Church, we discussed the local church side of this idea through the lens of evangelism (see video below).
We looked at Jesus’ words in Matthew 28— “as you are going, make disciples of all nations.” For those of us here in the United States, extending gospel ministries often means taking the gospel out into our neighborhoods, communities and workplaces, and finding creative ways to intentionally engage those with whom we already regularly interact. But there’s another side of this coin.
Look at the words of Jesus in Luke 10 as He sends out 72 of His disciples ahead of him:
“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.'” (Luke 10:2-3)
Notice Jesus’ language here. It’s very similar to what we looked at in May from Paul in Acts 17. Just as Paul saw the need in Athens, Jesus encouraged His disciples to look—to see the harvest, see the need, see the opportunity. Look around the world— see the broken, the hurting, the unreached, the lost. The harvest is plentiful!
From there, Jesus instructs His disciples to pray—to ask the Lord of the harvest to open doors where there might be opportunity for gospel growth. Lord, show me the people for whom Your heart breaks around the world. Guide me and lead me to meet them with Your gospel. Then, following Paul’s example in Acts, the next step is to go. Motivated by Jesus’ call, let’s intentionally and creatively ask the question, “how might I best reach this country, this community, this people group with the hope of the gospel?”
As you'll see in the video at the top of the page, Rick Burke, ReachGlobal unreached people initiative leader, and I discussed this topic of extending gospel ministries while in Thailand at the ReachGlobal Asia Conference in February. Before we spent the day worshiping, learning and growing with other ReachGlobal missionaries, Rick and I sat down to wrestle through this issue of seeing a need and addressing it with gospel intentionality.
This is extending gospel ministries—looking for and seeing a need, praying for God to open doors, then going where He leads. Not only do we see examples of this in Acts 17 and Luke 10, but across the globe, our nearly 600 ReachGlobal staff are also extending gospel ministries in 44 countries among nearly 850 different people groups.
Like I saw firsthand in Congo, Tabitha Centers give hope to young women across all of Kinshasa and beyond. By training them in professional skills like sewing, cooking and cosmetology, and by teaching them God’s Word, Claudine and the centers help protect these women from lives of prostitution and economic hopelessness—introducing them to Jesus and the life-changing message of the gospel.
One of the ministry partners of the Tabitha Centers is GlobalFingerprints, the child sponsorship arm of the EFCA. While GlobalFingerprints helps teach the women at the Tabitha Centers how to read and write, they also partner with U.S. churches to send children to school in Haiti, India, Indonesia, Panama and all around the world. Through child sponsorship, GlobalFingerprints gives local churches the opportunity to extend their gospel reach and help care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of children in desperate need of hope.
Through building relationships by helping children-in-need, GlobalFingerprints has also brought openness to the gospel in communities where there was once hostility. When community members have seen their children loved and cared for by GlobalFingerprints, they’ve opened their homes to our staff and created opportunities for gospel conversations with parents and relatives of these children. Supported by partnership with U.S. churches, congregations have grown, and churches have launched in places where the gospel was previously unknown.
This is the key to extending gospel ministries: creating and partnering with unique and intentional ministries that provide pathways back to church multiplication and disciplemaking. By extending gospel ministries, we’re opening doors to multiply disciplemakers, and to strengthen, revitalize and plant churches across the movement and around the world. See the harvest. Ask God to open doors. Go and engage lost people with the gospel.