FeatureChurch Life & Ministry

Why Sending Missionaries Isn’t Enough

National partnerships take missions into places where Western missionaries can’t go.
Off the coast of India, dotting the Bay of Bengal, lay a group of islands considered to be unreached.

Burdened for the people living there, national believers in India began praying earnestly for an open door. They knew it would be difficult and even dangerous for western missionaries to access the islands, and they felt strongly about playing their part in the Great Commission.

But how?

Two Indian missionaries were approached for money in a train station. Later, they realized that the encounter was actually an answer to their prayers.

“We’ve been pickpocketed,” the man and his mother pleaded. “They took our money, and we need 20 rupees to get home.”

The Indian missionaries were skeptical of the story they were hearing in the train station. But they gave the man and woman 20 rupees anyway, along with their contact information, and sent them on their way.

They never expected to hear from them again.

Soon, however, there was a phone call. “How can we repay you?” the man asked.

The missionary was shocked and explained that while he didn’t need to be repaid, he would love to visit the mother and son. The man happily agreed before telling him, “We live on an island in the Bay of Bengal”—the very place the missionaries and his church had been praying about reaching.

Two years later, this man and his mother would become the first new believers baptized by an Indian church on these secluded islands. Soon enough, the gospel spread to 12 more islands. Some 120 of the people’s children began attending a weekly Sunday school in the region, and out-reach medical clinics were organized.

It became clear that these growing ministries needed a homebase. And while the Indian church was capable of sending field workers to the islands, they didn’t possess the money to build such a facility.

Enter Live Global.

FROM INDIANA TO INDIA

The church in West Bengal had a long-standing relationship with a couple serving with ABWE’s Live Global ministry initiative—which works to connect people in North America with national believers serving across the globe.

The Live Global workers relayed the story of the island ministry to a pastor in Indiana, named Gary.

After a time of prayer, Gary’s church decided to provide the necessary construction funds for the building.

Today—because of the thriving ministry center and the continued outreach of the West Bengal church—those who were once suspicious of the gospel now view the Christians on their island as a positive presence and have grown more open to hearing the good news.

THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS

“Live Global doesn’t start, lead, or initiate new ministries,” said Andrew C., Executive Director of Live Global. “We simply help the North American church come alongside partners who have already started global ministry.”

For example, when a Christian national from Trinidad and Tobago had aspirations to become a pastor, Live Global found a North American pastor who could serve as his mentor. The North American pastor trained and offered theological resources to the Caribbean pastor, but he never stepped in to spearhead the effort of planting a church.

Live Global doesn’t start, lead, or initiate new ministries. We love partnerships because of the biblical examples we have, but also because of its practical effectiveness in today’s world.
Andrew C.

“We see the Apostle Paul using the partnership model throughout the New Testament,” Andrew said. “We love partnerships because of the biblical examples we have, but also because of its practical effectiveness in today’s world.”

North American missionaries may spend years learning the language and culture before beginning to sow meaningful ministry seeds. But national believers, oftentimes being better communicators and leaders within their own social contexts, can begin ministering more quickly.

Andrew and his wife, Taylor, were convinced of the ministry model’s advantages after witnessing this firsthand.

Dan (name changed) had arrived in Myanmar with the intention of going into remote areas and preaching the gospel. But after nine long years he still hadn’t grasped the difficult language. What’s more, the government had restricted his traveling to just one city due to safety concerns.

Because of Dan’s experience, Andrew and Taylor realized that even with years of preparation, they might still be unsuited to properly minister in foreign countries for factors beyond their control.

Live Global merges ministries with technology to increase the gospel’s global reach and impact.

TAPPING INTO TECHNOLOGY

George Collins has carried the torch for international partnerships ministry for more than 25 years as founder and director of ABWE’s Global Access Partnerships (GAP) and, more recently, co-founder of Live Global.

George was elated when he met Andrew in 2015. “I thought to myself, ‘Now here is an articulate young leader with a vision and skillset who could have significant impact in attracting a younger generation for the global advance of the gospel.’”

In 2019 Andrew transitioned into the primary leadership role of Live Global.

With an extensive background in coding and web development, he plans to focus on how ministries can use technology to advance the gospel. Andrew saw the reach of technology while roaming the poor slums of Indonesia and noticing children on their smartphones playing Pokémon GO.

“The next frontier missionary won’t be hacking his way through the jungle with a machete,” Andrew said. “They might just be sitting behind a glowing screen and a keyboard.”

Beyond partnerships, Live Global builds websites with geotargeting capabilities. This method determines the location of website visitors, allowing Live Global to provide them access to specific gospel content, even if they live in restricted-access countries. Live Global also creates offline mobile apps containing the Bible and audio resources so that the illiterate can hear the word of God.

THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

Even with supportive personnel and the right amount of finances, it’s difficult for many North American churches to know where to begin with global missions. Live Global alleviates this burden by introducing them to international ministry opportunities.

“When I talk to churches, I let them know God is already working in incredible ways around the world without North Americans leading the charge,” said Matt J., director of Live Global church relations. “We get the privilege of joining them as partners.”

A 60-person church in North America was able to supply bicycles for a Live Global partner in Cuba, whose pastors needed them to travel to and shepherd their widespread congregation in various locations.

This gift enhanced God’s kingdom by equipping nationals with the resources they desperately needed to share the gospel—something they were already doing, but could now execute better.

God is already working in incredible ways around the world without North Americans leading the charge.
Matt J.

When Mark Cizauskas, a pastor in Rochester, Mich., joined a Live Global national partner in Kolkata to help their church-planting and mercy ministry efforts, he found that they equally impacted his congregation.

“Our partnership through Live Global has allowed our church family to be part of significant gospel work on the other side of the globe among some of the world’s most impoverished and desperate,” Cizauskas said.

“In return, our Indian partners have challenged and enriched us beyond measure.”

Live Global uses three essential ingredients: personal relationship, mutual accountability, and a servant spirit.

KEY INGREDIENTS

To help facilitate the process of connecting partners, Live Global uses three essential ingredients: personal relationship, mutual accountability, and a servant spirit.

This trifold standard is grounded in Ecclesiastes, which states that a “threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

“A partnership doesn’t survive solely on writing checks, but is sustained through an ongoing relationship where the North American church brings spiritual refreshment to its foreign counterpart and vice versa,” Andrew said.

Live Global’s priorities reside with foreign ministries who desire to or are currently building leaders, planting churches, and spreading the gospel strategically.

Both parties must carry humble hearts, even if that entails bruised knees and elbows from scrubbing floors. This characteristic more specifically applies to the North American church, whose Western inclination is to dominate and ascertain authority. Its responsibility isn’t to steer decisions, but to become a servant.

With partners in more than 50 countries, Live Global strengthens ABWE’s mission by equipping foreign believers who are doing the Lord’s work around the globe—because the Great Commission is too large a mandate to be fulfilled by North American missionaries alone.


Live Global is currently trying to recruit 50 pastors, 50 digital workers, and 50 full-time team members in the next five years.

50 PASTORS: Live Global desires for pastors to form lasting relationships with national partners. Each pastor would visit their partner on a short-term basis, offering theological training, spiritual discipleship, and encouragement.

50 DIGITAL WORKERS: Live Global is seeking digital workers—designers, coders, app developers, photographers, videographers, social media experts, cyber-security experts—to facilitate gospel growth on the front-lines and behind the scenes.

50 FULL-TIME TEAM MEMBERS: As a growing ministry, Live Global needs full-time laborers. These full-time members will serve side-by-side with partners in their ministry, or represent them and work with them from North America.


Editor’s Note: Learn more about becoming a part of Live Global and connecting with those who are faithfully sharing Christ in their cultures and communities.

About the Author

Loren Skinker serves as a communication specialist with ABWE and managing editor for Message Magazine. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and English.

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