In past eNewsletters, we’ve shared a few stories about how the most effective way to change the world is through discipling a few people – face to face and hands-on – and today’s story is another example of how Grace Brethren people are doing just that.
George Swain had worked as a missionary with Encompass World Partners in Prague, Czech Republic, for 21 years, and later with SEEDnet, a church planting ministry in Ohio. This past February, he started a new ministry that exists to equip people already established in churches to plant new churches.
“I was working with SEEDnet and traveling to the projects in East Cleveland, and people kept asking me to take them along with me,” Swain explained. “Churches were asking me to train some of their people to do what I was doing. The places I was traveling into in Cleveland were a bit too intense for that to happen. So with Grace Equip Ministries, we do this in places where it isn’t quite as intense.”
“Cindy and I were missionaries across the ocean and we had 31 ministry teams in 21 years, so we are used to working with groups of people to do things. It’s something we have participated in our own mission field.”
Utilizing six- to eight-week Bible studies to train people and focused, hands-on experience in the field, Swain and his wife are working to build a ministry that helps church members go after groups of people they are already connected with, building from the inside out. They plan on working within their five supporting churches, building on relationships and connections already in place.
Swain stresses that the work can’t just be a one-weekend affair: “To make this work, you have to spend more than a weekend with them. You need to get the people spiritually healthy too, before you take them into the field, so you know what you’re working with. Then you can discover what group they want to reach.
“This is a great need in our churches,” he notes. “Planting new churches and starting new home Bible studies is the goal. As well as experiencing more life in our existing churches. People can grow in their faith and be used by God and do the exact things I do,” he notes. “But this way, rather than just watching me do it, they can go out with me, and grow in confidence while doing it. We want to train people to be evangelists rather than just doing the evangelism.”
Swain and his wife, Cindy, just formed a board, establishing the ministry, Grace Equip Ministries, as a separate organization. Send them a note of encouragement at Grace Equip Ministries, 624 Buena Vista Avenue, Ashland OH, 44805, or email them at email@example.com.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.