Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start out by hearing from Dan Hitzhusen:
Basically, the apostle Paul went to new cities, preached the Gospel and left behind new churches. Today, there are places all around the globe where the people there have still never heard the Good News of Christ. So, we go to these places and partner with local Christians from nearby villages or cities and help train and equip them to reach out to their fellow countrymen with the Gospel. Then, together, we work to transform their entire society through the work of the church. It’s amazing to see the Gospel of Christ and the “hands and feet” of the body of Christ working together to not only transform lives, but entire communities.
Stateside, we are seeing “ordinary Christians” – not lifelong missionaries or theologians – following God’s calling on their lives to grow God’s kingdom. We’re talking almost 70,000 people participating in short-term missions trips over the last 27 years! And, we’ve seen every single one of them come home sharing extraordinary stories about what God has done while on their trip and beyond. Let me be very clear about this – it’s God doing the work, planting thousands of churches, transforming people’s lives and eternities – we are simply obediently allowing Him to use us to be a part of it.
You see, E3 Partners works through American churches to help churches overseas to target unevangelized neighborhoods and villages in order to build up churches that impact their communities.
Usually the three things that keep people from going on a missions trip are: Fear, Family and Finances. They fear the unknown, they fear not being prepared, they worry about who will take care of their kids, or how they can afford such a huge undertaking. But, as Bill Bright said, “faith is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the bigger it gets.” Additionally, I have another friend who constantly said, “The tragedy of life isn’t necessarily what happens to someone, but it’s what they miss out on.”
So, through missions trips like the ones that E3 Partners puts on, you end up having this privilege that God has given us to share the Gospel. 90% of American Christians today never seized an opportunity to share their faith with someone else. Yet, over a five-year period, we have discovered that for each person that has gone on a trip with us, 32 people have made a new decision to follow Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Savior. The opportunity to share the truth of Jesus with people who have never heard His story is like nothing else anyone could ever experience! So, to think that 90% of the Christians in this country miss out on that privilege is just sad.
One aspect that is often overlooked is the fact that it is a lot easier to step out and share your faith with strangers. When you speak with people half-way across the globe, Americans typically feel a lot less pressure than if they were to face the challenge of talking about Jesus to their co-workers or neighbors. So, E3 Partners trains people how to easily and succinctly use their tools and each person’s own story to spread the Gospel. Then, after doing it dozens of times while on their trip overseas, it suddenly becomes much easier to spread God’s Word at home as well! You quickly learn that it’s not about you, but God working through you to spread His truths. You don’t need to be a Bible expert, but just be willing to obey Him, go where He wants you to go, do what He wants you to do, and say what He wants you to say. As you do that and watch God go to work, seeing Him draw people to Him, it is absolutely unbelievable!
Next, we hear from Dan Watson as he reflects on his first trip with E3 Partners, many years ago, to India:
I was minding my own business, sitting in the pew at church, when the bulletin came around with an insert saying that the church was pulling together a team of people to go to India. I sat there staring at the sheet, looking at the dates and other details, when my wife suddenly nudged me and asked, “Do you want to go?!”
And I replied, “Absolutely not.”
Which was an absolute lie. I did want to go. I knew that this was going to be a trip where the expectation would be that I would sit down in the homes of Hindus and tell them about Jesus. Now, up to this point, I had never shared the Gospel from end-to-end with someone else – not even once. And I was a preacher’s kid in his late-forties!
So, I signed up to go because I knew that the Lord was telling me to get up off my pew and put myself in a position where trusting God is the only alternative. That being said, India would have been at the bottom of my list of places I wanted to go, but the top of the list of places where I would be dependent on God.
So, when we arrived, I wasn’t scared at all, but eager to see how this was actually going to work – the Holy Spirit constantly leading. And, I sat in the home of the first family that we met, I shared the Gospel (misquoting verses over and over again), I stumbled through my story. I even remember messing up so bad at one point that my interpreter looked at me and rolled his eyes at me and fixed my message through his interpretation, but made it no secret to me that he was doing so. Yet, at the end of our time, my interpreter looked at me and said, “Dan, they are ready.”
“Ready for what?” was all I could say.
They were ready to accept Jesus, which was way beyond what I had expected. To my complete astonishment, that entire family of Hindus gave their lives to Christ that day, even through my poorly spoken attempt at sharing the Gospel. It was, undeniably, the Holy Spirit at work.
I’ve been back to India well over 50 times since then, and I’m still not over what happened that day. And it wasn’t just their lives that were changed. My life has been constantly changed ever since then as well.
When I returned from my trip, I was invited to share with the fourth and fifth graders at our church about what I had experienced. Six years later, I turned over the job of teaching our church’s fourth and fifth graders to another volunteer. This one trip and this one Sunday of sharing about the trip turned into a six-year ministry to our church’s students!
Next, we hear from Stephanie DeMink in regards to how she first found out about E3 Partners and the role that they have played in her life.
I was a new believer and was praying that God would show me what He wanted me to do with my life. At that time, I felt that God wanted me to simply stay put and grow in my knowledge and faith in Him – to be a witness to those around me, and learn how to love in a Christ-like way.
Meanwhile, though, I kept hearing stories of God working through people’s lives in incredible ways and they would move my heart like nothing else. I remember hearing stories on the radio and needing to pull over because I was so moved, I was weeping while behind the wheel. At the time, I didn’t know about unreached people – I didn’t even know they existed. I thought, “It’s been 2,000 years. Certainly by now, every nation has heard the Gospel!”
I was so wrong.
So, I prayed that God would make it clear what He wanted me to do and where He wanted me to go. I put it on Him (thinking it would take quite a bit of time for Him to start setting things up).
I was so wrong.
The next day, I was helping my mom in the kitchen, getting things ready for Thanksgiving, when she said, “Stephanie, look at this invitation that your father and I got.” It was an invitation from E3 Partners with these words boldly printed across the top:
“Declare His glory amongst the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples!” (Psalm 96:3)
What? I had just prayed the day before for God to start putting things together and less than 24 hours later, I’m staring at an invitation to go to a dinner at a missions agency with a Bible verse telling me to go! I started crying right then and there.
After attending the dinner, I was convinced – the Lord wanted me to go!
I spoke Spanish and I love Latin culture, so I thought that somewhere in South America or Cuba would be a perfect fit for me. I had it all planned out.
I was so wrong.
Dan suggested that I try somewhere where I would be stretched outside of my comfort zone – somewhere where I didn’t know the language or culture. That way I would not be able to lean on my own strength, but instead lean on God entirely. So, I ended up going on a trip to India with Dan.
And, boy was Dan right!
I was stretched beyond belief, sharing God’s truth with people whom I would have never even dreamed that I would be speaking to, and watching the Holy Sprit speak to their hearts in amazing ways. The honor and privilege of being a part of God’s work was mind-blowing!
Since then, being a part of E3 Partners has completely changed everything in my life. It’s as if I am an empty pitcher and God continually pours Himself into me. He filled me with faith beyond measure to the point where I decided to go into ministry with E3 Partners full-time and follow His lead in all aspects of my life from where I go, to what I do, to how I can afford to do it.
Finally, we hear from Stephanie’s mom, Carol Morrison as she shares her personal experiences regarding God instilling in her a desire to spread the Gospel across the world:
My story is quite different from most people, in that God had not put overseas missions on my heart. My husband and I attended a dinner at E3, and Dan Hitzhusen asked me when I would be going on my first missions trip and I replied, “When hell freezes over.”
God had called my daughter to the mission field and we would support her prayerfully and financially, but there was no way I was going anywhere.
Then I got a call from a friend who said that she felt as if God was calling her to support Stephanie and go along with her on her next missions trip. That got me thinking, “If my friends were willing to do this, maybe I should start thinking about doing likewise.”
I was working as a corporate events planner at the time, and I was in high demand, so just fitting a missions trip into my schedule would be quite difficult. But, I told my husband that if Marlena was willing to go on a trip, maybe I would go to… never really believing that Marlena would really go through with it.
God had different plans than me, because before I knew it, Marlena and I had both signed up to go on the next trip while Stephanie was away in China.
Stephanie said to me, “Mom, I am so excited for you to go on this trip! You are the last person that I expected to volunteer for a campout in India.”
I don’t know how I missed that detail when I signed up! Camping, to me, would have been staying in a Hilton without 24-hour room service.
So the next day, at our first day of training, I didn’t hear a thing during the training sessions. Instead, I was praying the entire time that I would get sick or break a leg – anything that would prevent me from going. If God wanted me to go on a campout in India, God was making a huge mistake.
But, I didn’t get sick. I didn’t break a leg. So, as I boarded the plane bound for India, I began to pray that the plane would crash. I could not do this.
Then I heard God clearly say, “Carol, just be still and know that I am God.”
I said, “God, I don’t have a choice.”
So, 47 hours later, we arrived in India. I didn’t even take my clothes off in the hotel room where we were staying because I didn’t trust the cleanliness of the room.
And then, the next day, we went out to the first village and I could not believe my eyes. I had no idea that there were places where people’s lives hadn’t really changed since the beginning of time. I was in shock by what I saw, and even more shocked that I was going to be there a week with them.
I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with me, as I was dreading every moment, and the other people in our group were filled with joy.
The next day, I went out with Dan Watson and I got to hear him share the Gospel. Then I saw people respond and come to the Lord. I was amazed. One hut after another, I saw God work.
But then Dan asked if I would like to share. I was scared, but I realized that like Moses, unless I set my foot in the water, I wasn’t going to see the waters part.
So, I stepped up and shared the Gospel.
And not a single person accepted Christ.
Over the next three days, I continued to speak and share God’s truth. And snot a single person accepted Christ.
But, on the fourth day, I went out with my daughter. I got to witness her pray with and minister to the people of this Indian village. This was the same daughter whom my husband and I had calluses on our knees from our endless prayers that she would follow Jesus.
It was the most thrilling day of my life.
I soon realized that by God bringing me to this remote village in this third-world nation, that He was revealing His sovereign glory to me.
My life was turned upside down. I had had a Savior since I was 24-years-old. But now, I had a Lord to follow. It was so thrilling!
I came home, retired from my affluent career in event planning and joined the staff of E3 Partners.
There is nothing in the world that can compare to what God blesses you with when you finally say, “Yes, Lord.”
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we hear from Pastor Kevin Clark of LifeBridge Church:
“As a pastor, I am not shy about talking about Jesus, so I wasn’t at all nervous about going into the villages and huts and sharing my faith or talking about malaria prevention, HIV prevention, or any of the other things that we were trained to do. But, on the first morning, before we went out, our trip organizer told the team, ”When you ask the people if there is anything that you can pray for, many of them will have physical illnesses or conditions and they will want you to pray that they are healed.” Then he looked right at me and continued, ‘Some of you may not have had this experience before – a direct healing as a result of prayer right there on the spot – but I encourage you to just lean into that.’
So, on the second day, my partner and I were in one particular hut and we asked the people there if there was anything in specific that we could pray for. They then told us about their neighbor who was extremely ill. So, we went next door: me, my partner Aaron, our translator, our disciple-maker, and a throng of others all went into their neighbor’s hut.
The man was extremely frail – he looked like someone who was in a concentration camp – and said that he had been suffering from “very powerful headaches” that made him dizzy and prevented him from even standing. So we all knelt down next to him, laid hands on him and began to pray for about 10 minutes or so. When we finished, our translator asked him if he felt any better. The man replied that his headache was gone!
Then things got interesting.
Our translator then asked him if he could stand up. ‘I don’t know’ was the response, followed by the man very cautiously rising to his feet and broadly smiling! ‘Can you jump up and down?’ asked our very energetic translator. And the whole group of people who had followed us just laughed at the absurdity of the question.
But the man tried.
He jumped an inch off of the ground. And then this huge smile spread across his face as he began to leap off the ground – one to two feet off the ground! It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
As we left, I asked Aaron, ‘Wow… does God still do stuff like that?’ I had grown up as a good, conservative Baptist: we don’t dance, we don’t drink and we don’t heal. And yet, I saw it happen right in front of me. And that was just the first of six or seven people that I saw who were divinely healed that week.”
Kevin’s 14-year-old daughter, Taylor is also involved with E3 Partners, and experienced a worldview changing week that strengthened her faith:
“When my dad got back from his first trip overseas, he told us all these stories similar to the one he just shared about the miraculous healings and I thought that it was really unfair that he hadn’t taken me along with him! So, the next time that there was an opportunity to go on an E3 Partners trip, my dad and I decided to go together.
I had the opportunity to share the Gospel in every house that we visited. And, I have to admit, it was pretty scary – especially the very first time. I was so afraid of being laughed at or rejected. But instead, to my surprise, several people said they wanted to pray and invite Jesus into their lives that first day!
It was eye opening for me to realize that Jesus is with us and there was no need to be afraid.”
Kevin’s perspectives were radically transformed as well, starting at the very beginning of their trip together:
“When we were in the planning stages of our trip, I really hadn’t considered that Taylor was as young as she was and what all that entailed. I figured that she’d always be by my side, so I would be able to watch over her as her dad. But, as we drew closer to the trip, I began to have nightmares that something terrible would happen to her and I would wake up in the middle of the night freaked out by these dreams. I prayed, “Alright, God, we know that you’ve called the two of us to go on this trip and provided for us so that we can go. She’s your daughter, God, you need to protect her.” And, I was able to go back to sleep, resting in God’s peace.
Then, when we arrived, instead of just sitting on the sidelines observing, I saw Taylor dive right in and engage with the people we met, sharing the Gospel. I saw her mature as a young woman and as a woman of God right there in front of me!
I’ve also noticed that the two of us have a much closer relationship after sharing the experiences that we did while on this trip, both as a father/daughter and as fellow servants of God. So, I really encourage any parents of teens to take their children with them and not just send them on a missions trip, but model for them what it means to be a person who lives out their faith.”
Dan Watson of E3 partners agrees that there are no effective age limits when it comes to teaching your children to go out and serve God. He began taking his kids on trips to the Amazon when they were just seven-years-old.
“We were down in South America, and my kids had the opportunity to share the Gospel with other children down there. Then, a couple years later, I took them to Kenya and got to see them work with the Maasai tribe and share the Gospel in the huts of Africa.”
Rick Eisemann also began taking his kids along with him on missions trips when they were young and can attest as well to the life-changing and faith-building moments that can come out of obediently putting your children in situations where they learn to serve God and serve others:
“We began taking our daughters on trips when they were just 12-years-old. They are older now – each of them have been on about 15 trips. But, I can say that the most significant thing that we have done for them, as parents, was taking them on these trips. They were homeschooled, we were very involved in our church, but the thing that I believed contributed most to developing their Christian characters to this day was going on those trips, seeing how the rest of the world lives, and understanding how we have been blessed.”
E3 Partners also has a program called E3 Legacy, which is designed for families to go on mission trips together. It’s thrilling to see this “Great Commission Modeling” taking place between parents and their children and seeing families doing ministry together, side-by-side.
Kevin shares one more story about how he and Taylor faced their innate fears with a Godly boldness and saw how their obedience opened doors to minister to families:
“We were going into an area where the human trafficking element is a much bigger threat. So, here I was taking my 14-year-old daughter (who was right at the target age for a human trafficking organization) and walking into an area infamous for that. We went in to share with the people that they really shouldn’t allow their daughters to take these alleged “jobs”, where the girls are supposedly going to be able to send money back to their families, yet instead are abused in the sex trade. I was very nervous about going into that scenario without my resources from home to fall back on. So, needless to say, I kept a very close eye on Taylor while we were there. But, what struck me most while we were there was this: while we were there talking to parents about their teenage daughters and I was standing alongside my own daughter, we were able to visibly demonstrate our faith that God would take care of us. This simple act of the two of us being together really opened up several doors with the local parents – opportunities that probably would not be available to us had my daughter not been there with me.”
To learn more about E3 Partners, or to find out what is involved in going on a trip yourself, simply call 1-800-5-I-CAN-GO (1-800-452-2646) or visit www.e3partners.org.
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start out by hearing from Pastor Tom Totter of LifeBridge Church who shares how his experience has impacted his home church:
It’s a real blessing to partner with E3. Our church is a small-to-medium-sized church and would love to be larger, but even the largest of churches, as we go to do these things, can always use the help and the expertise that is brought to bear by an organization like E3.
Putting a team on the field, in sometimes challenging situations, is not a simple thing. I’ve found, as we’ve done many of these now, that the key ingredient to a successful missions trip (of course, other than the covering of God) is who you partner with as you go into a foreign country. One thing that E3 brings to the table in a bountiful way is a team of people in each of the countries they go to that are local experts in their respective regions.
And, I love E3’s model that doesn’t operate instead of the Church, but through the Church, on both sides of the trip. Here in the United States, the ideal is for a church to mobilize a team and go. But then, when they arrive at their destination, there is often a group from a local church waiting for them to carry out God’s work. That is an expertise and an ability that is hard to do on your own, even if you are a big church.
Too often, churches think that they can just wing it, or do missions trips their own way. Yet, time and time again, I have seen God abundantly bless teams who work with the locals who have already been vetted, who know the region’s needs and are simply prepared to do the unique things that need to be done in that area. Working with local churches help us work out of a servant posture of “How can we help work through you in making a difference for the Lord in your community?”
Now, I am always blessed when I am able to personally bring the Gospel to someone. It’s an amazing experience and I am not worthy of it, except through God’s allowance. But, as a pastor – as someone charged with the Ephesians 4 challenge of equipping others to do God’s work – it is even more exciting to see people who have never shared the Word, and then – by the blessing of God – are able to see fruit from seeds planted right then and there. I have been able to see this take place, in large part, thanks to E3’s training program.
Secondly, I think that a lot of reluctance that people have against going on a missions trip stems from fear. Specifically, more than ever, I see people look at dollar figures and are afraid to go simply because of the financial cost of the trip. But, thanks to E3’s partnerships, tools and training, the financial burdens, as well as other hurdles are often easily wiped away.
If you would like to find out more about partnering with E3 and expanding God’s kingdom across the globe, visit www.e3expeditions.org. They go to over 40 different countries and, as Tom said, they take care of so much of the little obstacles that seem to large to overcome in spreading God’s word across the globe.
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start out by hearing from Dan Watson as he shares about the history and mission of E3 Partners:
Well, we’re 27-years-old. I’ve been with E3 for almost 21 of those years. We work in about 50 different countries; and our goal is to plant over 1 million multiplying churches over the next seven years. These are churches that we want to see not only multiply, but transform their communities and bring the light, joy, Gospel and transformation of Christ to their communities, piercing the dark places. So, it’s both the Word and the deed together.
As we plant these churches, we plant them in a way that they can transform their societies. It’s very exciting. We do that through tools like our “Evangicube”, which we have delivered thousands across the globe, as well as our “I Am Second” website. “I Am Second” is a great way to start a spiritual conversation. It’s available at IAmSecond.com.
And then, we do it through teams. We send out about 190 short-term mission teams each year in about 45 different countries. So, just about every week, we have two or three teams going out, made of people just like you and me: teenagers, housewives, blue collar and white collar. They go out and work in villages around the world, sharing life-giving tools like HIV/AIDS care, medical examinations, sports – a variety of different platforms to share the Gospel and they see people come to Christ and new churches form and grow in the villages.
We’ve grown so much over the years. When I started, we had 20 staff members. We now have about 550. And it’s so exciting in HOW we are growing. For example, we have several associate positions where people can have regular jobs, and then while taking just a few weeks off from their 9-5, they can lead short term teams that then may sprout 10-15 churches in a week.
Next we hear from Alice. She recently returned from Ethiopia on a trip that changed her life and worldview:
Ethiopia is such a beautiful country with beautiful people. And, I think as you grow in your Christian walk, you find yourself really wanting to be an ingredient in the story of Christ’s work in the world. And I think that going on a missions trip, especially to a country like Ethiopia, fits that bill. In places like this, you see the poorest of the poor – it’s virtually impossible to accurately describe just how deprived the people there are. There are millions of people barely surviving on what they raise on a plot of land that the government has allowed them to rent.
There is one particular story that sticks out in my mind every time that I think about Ethiopia. We had gone into a farming village in Northern Ethiopia to share with the people there. We went into a little dark hut and sat on the dirt floor. The woman living there had her four small children gathered around her. She was incredibly grateful for the gifts that we had brought her: things like salt, a sewing kit, hair oil. For us, it was a mere $20 worth of items, but for her it was like Christmas! She could never afford such luxuries, as she only made around $100 per year!
But, most importantly, we brought the Gospel message.
It was such a blessing to see her accept Jesus as her Savior right then and there. But, then she went on to tell us a story of how she used to have five children, but then her husband left her for a prettier woman in another village, leaving her with no means to feed her children. She did have five chickens, though, which laid eggs that she learned that she could sell, but it was hardly enough. When the desperate family was at their lowest point, her oldest daughter, who was about 14-years-old at the time, left with the local “conductor” for a life of sex slavery. She stayed in the sex industry because it earned her $5 each month that she could send back to her mother and young siblings to survive on.
But then, thank God, her mother got five chickens, which laid eggs that she was able to sell and earn enough money to bring her daughter home.
For us, a five-dollar decision is in regards to what we will order at Starbucks, but for this family, five-dollars saved their lives!
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start out by hearing from Pastor JT and Katie Brown from Bridges Church in Long Beach, CA who reflect on how e3 Partners has had a big effect on the Church:
We planted a church about 15 years ago, and I was in youth ministry at the time. At our church, as was the case in most American churches back then, the youth did missions trips and the adults paid for them. But then it dawned on me that it shouldn’t be that way. God is God of the world, and we all should be doing missions trips, not just the teenagers. God then opened up doors that led us to partnering with E3, and we’ve been working in Ethiopia with them for quite a few years now.
In Ethiopia, there is a new Muslim Mosque being built every seven kilometers. Many of them are empty, but imams are hired to fervently draw people in and fill them up in order to quickly spread Islam throughout the country. Now, currently, Ethiopia is an open democracy – the last of its kind in North Africa – so we feel like we have a window of opportunity to plant Christian churches there before it becomes an Islamic state. No matter what happens politically, if the Christian Church has a foundation there with local leadership, then the Gospel will spread. We’ve seen this in China and several other oppressed countries around the world.
One story that I love to tell was when we were up in the mountains of Southern Ethiopia. As I was listening to the translator make all the introductions in what was supposed to be a casual, open discussion, the translator stops and told me that one of the men there recognized me. Now, I had never been to that part of the country before. How could this village elder recognize me?
He said that he saw me six months earlier in a vision.
He then started describing the area I lived in and my family members who weren’t there with me. Then he told me that in his vision, he and I were talking in my backyard. He described my back porch and wall in my backyard. I was blown away.
We then sat down and began to talk about Jesus. And despite the fact that God had revealed Himself to this man and gave him a vision about me, his heart was still not ready to accept Jesus. From that day, it actually took about two-and-a-half years before he was willing to surrender to Jesus because he had so much baggage and spiritual warfare going on in his life. When he did make the decision to follow Jesus, though, his life was completely devoted to obeying God’s will!
It’s moments like this that I turn to whenever anyone asks why I so eagerly serve in overseas missions and why I steer people toward spreading God’s word across the globe.
But if a plane ticket isn’t in the cards, then there is work to be done domestically, too. We were in San Diego recently doing some outreach work and 27 people made decisions to follow Christ over a three-day period, 43 people said that they would open their homes to the Gospel, and one person, who had been sick for a long, long time, experienced God’s miraculous healing while we were there. It just goes to show that we are too often wrong in thinking that we need to be overseas in order to see God at work. He is everywhere and eager to meet His people all over the world, including our own neighborhoods.
But faith is like a muscle – the more you use it the bigger it gets. So, when you share your story of faith overseas, which is often times easier for most people, and you see God at work through your story, then it becomes so much easier to allow God to work through you in all aspects of your life, not just when you are in a foreign country.
When you walk in obedience, especially in a country such as Ethiopia, and you open your heart and eyes to see what God is doing, then it’s like walking through the Book of Acts. Instead of wondering, “Why doesn’t God do today the types of things that I read about in Acts?”, you start to see that in fact, He does! It ignites people’s faith as they realize that they can be used by God everywhere, all the time.
Sharing the Gospel doesn’t take four years of seminary and a collegiate degree. All it takes is an obedient heart that is willing to surrender to what God wants said and done.
Getting back to Ethiopia, there are 52 different people groups just in Southern Ethiopia/Northern Kenya, most of which have not heard about Jesus at all. So that’s where our church is primarily focusing. But we can’t do it alone.
My vision is that ten other churches would partner with us. We have one other church working with us currently, but I would love to see ten others come alongside, so that a dozen of us could ban together to spread the Gospel to this region of Africa all year long.
In addition to the wildfire spread of Islam throughout Ethiopia, the country is also a hotbed for human trafficking. Throughout the region, there are families with 6-12 children starving and destitute. So, when someone comes into the village and says “I can offer one of your children a better life.”, they jump at the opportunity. Yet, while they think that they are sending their children off to get an education and be saved from the path the family is on, they are actually jammed into shipping containers, and sold into prostitution, Islamic marriages, or worse. And we’re not talking strong teenagers. This begins with girls as young as three or five-years-old.
It’s a devastating reality that is difficult to face, but needs to be discussed and battled against by those who are able to stand up against it.
What’s amazing is seeing how God is empowering His people to stand up in a revolution against the human traffickers. God wants to kick this thing in the face!
Now, there are typically three main points of entry when it comes to human trafficking: A lack of education; a lack of equality; and a lack of economics. So, when a home, village, tribe or region are lacking in these areas, they are weakened and become easy prey for the evil men who swoop in and lure their children away.
What we find beautiful is when we can come in and share with them God’s plan for their lives. We can reveal to them that their valuable in God’s eyes and by accepting Jesus Christ, they can be adopted into God’s family and experience His hope.
Now, God gave us an insight into the future in the Book of Revelation. When John wrote that every tribe, tongue and nation will be reached when Christ returns (Revelation 7:9), he is talking about our neighbors as much as he is the people in these tiny villages in Africa. We have the opportunity to be a part of spreading God’s Good News to these tribes as we obey God’s callings.
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we hear from Erin who has an excellent testimony of how the Lord moved her to going on an Expedition:
To tell you the truth, I had been ignoring God’s prodding for years. I believe that He had been telling me that He wanted me to go and serve Him for years, but instead of going, I made excuses. I have five kids, so I’ve always had a small child at home; I’m really busy volunteering at my church; I have a hard-working husband who has a big job; I have a lot of family who seems to always have something going on that needs me to tend to it. The list goes on and on.
Then I heard Him say, “GO!” (in capital letters, this time).
So, out of obedience, I signed up for a short-term missions trip to Ethiopia. And, after my obedience, God provided. He provided more than enough money for the trip. He provided more than enough people to watch my children – friends and family who would love and care for them while I was away. He provided extra time for my husband so that he could still work and fill in the gaps. He provided abundantly!
All it took was that first step of obedience.
Within hours of arriving in Ethiopia, I was filled with a God-given love for this country and her people. It then became clear that God wasn’t calling me simply for one trip, but that this was going to change my life as I knew it. The need and poverty level there is just devastating. And, as I traveled throughout the country, I found myself having a continual conversation with God, where I kept pleading, “God, this is so horrible here. Do something about this!”
He answered, “I am doing something… I am sending you.”
I noticed that He didn’t say, “I sent you.” He said, “I am sending you.”
And every time I heard this, I would remind Him of all thing things that made this impossible: my kids, my husband, my responsibilities…
Over the next several days, He reminded me that if I only remain obedient, He would satisfy all my needs – even a donkey cart to ride on while in country. So, it became my utter joy to say, “Yes, Lord. I will obey. Please send me!”
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Dan who was humbled while working among the Banjara, a large unreached people group in central India:
For me, it was fascinating to go back to the exact same villages where we had ministered one year ago. The people of the Banjara are gypsies – albeit there are 40 million of them, so they don’t actually move around that much. They are mostly illiterate in a rural area outside of major cities. They typically don’t interact within the cities, so the only way they would hear the Gospel is if someone went out and took it to them.
I had the opportunity to talk with this one man who was an idol worshiper. I really felt like I was “on my game – waxing Scripture poetically”. How could he not accept Jesus after I had spoken so eloquently? Yet, when I finished talking and asked if he had a response, he said:
“Well… God exists. If we do something, He’ll do something.”
At that moment, I realized that there actually had been no connection between what I had meant to say and what he understood. My ego was shattered in a hurry. I tried to argue and debate my way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me, “You’re not going anywhere. This isn’t going to work.” That was when I turned the conversation over to my interpreter. In a mere five minutes, as my interpreter spoke with the man about God’s grace, the man accepted Christ as his Savior.
It wasn’t about me, my eloquence, education or smooth delivery.
There was no doubt that God’s message was about His message. Not at all about me.
Now, before the trip, we had asked the “strategy question” of whether or not to go back to the villages we had been to the year prior, or seek out new places to go. When we saw the responses of people who had heard the Gospel the year before, rejected it at the time, but then spent the past year wrestling with God’s truth, our decision to go back was definitely confirmed!
As one woman said, “If you don’t send someone back to teach us, we’re going to forget!” Since they are illiterate, you can’t just leave them with a Bible. They need people there who can speak to them, teach them, pray with them, and guide them. One week of walking their streets simply isn’t enough. In order for an understanding of God’s grace, repentance, and salvation, it takes a lot of time.
Therefore, we set up a plan with our partners in the nearby cities to strategically come out and regularly minister to the Banjara; and then within a few months physically move out, away from the city and into their villages. Then they will have a group of pastors that they desperately hunger for and need.
Philippians 1:3-4 says: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel”. If not for the partnership between our teams and the local churches in the areas we go to, people like the Banjara would not have the opportunities to hear God’s word and learn what it means to live the Christian life, bound for eternity with Jesus. But because we partner together, there have been generations of churches planted and growing all over the world.
Next, we hear from Chris, who describes his involvement in Ethiopia among Muslims of the Arsi-Oromo tribal people:
We were doing an eyeglass clinic in one particular village, located in a Muslim region of Ethiopia. We knew that many of our translators were former Muslims, so we asked many of them if they would be willing to share their own testimonies with the people we met. One of them was a 19-year-old named Mohammad. His father was a very influential imam in that area. Choosing to follow Jesus was an incredible step for Mohammad, since his family would shun him immediately, so he kept it a secret for quite some time. Then one night, while spending the night at a friend’s house, he was talking in his sleep… about Jesus! Mohammad’s friend (at least he thought they were friends) told his parents about his faith in Jesus. His parents then tied him up and beat him, they brought over some of his peers who threatened to do much worse, all in an attempt to get him to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. When none of that worked, his father disowned him and kicked him out of the house. Mohammad took up residence in a local church, where the Christians there took him in and nursed his wounds.
So, while we were there doing the optical clinic, Mohammad would talk to the people in the waiting room, telling them his story and all about the love, grace, and salvation that Jesus offers. Several people each day accepted Christ after hearing the Gospel from Mohammad that week!
Another man we met was Abdu, a former imam. He was doing his typical thing that day, working at his local mosque, when he had a vision of Jesus, Himself! Jesus asked him, “Who do you think I am?” As any typical Muslim would say, he answered, “I think you are a prophet.” Jesus then took him through the Quran, showing him who Jesus is – not just a prophet, but God Almighty!
That was his last day at the Mosque.
So, at one point in the week when we were there, I looked over to see Abdu in the center of a circle of about 25 men. Abdu spoke with authority, with his Quran in one hand and his Bible in the other, explaining to the men there the truth about Jesus, God’s loving kindness and will for each of their lives. It was amazing to see God immediately use Abdu in such a powerful way!
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Ann who overcame fear and was strengthened by God as she ministered in India:
All I can say about the whole India trip is that it was incredible! God’s glory was manifested everywhere we went.
On the first day, the bus dropped us off, and I suddenly saw all my American friends all disperse and I was left all alone with a translator who had never done door-to-door evangelism before. Before we knew it, there were 20 people standing around us and my translator looked at me and said, “Sister… share.”
Now, prior to going to India, I had shared the Gospel one time.
I told my interpreter, “I don’t know what to say,” in the hopes that he would help me out. But it was God who helped me out, as I prayed, “Lord, You’re going to have to do this, because I don’t have the strength or words to do this right now.”
Sure enough, I was able to speak God’s word. Within just a few minutes, the translator turned to me and said, “They believe.”
I replied, “They believe what?”
“They believe in Jesus and they want to accept Him.”
All I could think was that this was totally God’s doing. I had nothing to do with it. We were filled with awe as we prayed!
I learned that throughout my life, I had put limits and restraints on what I thought God could do. But, my experience in India challenged all that. God proved, that day, that He could use little old me, and we saw dozens of people accept Christ in the first two days.
But by the third day, I had convinced myself that if we followed the simple program that had worked the previous two days, then we would reap the same results.
That’s not how God works.
God’s glory cannot be digested, analyzed, put into a box or program. It wasn’t about us saying the systemized words or repeating the perfect spiel, but instead simply letting Him do His work.
2 Corinthians 4:6 says:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
I saw proof of this verse, as we obeyed Him and He filled us with His joy!
Ann learned that it’s always best to serve the Lord out of the strength that He provides, not from relying on our own abilities. When we serve out of our own strength, the spotlight is put on us; but when we serve out of the strength that He gives, all the glory is given to God!
Next, we hear from Laura who spent three weeks in India and Bangladesh experiencing God’s comforting voice, hearing Him through the Word, and seeing God work through her:
Before leaving, I was really struggling because just a couple months before our trip, one of my best friends died. I really wanted to focus on God during the trip, but it seemed that all I could think of was the loss of my friend. Then I remembered a song that was on a CD that my friend’s mother gave me that says:
The whole world is talking, drowning out my voice
How can I hear myself with all this noise
But all this confusion just disappears
When I find a quiet place where I can hear
One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen
One clear voice
Whispers words of wisdom
I close my eyes
‘Till I find what I’ve been missing
If I’m very still, I will hear
One clear voice
I’m always searching for which path to take
Sometimes I’m so afraid to make mistakes
From somewhere inside me stronger than my fears
Just like the sound of music to my ears, I hear
One clear voice
The whole time while I was in India, I kept searching for that “one clear voice”. I seemed to be surrounded, instead, by distracting noises. It’s almost like we can become numb to God’s voice because of all the distractions we keep around us.
Then I read 1 Kings 19:11-12
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
It was in that gentle whisper that God spoke to Elijah, and it’s often how He speaks to us today!
Several days after I returned home, I received a letter from India from a man who said right off the bat that I didn’t know him and that he and I had never met. He is a paraplegic, and was speaking with his brother recently. Now, I had met his brother and had given him a Bible. In the Bible, I had written – and I don’t know exactly why I did, other than it was God’s prompting –
“Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
I then wrote, “I hope you find what you are looking for.”
Now, I had done this in several people’s Bibles while on my trip, so I still didn’t know exactly who this letter was coming from. But he wrote that for 15 years, he had been searching for God and now, thanks to the Bible that we had given his brother, he had found Him!
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Bob, who has had quite a story of personal transformation and uses that story as his testimony in Venezuela:
Three and a half years ago, I was worshipping the devil, going to Satanic rituals, basically doing everything humanly possible to be against the work of God. Meanwhile, my wife was regularly going on walks with some of our neighbors, and met a lady who was hosting a women’s Bible study and was interested in attending.
My first words to her were, “If I see any of that stuff in my house, we’re getting divorced. You’re gone. I don’t want to hear it. If you want to do it, do it, but keep it out of my house!”
Well, without me knowing, they all began to pray for me. My wife asked if she could bring our kids to church on Sunday – this was around Christmastime. I didn’t care. She could do whatever she wanted, but I was staying home.
That’s when my son looked at me and said, “Why do I have to go if Dad doesn’t have to go?”
I love my kids and I realized that that wasn’t very fair, plus I wanted to find out what “nonsense” my kids were going to be exposed to, so I went.
The second that I sat down there, I felt as though Jesus was talking directly to me. I instantly knew that I was going in the wrong direction.
So, now flash-forward several years and I just got back from my second missions trip for the Lord.
I went to Costa Rica last year and afterward, I swore I’d never do anything like that again. I was stretched so far out of my comfort zone and afraid. I mean, how could God use someone like me, after all the things I had done: mocking Jesus, worshipping Satan… how could He use me? I was done.
Then, a year later, I heard an announcement that there was a group going to Venezuela. I was adamant that I was not going to go. Then I heard a sermon that very week about going out to the world and share the Gospel with people. That week, I got into my car and turned on my daily devotion, as I typically do, and it’s about “You need to go… and you need to go NOW!” Talk about knowing that Jesus was talking directly to you!
So, I signed up that week.
But the preparation for Venezuela was so different than what I had experienced for Costa Rica. First of all, our team was so small and we were stretched so thin that God was able to use each of us in amazing new ways.
For instance, the teammate that I was paired with was in a different area, but God used her to set up this man who was into voodoo. To get to him, we had to cross over a mosquito-infested lake, his village was all chained off, and it sat right below an oil refinery. So, he was basically pushed off into a corner of the world where nobody cared about him anymore.
My teammate came to me the next day and said, “Bob, you need to come out and talk to this guy!”
So, I made my way through the murk to get to him and shared with him my story about how God has made Himself real in my life, and he connected with my story. When I saw the look on his face, I was blown away – I had never seen anything like it before. Almost immediately, he wouldn’t let go of my hands, he was in tears. We found out that he was like the peacemaker of his village and pretty much controlled everything. So, he introduced us to a girl who was being tormented by a demon – which was right up my alley from what I was doing before I came to Jesus.
It was almost as if, for 36 years, God had been training me to do the wrong thing so that I could do the right thing in this village.
In actuality, as Joseph said to his brothers, “…what you intended for evil, God meant it for good in order to bring about the salvation of many people.”
You see, I had never thought that I would ever be good enough to serve God. But it turned out that that very humility is what helped prepare me to actually be used by God.
Then, there was another area where they were begging for us to come over. The guy who was driving us around had to borrow a car in order to get us to all the places where we were being called to go – most of them over an hour away. So, we drove out to this one house where almost everyone in the home were already Christians, but this one guy who wanted nothing to do with it. It turned out that he was a mechanic – just like me – and was stubborn – just like me.
As I shared my story with him, he stopped me and said, “I haven’t told this to anybody, but three weeks ago, I had a dream. I woke up and Jesus was at my feet saying, ‘Listen to the Word of God’. He said it three times. Then, three weeks later, you guys show up!”
It was amazing!
Two days later, we met two different girls at two different parts of the city who both happened to be this guy’s daughters! They weren’t Christians, but after we shared the Gospel with them, they both came to Christ as well!
It was absolutely amazing to see how God could use the most unworthy of people like me to spread His word!
None of us are worthy to be involved in the Lord’s work among the nations – none of us. The Bible is very clear: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If it were up to us, none of us would ever go. But it isn’t up to us. Bob listened to the call. He was determined not to go to Venezuela, but the pastor’s sermon and his devotional were used by God to speak to Bob and that’s all he needed. He simply needed to humbly follow God’s direction and allow God to use him to spread the Gospel!
Next, we hear from Debbie, a Christian from a Jewish background who went to Israel to share the Gospel:
I grew up in a Jewish home, yet I had lots of surprises while on my trip to Israel. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to say “Jesus”, because I was taught that His name shouldn’t be brought up and I thought other Jews felt the same. But actually, in Tel Aviv, the Jews there, themselves talked about Jesus freely.
I was also surprised that I would be able to use my testimony. I had thought that usually, Jewish people don’t want to hear from a former Jew who had converted to Christianity. I thought that they actually felt sorry for those like me.
I thought it was going to be a terribly tough trip. But, in hindsight, we felt like we planted several seeds in the minds and hearts of the people we met.
One story that stood out took place on the first day we were there. We went out in pairs: one man and one woman, talking to people out on the street or sitting on benches at parks or wherever we could meet people.
We approached this one man and asked if he would be willing to take part in our survey about spirituality in Israel. We learned right off the bat that he was an atheist from France, visiting for only three days. He said that his life at the time was miserable, and the only thing that kept him from taking his own life was that he didn’t have the courage to do so. He saw no justice in the world, no hope… no God.
So, we talked with him for close to an hour. At the beginning of the conversation, he gazed out at the ocean – not even looking at us. But, by the end of our conversation, he was engaged and we were able to share with him the enormity of God’s love. We put it simply: God loves you so much that He brought you here today all the way from France and brought us here today all the way from the U.S. just so that we could talk to one another about how much He loves us!
As we parted, he thanked us. We exchanged hugs and kisses. He allowed us to pray for him and he told us about a friend he had back home who is a Christian and who could go through the Bible with him.
That one discussion alone made the whole trip worthwhile!
Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Al, as he reports back on what he saw God do in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica is a country of about 4 million people. It has no military and has pretty much been at peace for over 65 years, which is interesting considering its geography: bordering Nicaragua and Panama. We went down there with a team of about 30 of us, with about six different mission points from which we worked out of in the northwest corner of the country.
One of my challenges, as a team leader, was we had very few translators who were fluent in English. This made me quite frustrated with God for the first couple days we were there. Everyone was looking at me to lead them, but I felt as though we were facing an impossible situation with such a shortage of translators.
But by the end of the week, I saw God’s hand at work, even through this process.
We learned that two of our translators who were the weakest weren’t actually Christians. One day, I was walking along with one of them, Rigo, and I asked if he had ever made the decision to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He replied, “No, I am in the process.” At the end of the day, he said he needed to leave to go attend his cousin’s funeral. We prayed for him, and even gathered later that evening to lift him up in prayer. I also told my prayer warriors back at home to pray for him throughout the night.
The next morning, when we were about to set out for the day, we realized that Rigo didn’t show up as planned. My heart sank. We learned that his asthma had flared up and he wasn’t going to be able to make it that day.
But then he unexpectedly showed up about 15 minutes later. We laid hands on him and prayed for his asthma, and he was able to go out with us that whole day.
Now I wasn’t with Rigo throughout the day, but when I saw him that night at dinner, I noticed that his face was glowing and he was filled with a joy that I hadn’t seen in him before.
He told me, “I’ve got good news for you! I ACCEPTED JESUS TODAY!!”
What I found especially remarkable about this was that he had done this with his best friend together that afternoon. Also, another team was visiting with Rigo’s girlfriend and she also accepted Christ that day – completely unplanned and unbeknownst to any of us.
Now, during our stay in Costa Rica, we were mainly tasked with strengthening a local church there, and we saw so many young people come to Jesus that week that the church’s weekend youth service saw an additional 40 teenagers show up to learn more about Jesus! Keep in mind, this little church only has a capacity of about 90 people total.
Earlier in the week, we saw a pair of teenage boys come to the Lord, and then they went out with us each day after that, sharing their testimonies and spreading the Gospel.
John Piper once said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Yet, in a matter of days, I saw new worshippers glorifying God and praising Him as part of our missions work.
Finally, we saw answered prayers regarding Spiritual family heritage. A teenage girl from the local church brought one of our groups to her family’s home and eight of her family members, across multiple generations accepted Christ throughout that day.
Seeing people like Rigo, his best friend and his girlfriend all receive Christ on the same day, as well as Christ making an impact across generational lines in this young girl’s family is no coincidence. It’s actually seeing God’s hand at work in the lives of His people. We also see the power of prayer and how God guides our prayers as much as he answers them in Al’s story.
Next, the Island of Youth is off of the south coast of Cuba, and we have had the privilege of sending teams there from time to time in years past. Here is an amazing and miraculous report from Dan regarding connecting family members in the U.S. and Cuba:
One day in Cuba, we came upon this farmhouse and a girl named Jacqueline rode up to us on her bicycle. She knew how to speak English and invited us into her home. As we entered into her home, we met Jacqueline’s mother, Margarita who also spoke English. We learned that many of their family members had left Cuba during the revolution and Jacqueline and Margarita felt very isolated. We saw this as a great opportunity to share with them about Jesus’ unfailing love and they both accepted Christ that day. After going through much of the follow up materials and inviting them to that evening’s services, I asked them if they had anything that we could be praying for. They both said that their prayer request was that they hadn’t heard from any of their family members who had left in decades and they felt isolated from everyone they loved. Over the years, they had sent several letters, but never received any responses. Their family members apparently now lived in the U.S., parts of Australia and also England. I asked them to write new letters to their family members that I would send for them from American soil with, hopefully, better results. Later that night, the two women arrived at our meeting and it was such a treat to see them worshipping and enjoying Christian fellowship for the first time.
The next morning, we didn’t have enough interpreters for each of our teams. It quickly dawned on us that both Jacqueline and Margarita were fluent in both Spanish and English and could possibly help us out. It turned out that Jacqueline couldn’t help us that morning, but her mother could.
So, we drove together to a church 20 kilometers away and met with the local pastor there. Now, back in the states, I had been given several letters to deliver to different people in Cuba. I needed Margarita’s help in figuring out which letters, if any, needed to be delivered to this church.
The final letter in the stack that I pulled out of my backpack was addressed to Margarita and Jacqueline Rice. Margarita ripped open the letter, and sure enough, it was a note from one of her relatives in the States, expressing her love for Margarita and Jacqueline. It said that she had tried to write Margarita before, but her mail couldn’t get through. She had feared that perhaps Margarita had moved, but had hoped that her pastor in the U.S. could coordinate with the pastor in Cuba and somehow find Margarita and Jacqueline.
There are 80,000 people on the island, and somehow, we stumbled upon Jacqueline and Margarita’s home. We then prayed that they would hear from their relatives and this whole time, I was holding this letter in my backpack. Needless to say, God’s unbelievable love for these two women was on full display!
It was absolutely thrilling to witness!