For 92 years, the Association of Baptist Churches for World Evangelism (ABWE) has served through international education, medical, compassion and evangelistic ministries. Foundational to every type of ministry platform is sharing the gospel through building relationships, connecting new believers, starting churches and equipping these churches to multiply themselves.
The organization’s core mission is based on what is called the Great Commission: Then Jesus came to [the disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:17-20 NIV)
This biblical mandate is more than just a slogan or value statement to ABWE. It is wrapped up in everything they do, both internally and in outward-facing initiatives:
1. Employees and Partners
ABWE embeds the mission at every level, starting internally with its 70 staff members and 1,000+ missionaries. Naturally, missionaries are deployed with the gospel message, but unique to ABWE is the viewpoint that everyone in the organization is a church planter. “Whether you’re in IT, marketing, medicine, or maintenance,” says Leah Pickard, Director of Strategic Communications, “whatever your passion, it’s tied to the Great Commission.”
This core value has been pivotal in Leah’s career. “My background was journalism, which is a very cynical place to hang out as a writer and storyteller. When I heard about a magazine editor position open at ABWE, I loved the idea of a shift from a secular environment to a faith-based one. God has given me a passion to be a storyteller and I get to use that for His kingdom. We really do change lives!”
As an example, she shares the story of one of their hospital maintenance men in South Asia who ended up developing relationships with locals and discipling them for Christ.
And she has her own story of a hospital ground-breaking in West Africa. “I created the marketing materials around the need. I’m not a doctor or a missionary but I was a part of helping the tens of thousands of patients seen annually not only receive treatment but also hear the gospel. It’s fantastic to be able to tell God’s stories.” She’s been sharing His stories for ABWE for 11 years.
Nathan Burgess, Director of IT Services, has been with ABWE for 20 years. “I’ve served in literally every IT role during that time,” he says, laughing. “I had the opportunity to put the whole IT infrastructure in place at that West African hospital. ABWE’s ministry opportunities aren’t just for “church people,” he says.
All ABWE partners are provided a robust training program to give them a solid biblical foundation and understanding of how their role grows the church. It’s safe to say that this approach inspires those who work with the organization.
2. Self-Sustaining Church Multiplication
Another way the mission is embedded is that ministry recipients aren’t just given a fish, they’re taught how to fish. As a result, local churches are owning their role Great Commission in their natural context. “This isn’t about the American church evangelizing,” Leah says. “It’s about all our roles as believers. What does the Great Commission mean there?”
“The awesome thing is that locals have greater access and fewer barriers to countries than Americans do, without the stigma that Americans can have,” she continues. “The global church is picking up the torch of evangelism and mission.”
THE NEW GLOBAL GOSPEL FUND
ABWE is currently enjoying the renewed energy and vision that can result from new leadership. In President Paul Davis’s first two years, a new initiative was launched to provide greater stability and support to their missionaries. It’s just one more way to meet their Great Commission goal.
Historically, ABWE’s missionaries have been self-supported, raising their own funds from more than 5,000 churches and 20,000 individuals annually. These funds have been funneled through ABWE, but most donors only know of the missionary(s) they support, not about the organization.
The new Global Gospel Fund seeks to raise awareness of the greater mission of ABWE to reduce the financial burden missionaries carry and give donors the opportunity to expand their support beyond just one missionary’s salary. By also becoming supporters of the agency, donors help protect missionaries from the loss of a personal donor, which significantly diverts a missionary’s focus from ministry to fundraising. The fund provides a safety net of over 40 critical services, including legal help and medical care, that they might otherwise not be able to afford.
The fund will multiply ABWE’s impact and ability to reach the world for Jesus Christ. “And participation is growing,” Leah says. “It’s exciting!”