This article was originally published for Support Raising Solutions by Geri Fuehring. A note from SRS: Here is a story of a team that is making incredible strides in raising up international ministry workers. May their story inspire you to dream bigger for what is possible.
The world is changing, but the gospel remains the same. And every day, God is at work in central and eastern Europe, as the message of Jesus Christ touches young people. Pockets of this reformation are being sparked by the dedication, sacrifice, and service of our missionary team, Josiah Venture.
Our goal in Josiah Venture is to walk young people through the process of disciple making laid out in the book of Acts, as those who have been reached go on to reach others through the life given to them through God’s own breath. We seek to challenge them to take the next step in the journey from unbelief to spiritual maturity. One of the biggest obstacles in reaching this goal is that many of our indigenous staff are underfunded. But with the help of SRS resources and a network of European support-raising veterans, several of our teams are beginning to experience a change in their perspective based on biblical principles.
Although Josiah Venture has been serving in this region of the world for 28 years, we only recently added a specific focus on ministry partner development (MPD). The idea of MPD is to develop ministry partners to join your team, not just donors. You want to grow a team that will pray, give, and go with you; they are your friends and your partners, and the goal is to mobilize them toward the Great Commission.
One of our core values in Josiah Venture is “indigenous empowerment,” and we have trained up many young “Josiahs” that are now on staff. It didn’t take long to recognize that there is a gap in theology regarding the generosity of God between those raised in churches in the west, and our indigenous staff. We learned, after talking to many staff, that tithing, giving, and living generously are not typically taught in European seminaries or churches. Therefore, we found that many of our national staff members were living on “bare-bones” budgets, oftentimes working part-time jobs to help make ends meet. This kept them from attending critical training events due to work or budget constraints, so we began to better equip MPD coaches in some of the sixteen countries where Josiah Venture serves.
Once our staff began to look at developing ministry partnerships through the lens of Scripture, they challenged teammates and friends with these truths. They confronted cultural trends that people were bowing to without even realizing it. For example, many people felt ashamed to ask others in their own countries for support, so they felt it was necessary to travel to the US to raise funds. Now we are beginning to see our indigenous staff educating others in their home countries with a different perspective, right out of Scripture, and even if the soil is too hard for them to make progress personally, they know that they are tilling the ground for the next generation.
There has been positive growth in all of our countries where ministry partner development is being prioritized, and one of those countries is Ukraine. In this country, so torn by a history of division and shifting borders, team culture is important and is created both top-down and bottom-up. The Ukraine team is not afraid to try new things because they have bold faith that God is with them. They value experimentation, pilot projects, and trial runs. They are not afraid to fail or have to change directions because they see God’s grace opening many doors.
Ukraine is a place where you have to hold loosely to your plans and trust God with outcomes. Their team culture also calls people to high expectations because they believe that everyone is a steward of God’s time, people, and resources. They couple this with a spirit of high accountability because they recognize that not everyone will desire to study language, follow through on commitments, or naturally dedicate time to ministry partner development. So they set certain team values and hold one another to them. One of their mottos is “Work Hard, Rest Hard” because they highly value hard work, coupled with God’s desire for their rest and refreshment.
With all that being said, God used this bold-faith team’s culture of accountability and willingness to try new things when they said “yes” to appointing an MPD coach, and supporting that coach to change the culture of living generously in Ukraine. Because our Ukrainian MPD coach and team was so impacted by The God Ask, this book has now been translated into Russian, as has an online MPD training course. Although we are still figuring out details for printing The God Ask, we were shocked to learn that there are already over one thousand pre-orders for this book! We praise God for this response to his design for full-time ministry workersand for the blessing to come to this country as they begin to live generously out of their poverty.
As our Ukrainian indigenous staff have all completed the MPD training that their coach has required of them, they have gained confidence in what God’s Word has to say about living on gift income, and are now at the highest level of support they have ever reached. The collective group of indigenous staff in Ukraine is at this time 97% funded. Praise God!
It is a joy and a privilege to serve alongside these gospel workers in central and eastern Europe, and we are grateful for the faithful work of the folks at SRS and the European Network Forum who are creating tools to help us better equip the saints for their service. We know that the Lord will equip us to do what he calls us to do, and we are thankful to be part of his Church as we all work together to bring Light to the darkness in this region of the world.
This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions. Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.