By Todd Sovine, Director of Church Planting
Let’s be honest, the ground around us is getting harder all the time. But there is still a harvest to intentionally and aggressively glean. Our King said to pray that He would raise up and send workers into that harvest. For years, we have invited those who are willing to pray to set an alarm for 10:02 a.m. Monday through Sunday. When that alarm goes off I know there are hundreds, if not thousands who are stopping and rushing the throne-room with a 20-second prayer of the King’s words back to him … “raise up workers and send them out into the harvest.” I think Jesus likes it when we pray His own words back to Him.
So, I think there is a correlation between that 10:02 praying and what is happening in the church planting world of the Central District. Here is a brief snapshot of what is happening:
In March, Leonard and Dee Tanks were sent by Hope Alliance Bible Church into the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. To use Tanks’ description, “Hough is a historic Cleveland community which has a very, very tough reputation.” The Hough riots of the 70s were followed by decades of violence and decay. Today, the Hough neighborhood is a growing multi-ethnic community. This change is largely due to gentrification sparked by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation’s presence. Hough is also a neighborhood where the Muslim community is staking claim and grabbing hearts and lives. The fields are growing, the harvest is getting ripe and the Lord is sending workers.
Also in March, Rick and Candice Graumlich along, with the Alexanders and Wallaces, were commissioned by NewLife Community Church in Fredericktown to plant a church in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. In 1919, the Alliance went into Mt. Vernon. In 2013, that church made a strategic decision to close its doors with a promise from the Central District that we would open a new work as soon as the Lord would provide. On the one-hundredth birthday we are returning! The harvest is ripe in this strong, rural, small, industrial town. It is dealing with the drug epidemic and an increase in poverty. People are weary of religiosity and hungry for genuine relationships. Thank you Jesus for sending workers!
This spring we entered into a new arena of bringing church planters into the harvest. We are working hard to meet all of the visa requirements involved in bringing Ayman Kafrouny, a church planter from Lebanon, to the district. This will facilitate planting a church among the ever-growing Arabic speaking people of greater Cleveland. Ayman and his family have planted in Lebanon and will come here to begin a new work with about 40 Arabic believers who have been gathering at Grace Church over the last several years. The harvest is truly ripe. Pray for the hand of God to be upon the immigration work for the King’s workers who are coming to the fields of Northeast Ohio.
There are many other opportunities that are blossoming as well. A large Spanish-speaking group representing eight nations want to move towards planting. A new independent church plant in the Canton area is prayerfully considering joining us. Two other potential planters recently started the conversation of joining the harvest. The King is answering our Luke 10:2 prayers. I look forward to seeing the fruit of the kingdom in the days ahead.
As we move deeper into the harvest, we want to provide you and your church many opportunities to get involved in as possible. Here are some practical ways to come alongside these new planting efforts:
1. Pray – As the Lord leads us, pray for His vision, His provision, and His workers to join these planters.
2. Adopt – Engage with one of these church-planting efforts in a long-term relationship. Invest in it as your intentional way of fulfilling your Acts 1:8 responsibility to reach your Judea or Samaria. If you would like more ideas on how you can engage, give us a call (330.336.2911).
3. Give – Every new planting effort needs investors. New plants need people, manpower, and resources. Don’t give out of your excess, give out of obedience and love for Christ.
A quick commercial break – If you aren’t currently giving the 6% we all agreed to give, now would be a great time. At the rate the fields are opening, we will have more opportunity than we have financial resources.
The Lord is committed to His harvest and the establishment of His kingdom in dark places. Let’s continue to pray Luke 10:2 for our district.
Finally, I have a special request. I invite you to set aside one Sunday a month to pray for our church planting efforts throughout the district. You can find more information about the current church plants on the district website (http://cdcma.org/church-planting). Pray for more open doors. I also invite you to spend some time in April praying specifically for new planting efforts in West Virginia.
Praying Luke 10:2 with you!