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Christian church overseas

Growing Churches

“So, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their

food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord

added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47)

The Need for Growing Churches


         Oscar Ramirez pastors an active church in a suburb of the capital of El Salvador. He is a bi-vocational pastor who works full time at his government job while shepherding his growing church. Pastor Oscar was the first minister to open his church to Christian leaders for the classes from Global Network of Theological Training (a ministry of North Central Missions Center). After facilitating (and attending) the class on hermeneutics, Ramirez learned about the true identity and purpose of the church. He realized that the Body of Christ was not limited to the church building, During the same week, he met the mayor of a nearby city who shared with Pastor Oscar his disappointment that there was no church in his city. Spurred by what he had learned, Ramirez arranged for his whole congregation to travel to the city to conduct a joint service with the local residents. At the end of the service, many people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Pacific Ocean.

       This story is an inspiring example of a healthy church impacting its community. Unfortunately, it is the exception and not the rule. The reality is that churches in developing countries rarely minister to the lost in their community and even fewer do missions further afield. However, we know that a vibrant, healthy church is one that is actively evangelizing and discipling the lost.

       So why aren’t these churches reaching the lost? Why do local congregations fail to positively impact their neighborhoods? Though apathy may be part of the problem (as it is in America), the primary reason why most Christians in developing countries do not share their faith is that the importance of evangelism and discipleship was never taught to them and, those activities were never modeled to them. As a result, many view the church as a refuge in which to hide from community problems.

       By training church leaders and equipping their churches to reach into the community to evangelize,  we will inevitable witness the outcome of healthy churches that positively impact their entire community. The power of this is evident in the case of Usulután, a small town in El Salvador. Nestled between two rival drug gangs, this community had become a battleground in which violence and despair festered and grew. The youth of the area were quickly recruited into one gang or another - tempted by the promise of easy money from the drug trade. The son of a local pastor was approached by a gang member desiring a new recruit. When he rejected the offer of joining the gang, the 15-year old was shot dead in the streets. From the gang's perspective, anyone who was not a member of their group was the enemy. Lying in the street with his dying son in his arms, this pastor cried out to God on behalf of his family and his community.

       Three years later, the first class for training church leaders was offered in Usulután. Thirty-one pastors attended. When the next class was offered, the attendance had doubled. Just five years later, the mayor of Usulután requested a meeting with all pastors in the city. With great joy, he shared that a wonderful change had happened in their city. People were no longer afraid to leave their homes at night. The mayor told them that local gangs would no longer come to Usulután to recruit new members because the churches had strengthened, the people were becoming Christians, and no one wanted to join the gangs.  By strengthening the local churches, an entire town had become transformed.

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