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Furthering Our Reach

Church planting stories from around the world

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Church planting has been at the core of Alliance missions efforts since our beginning. Today, there are nearly 2,000 Alliance churches in the United States, and 24,500 congregations belong to the global Alliance World Fellowship. When our churches send more Alliance workers, many dedicate themselves to establishing faith communities in the countries they serve, churches that then plant more churches. And on it goes from generation to generation, until the Church is within reach of every nation, tongue, and tribe, and we can joyfully welcome our King’s return (see Matthew 24:14).

Leave the Rest to Me

In September 2020, God laid on my heart a desire to start a new house church. I am all about church planting, but I don’t see myself as a pastor. So, when I thought of launching something, I wondered, Who’s going to pastor it? God simply answered, “You start and leave the rest to Me.” So I did.

At our first meeting, there were 18 of us, representing nine nations and speaking at least 10 different languages. We talked, played a game, shared a couple of thoughts, and had a meal together. After we finished eating, the Spirit inspired me to ask, “Does anyone have a problem we can be praying for?”

Quite honestly, I didn’t expect people to share. However, at least five of them did, sharing about their fears and desires for the future. As we bowed our heads, the only thing I could think of was Jesus. He is the only one who can give hope to these broken people. So we prayed and asked that He would be present for each one of these hearts and minds.

Despite COVID restrictions, we have continued to meet since September. The story and impact of this new house church is in process, and therefore your prayers are vital! The diaspora in Europe are desperate for Jesus, and my wife and I are thankful to play a part in gathering them together under the banner of Jesus, allowing the Spirit to reverse the effects of their displacement through prayer and community.

by an Alliance international worker serving in Spain

The Growth of an Underground Church

“You’re going WHERE?” It was hard to believe what Hashem was telling me. As one of our underground church leaders, he was going to visit one of the most unlikely people I could imagine—a man who used to issue religious edicts for a well-known terrorist group.

“He’s open to having a conversation about faith, and I want to take advantage of the opportunity,” Hashem said. Who would have imagined a change like this?

This man is not the only one open to the good news. A former leader of the majority religion had also come to faith and had been so bold about his love for Jesus that he was forced to flee his hometown and move to the big city. Now he is leading Bible studies and a house church. Another man who reached out to Hashem had a dream of Jesus and wanted to know who this man was who flooded him with so much peace—a peace unlike anything he had experienced.

The underground church in our country is growing! More and more are coming to faith and are connecting with others like them who have left their former religion to boldly follow Jesus. God is at work, and people are coming to faith and gathering into new fellowships. They are meeting with caution, and through them God is reaching new people.

Many years ago, Alliance workers invested in a few believers at a time when there were very few from this people group who had even come to faith. Workers from the past discipled and encouraged young believers like Hashem, pouring into them and even investing in getting them theological education.

Now, many years later, Hashem is quite boldly entering the den of a terrorist group to tell people about Christ. My wife and I have had the privilege to assist in the growth of this underground house church network by leading people to faith and connecting them to these house churches.

Additionally, we have gained favor in the eyes of house church leaders and have developed a relationship of encouraging, coaching, and developing the emerging leaders of this growing network. There are now more than four locations in multiple cities. The Kingdom is growing in our region, and we feel privileged to be a small part of what God is doing!

by an Alliance international worker serving in the Middle East

Another Little Church that Could

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

In a crowded neighborhood, the Saint Etienne church secured a small piece of property. As their building filled, they quickly realized expansion would be impossible. Church leaders thought about looking for property in another area of the city, but there were already many churches. Why not plant a church in a thriving village with no gospel access?

This small church made some preliminary vision trips, using the resources they had on hand, and the village of “M” was chosen. It is home to the Senufo, a largely unreached people group. There are not many Christians among them, and few believers speak the Senufo language.

This village had one church, but it was led by a false prophet who had considerable influence in the area. The Saint Etienne church organized their first evangelism meetings, calling on believers and pastors in nearby villages.

With a dozen or so believers, each Sunday the church sent out a team to hold a service and encourage the group. The village leaders offered a property of 12 acres, and they were able to purchase it through giving to the Great Commission Fund. Now 30 Christians are meeting under a tree, waiting until the day when a church can be built. Nearby churches are also sending groups to encourage the new believers and ensure that the Word of God is preached each Sunday.

We are thankful for the little church that looked beyond itself to impact a far-off village and for a God who blesses small churches and uses them to do the impossible. The God of Isaiah is still at work today strengthening those willing to attempt great things for Him, no matter their size.  

by Esther, an Alliance international worker in West Africa

Finding His Full Potential

Glory Church was planted by a local church planter and a team of international workers, including my wife, Helga*, and I. In 2012, we began to evangelize using English clubs and personal contacts. Two years later our ministry gained momentum when two young ladies received the Lord, and in 2015, we began holding public services. Since then the group has grown to about 30–40 people of various ages and backgrounds. We are currently looking at planting a daughter church in the next few years.

We are so thankful for the people we have been able to serve through this ministry, including Natasha and her teenage son, Peter. Like thousands of others, Natasha moved to our city looking for greater opportunities, not just for herself, but for Peter, who was diagnosed with autism at age two.

At the time of his diagnosis, people had invited her to church, but she felt like she was drowning in her own daily struggles and had no space for spiritual matters. A few years later she was ready, so she asked some colleagues if she could come to church with them. In that local fellowship, Natasha met Jesus. She and Peter became active in their small group, where they found a place of love and acceptance.

As Peter grew, Natasha decided to move to our city because she realized that it was the only place where there were programs that could help him develop to his full potential. Through their local church they connected with Pastor Pavel at Glory Church, already offering to host a small group in their apartment. Both of them were baptized at
Glory Church and are now constantly looking for ways to serve others around them.

Natasha has grown so much
in her faith. She cares for other women in the fellowship and lives missionally in her community, simply and naturally sharing the story of how Christ has changed her and Peter’s lives. Peter also shares about Christ’s love freely with friends and strangers alike.

by an Alliance worker serving in north and central Asia

Finding Relief in Jesus

Despite COVID, church planting in Cambodia did not slow down. Among our 20 churches, we have more than 1,800 members, many of whom are youth and children. More than 95 percent of these members have made a public decision to follow Christ. Multiple churches were even planted during the pandemic! One house church was planted in O Kandal village on October 23, 2020, because of a miraculous healing that took place.

Auntie Ree had struggled with chronic pain and illness for many years. Her family sold property in order to pay her medical bills and took her to witch doctors, but she couldn’t find any relief. She told her family, “Let me die. Save the remaining money for the children and the grandkids. Why waste all these expenses on me? I am tired of living.”

Finally, Auntie Ree met a few Christians who told her about Jesus and offered to pray for her. Within a few days, she experienced significant improvement in her health, and her family wanted to know more about Jesus. The believers who prayed over her came back, and 19 of Auntie Ree’s family members prayed to receive Christ that day. A new church was born, and only two months later on December 28, 2020, 102 people were baptized in O Kandal village!

More and more people are coming to Christ in Cambodia through these small house churches, and in January and February 2021, another 65 people chose to follow Jesus and were baptized in other village churches. As believers have become bold in sharing about Jesus with neighbors and relatives, people are willingly praying to accept Jesus Christ every day!

by Syna Lao, an Alliance international worker serving in Cambodia

Training New Leaders

In 1989, God began calling the Hmong in Vietnam back to Him. Through gospel recordings from the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company, large group conversions occurred throughout Northern Vietnam. As hundreds of churches emerged, the early church leaders were overwhelmed. With very little access to theological training, these early leaders had only the radio broadcasts to learn from.

After 20 years, the younger generations are now stepping into leadership roles. These young leaders thirst to learn more about Jesus Christ and how to present the gospel to their communities. One young pastor told me his desire for Christ is “like a thirst for water—even a drop will be enough.”

Equipping these young leaders is crucial to spreading the gospel among the Hmong and the hundreds of other minority groups who have not heard the good news. It will also be effective in combating various cults that have a foothold in Northern Vietnam.

However, there are very few options to study the Bible in Vietnam. Most do not have the educational requirements to study at a Bible college or have large families and farms to care for. If they can’t attend Bible college, why don’t we bring it to them? That is exactly what we are here to do. We are partnering with multiple denominations to establish the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program in Vietnam to equip church leaders to effectively minister in their communities.

In 2018, church leaders announced the TEE program and began enrolling their members. The program flourished with 1,023 students registering in 91 regional training centers throughout northern Vietnam. Due to COVID restrictions, we were able to graduate only 230 students in 2020, but we hope to graduate the rest in 2021.

We currently have thousands of people on the wait list, and we are already seeing the fruits of this training in local churches and ministries. Many lives are being transformed by Christ, and the students are eager to serve Christ’s churches.

by Jerry Soung, an Alliance international worker serving in Vietnam

*Names changed

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