In 2010, missionary Curtis Sergeant was visiting a friend in an East Asian country.
A Christian woman came to their door, very excited. “I’ve got to tell you about this place I visited. It was amazing! Every village has churches. The worship is phenomenal. They’re sending out missionaries! The government formerly persecuted the Christians, and now they are encouraging churches because the crime rate is down.”
His friend asked, “Where is this place?” Sergeant smiled when she named the same province in which God had used him so many years back.......
Sergeant was pained, but having spent years in less developed countries, had seen such accidents before. But what happened in the next few minutes shook him and caused him to grieve in his heart.
It wasn’t even that the bus driver spat on the body and cursed the grandmother for denting his bus. Sergeant, too far back to be able to exit to off er assistance, said to his companion, “You have to tell the bus driver to stop.” “Why?” the friend puzzled. Sergent replied “Because those children there are all alone, and someone needs to do something to help them.” Then his companion spoke the truth about the people in this mission field that caused even this veteran missionary to question God’s wisdom in sending him there. “Everyone on this bus has enough troubles of their own.” So the bus rumbled down the road.
Th is incident took place in 1991. For the next five years, Sergeant worked strategically in this province, and saw his efforts wonderfully blessed by God as a great church planting movement began in this area. Sergent remained until 1996.
The churches tended to be small. Seldom did a house church grow much larger than 30 members before it spun off a sister church. This splitting accomplished two beneficial results: it avoided attracting government attention, and it caused faster growth. A good summary of the structure of these house churches is to look at the acronym Sergeant developed, POUCH churches:
"They can model POUCH Groups." Believers (sometimes joined by seekers) can take part in these groups at home, and then become comfortable with the concept and the accountability involved as they help in church-planting. Ideally, each believer is involved in two groups: the one in which he or she is a participant, and a new one that he or she is starting. In a church-planting movement, much the same thing happens.
Nineteen years later, the same province in which God had used him so many years back—the province that less than one generation before had been, a place of “heartless, evil people” with no hope in their hearts—was now transformed to a place where many people follow Christ.
(extracted from William Smith, Can Short-Term Teams Foster Church-Planting Movements? Mission Frontiers, January-February 2012, U.S. Center for World Missions)
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