Ministry Stages: Formation and Foundation

This article was originally published in The Global Voice: the Global Outreach Developments Int’l Newsletter, Issue 26: January 2006. You can read the whole edition here.

The New Year is now in full swing! ‘Resolution’ diets are in crunch time and most have gotten into the habit of writing ‘06 when dating their checks. We at G.O.D. Int’l are ready to face the new challenges of a new year with the strength and encouragement of God’s faithfulness to us as reflected in ‘05.

A few highlights of the past year include the incredible growth of the missionary training college from 10 to over 50 full-time students. Not to mention, the blessed addition of 6 new babies: 2 are here (Moriah and Kiah) and the other 4 are on the way! Finally, the Lord has strengthened our ministry in Mexico, India and Africa through enhanced strategy and focus in regards to 3rd world development and education.

G.O.D. Int’l Staff (left to right): Paul Olson, Mike and Trinidad Garner, Joel and Rachel Olson, Gregg and Tara Garner, Robert Munoz, Derek Bargatze, Skylar Aaseby, Jen Gifford, Michael Davis, Jason Roufs

G.O.D. Int’l Staff (left to right): Paul Olson, Mike and Trinidad Garner, Joel and Rachel Olson, Gregg and Tara Garner, Robert Munoz, Derek Bargatze, Skylar Aaseby, Jen Gifford, Michael Davis, Jason Roufs

In a ministry such as ours, situations arise with an urgency that is often times overwhelming. It is only by the grace of God that we have been able to face these challenges; challenges that are on a global scale and have at times even been matters of life and death (famines, infectious diseases, natural disasters, etc.).

I thank God every day for the many agencies that He has active in the world who are attempting to use their resources to assist those in need and giving a voice to those who have none. A few come to mind that I believe are really making a difference: The Carter Center (a ministry headed by former President Jimmy Carter that focuses on infectious disease control and prevention), Amnesty Int’l (a human rights organization concerned with the enforcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and the Voice of the Martyrs (an organization started by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered 14 years of imprisonment and torture under the communist rule in Romania, that gives awareness of the persecuted church).

Attendees, sometimes traveling more than 100 miles on foot, have taken part in numerous Bible conferences and leadership seminars at the “multipurpose center” in Kenya, East Africa.

Attendees, sometimes traveling more than 100 miles on foot, have taken part in numerous Bible conferences and leadership seminars at the “multipurpose center” in Kenya, East Africa.

I know our ministry has not reached the public recognition level of these organizations, in fact, it might even seem comical to have our ministry on the same piece of paper as these others, but we do serve the same people and are also hoping to see the justice of God emerge through the facilitation of the basic human rights of food, clothing, shelter and education.

Over the years, our organization has found it very difficult to communicate what it is that we really do. As a relatively new organization (full time since 1999), much of what we do has been a direct byproduct of the availability of resources to us. On top of that, with the great needs of the 3rd world, we are always understaffed and out of time. In light of this, our communicated accomplishments do not always represent who we are and what we do. Sometimes due to a lack of communication on our part (for example, I still haven’t found the time to update all of my staff on the events of my trip to Puerto Penasco in August), but mostly due to the fact that the task is much bigger than we are and consumes our time, causing an involuntary neglect of updating our websites, timely newsletters and other informative means of communication.

Therefore, it is my task in this newsletter to inform you as to what some of our short-term goals are for the next 7 years in accordance to what we actually do.

This is the 7th year of our ministry being in full-time operation. I have called this period the “Formational Years.” This time can be compared to the phase in home construction where all the supplies are gathered and the ground is excavated and leveled prior to the laying down of foundation. The LORD has brought together an incredibly gifted group of people. He has excavated and leveled us during this time of preparation to build the kind of ministry that He has planned to build. I think I speak on behalf of all the staff when I say that these times have been both trying and rewarding. In these formational years, the LORD has also sent us committed interns (16 of them at the moment) who are determined to serve in the same field of ministry and are volunteering their time just as the current staff did for so many years. However, we are coming to the end of this formational season and moving onto what I’m calling the “Foundational Years.” I pray that just as people are able to tell what kind of structure is being built based upon its foundation, so others will see what kind of organization we are based upon what they see being built up in these foundational years.

Prior to showing you the blueprint, allow me to prep you with why I believe the world needs an organization/ministry like ours.

  1. 400 million children, on average 1 in 5, have no access to safe water.

  2. 90 million children are severely food deprived.

  3. There are 15 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  4. Over 1 billion children suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation.

  5. 1 in 3 children in the developing world have no access to toilet facilities whatsoever.

  6. 270 million children have no access to health services.

  7. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 4 children do not receive any of the 8 immunizations recommended by the World Health Organization.

  8. Over 640 million children experience severe shelter deprivation.

  9. Almost 12,000 of the 350,000 babies born each day die within the first month of life; 98% of those deaths occur in 3rd world countries.

  10. Every 3 seconds a child dies as a result of extreme poverty.

  11. 50,000 people die every day solely to poverty-related diseases.

  12. 1 billion adults entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

  13. More than 300,000 child soldiers are exploited in armed conflicts in over 30 countries.

  14. Approximately 246 million children have to work to survive and 171 million of them, due to their circumstances, are forced to work in hazardous conditions.

  15. Over 80% of the world has never heard of Jesus Christ.

As a Christian ministry, many expect us to be extremely involved in what the church at large would call “evangelism.” In fact, we have often been criticized of being more of a humanitarian organization than a Christian ministry. This might be due to the fact that we don’t report the amount of souls saved, or how many people made commitments at our last event, etc. It is my sincere conviction that God is more concerned with how we live than what it is we think we believe. In light of this, as members of humanity created in the image of God, establishing justice and righteousness in the earth are of greatest concern and in turn, the focus of our ministry. This does not mean that we are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but believe that the gospel is not only to be communicated through our words, but also in our actions “…so they might see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.”

We live in a day and age where the church’s great concerns are deciding whether or not to have a contemporary or traditional worship service, siding with those who believe in free will or predestination, preaching ‘health and wealth’ prosperity or 7 steps and 40 days to making life more purposeful/spiritual/comfortable/bearable… you name it. In all this, we neglect the injustice of the 1 in 4 children who are aborted in the U.S. alone, or the mistreatment of the elderly in our society, the still prevalent racism and discrimination agains the immigrant, the turning of heads to the shocking 60% divorce rate and the neglect of the mentally and physically handicapped. As the salt of the earth, a preservation agent, we the Church are to be establishing justice and righteousness and exemplifying the very character of God!

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

This is what God wants from His people and we have strayed. As an organization, as a ministry, we want to be the first to admit that we too have gotten caught up in things that really don’t matter. We have allowed the opinions and ‘advice’ of others to distract us from what really matters to God. From here on out, regardless of the opposition, we want to stand for what is good; to do justice, love mercy and walk with our God in humility.

July 5, 2005: Summer Intern Jeff Sherrod writes down a list of the pastors who are without a Bible in their native language. At this conference in Uganda 17 of the 32 pastors and leaders who attended did not have a Bible!

July 5, 2005: Summer Intern Jeff Sherrod writes down a list of the pastors who are without a Bible in their native language. At this conference in Uganda 17 of the 32 pastors and leaders who attended did not have a Bible!

Currently we are educating. We are teaching the Word of God to young people hungry to learn His character; young people who long to demonstrate the love of God. We are showing them that life can be lived for Jesus and that He is trustworthy and they can do anything He asks of them. Many of our students, as well as all of my staff, have plans to facilitate what I would call “multipurpose centers” within the next 7 years.

The “multipurpose center” is not really about a facility, it’s about those who will facilitate the service that will take place in the facilities. Regardless of the quality of the physical center (based upon monetary resources), the quality of the education will be of the highest standard (based upon the people resources). Moreover, it’s about the relationship that will be built through the facilitation and reception of education, between missionary and indigenous persons. In the next 7 years, we plan to establish multipurpose centers in Mexico, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, the Philippines and some other countries that can’t be mentioned due to the confidentiality required considering the conditions of current government regulations. Multipurpose centers will do the following:

  1. Serve as an after school supplementary education program for children

  2. Serve as an adult education facility for reading and writing

  3. Equip farmers with bio-intensive farming techniques for effective increase in food production

  4. Serve as a health clinic and health education center for training village health workers (malaria prevention, primary health care, AIDS awareness, etc.)

  5. Serve as a Bible training center for the local community

  6. Serve as an indigenous missionary training school

  7. Educate and equip indigenous families to take in orphans

This is one major project that we have in the works, not to mention the bringing of clean water sources to communities, starting schools in highly uneducated areas and bringing hope to the hopeless through the simple presence of people who care.

Students at the Institute for G.O.D. Int’l take part in classes ranging from Primary Health Care, modern and biblical languages, Biblical Interpretation and a full range of courses centered around specific books of the Bible.

Students at the Institute for G.O.D. Int’l take part in classes ranging from Primary Health Care, modern and biblical languages, Biblical Interpretation and a full range of courses centered around specific books of the Bible.

We have been working the past 7 years to get everything in place for these things to happen in the near future. This is not a new course for the ministry, but has been one of our short term goals since the ministry’s inception. It has taken time to gather all the supplies and cultivate the ground, the formational stage, but the LORD is taking us into a new season and we’re ready to start laying the foundation.

Please be praying for us as we continue in the work of God. Thank you again for all your support through prayers, finances and volunteering of your time. Jesus has taught us so much about living for Him. We pray that you would join us in this and together we can allow our lives to demonstrate the person and work of Christ. Jesus is alive and the world needs to know. Let them see Him doing His work!

“What you have done to the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done until me.” — Jesus