BY SCOTT GRISWOLD
Many of you have closely followed the beginnings of the Reach the World Next Door (RWND) cross-cultural missionary training program. Your prayers and finances are making a huge difference, and recently, God has led us in some exciting new directions. First, new staff member Pastor Bernabe Diaz, his wife Marleny and their children, Emilio, Benjamin, and Jade, have arrived on campus. With their backgrounds in farming, construction, and Bible work, the Diaz family is an excellent fit to help us train missionaries. Under Pastor Bernabe’s direction, RWND’s garden is being transformed. A new initiative called “Day at the Farm” encourages Houston-area church members to bring their non-Christian refugee and immigrant neighbors to enjoy a retreat from the city and learn about planting, healthy cooking, and natural remedies.
In addition, we are focusing this second school year on training 100 local church members for cross-cultural outreach. Previously, it had seemed that they were too busy to be involved much, but their interest has steadily grown. Many of them work with immigrants or study alongside international students, and some meet refugees while shopping at the supermarket or elsewhere during their daily routines.
Since work and studies prevent these church members from attending our training program full-time, we are conducting a series of weekend intensive events to train them. In addition, they will receive ongoing support and gain hands-on experience in cross-cultural ministry by joining us in our health expos and health coaching, our reconstruction work among the Cambodians, or our new Adventurer club family ministry in the apartment complexes. This will build their confidence to befriend and share wherever they go.
One of the most exciting stories of the new school year is already unfolding at Iglesia Adventista de Bellaire. Last year, our students and staff shared testimonies and provided a training program at this Spanish-speaking church. This year, their pastor, Edgar Chavez, asked if RWND could come closer and guide them in their outreach efforts. That very week Pastor Bernabe Diaz and his family joined RWND.
As we arrived for Sabbath School at Bellaire the parking lot was already filling up. The pastor approached. “What our mission leaders really want is to locate an apartment complex where we can systematically reach out to the residents. We are willing for it to be a mixture of Hispanics and other nationalities.”
That afternoon, more than twenty members joined the first outreach effort. We studied from Acts 16 how God had shut two doors and opened a different one to Macedonia. We prayed that He would do the same for us and then drove to several apartment complexes. Sometimes we walked down the sidewalks praying individually. Sometimes we prayed as a group. The Diaz family quickly made friends. Being from Mexico and El Salvador, they had no language barrier like some of us.
When we returned we asked the members if God had impressed them to focus their efforts in any certain area. One said, “I’m sure it is Ashford Apartments.” Another added, “Yes, that’s the one I thought of, too.” A third affirmed the same. With a mosque right next to the complex, it was clear that God was leading the Bellaire church into a whole new ministry.
God has a beautiful plan for all the nations living in Houston. It seems very apparent that His plan this year is to build a solid base of church members who will reach out. Next year, on-campus students at Reach the World Next Door will have the privilege of working alongside a maturing ministry to the least-reached!
To apply for next year’s nine-month, on-campus training program, call RWND at 707-380-9554 or apply online at reachtheworldnextdoor.com