​Dynamic Trainer of Trainers

September 22 2016

After establishing a strong foundation of church multiplication in India, James, the Every Community for Christ assistant national coordinator for North India, taught a Bible college class about Train & Multiply (T&M). The next week, one of the students traveled home and visited his friend, Mohit*. Mohit was pastoring a church, but his vision was to plant many other churches in his area of staunch Hinduism. However, he had become discouraged. After years of trying, he still had just one small congregation.

The student told him about James and the success of T&M in multiplying churches. Mohit was interested, so he contacted James, who invited him to attend a T&M training in Allahabad. Mohit was impressed with this simple, practical method, and he immediately returned to his town and trained three other men to use T&M to plant churches. Nine months later, more than 1,000 new believers from 50 new house churches gathered together to celebrate Christmas for the first time.

Mohit continues to train many others in his area. As an experienced leader, he trained new church planters at the Jubilee training in Chennai. God has transformed Mohit from a discouraged, unfruitful pastor into a dynamic trainer of trainers who has launched a church-planting movement in northern India.

*Name changed for security.

Tags: india, church planting, trainers, training, t&m, discouraged pastor,

​An Unlikely Call to Africa

September 21 2016

Kris Kappler was hesitant to spend 20 days in a country in West Africa, especially because he needed a translator to communicate in French.

“God provided a translator,” he said. “And he provided a 20-day experience which was unparalleled.”

Kris and his wife Sarah had served in Central Asia with their family for 11 years as One Mission Society missionaries before they were introduced to a ministry opportunity in Africa during an OMS conference. During the five months that Kris prayed about this option, he felt a growing sense that God was calling him and his family to leave their home in Central Asia and go to Africa. So, he responded to this need and answered the call.

Now, as the international regional director for Africa, Kris and his family live in South Africa. Kris’ ministry is to serve and supervise OMS church-planting ministries and OMS missionaries across the continent, which includes traveling to many different countries. During April and early May, Kris visited several villages and leaders in this West African nation to introduce himself, to observe what work was being done, to see what relationships were being built, and to spread the Gospel message through different programs. Throughout that trip, he saw God working in the hearts of the villagers and leaders.

Most people in West Africa speak French, so in order to help Kris with the language barrier, God provided a translator for him as he traveled. In total, he and his team visited 40 villages. These villages, Kris said, are the focus of their ministry in Africa because they tend to be neglected areas. Throughout these villages, Kris saw the poor and, as he said, “people outside of places you don’t normally go.”

In many villages they visited, there was a chief they first had to meet in order to have access to the people. Many chiefs are Christian, but not all of them. Because so much falls on the chief’s approval, Kris said, it is a critical position in any village and respecting the position is very important. Once a chief gave approval for Kris and his team to be there, they had freedom to preach and speak in a village. In one village, one where a church is present, the chief said during a meeting that he was thankful that the church was in the village and hoped that Kris and his team would continue to do what they were doing. Looking back on that experience, Kris remarked that God is touching that village.

In West Africa, the population of Muslims is high, but God is at work in the people’s hearts in the villages. Kris recounts visits to some villages where Bible studies were held for the children. In many instances, Kris said, the parents were Muslim, yet they still let their children listen to the Christian messages. In one particular village, at least 80 children attended a study.

Overall, Kris and his team held two training seminars, baptized 45 people, and ordained 15 well-qualified pastors during their visits to the 40 villages in Senegal. Kris is thankful for the opportunities he had to learn and meet the people in these villages, as well as see the churches that are being created within these Muslim populations.

Looking forward to the future, Kris wants to continuously develop relationships with the supervisors across Africa, learn French to communicate better with people, and to grow relationships with people where he attends church in South Africa.

“When it comes right down to it, communication is critical,” Kris added.

Kris also prays that God will send more missionaries to Africa. The need goes beyond critical. He wants to see not only foreign missionaries respond to this need but also African missionaries as well. And when more missionaries serve in Africa, he continued, there are also more people supporting these missions both in prayer and finances.

Please pray for Kris and for his team in Africa as they reach out to the people of this great continent, especially the population in the neglected villages. Pray that more churches can be planted, that people of peace can become bridges to some of the village chiefs, and that these relationships in the villages can grow stronger over time.

By Jess Mitchell, Communications Intern

Tags: africa, missions in africa, senegal, church planting, villages, missions call,

Young People Stepping Into Missions: Clarissa's Clear Call

September 20 2016

This is part 5 of a 5-part series of stories about millennials working in missions with OMS.

In God’s Word, the message that Jesus values children is evident. He says people must have a childlike heart. King Solomon highlights the joys of youth. Paul encourages young Timothy to set an example for believers everywhere in his ministry. The importance of young people is evident throughout the Bible. And it doesn’t just mention their importance, but it speaks of their responsibility. Just like other believers of other ages, Christian youth have a role to play in glorifying God and bringing his Good News to the world.

Fresh out of college, Clarissa Hunter has felt God calling her to the mission field in Budapest, Hungary. On the field, Clarissa will serve in communications and ministry coordination. As she begins the funding process, she is working at the OMS World Headquarters in Greenwood, Indiana, as the administrative assistant for Development and Marketing.

Clarissa’s journey started in 2014 when she interned for HOPE61, OMS’ human trafficking prevention ministry. She enjoyed that summer and considered applying for another OMS internship, seeking something she could do for a three-month period right after graduation. She found two internship options that interested her.

As she researched the two options, one of those in Hungary, Clarissa connected with Jonathan Long, the OMS field director for Hungary. She learned more about the vision for Hungary, the passion for transformation in that country, and the desire to come alongside the church in a supportive role to impact people’s lives. Clarissa was drawn to that vision, and after praying and thinking more about her decision, she chose the internship in Hungary.

Clarissa’s three months in Hungary was an affirming experience. She spent time writing and editing materials, helped mediate situations, and worked in teams to serve the Hungarian people. Who she was and what she liked to do seemed to line up perfectly with her jobs, and people recognized her God-given skills.

During Clarissa’s time there, Jonathan pitched the idea of her joining the Hungary team. At first, Clarissa was unsure if she should pursue that idea. Yet, before she even returned to the United States, she had applied to serve in Hungary and for a position at the OMS HQ. She soon had interviews lined up. Both of these interviews ended in success, as she was accepted to go to Hungary and also to work at headquarters during her funding and preparation process for the field.

Doors were flying open for Clarissa, but she still didn’t know what to do. Finally, she came to terms with the fact that she had subconsciously made her choice already to go to Hungary. It was almost as if, when she had left Budapest, she knew she would return. So, she jumped in and took the opportunity.

Currently, as she works at headquarters, Clarissa wants to invest her time where she is right now and to be present in this moment, focusing on her work here instead of always looking to Hungary. But when she does go to the mission field, she wants to continue to have that mentality, to be present in her work and choose to make the most of her time wherever God calls her.

Clarissa has a passion for understanding people and also helping people understand each other. She wants to reach out to those who are marginalized and connect with people who are overlooked by others. Her prayer is that God can work in and through her in Budapest, and also where she is now, to do this. She is thankful for the people that have helped her through this journey, and above all else she's thankful for God’s goodness in opening so many doors of opportunity for her.

As a young person stepping into missions, Clarissa encourages other young people to not let the vast opportunities keep them from choosing somewhere to serve. So many youth struggle with shutting down in response to an overload of information and tragedy, Clarissa said. Instead of letting that overwhelming feeling stop them from being involved somewhere, young people need to see what their God-given talents and skills are best suited for. Then, they need to choose a cause they care about and take steps to help others. The more involved you are, Clarissa added, the less focused you are on just yourself, which creates greater empathy and understanding about what is happening in the world.

Please pray for Clarissa as she works at OMS headquarters and prepares to serve in Hungary. Pray that she seeks to be present and relational, that her focus is on others, and that she chooses to always make the most of her time to serve people and God.

To learn more and to give to Clarissa, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/ClarissaHunter.

By Jess Mitchell, Communications Intern

Tags: mission call, hungary, serve, hope61, internship, intern, communications,

60-Year-Old Indian Widow Plants Churches

September 15 2016

Prema Alexander was born on January 12, 1956, in Tamil Nadu, South India. She was raised in a strong Christian home, along with five brothers and four sisters of which Prema was the eldest. They were taught God’s Word and to have faith in him from an early age.

In 1976, she married Rev. Alexander. They began the Lord’s ministry in South India with the ECI (Evangelical Church of India). They first planted two churches in local villages.

God blessed their ministry and their family life. He gave them six children, three of whom are married and have started their own families. In 1984, ECI asked them to move to Mumbai city in Maharashtra (West India). They began ministries in several places. God enabled them to establish churches in these places despite many challenges.

In July 1989, they moved to Aurangabad to develop the church ministry there. Ministry began in the village outskirts of various towns. In that time of ministry, many people were delivered from demonic possession in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Others who did not know the name of Jesus Christ believed in the Gospel when they heard it. They were added into the churches, and thus, ministry of the Gospel grew amid the challenges.

In 1997, Prema and her husband established a church in Mukundwadi. ECI purchased the land and built a church building where the Alexanders preached there among the Mang, Chamar, Mahar, Buddhist, Maratha, and other people groups. Many believed in Jesus Christ and were baptized and added to the church.

In 2000, Prema’s beloved husband died of a heart attack. But despite his death, she felt a burden to continue the ministry they had shared of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples, and planting churches. Prema is grateful for the help and encouragement of the Bishop President Ezra Sargunam and ECI in this time that allowed her to thrive in ministry and complete her two-year theological training degree.

That’s when Prema became a full-time evangelist, walking from village to village to tell people about Jesus. Meanwhile, her children grew up. Her eldest son James completed his studies at Allahabad Bible Seminary and became an ECI pastor. However, he felt a calling to minister to the Hindi-speaking people of North India. In 2009, he joined the Every Community for Christ ministry as the training coordinator for North India and began working with OMS missionaries to train hundreds of church planters. As James flourished in this church-planting ministry, the Lord granted Prema favor, at age 60, to plant 11 churches. ECI appointed her area chair to oversee the churches in the area.

Recently, her son James was appointed as the associate ECC national coordinator for India. Prema shared, “The OMS missionaries trained him and several others to assume full responsibility for training the ECC teams in India, using a method called Train & Multiply. This has been so successful that there were more than 11,000 house churches planted by the end of 2015. When James told me that ECI was planning to train 7,000 people in Train & Multiply in 2016, I realized that God had a bigger plan for my life. Instead of planting one church at a time, God could use me to plant churches that would multiply by the hundreds or even thousands!”

Prema not only attended the ECC training event in June, she also recruited 24 other men and women to join her in Chennai. “My son James and the other trainers prepared us to be God’s choice instruments to build his kingdom in India. We returned to our homes and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, will now do all that he has prepared us to do. To God be the glory!” What an exciting time of church growth in India.

To donate to help accelerate the church growth in India, click here.

Tags: india, church planting, training, church growth, christians in india, jubilee,

Young People Stepping Into Missions: Harold Comes to America

September 13 2016

This is part 4 of a 5-part series of stories about millennials working in missions with OMS. This is part two of two of Harold's story. Harold served at the OMS World HQ in Greenwood, Indiana, for six months, learning the details of a mission organization, especially in the Mobilization Department.

Part Two:

After joining the new department of missions, Harold knew there wasn’t going to be much support. They were a young group in their 20s, starting an international program. With the task of creating a mission-focused department, Harold and the others started to initiate several new programs. They planned to bring people to Medellin and share this vision about how they needed to share Jesus outside of their churches, empowering them to return to their churches with a new perspective.

By 2013, they sent out a missionary who, for the first time ever, ministered to Muslims. The Lord provided all the financial resources, Harold said, and they started to work more with their churches and sponsor projects in other countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama.

Harold’s denomination, which OMS founded, also developed more communication with OMS. Today, OMS and the Colombian denomination has worked together to send three Colombian interns to OMS every year for a six-month duration so they can foster good relations with OMS and learn from each other.

But the work Harold and his department did was not always easy. A lot of it was slow and difficult. Not everything worked out well, especially at the beginning. Many pastors closed the doors literally in their faces, Harold said, because they didn’t understand missions. Others said the president of their denomination was crazy to send young people to do this type of work. It took several years to see progress because the denomination was well established and tied closely to traditions. But when progress did begin, the results were incredible.

The mission department has continued to grow over the years. In 2012, they sent someone to London to minister to the over 100,000 Latin people who live there. Oscar journeyed to England to begin work there while Harold stayed as the director of the department in Medellin. Now, Oscar is helping to run a church where over 250 people attend. There are also 15 house churches.

Harold has also continued work in Colombia. In the last three years, he has worked with other mission organizations and denominations, encouraging them to look toward missions and spreading the Gospel through cultural missionaries who truly serve the Lord. Sometimes the work goes very slowly, he added, especially because they want to make sure everything is done well. But God has been faithful and has continued to lay ideas on Harold’s and others’ hearts about how their churches can step out of their physical walls and reach the community around them, being present not just to evangelize but to serve and invest time in people, just like how Christ did during his ministry on Earth.

Throughout Harold’s ministry in Colombia, he had a connection with OMS. They continued to send interns there, but OMS said that it would be good if Harold also came to the United States headquarters to learn more about mobilization, how to apply new things in Colombia, and also share with OMS what he’s been doing.

At first, Harold didn’t feel like he was called to leave his ministry in Colombia. But at the end of 2015, he started to feel like God was calling him to leave the part of ministry his was involved in. The Lord told him that this ultimately wasn’t his department, Harold said, but it was God’s department, and God alone would decide who went or remained. Harold talked again with OMS, and after praying about it, he agreed to go to the United States for six months. He had a lot of fear upon arrival because of the language barrier, the new culture, and the new people. But he added that he brought a suitcase with him, filled with his hopes based on Jesus Christ.

After six months at OMS, Harold said he’s not sorry that he came. It was the best decision he could have made. Now, he returns to Colombia with more knowledge and experience on how he can serve better as he figures out the next steps in his ministry.

God blessed Harold with a calling to missions when he was young, and throughout his teenage years and now his young adult life, he has been faithful in following where God has called him, whether that be in Colombia or abroad. To the other young people who are seeking who they are and where they belong, Harold encourages them to realize their dreams, but to do so with God’s perspective. There is nothing wrong with having dreams for the future, Harold said, but the danger is when young people eliminate God from their thinking when they explore those dreams. Not everyone is called to be a missionary, he continued, and that is fine. The bigger question young people need to ask themselves is if they are allowing God to guide them. Whether someone is called to the mission field, the soccer field, the stage, or an office, ultimately the purpose is to do everything so that the name of Jesus is known.

Pray for Harold as he continues to follow God’s calling for his ministry. Please pray that Harold may keep his passions close to his heart, that he looks to Christ as his model, and that no matter where God sends, him his life reflects that of his Creator’s.

Tags: missions, cross cultural missions, colombia, intern, young people in missions,

How the Church Grows in India

September 7 2016

The story of the church in India begins with the arrival of the Apostle Thomas in the first century. He established a toehold before being martyred. Since then, the church has grown slowly. Only two percent of Indians identified as Christians in 2000. Something needed to change.

In 2010, OMS moved away from the traditional church planting methods of the past and introduced two church multiplication processes: Train & Multiply (T&M) and Village Church Planting (VCP). Both of these resulted in more rapid planting of churches but still depended too much on Western trainers. When the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) leaders asked these OMS trainers in 2014 to train seminary students to use T&M, we said, “No, we won’t train the students, but we will train the Indian coordinators to train the students.”

That training was the turning point. It was practical, fun, and needed no translation. The seminary students responded with enthusiasm and immediately began using T&M in their practical work of planting churches on the weekends in surrounding villages. More trainings followed as the coordinators traveled to various Indian states to train hundreds of ECI pastors, lay leaders, and Indian missionaries. Then Ezra Sargunam, ECI Bishop-President, declared that OMS was to train 7,000 church planters at the denomination’s 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee celebration in January 2016 in Chennai.

What a challenge! ECI and OMS leaders met in October 2015 to plan this event AND what must follow. They faced many challenges, but everyone was encouraged as the plans took shape:

  • Raise $350,000 to pay for travel and food for 7,000 people.
  • Raise $30,000 to translate 280 pages of material into Indian languages and print 7,500 books.
  • Arrange for a five-acre tent pavilion that would accommodate separate training areas for four language groups.
  • Provide a similar pavilion where participants and their families could sleep.
  • Train approximately 760 small group leaders to lead small groups at the Jubilee training.
  • Organize the feeding of 7,000 and their families.

Nobody had planned, though, for the Chennai flood. Weeks of non-stop rain in December 2015 flooded Chennai and the surrounding areas to such an extent that ECI’s attention was fixed on flood relief. ECI reluctantly postponed this event until June 2016.

That was the bad news. The good news was that the delay allowed the needed time to complete translation and printing of the training books. Although the postponement meant that some people could not attend due to other commitments, penalties for changing train tickets, and extremely hot weather, the trainers and nearly 5,000 participants still persevered and attended the massive training event this past June. James, Amos, Raju, Lawrance John, and Rajan facilitated the training, and the small group leaders trained with passion and excellence.

Now the hard work begins. In order to reach the next goal of 100,000 house churches, all of these leaders will follow up with those who received training. Follow-up meetings began in July to review the plans and action steps of each church planter, schedule regular coaching meetings, and answer questions. In the first meetings, 89 church planters committed to establish 184 new house churches by October. These are exciting times of growth in India!

To donate to help accelerate the church growth in India, click here.

Tags: india, church planting, training, church growth, christians in india, jubilee,

Young People Stepping Into Missions: Harold’s Call to Missions

September 6 2016

This is part 3 of a 5-part series of stories about millennials working in missions with OMS. This is part one of two of Harold's story. Harold served at the OMS World HQ in Greenwood, Indiana, for six months learning the details of a mission organization, especially in the Mobilization Department.

Young People Stepping Into Missions: Harold’s Call to Missions

Part One:

One night, 10-year-old Harold Hurtado prayed to God that when he woke up in the morning he would be in a different place in the world, a place where he felt like he belonged. But when he got up the next morning and peeked through his window, he was in the same place ... Colombia, South America.

Though he might not have teleported to a different location overnight, Harold did get to travel to many new places as he followed God’s calling into missions.

Harold’s story began when he was a young boy. He grew up in Apartadó, Colombia, in an area where there was a variety of different cultures. His family was Christian, but he didn’t personally accept Christ as his Savior until he was eight. When he did, he knew that he wanted to have a personal relationship with God, something more than a faith that was his parents’ or his pastor’s. He wanted to claim faith as his own.

Growing up, Harold spent a lot of time in his church. He started to think about missions and asked a lot of questions about God. Harold’s thoughts about missions eventually led him to his first missional experience. At 10 years old, God fostered an interest in him for indigenous people in his area. One day, Harold noticed there were poor people in his area who needed shoes to get to school. When Harold saw this need, he gathered some friends and told them about his sadness when he saw these people. With some teachers from his school, Harold and his friends visited these people. They took pictures and listened to their stories. Then, they went and bought boxes of shoes.

Harold and his friends wrote a note inside all of the shoes that said “these shoes are to cover your socks, so that you will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ.” The shoes were a surprise for the people who received them. Fifteen years later after that first trip to deliver shoes, Harold said that two churches are planted in that place because the pastors decided to plant new churches. This was Harold’s first missionary experience, but it was definitely not his last.

As a teenager, he started to coordinate missionary teams in his region through activities like theatre and sports. He encouraged young people to use the gifts and abilities they had to show Jesus Christ to others. Harold and his teams went around the region with their gifts to reach kids who suffered from a lack of God in their lives. Over time, pastors from churches in Harold’s region, around 100 of them, took notice of what these teenagers were doing and started to use them as a model to motivate their young people.

God surprised Harold by using him at such a young age. By 16 years old, Harold was coordinating several missionary teams in his region and leading evangelism efforts as well. He started studying administration at university. With a strong passion for writing, Harold also wrote an article about an issue that was pressing on his heart, the idea that Christ should change communities. Each person is different, he had written, and those differences should be used to unite communities and follow God’s plan, because the world is watching what Christians do. With all this work, Harold became more involved in writing and conferences. He loved what he was doing and was learning a lot along the way.

Harold’s home church, the Inter-American Church of Colombia (IGLEICO), was founded by One Mission Society (OMS) in 1943. This denomination had about 400 churches planted, but they had never planted a church outside of Colombia. Harold noted that they had many churches but didn’t have a clear identity in relation to God’s work in their country or around the world.

It was at this time in 2010 that the denomination’s president became concerned about this issue. He wanted their churches to support missions, as well as to get young people and pastors involved. The president reached out to OMS and started to rebuild relationships with the intent of working together with OMS to reach these mission-oriented goals.

The president reached out to Harold’s friend, Oscar, who was in Medellin, Colombia. Oscar became the denomination’s leader for their new department of missions. OMS made an agreement with the denomination so that they could start sending out missionaries from Colombia, through OMS, to minister around the world. This was difficult and slow work, especially because the pastors had never worked with missions before. But Oscar’s passion helped drive this work, and slowly, Harold and others could see God’s hand in the midst of all this development.

Oscar and Harold connected at a conference in 2011 after these changes started taking place. Oscar told Harold about his work in missions and his passion to send out missionaries. He encouraged Harold to be a part of this work, but Harold backed away from the offer.

Oscar kept insisting that Harold be a part of this new mission department, but that would mean Harold would have to leave his home and live in Medellin. However, God kept putting this idea on his heart … so strongly, in fact, that despite his hesitancy, Harold knew he had to be a part of this mission. Six months later, he was in Medellin.

Tags: missions, call, calling, compassion, colombia,