We Only See Partially What God's Doing in the Northwest
September 22, 2022
Northwest Baptists are a missionary people in more ways than any of us know. Recently, a woman from one of our Russian-speaking churches came to visit our ministry office. A woman of deep faith and prayer, her father spent four years in a Siberian prison for preaching Jesus in Soviet-era Russia. She now uses her freedom as an American citizen in amazing ways, including hosting 18 refugees in her home. She’s led several of them to Jesus and her church is ministering to them.
A helpful way to understand the Northwest Baptist Convention (NWBC) is that we are a network of churches invested in doing missions together. Much as you invest money to fund your retirement, you and your church invest mission dollars, time, and spiritual giftedness through the NWBC to do missions. You expect your retirement investments to perform well, and you also expect your mission investment to be used of God to produce spiritual fruit.
Our mission work together involves several areas of ministry -- evangelism, church starting, disaster relief, college ministry, children’s and youth ministry, leadership formation, pastoral support and training, partnership missions and communication. In addition, the Northwest Baptist Foundation provides various services to our churches, including help with wills and trusts, legal services and advice, and church loans. Then, we have the Pacific Northwest Campus of Gateway Seminary, which currently has 57 students, virtually all of whom serve in our churches.
I often liken missionary work, like all church ministry, to building a sandcastle. Sandcastles are always falling apart. The trick is to build it faster than it falls. In my first church, we averaged 20 people in Sunday school. The next year we averaged 22. What an outsider would not know was that in one week we lost 11 people from two families who moved away. A net increase of two may not have seemed like much growth, but God was at work growing disciples in ways the numbers didn’t reflect.
Recently I examined the number of churches in the NWBC. When I arrived in 2013 we had 447 churches and church plants. Today we have 524 -- a net increase of 77. Interestingly, 188 new churches have been started from 2013 to the present. These 188 churches worship in 18 different languages – English, Arabic, Bhutanese, Cambodian, Ethiopian, Tagalog, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Micronesian, Mongolian, Romanian, Russian, Swahili, Vietnamese, Zomi, Chin, and Marshallese. That is Northwest missions!
These numbers only tell a small part of the story of what God is doing. Together we’re seeing people come to faith in Christ and gathered in churches. We’re sending missionaries, educating pastors, and serving hurting people. It’s such a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest.