If you told me five years ago that Poetice International would one day establish and empower justice-seeking churches to reach the lost and the least, I would have said, “We are a faith-based development organization, not a church”. But, I had an epiphany in Bangladesh three years ago as I sensed God telling me that the local Church IS God’s chosen instrument to bring His kingdom of peace to the earth.
2018 has been a landmark year at Poetice. We re-established ourselves as a local church in Zambia. At the time, I wasn’t sure how it would be received but one of our best friends, who is a local pastor in Zambia, said it was one of the most brilliant moves we have ever made. Here are a few reasons why:
1) The local Church is sustainable. It is the only force that has existed for 2,000+ years in spite of great attempts to snuff it out. It grows under pressure and persecution.
2) It doesn’t have or need an exit strategy. While most Non-Profit Development Organizations focus on the problems and leave when the issues are “solved”, the local Church is here to stay. They walk with the vulnerable through their challenges while helping to solve them along the way. There’s power in permanence.
3) It focuses on the whole person. Over the years, we have identified five giants of injustice that need to be slain in order for an individual and a community to thrive. They are spiritual emptiness, oppression, illiteracy, disease, and poverty. (More to come on these in 2019!) Assessing and addressing these giants through local missions seeks holistic, long-term transformation as opposed to simply relief and development.
After adapting our strategy and establishing the church in January, we began to shift our focus to some of the most important things affecting life change; relationships and leadership development. To some, this might not be the most appealing approach, especially as it relates to financial support, but over the last 10 years of missions experience, we have realized that outside of encountering Jesus, there is nothing more important than these two things. And, if we are going to be the Church, train the Church, and empower the Church, we have to make disciples!
In July, we hosted our very first Build Conference in Zambia which had 170+ leaders in attendance. At the conference, we talked about discipleship, sustainability, and slaying the giants of injustice. Since then, we have had a host of local churches want to join the fight and learn how to be a force for justice in their community. We’ve been so encouraged by this show of support.
As we have fallen back in love with the local church, we desire to bring our Poetice family along with us on this journey. We have learned that development without discipleship ultimately makes things worse which routinely leads to corruption and entitlement, especially in impoverished places. We want that to change.
All of these shifts this year have created some new financial development challenges as these projects are slightly different than what we have implemented in the past. The stories coming out of 2018 have been different than previous years. We saw individuals not only experiencing freedom from bondage but also a strong desire to join us in the fight to slay giants in their communities. Read Anita’s Story or Lillian’s Story to see what we mean. They both want to fight for justice as opposed to “life is now better because of Poetice’s help”. This is what the kingdom of God looks like on earth and we will do ANYTHING to see it happen more and more. #KingdomOverEverything
Together, we have been hard at work assessing the giants of injustice in the communities surrounding our mission base and we are ecstatic to share our findings with you in the very near future. We have been walking side by side with numerous community leaders to create long-term solutions through the Church. New local mission projects are coming soon. God is moving!
As we began implementing outreach and leadership development initiatives at our mission base this year, we quickly realized that we lacked adequate spaces to accommodate our week to week ministry. As a response, we launched our Build the Future Campaign to increase the capacity of our meeting spaces, transportation, and technology. In addition, we desire to create financial sustainability with employment and skills training through a greenhouse and a coffee shop.
Our hope is to complete this campaign by 2019 but we still have quite a way to go! We’ve already made lots of progress this year by upgrading our kitchen and dining area only to realize that we need to make it even BIGGER! We’ve also made some other much-needed maintenance updates only to realize there is SO MUCH MORE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
As 2018 winds to a close, I wonder what kind of advancement is yet to be seen in the next couple of weeks.
Our goal is to move the Build The Future needle to 50% before January 1, 2019.
It might be a little aggressive but we need to turn our attention to an outdoor pavilion, greenhouse, and coffee shop to accommodate our growth and work towards financial sustainability in 2019.
As you read some highlights from this past year below, would you prayerfully consider Building the Future with us? We hope that our progress with this new approach and life-changing stories will inspire you to join the fight!
THANK YOU for your overwhelming generosity and support over this year as we empower the Church to fight for justice.
We saw 20 people baptized.
We averaged 75 people at our weekly church gatherings.
Over 170+ leaders attended our first ever BUILD leadership conference + gathering.
We sent out over 150+ community outreach teams.
We started and empowered 47 different discipleship groups through our local church which met on a weekly basis.
We started 3 learning communities.
4 families began to participate in our Gardening Learning Community in order to be trained and equipped in self-sustaining gardening.
We reached 1,795 kids through kids/youth ministries.
Over 60+ Study Hall and personal tutoring sessions were completed.
We sponsored and helped 5 students graduated from school.
From our local church offering, over K30,000 was given and applied to local missions.
We planted over 40 new trees at our mission base.
We renovated and expanded our kitchen and dining area. (but we also already outgrew it!)
We painted ALL of the walls inside our mission base. Every. Single. One.
We began building a database and mapping the communities surrounding our mission base to help us further understand the local giants of injustice that are prevalent. So far, we’ve identified 232 new data points and unique locations.
IMMERSION // SCHOOL OF JUSTICE + MISSION
We trained and commissioned 17 students from 5 different countries.
We sent 45 AMAZING trip takers on immersion trips.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Micah Kephart is the Founder & CEO of Poetice International.