The pastor’s phone rang and a shaking voice cried out from the other end, “They’ve taken my kids!” After months of trying traditional parenting methods, Alexis* had taken one of her three sons to the police for guidance—hoping the officer would convince him that some of his behaviors were wrong. Instead, something Alexis’ son said prompted the officer to respond in an overzealous, devastating way by seeing to the removal of all three boys from the home—all while Alexis was pregnant with her fourth child. Understandably, the pastor could barely catch half of Alexis’ tearful words. But one thing she said was clear, “I don’t know who else to call…You and your wife are some of the few people we can trust.”
As a co-worker of Alexis, the pastor had tried to represent Jesus to her through honesty, patience, kindness and a strong gospel witness. When all hope seemed lost to Alexis, she turned to the person she had seen living a life of hope.
Within weeks of that phone call, Alexis and her husband Tobias* visited Restored Church—which had recently been started by another ABWE church-plant in northeastern PA. Even with their children in protective custody, the couple expressed a strong desire to trust in Jesus. After reading Scripture passages that guided them through sin and salvation, they responded, “We believe!”
Last year, both Alexis and her husband were baptized, even as the cloud of their children’s absence hung over their heads. Then earlier this year, Alexis and Tobias were able to welcome their children back into a transformed home that is now filled with the leadership and love of Jesus. Recently, their oldest son also received Christ as his Savior and was baptized as well.
This story only exists because of church planters who are working with ABWE’s North America team to effectively reach their communities by understanding the opportunities, challenges, people and culture around them.
Alexis’ story isn’t unique.
North America is ripe with gospel opportunities. Nearly 500 people groups now live in the United States and Canada. More than 250 million people live without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The United States is now the third-largest mission field in the world.
Recognizing the great need, ABWE’s North America team has created the EVERYETHNĒ initiative to cross cultures without crossing borders. This means EVERYETHNĒ is working to partner with existing churches and North American believers to reach into the lives of their neighbors and impact their communities.
As “graduates” of EVERYETHNĒ’s church planter residency, Restored Church pastors attribute the program as key to enhancing their leadership and ministry capacity.
Church residency programs are a critical part of ABWE’s efforts to help the North American church grow in its health and capacity, and help North American believers own the “lostness” in their own cities and communities.
To reach more people like Alexis, we need more churches like Restored. To plant more churches like Restored, we need more leaders to be equipped.
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