Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — Last year at this time, Grace Ministries International was celebrating the new lives of Congolese 15,000 students in Christ. A year later, the number has risen by at least 3,000.
GMI's Sam Vinton says two years ago when his son Bill Vinton and a team of nine pastors and educators began to concentrate on the evangelization of the students in the elementary and secondary schools administered by the Grace Churches in Congo, they prayed earnestly for God to bring 1,000 children to faith.
The number seemed out of reach yet possible through prayer.
Two years later, the Holy Spirit has blessed these efforts exponentially.
"It's been a great challenge, but a great blessing, especially for the Lord honoring the faith of these men to say, ‘We want to see 1000,' and now the number since we began this program is closer to 17,000-18,000," explains Vinton. "It's an amazing thing. As my son has remarked to me, ‘I've never seen such openness.' The door is open now, and we want to make sure we enter in and do as much as possible during this time."
Vinton speculates that some of the increased openness may be derived from economic troubles in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have affected transportation, food availability, and many other realms of life. Whatever the cause, GMI is doing all it can to strengthen these new lives in Christ.
After presenting the Gospel by reading through tracts with people and discussing them, or by presenting the Gospel through the OneHope film "GodMan," GMI has to move to the far more difficult challenge of discipleship.
"[Discipleship] is a great challenge. …The first response that people make is not really the most important; it's what you do with that response in follow up," notes Vinton.
To provide this shepherding, Bill Vinton has created several small follow-up booklets. GMI has printed about 15,000 copies, but transporting the booklets isn't easy. Teachers are being trained to use these materials as well, but many who have accepted Christ are not part of the GMI school system. Trying to track these kids down has been more difficult.
Any discipleship they provide is vital, though. Vinton believes this generation is bridging a gap in Congo.
"We do have a lot of Christians who are the older generation, and I think there's been a gap," says Vinton. "We're very much interested in making sure we have literature in their hands and actually have mentoring and one-on-one discipleship, because we believe this really is going to be the future way for the church."
This ministry is growing and developing in ways GMI never could have imagined, and you can be a part of it. Vinton says the most vital need right now is prayer for the nine leaders who often travel hundreds of miles to reach various schools, risking their lives along the way. Pray for their safety and wisdom as they continue to reach a future generation of church leaders with the Good News.