Christmas Offering 2014

Each December since 2012, we have conducted a special offering in the middle of December called the "Christmas Offering" where we have focused on a number of items both internally and externally.  2014 is no exception!  We will be receiving this offering on Sunday, December 14!

This year's goals are fairly straightforward.  With a total of $65,000, we will be able to plant 10 churches in the African country of Chad, fund our Christmas benevolence fund to help needy families in 2015, and put aside $10,000 for an obstacles and opportunities fund that will help us address the inevitable unbudgeted items.

Because our church is well aware of the nature of the benevolence and funding portion of the offering, and because the largest part of the offering is going to the church planting efforts in Chad, I wanted to focus this post on what is happening with the $40,000 portion of this year's Christmas Offering.

One of the really amazing things about being a part of our fellowship is that we have missionary partners and national churches all around the world.  Many of those churches have grown and matured to the place where they are now sending out missionaries to other nations.  The church in Burkina Faso is strong with over 4,500 churches in their fellowship.

Abraham--church-planting missionary
About five years ago, the Burkina Assemblies of God sent out this young man.  His name is Abraham.  Abraham felt the call of God to go learn a new language and reach people outside of his home country.  The Burkina church sent him as a missionary church planter to Ghana.  Abraham followed God’s call.  As he told us, “You can’t ignore the call of God.  Wherever you go it will go with you.”  During his Bible School training in Ghana, Abraham went door to door sharing Jesus with people.  He barely knew the language but he led 20 people to Christ before he graduated from Bible School.  When he graduated, those 20 people became a part of his first church plant.  They met under a mango tree for a year until a man gave them a house to meet in.  Five years later, Abraham has now planted and is pastoring seven churches concurrently.  I wish I had been the one responsible for sending Pastor Abraham out to plant churches.  What an amazing kingdom investment that would have been to send him to Bible School and help him get started in planting churches.  

Fast forward to today.  The Burkina AG has begun to hear the call of God to go to countries in their region that are dominated by Islam.  The Burkina Faso church has a burden particularly for the country of Chad.   Chad is being dominated by Islam.  The terrorist group Boko Haram is running rampant in parts of the country.  It’s not a place I even care to visit and certainly not a place where any of us would likely want to go live, but the people of Chad need Jesus.  There are over 75 unreached people groups in Chad.  The Burkina Faso Assemblies of God is recruiting 25 young families to move to Chad and become missionary church planters.  We had a chance to meet with some of them recently. 

Bernard--missionary church-planter
This young man’s name is Pastor Bernard.  Bernard and his wife Victorine have four children.  Even before he went to Bible School Bernard felt like God had given him a clear call to missions.  One night recently Bernard had a dream.  In his dream he saw a courtyard that was filled with men in Muslim skull caps.  At first he was outside the courtyard looking in and then next he saw himself in the dream standing in the middle of all these men.  When he woke up he was wondering what the significance of the dream was so he asked his wife if she knew.  She immediately began weeping.  She said in the night she had had the same dream about the men in Muslim skull caps.  They immediately knew that God was calling them to be missionaries in a Muslim country but they didn’t know where. Then literally just a few weeks later he went to a meeting and heard the national leadership of the Burkina church talking about their burden to send missionaries to Chad.  Bernard knew then, he had to go.

Silvian and his wife Aisha are also going to Chad as missionary church planters.  Silvian heard the call of God while he was
Silvain--missionary church Planter
praying at church and before he shared it with his wife the next day she told him that she had a dream in which they were packing their bags and their three children and moving to a new place.  He shared with her his burden for Chad and she said “that must be the place we were moving to in my dream.  We must go.”

Timothy and his wife Evonne will go to Chad as well.  Timothy was ostracized by his family when he became a believer as a young man.  He was kicked out of his home.  In 2003 he felt a call to missions, but he told us that he neglected that call.  In 2014, Timothy was leading a great church in Burkina Faso and God reminded him of his call to missions and he told his wife that they should pray and fast

Timothy--missionary church-planter
about where to go.  Just two days later the leadership of the Burkina Assemblies of God came to his town and told him about the need in Chad.

Bernard, Silvian, Timothy and 22 other missionary church planters are the next generation of Pastor Abraham’s being sent out from the Burkina Church.  We didn’t have a chance to help Abraham five years ago but today we, along with a handful of other churches in Indiana, have the chance to help these missionary church planters fulfill their God-given call and potential.  

Here’s what we need for all 25 missionary church planting pastors:

1-3 years of Bible College education (depending on what they have completed so far).  They will begin planting their churches even while they are working on their education and learning the culture.

Upon graduation we want these pastors to be self-supporting while they are planting their churches so we plan to provide them each with:

Two Oxen and a plow
A Donkey and a Donkey cart
A plot of land
A simple home which will also serve as their first church building
Start up Seed/seedlings

With these start up materials, each pastor will farm the land to support himself, his family and the church until the church grows to the place where they can support their pastor.  

All of this will cost $4,000 per family.  Isn’t that amazing?  For $4,000 per family we can pay for Bible college education, buy a piece of land, provide farming implements and build a small house church.  It’s our belief and prayer that many of these church planters will be like Pastor Abraham and in five years will start not one church but maybe 5 or 6.  

Now understand this.  Today, there are only 100 churches in all of Chad and very few of them have trained pastors.  So with this offering today we could be very well be doubling the size of the church in Chad over the next five years and nearly doubling the number of trained, capable leaders in the church there.  

This is not the most emotional offering appeal we’ve ever given but it might be the most strategic offering we have ever taken.  When we asked Greg Beggs, the Assemblies of God World Missions regional director for the continent of Africa about this project, he said that Chad is at the top of their strategic plan for growing the church on the continent.

This project is not some nation-wide campaign to raise money.  This project is being taken on by a handful of churches right here in Indiana.  Some of you can write a check or give digitally and underwrite the cost of an entire missionary family.  If you can do that, when that family gets on the ground in Chad, I’ll get you their name and a picture of their family.  

Maybe you can’t underwrite an entire missionary family, but maybe you could pay for three years of Bible College ($1500), or their house/church ($500) or an ox ($600) or a plow ($500) or a donkey and donkey cart ($250) or even some seed and seedlings ($100).   I’ll remind you of Pastor Abraham’s words, “You can’t ignore the call of God.”  All I’m asking you to do is respond to what God is saying to you about your involvement in this year's Christmas Offering.  

These young men and women and their families are giving it all to follow Jesus to Chad.  Their willingness and obedience is an incredible kingdom resource.  THEY HAVE THE HARD PART.  We have the easy part.  We’re going to make it financially possible for them to go. 

We'll be receiving the annual Christmas Offering during both services on Sunday, December 14th. But, you can go ahead and give your gift now by clicking here if you like.  Together, we can impact this part of the world for Christ like never before!

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