Examples of how networking works.
WORLD FOCUS PRAYER TESTIMONY IN WICHITA
From: SteveAIMS@aol.com Subject: "World Focus" On November 3-4, Wichita [Kansas, USA] hosted a city-wide "World Focus" seminar and city-wide Concert of Prayer. The seminar was sponsored and supported by the local AIMS office, the Wichita Missions Consortium of (around 20) churches, leadership from Perspectives and the local Mission Fest group. Here are some of the highlights:
On the evening of Nov. 3, 40+ people from churches and denominations all across the city came together for a concert of prayer. There were three emphases. 1. A heart for God. 2. Unity with one another 3. With God's heart and in unity reaching out to our community, nation and to the world.
While in prayer and worship concerning unity, I began to see people in small groups of four to five begin to hold hands and draw closer together. I felt God speak to my heart to watch what would happen next. God wanted to reveal to me something about His plan and heart for unity in a community. Earl Pickard, our prayer leader, asked everyone to come together in a circle and hold hands. Past experience has always seen a big circle develop, but this night was different. As everyone came together, not one circle was formed but three equal circles that each rubbed up against the other. I was rather puzzled by this, and over the next week continued to pray and ask God what He was trying to tell me. I began to see the need to lay down my desire and intentions of uniting the entire community for world evangelization. God has a call on everyone's life to reach out either locally, nationally, or to the world. With that call we will touch the other two areas (and at times be a part of the other two circles), but our main emphasis will be with in our own circle. As a mobilizer, I need to concentrate and target those who have a grace and call for world evangelization, and in addition allow those with a calling in other areas to participate whenever possible, but not have the same expectations.
This night of intercession laid the foundation for a seminar the following day where 51 Pastors and missions leaders spent 7 1/2 hours together with the same emphasis as the Concert of Prayer the night before.
As we taught, sang and reflected on God's heart, we were moved to tears and filled with vision, and we began to see the purpose of our churches and community in a different light. Unfortunately there has been some conflict among black and white churches in the city. Leaders sponsoring this event all felt God's leading to have a fellow black pastor share on unity. As we repented and prayed together, there arose a new sense of cooperation. We ended the day with an emphasis on working together. A specific project was presented where the entire community can participate in planting 100 house churches in Eastern Europe in unreached areas. There has been a lot of feedback and interest and as a community we plan to do this over three years.
We ended the weekend on Sunday night with a dedication of the new AIMS Regional Strategic Resource & Mobilization offices and time of prayer for my wife and me as we commit our hearts and lives to His purposes.
I have been amazed at the change in heart and willingness to cooperate in our community after this weekend. Pastors have called offering the use of facilities and land; there is a sense of excitement in the possibilities of what will happen as our churches begin to work together; people have volunteered to donate time, money and expertise; a couple desire to work with me out of the new Wichita AIMS mobilization office; new AIMS mobilizers were recruited; I have received calls from Houston, Cleveland, South Bend and Seattle with people who feel God is speaking to them about uniting their communities for world evangelization, and email messages have come in from people in Indonesia and other parts of the world who have heard glowing reports about the weekend and who are wondering what's going on here in Wichita.
To keep things in perspective, I feel what took place this weekend was a spiritual turning point for our community. Hundreds of hours of prayer were invested over a year's time in preparation for this event. Throughout the year, God continually had us lay down our agendas and wait on Him to hear His heart and purpose. What happened was the result not of what we did but more of how we stepped aside in order for God to have His way in our lives, churches, and community. God keeps taking me back to Prov. 19:21 that says, "many are the plans of man, but only the purpose of the Lord will stand."
AIMS founder and president, Dr. Howard Foltz was our main speaker and was filled with the vision of seeing similar centers formed in communities around the world. "Communities in Unity for World Evangelization" If you have questions or comments you can contact Doyle Stanfield at the AIMS home office at DOYLE.STANFIELD@cbn.org or myself at SteveAIMS@aol.com
EVANGELICAL FRIENDS MISSION (EFM)
From: BillKelley@XC.Org (Bill Kelley) I tried to convey a theme of partnership in my presentation between EFM, the local church and other agencies [and to] paint a picture of strong partnering that exists on the field, and how we could fit in that picture. One illustration I used was the number of responses from a variety of agencies and countries which contributed to my research. Other illustrations came from what I picked up in my private mail from people already engaged in the area.
I included the local church(es) as a partner by using the advocacy model. My premise was that strong local involvement/partnership would encourage strong local financial support. This would also relieve the financial stress on the board itself. The advocate church would be responsible for funding of any ministry they selected.
The role of the existing agencies was portrayed as one of finding opportunities for the local church to become involved. My list included such items a cassette recordings, TEE, development projects and sponsoring a national worker.
The role I was proposing for EFM itself was a minor, but significant one. I asked EFM to endorse the project. This would be done by a partnership agreement between EFM and the local church(es) assuring other Friends churches of the financial and doctrinal integrity of the advocate church. Essentially, I was trying to adapt the local advocacy concept to a denominational model, instead of an interdenominational one.
The response was mixed. Most were unsure why I felt EFM was really needed in the partnership. Some expressed concern that local churches do not have the staying power to support a ministry in the long term. Others noted that Evangelical Friends did need to find ways of creating more direct involvement for it's supporters.
They finally decided to pursue the idea of local church involvement, but only on fields they already administer.
I hope in the near future to be able to make a similar presentation to the other large group of Friends, known as Friends United Meeting. My understanding is the mission director there is very keen on ministering to unreached peoples. So, the final chapter may not be written yet. I would appreciate your comments and constructive criticism about my presentation. I would be particularly interested in hearing if anybody has ideas how to gaurd against the tendency of a local church to fizzle out without sacrificing local involvement. I would be happy to send a copy of presentation to anybody who asks for it (except for John at Caleb project, who will get one whether he wants it or not!).