When I hear the testimonies of God’s faithfulness through the last 30 years, I am so humbled to be a part of the global community of friends here at SEAPC. I remember the day that I met Mark Geppert nearly 20 years ago and the encouragement that flooded my heart as I heard the stories of what God was doing across Cambodia, Indonesia, China, and Guatemala. As a young church planter, these testimonies were like fuel for our journey.
Both my wife, Adriane, and I had grown up with a heart for missions. I have to admit that I felt a little gipped when I sensed the Lord asking me if I would be willing to view the United States as a mission field. That didn’t seem nearly as exciting as going to some faraway place where people had never heard the name of Jesus. When I had given God my ‘Here am I, send me,’ I definitely expected something different.
But God had been clear. After seven years serving a local church in the Bible-belt, we sensed God calling us to a small town outside of Pittsburgh to “be and do church for people who would never go through the doors of a church.” We sensed that this was what seeing the U.S. as a mission field looked like for us in that season.
I wept as I listened to Mark share stories of lives changed in the underground church of China, and God’s promise to raise up a generation out of the killing fields of Cambodia. God, what would it look like to see these stories happen here across the United States? While I wasn’t sure of what it would look like, I was convinced afresh that the power of the good news of Jesus was spreading, transforming lives, and changing nations.
Through the years, our understanding of what it means to engage the United States as a mission field has continued to grow and evolve. We are grateful to God for the small part that He has allowed us to play in discipling, equipping, and sending out young leaders to impact every sphere of society for the glory of God. It was especially humbling when our friend, Matt Geppert, invited us to join the team at SEAPC to help serve the vision of engaging the United States as a mission field.
For years, we had carried a vision of mobilizing everyday followers of Jesus in giving themselves to prayer and to living out the gospel in their own communities, believing that as we did that, many would be called to cities across the nation and beyond. In 2005, we began carrying a vision to see sending communities that would function as regional hubs established in strategic cities across the nation. As I met and prayed with Matt and with other leaders from the SEAPC team, I was astounded by the way that what we had been carrying in our hearts for the U.S. seemed to be in alignment for what the team was believing to see happening across the earth.
Partnering with the YES!
One of the most important things that I have learned from being a part of a team that has witnessed miraculous moves of God around the earth, is that it is better to be a small part of a big thing than a big part of a small thing. Practically, this has meant asking the Lord to show us what our portion is as a team. One way that we have done this is by connecting with some of the strategic partners our team has worked with in the nations and listening to them about what they are sensing in the U.S.
It was in one of those conversations with our friends at Every Home for Christ that I felt the Lord shining His light, and bringing clarity to how we could serve what He was doing across our nation. In our conversations, both Scott Middlebrook and David Schaal shared about the need for God’s people to be empowered to share the good news of God’s love with their family, friends, and neighbors. Their research showed that 74 percent of the believers they surveyed prayed at least once a month for opportunities to share their faith, with 40 percent saying that they prayed that prayer on a daily basis. Yet in that same group, only 15 percent felt confident and free to share their faith with obstacles hindering them.
Their team had been working hard to create resources for local pastors and church leaders to deal with the most common barriers that people faced in sharing their faith that had come up in their research. As I listened to these friends, I felt sad that so many believers reported these roadblocks, but there was also really positive news in the research. I was encouraged that so many believers reported wanting to be a part of sharing the good news. Could it be that part of what God was leading our team to focus on partnering with the YES in the hearts of His people to multiply workers for His great harvest?
Another thing that we learned from our friends at EveryHome USA was that many of the people who were surveyed were already consistently praying for opportunities to share the gospel. As a prayer ministry, we began to seek the Lord for ways that we could meet these believers where they were in prayer, and serve and equip them to be ready and confident to engage the world around them with the good news of God’s love. As we prayed, we became even more convinced of the need to multiply our prayer walking trainings, and continue to make The Attack Lambs resources available to as many people as we could.
Focused Next Steps
Over the past several months, our team has been praying and working through a strategy that allows us to connect, serve, and mobilize the existing relationships that God has entrusted to us. One way that we have started putting this in practice is by partnering with EveryHome USA by inviting them to bring their Revive Mission Collective initiative to Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. David Schaal shared with pastors in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Grove City about how testimonies of simple stories from the life of Jesus are one of the most effective ways to empower people to overcome the roadblocks that keep them from sharing their faith. The pastors then received training resources to take back to their churches to begin mobilizing people to spread the gospel.
Our team was able to reach out to many of those leaders and invite them to connect with each other for a follow-up conversation about how to implement what they had learned. They also took time to get to know one another and pray for each other. Real gospel partnerships are forming around the table of friendship.
After the round table, we found a hunger among the leaders to see their people equipped. A local pastor was willing to host a regional prayer walking training where at least 75 people from 10 different churches came together for a weekend of learning and practicing this simple prayer and mission strategy. There have already been reports of how the gospel is spreading and people are coming to Jesus and being baptized. Other churches are now planning community prayer walks and are wanting to make the training available for believers in their communities.
As I think about what it looks like to engage the United States as a mission field, my heart is confident that God is working and that He is multiplying workers for His harvest here. From coast to coast, people are reaching out with a hunger to be equipped to co-operate in seeing the good news spread.
If you have a YES in your heart to see the good news of Jesus, would you join with us as we go, pray, and engage our communities with God’s love? Go to prayamericas.com to be a part of the 40 Days of United Prayer this summer, and to learn about prayer walking trainings and resources.