International (MNN) — We want to introduce you to a new missions partner! Global Disciples has been in ministry for over 20 years, and well, they do exactly what they say – make global disciples.
Josh Keefer, Global Disciples’ Executive Vice President of Global Development, explains, “The goal at the end of the day is for Global Disciples to partner with local churches around the world in sending out and equipping church planters and disciple makers to take the Gospel into some of the hardest areas where the Gospel has not reached yet, or where there is not a reproducing fellowship.”
Some of the ways they team up with local churches is through discipleship-missions training, small business training, and leadership training.
“Through the partnerships we have, last year, we would’ve seen more than 950 of these programs running on an annual basis around the world training up and sending out church planters. Through that as well, more than 46,000 people who received Christ are now being ministered to and fellowshipped with in these local church plants,” says Keefer.
“The reason we partner with those local churches is so that fellowship can occur and that ongoing discipleship can continue to just multiply out.”
Global Disciples operates in 43 countries with a primary focus in Africa, South Asia, and the 10/40 Window.
The result of Global Disciples’ training and ministry is a church planting domino effect. It can sound straightforward in practice, but the real stories behind the numbers show great personal sacrifice with a poignant impact for God’s glory.
The People Behind the Numbers
One such person is a man from Southeast Africa whom Keefer met. “In one of the areas where it’s a very heavily-dominated region by the Muslim community, there was a gentleman who actually came out of a radical Muslim background, who just had a heart and a burden for seeing people in that region reached with the Gospel. As he put it, ‘I never heard this growing up about this Jesus and about this God who really loves and cares about us.’”
Keefer shares, “So I was sitting with him at an event and he was sharing his story and he said, ‘I went back after being kicked out of my family for converting to Christianity, and found a gentleman who could disciple me and begin to raise me up. I just had a burden to take this message back to some of these hard regions to just go in and share the Gospel.’ So he convinced his local fellowship as well as two other ones to join together and start a discipleship missions school. They trained up 15 people and sent them out to go and do church planting and disciple making and they went into a few regions and planted some churches.
“So we’re sitting together at this event, and he’s very animated sitting in his chair and he points across the room and he said, ‘Do you see that gentleman over there? That’s second generation. He’s now running a discipleship mission program from a group of church plants that our church originally set out to do.’ Then he goes, ‘Do you see that young woman over there? That’s third generation from the church plants of that gentleman right there.’ He goes, ‘And that to me is the power of this model, is the power of multiplication.’”
Keefer says church plants like these are exactly what motivates their mission. “You know, there’s no limit to what God can do, so we’re just seeing this mushroom effect on persons going in and sharing the Gospel. But they’re all plugged back into a network where they can be fed in an ongoing way and connected to what God’s doing in their region [and] their nation, so they can continue to train up these church planters and send them out.”
The Heart of Global Disciples
But what is the need exactly for grassroots, on-the-ground discipleship and missions? After all, as globalization increases, hasn’t it made the Gospel more accessible with the click of a technological button?
“The reality is persons having the ability to hear and understand [the Gospel] in a local and contextual way is something that globalization has not necessarily helped abundantly with. In fact, what it has sometimes done is made it feel like, ‘Well, that’s the God is these people, or that’s the God of the West.’”
Keefer explains, “So for us to partner with the local church has been both a privilege and honor, but also an incredible thing to see what God is doing with that — because it’s our neighbors going to one another and sharing the Gospel in a way people can connect with, that’s relevant for them, but who are going to be there 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now to walk alongside and disciple one another.”
Where You Come In
But Global Disciples recognizes they can’t carry out their missions work alone. First and foremost, they would appreciate your prayers as their ministry presses on in the power of the Holy Spirit and the support of the Church.
“One of the goals of the ministry is to have 24/7/365 prayer, so prayer going on year-round for God to raise up people and send them into the harvest fields. Prayer is so crucial. Actually there’s a phrase that is frequently used around here that everything we do is conceived, birthed, and carried out in prayer,” Keefer reflects.
“There are monthly prayer calendars people can sign up for. There’s also prayer groups people have formed where they just pray for a specific region that’s on their heart, and we can give them information about that region and some of the work going on there.”
He continues, “The other huge goal we have is all about local sustainability. So a part of how we do that is really jump starting these programs with finances from the organization, but within four years they are completely self-sustained. So financial partners are always something we’re looking for — people who have a heart to empower people to learn how to become self-sustaining.”
Click here to learn more about Global Disciples at their website. You can also keep up with ministry updates by following them on Facebook here!
“That is something that just makes us jump out of bed in the morning, if you will, is that empowerment of the local church around the world.”