What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Outreach?
Perhaps it’s handing out tracts doing street evangelism or hosting large rallies with altar calls. Maybe it’s a short-term missions trip to a village in Africa or doing VBS programs in a rural part of Asia.
I had those same perceptions. But after a year as Outreach pastor, I am beginning to get a better picture of Outreach. And though it may include the things I mentioned above, the vision of Outreach I am seeing is something altogether different than what I imagined.
Looking forward, I see two major shifts in Outreach at Evergreen SGV locally and globally:
Moving from Compassion to Discipleship (Local)
Having been at our campus for seven years now, we have made tremendous inroads into our community by adopting a local elementary school. Through staff appreciation lunches, backpack and uniform drives, Harvest festivals, Thanksgiving Celebrations and the Community Food Pantry, we have built trust and relationship with our beloved neighbors.
Now we’ve reached a crossroads where people are open to the faith and asking questions about God. How are we going to disciple members of our predominantly Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrant community?
The reality is that we can’t, at least not effectively.
As a predominantly Asian-American English speaking congregation, we are ill-equipped to guide members of our community in following Jesus. Even if some of us were to speak the language, there would remain a cultural and socioeconomic divide.
Fortunately, the Lord has brought friends from Latin American Bible Institute (LABI) and VIDA church to help with our efforts at the Community Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Celebration. Moving forward, it is apparent that we need to continue to partner with such Spanish speaking churches and ministries to effectively engage our community with the goal of discipleship.
Moving from Short-term to Long-term (Global)
The Lord is raising a steady stream of long-term overseas workers from our church. Short-term missions may have been the face of our Missions program, but it is quickly shifting to long-term missions.
This completely changes how we are able to do missions overseas. Previously, we have had to rely on partners in the field to do ministry in country. Now we have our own people to be our main point of contact on the ground.
A good example of this is what’s happening in Japan. At any point this past year, we have had a mix of 3-5 Evergreeners in Japan ranging from short-term to long-term. Because we have the Kagawa family settled in Tokyo, they have provided a home base for Evergreeners to connect, rest and go out. I would never have imagined there to be an Evergreen SGV community growing in Japan.
As we continue to send out members of our church, more home bases may sprout up in other countries around the world.
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It is clear that the Lord is challenging us to reevaluate how we do Outreach. We’ve reached a point both locally and globally where we’re on the brink of something new.
I can’t tell you exactly what it will look like.
But it’s fun to imagine.