Prayers by small church answered in West Africa
BARDSTOWN, Ky. (BP)--The praying members of Wickland Baptist Church are proving that small churches can impact the nations. The Bardstown, Ky., congregation, with an average worship attendance of 65, prayerfully chose to adopt the Sokoto Fulani unreached people group of Niger, West Africa. Now they praise God for providing co-laborers to share the love of Jesus Christ among the Sokoto Fulani people.
“It boils down to the hope that every living, breathing Sokoto Fulani … will hear the message of Jesus and know eternal life through Him,” says Pat Stone, the church’s missions director.
Shortly after Wickland members began praying for the Sokoto Fulani, the Lord called 23-year-old Danielle Koepke to live among and love the people as a two-year journeyman missionary.
“Talk about it being real exciting for us and encouraging for our prayers,” says Dave Coffing, a member of Wickland’s missions committee. “That just encouraged us to continue praying.”
Now other churches work with the International Mission Board to help bring the Gospel to this people group, and Wickland hopes to send church members to Niger within the year.
“It’s a little frustrating, not being able to go [right now], but ... you have to wait for God’s timing,” Coffing says.
After praying for lost people groups of the world, Wickland members decided to participate in the IMB’s “PrayerPlus” program, a partnership allowing churches to adopt people groups through prayer. When the congregation received the names of three unreached people groups from which to choose, they immediately began praying for guidance. After more than a month of prayer, the congregation voted to adopt the Sokoto Fulani.
“We’re just a few people doing some fairly dedicated prayer,” Coffing says. “We just try to join in on what God’s doing.”
“This is all a part of the plan God has for the church,” says Ron Hill, the IMB staff’s “personalizer” for West Africa. “It’s not, ‘Should we do this?’ or ‘Does God want us to do this?’ but it’s more a question of, ‘Where does God want us to work, and with whom?’”
After churches have prayerfully determined what part of the world to lift up in prayer, they can contact specific regional personalizers to learn of overseas prayer needs.
Before jumping into people-group adoption, Hill suggests churches ask themselves two basic questions:
1. What people group does God want us to impact?
2. What strategies or ministries does God want us to use to impact this people group?
As Wickland has shown, church size plays no factor.
“A church of any size can have an impact,” Hill says. “They can’t do it all, but they can share their passion with other churches and bring them together in a network to make an impact.
“If we have churches willing to step up and play the role of carrying the Gospel to those who have yet to hear it, we could see the Gospel being carried to all ... people groups in our generation.
“To me, that is awesome.”