PLYMOUTH – Leaving home, family, and country to experience ministry around the world will become an annual norm for a handful of Michigan church planters. The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board put together personnel, resources, and prayers to support these cultural explorations. Church planters, who normally travel their local context, will stretch themselves and their global vision by spending time with people who are unfamiliar with Jesus Christ, in places like South Central Asia, Africa, and Europe. The actual outcomes are unpredictable, but here is what we are hoping to see!
These short-term vision trips will create:
1. Robust Volunteers
These men will discover the robust global system in place to send people with the Gospel to the masses around the world with pathways of service for almost everyone: medical personnel, pastors, teachers, athletes, and more.
2. Bold Invitations
The pastors/planters will be inspired to preach Sunday messages that will call church members to vocational international mission service or many, volunteer, short-term excursions.
3. Lavish Giving
These pastors/planters will rush back to call their church members to greater generosity after seeing first-hand how the finances given through the Cooperative Program and the special offerings for international and North American missions are used in precise and powerful ways.
Michigan’s three church planters for 2023 are: Seth Springs of Waterford, Michael Goforth of Port Austin, and Ray Ruffin of Redford. Their gratitude for the experiences and their personal discoveries are refreshing.
Seth Springs of Waterford said: “The benefits of these global engagement trips are endless. For myself, anytime I get out of my little box, God seems to stir up something new in my heart, to do something fresh in my life, to remind me that His plan for the world is bigger than just my little corner of it. I’m so thankful to the Send Network for making this adventure possible, as I come back rejuvenated, motivated to participate in God’s global mission.”
Michael Goforth of Port Austin stated: “I had a life-changing week in Germany that I will never forget. The lostness in Frankfurt was overwhelming, but I left with the encouraging truth that we had boots on the ground. Our faithful missionaries are there, engaged in the work. And through our incredible partnership with NAMB and IMB, God is using our little church to make an impact for His glory among the nations.”
Ray Ruffin of Redford expressed: “I am excited I was provided the opportunity to participate in the mission trip to Bulgaria. I am especially excited to represent my church by leading the way in opening international missions in the local church context. My desire is to participate in the Great Commission and share where the Lord provides opportunity. This will open up more conversations with the local congregation about the sharing the Gospel near and far.”
During the coming years, each mission trip will take place in different locations, hosted by a variety of international missionaries, yet we expect that each planter will leave their home, their families, and their churches for a brief time in order to:
1. Have Eternal Cross Cultural Conversations
Each planter will have conversations with others who have little to no concept of Jesus Christ or access to a personal Bible in the language they have spoken since childhood.
2. Encourage Global Mission Partners
The planter will meet with local mission partners who are often emboldened to share their faith more after North Americans spend time and take risks to share life with them for a week’s time.
3. Imagine Bolder Mission Initiatives
Create ideas as to how the members of their church or a coalition of American churches could return to the field to assist the missionaries with whom they spent time.
4. Take Bigger Risks in the USA
Imagine ways to engage people living in the USA who have moved from countries with little or no impact by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) reminds all of us that the Lord can release a lot more of his bold plans on the world when we are ready to ask and imagine things as large as the Lord does. That text says,
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.