GOD IS ON THE MOVE - ENTRY #3
Posted By: Tim Mannin
This entry is the written form of what we shared on 9/14 during our Generous series - "LET'S BUILD A CHURCH NOW!"
Let me tell you a story.
A couple months ago we had Pastor George at our church from Zimbabwe. He is a part of a ministry called CRIO INTERNATIONAL. CRIO is a church planting ministry that works throughout Africa and has grown into a denomination. They have planted well over 1,000 churches throughout Africa. CRIO focuses on helping local pastors and communities of faith build actual church buildings.
Like us, churches in Africa need buildings to be sustainable, life giving organizations in their community. A building provides validity, credibility, and also creates ministry opportunity. In Africa, church buildings often serve a larger cause than just a church; they also serve as a school, an orphanage, food distribution centers, and all sorts of other amazing things. So, CRIO literally builds churches across Africa. When I first learned about CRIO I immediately thought that someday our church should do something like that.
In recent weeks, the Spirit has been moving in our Church. God is speaking to people, moving in people’s hearts. We recently had some time as a staff/ team to plan and think through where we are heading as a church and the conversation came up about building a church in Africa and the statement was made…”LET’S BUILD A CHURCH NOW!”
Now, if I made that statement and you knew about where we are as a church and our desire to have our own property it’s pretty easy to think…we’d be talking about ourselves. We are actively praying for our own space, building, or property…anything on 23rd Street in Oklahoma City that will help us create deeper roots in our city. But let’s think about this statement differently—“let’s build a church now”—and not be talking about ourselves. What if as a church we decided to take this generosity, tithing, giving thing seriously as a church body. We don’t just want to be generous people—we want to be a generous church!
So as our team was talking about this I felt like the Holy Spirit said something clearly…"before we build a church here for us, sow a seed by building a church for someone else."
We immediately asked CRIO about this and Ron Hesser (CRIO’s founder) quickly sent me seven churches that are currently waiting for God to provide the funds to build a church. Most of these churches currently meet under trees, tents, or in a field. Through conversations we identified a church—a community of people like us—who need a building. They have a Pastor (Pastor Martin), they have a group of people, they have land, but they haven’t been able to build a building. They’ve actually been ready for a year to build and CRIO has been praying for the finances to be able to fund them. In addition to the church building they are hoping to dig a life sustaining water well on their property.
When we pay attention to how the Spirit is moving and speaking—life becomes pretty easy, because we just get to confidently do what He’s already spoken into existence.
Let me tell you about Pastor Martin and his church.
They are located in Kenya in a northern region county called Turkana. Turkana is the desert area of Kenya. Although, it’s desert a population exists (largely because of the oil in this area). It is a highly unreached area for the gospel – it would be considered an unreached people group. Well over 95% of the people have a Muslim faith/background. Pastor Martin and the church in Turkana are literally plowing new ground for the gospel in Kenya.
So we have the our opportunity to build a church from the ground up. The church leadership in Turkana have secured land and we can come alongside and provide the funds needed for them to have a building to meet in. A church in this sort of culture can become the hub of all sorts of life sustaining, community building types of activity. Additionally we can provide funds to help them dig a water well.
We’ve been moved.
We need to build a church…before we build a church.
We need to plant a seed.
The word says that you reap what you sow.
- We sow selfishness – that’s what we will reap.
- We sow generosity – that’s what we will reap.
- We sow stingy, exclusive, singular purpose – that’s what we will reap.
- We sow love - that's what we'll reap.
We don’t give so we can get.
We give because God gives. We who desire to follow in his ways – give because we love Him! We also don't see this as a "superman" hero moment, where our church in the west can serve a third world nation church halfway around the world in order to give ourselves a pat on the back. No, we simply want to respond to the leading of His Spirit and we want to be a church that is always involved in the work of The Church around the world. God has put this the path of our church and we need to be faithful and obedient to do what he has for us.
In order to do this we’ve decided that we will not take a special offering to raise the funds to provide this, but instead we want provide the necessary funds to build this church and dig a well in Kenya from our regular offerings in the month of September. As we teach about becoming a generous people…we are building a foundation upon God’s word that instructs us to be faithful to make God first through the tithe. As a church we are going to trust that that God will provide all we need through our faithfulness to that. We believe when we are a faithful to do that as a church we will be able to build this church in Kenya, our church in Oklahoma City, and many other churches around the world (not to mention all sorts of other great things)!
I don’t believe this is a magic pill for our church.
It’s about us doing what we know is right.
It’s about us trusting the church’s money in God’s hands.
It’s about us sowing a seed in faith that will serve the Kingdom halfway around the word and trust that God is big enough to see fruit there and here as a result.
It’s about us responding to the Spirit.
It’s about stepping into the story God has for us.