Give Me That Mountain!
Partnering With the Nations
By Kenneth Eagleton
Last year, one of our partners in South Asia told me vast areas of his country held people groups with no churches or known Christians. The area is dominated by religious extremism. However, they identified ten experienced Christian workers willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families to take the gospel to those who desperately need it. They prayed four years for a partnership willing to help them fulfill this mission. The Lord led us to cooperate in this project, and two families have since moved to these unreached areas.
IM is committed to getting the gospel to the least reached areas of our planet. Our partners play a key role.
In Panama, we cooperate with Free Will Baptist churches expanding beyond our outpost church in Tolé, Chiriquí Province. These distant villages, inhabited by indigenous peoples, are responding to the gospel.
In Brazil, Clóvis and Cristina felt compelled by the Lord to move 1,400 miles from their home to a remote area of the state of Alagoas to plant a church in the settlement of Boa Esperança, where there were no churches. A partnership between the Brazilian churches and IM made this possible.
The family ministers to poor people plagued by constant drought and lack of opportunities and hope. Families are accepting Jesus as Savior.
In Tajikistan, we partner with local churches and Bible Mission to send workers high into the Pamir mountains, the second highest range in the world, to reach a people group who previously had not heard the gospel. We are seeing the first fruits of this outreach as they help these communities in areas of difficult access.
Ivorian Free Will Baptists, in a joint project with IM, sponsor church-planting in several areas of Côte d’Ivoire where we previously had no churches. Their efforts also extended into the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Ghana.
Many of the church-planters and believers in our South Asian partnerships face discrimination and open persecution because of their faith. In an incident last year, a house church service was interrupted by a mob of religious radicals who pulled the leaders outside and beat them, breaking the pastor’s hand. They ordered all believers to flee the village or be killed. Christians set up temporary shelter in the forest. When asked if he would like to file a police report, the church planter refused. Ten days later, the leader of the mob, previously in good health, died suddenly.
The risk of persecution does not deter our partners from preaching the gospel. More villages that had never heard the gospel are being reached and have a gathering of believers. Despite the danger of being attacked or accused of forced conversion (illegal in many areas of South Asia), men and women are choosing to profess their faith publicly through baptism.
Although it is difficult to get complete statistics from these places, our partners reported a combined total of 488 places of worship and more than 27,000 believers. They also rejoiced in at least 1,400 new followers of Jesus baptized last year.
When new churches are started and new believers added to the flock, it becomes imperative to prepare leaders. This is the area where partners most often request help. When discussing a partnership with Free Will Baptist churches in Pakistan at the beginning of this year, their primary request was for help in setting up a Bible school program to train leaders.
Though the work in Pakistan is only 15 years old, the region now has 50 established places of worship. We are working with them to develop this training program and invest in future leaders.
IM is helping equip men and women for local church ministry opportunities in 12 countries. We serve overseas Free Will Baptist national associations and assist partnerships to set up and run programs to develop people who will serve effectively as Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, evangelists, preachers, church-planters, pastors, and more.
Our cooperative Bible institute in Russia has 11 students this year. Students Viktor and Alexandra have an interesting testimony. Several years ago, Viktor, a Ukrainian, was committed to a rehabilitation center to recover from drug addiction. He met Alexandra, a believer from Russia working at the center. Viktor also became a believer. They married and moved to Russia, where they began their own Christian rehabilitation program. They enrolled in the Bible institute to prepare themselves better for ministry. The school, along with local churches, is collecting clothes, food, and other necessities, to send to the needy in Ukraine.
Our partnership with the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Brazil made it possible for them to hire the first full-time director and teacher. This school year began with 42 students from three Brazilian states.
Cuba reopened their seminary this year, after a two-year closure due to COVID restrictions. Our partnership allowed them to maintain their faculty and staff during this difficult time of illness and economic crisis.
In South Asia, our newest partners in Bible translation have two projects underway for people groups without a Bible in their own language. The work is supervised by linguists from a specialized mission. However, this mission’s work does not include printing and distributing the Bibles. We hope to assist, so people can hold and read Bibles in their heart language for the first time.
Christ called us to care for the needs of those around us by giving them a cup of water, food, clothing, shelter, or whatever else they need. Free Will Baptists do just that.
When the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan last year, a government hostile to Christians came to power, causing millions to flee the country. The majority crossed into Pakistan. Our Pakistani FWB churches actively receive and assist the refugees in partnership with The Hanna Project (THP).
THP, along with our works in Europe, have helped the Ukrainian refugees in countries like France, Bulgaria, and Spain.
Partnering with THP, we have helped partners in India and Pakistan drill wells equipped with hand pumps to provide communities with safe drinking water.
How Can You Help?
The Lord is doing exciting things around the world to bring glory and honor to Himself. However, He wants each of us involved in making His name known. You can be a part of these exciting projects.
Pray. Our partners in difficult places depend upon our prayers. Your prayers encourage them and truly make a difference.
Give. Sponsoring church-planting projects, leadership training programs, and mercy ministries requires ongoing financial support. You can give specifically to one of these partnerships, give to the World Missions Offering (WMO), or donate to our partner The Hanna Project.
Go. Perhaps you can teach in leadership training programs. Or maybe you can participate in the many short-term trips offered by The Hanna Project. Find out how you can get involved: iminc.org/go
About the Author: Dr. Kenneth Eagleton, long-term missionary serving in Brazil and Ivory Coast, is director of field partnerships for IM, Inc. Learn more: IMInc.org.