Southern California and Europe are miles apart geographically and culturally. Yet one San Diego-area church's dreams for world evangelization brings the two regions together in remarkable ways.
In the fall of 1985, Emmanuel Faith Community Church (EFCC) hosted a regional Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. Thirty people in the church were challenged by what they learned. In January 1986, they began to meet weekly, praying for God's vision for them concerning world evangelization.
During the next few months, God encouraged them to focus on the unreached, particularly Muslims. Harry Larson, EFCC missions pastor, began investigating unreached groups whom EFCC might adopt for planting a church. One people group arressted the church's attention.
"We were amazed by the Kurds around the world," says Larson. "They seemed an ideal unreached people to target." Not only are most Kurdish communities scatttered in countries presumably "closed" to missionaries (primarily, Iran, Iraq, and USSR), but a sizable Kurdish population works in western Europe, accessible to evangelism, and if reached for Christ, these may return to their own countries and effectively reach their own people. Patrick Johnstone (author of Operation World) estimates that only two or three individuals among Turkey's eight million Kurds are Christians.
After further prayer, EFCC decided to adopt the Kurds. Before the official adoption, leaders in the church sent a fact-finding team to Europe in August 1986, and then spent nine months educating the church about Kurds and seeking church approval for adoption. EFCC wanted to give not only prayer and financial support toward reaching the Kurds, but also some of its own members. The church approached a mission agency working with Muslims about recruiting a team to work with the Kurds in western Europe. The agency had wanted to begin such a work for years, and was happy to partner with EFCC in drawing up a strategy document to recruit this team. The strategy called for reaching Kurds in a specific European nation, to ultimately plant an indigenous church movement among them. Leaders in the church took the commitment so serously they began asking those who had appropriate gifts to consider being missionaries to the Kurds.
In January 1989 the church sent one of its own couples to western Europe to begin German and Kurmanji language study. Others are praying about joining the Kurdish team. The church will help finance the translation of the Jesus film into Kurmanji. The relationship between EFCC and the mission agency has been productive and encouraging. Because of the mission's doctrinal compatibility, field based strategy, strong focus on Muslim outreach, and traditional sending methods EFCC has trusted its leadership and guidance. The missioin has been very flexible in offering help in the recruiting and Training candidates for the Kurdish team. "A sense of ownership comes when you've sent your own people to reach a particular group for whom you've prayed," says an EFCC member who attended their Perspectives class.
Members of the church, Mike and Sue Olson (Not
their real names) agree. They are so encouraged by the Kurdish
adoption process that Mike says, "I've commited the next
ten years to Muslim evangelism. Our friends who've gone to Europe
are central to that vision. They're people I know, and I'll pray
for and write them." Sue prays daily for them, and says,
"I'll be praying for the Kurds the rest of my life."
This spring the Olsons move to Oregon to begin seminary training
for a pastoral ministry. "I'll take this (adoption) concept
into my pastorate," says Mike. "Adoption is a do-able
kind of thing. It doesn't take a large church and reduces the
10,000 unreached people groups to bite-size proportions."
Your church can learn from EFCC's experience in adopting an unreached people. You can participate in an adoption, in praying for missionaries, and an unreached people. If your church is considering an "adoption", says Larson , "Do your homework. Research the people group thoroughly: And pray fervently. These are indispensable parts of the process."
For more information about how your church can adopt an unreached people, contact:
1605 Elizabeth Street
Pasadena, CA 91104
They will be happy to provide you with information, resources, advice... Whatever you need to successfully adopt your own people group.
*Names have been changed.