Communities. God has encouraged community from the very beginning because he created us for relationship with him and others.
We typically define communities by where we find them geographically — where they’re located. But for Missions Door, our Christ communities are best defined as people coming together with a common interest for learning, fellowship, support services, and in all cases, a desire to know and love Christ.
Describing what the Christ Communities of Missions Door look like is easy — they each look as unique and varied as the cultures they serve. No two are alike.
And the names for these collective groups of believers runs the gamut . . . online cohort, house church, medical center, student union, inner-city church, river boat, recovery group.
But always, Christ is the focus of these communities. This month we bring attention to the Christ Communities that gather together throughout the networks of Missions Door and are served by our leaders and missionaries. Christ Communities that are sustained through your prayer and generosity.
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. Genesis 28:3 NIV
CAMPUS • At Oregon State University, a group of international students come together in a house church where they experience an American home and witness firsthand a marriage and family dedicated to Christ.
Jason and Shannon Pittman come alongside students through Missions Door’ Campus Ministries on the very campus where they met each other and have been serving since 2001. But ministry looks different now for their university community due to the pandemic.
What used to be campus-focused outreach through small and large groups, short-term missions and one-to-one discipleship with U.S. students, has changed to online meetings and now holding church in their family home for international students.
Many of these students come from non-Christian cultures. It’s new for them to orient their lives around Jesus, and Jason is hoping to see that orientation shift through this new connection to a U.S. home and the truth of the Gospel.
Most international students have never set foot in an American home and most of them don’t even get to know one American personally, and in a real sense. So, the restrictions of social distancing have now created something beautiful through this new faith community.
Jason and his family are able to demonstrate what a healthy marriage and family centered on Jesus looks like, and what life in America looks like for those who lay their lives down for Christ every day.
Worship on Sunday has now been expanded to dinners on Wednesday and a healthy serving of fellowship, faith and the next step in the journey toward Jesus for these students from around the world. They now feel at home in the Pittman’s house church.
U.S. AND CANADA • Denver’s inner city is home to people of diverse cultures, economics and education. Dennis and Shelley Noble were called here while attending Denver Seminary and their Christ Community has expanded from a home church to a vacant grocery store to another home for ministry.
Church of the Risen Lord now holds church in the two-story grocery store and people in the neighborhood are served by the Nobles in their home and adjacent ministry house.
Their congregation includes African American families who have struggled over the decision of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Culturally, some of them have been leery due to historical weariness and mistrust of public inoculation.
Dennis and Shelley have been encouraging one African American couple in particular to overcome those fears and have led by example, telling them that they got the Covid vaccine themselves. The couple decided to go ahead and got their first vaccine shots on the day that Dennis got his second. Afterwards, the man told Dennis that they were now “vaccine brothers.”
The Nobel’s have also had to use Zoom as a platform for their Sunday service, but are encouraging their congregants to move forward with vaccines. They are hopeful that it will allow the congregation to assemble again in person and allowing new people in the community to be a part of their church.
Due to the nature of this inner-city ministry and the needs in their area of town, more and more people are coming to their door asking for help and many times funds. Some of these people they’ve known for 40 years, others are new and some they’ve met while serving through VBS.
By coming alongside and being there, sometimes with a shot in the arm, this Denver inner-city ministry and church is breaking down barriers and is brought together by Christ.
INTERNATIONAL • In Bolivia, it’s commonplace for indigenous and remote Christ communities to be accessible only by boat on the Amazon River. And many of these small pockets of faith communities are being reached and supported through a network of other churches served by Elmer Terrazas.
The need for health care is one of the most engaging tools of outreach and church planting in Bolivia. Often Elmer is introduced and given access to these remote communities when he brings someone from another church along. Other times he is able to bring a Christian leader he has trained and knows the people or he’s accompanied by a medical team.
All along the Amazon in this area, the people have been abandoned by the government. They have no health care or schools. This is also why Elmer focuses on education and training Christian leaders in the remote villages.
What is most encouraging is that much of the help arrives by one community reaching out to another community, and then the faith communities are the result. Great care is taken to protect the cultures and history of each community, while instilling the hope and promise of each new church stewarded by leadership trained by Elmer.
Today communities of faith in Puerto San Lorenzo, San Bernardo, Lasea, San Borja, San Vicente and Coquinal have been established along this part of the Amazon. Ministry is expanding now because more and more of the youth from these indigenous people are learning Spanish. Elmer is now able to supply Spanish Bibles to these isolated churches where the language barriers can be overcome.
So communities of Christ are being built through a network of churches on the Amazon and a missionary in a boat powered by faith.
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Building Networks of Culturally-Authentic Christ Communities