Kingdom collaboration of Send Network planters, IMB missionaries and Send Relief spurs Colombian church’s growth

Send Network planters, IMB missionaries, and national believers had the opportunity to share the gospel with a street full of townspeople in Soacha, Colombia during a food distribution event made possible by Send Relief. Send Network/IMB photo

When a group of eight Send Network church planters traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, to learn from and work alongside International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries for a week, they had no idea the kind of lasting impact their collaboration could bring.

As part of the week’s activities, the planters co-labored with a new Colombian church plant and IMB missionaries to distribute food bags funded by Send Relief, the compassion ministry of Southern Baptists, in an impoverished neighborhood south of the city.

The trip to Bogotá was this year’s first in a line-up of eight Global Vision Trips designed to mobilize church planters through Send Network, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) church planting arm, so they can experience and reach the nations while forging long-term partnerships with IMB teams.

“It was all right there in that moment: a great picture of cooperation,” said Chris Derry, the IMB’s director of church and campus engagement. “NAMB, IMB, Send Relief and the national church were all working together to bring the help of the Church and the hope of the gospel. It was just a sweet, sweet work of God that day.”

More than half of the population in Soacha, Colombia, is Venezuelan due to the influx of Venezuelan refugees. Several months ago, a church in Bogotá planted a new church in this area with the help of IMB missionaries.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with new national believers, Send Network planters had the opportunity to share the gospel with more than 400 people using the Three Circles. Afterward, the planters gathered with the local church members and IMB personnel in a small apartment to pray and thank God for the time of ministry in the city.

The following day, the new church plant, which usually has an attendance of 12, spilled out of the apartment where they used to meet and onto the street where they had ministered the day before as more than 50 people came to the worship service thanks to the care shown to the community the day before.

“We were really encouraged to see that many come back long after the food was gone to get the Bread of Life,” said Derry.

As a result of the care shown to the community, a new Colombian church plant saw its largest attendance to date. A young Colombian pastor shared God’s Word after the church moved its gathering outdoors. Send Network/IMB photo

“I am so grateful that the Send Network team came and shared their stories with the people in Soacha,” said Matthew Fisher, an IMB missionary in Bogotá. “Having brothers in Christ come together and share the gospel alongside the church plant in that city was truly amazing.

Seven more Global Vision Trips are set to take place throughout 2024 in places like Central and South Asia, the Americas and London.

“The long-term goal is always partnership,” said Mike Laughrun, Send Network’s director of global engagement. “Not to parachute in and start some new work in Bogotá, but to come alongside the existing IMB teams that are on the ground and say, ‘Hey, local churches back in the States can be really helpful partners to advance the work that you’ve already started.'”

When Send Network planters participate in a Global Vision Trip, they learn about the IMB’s process of church planting, from entry to evangelism to discipleship to healthy church formation and leadership development.

“These trips have become a training ground for Send Network pastors to learn effective church planting strategies from experienced missionary teams and how to link arms with national pastors and partners – strategies we hope to see deployed in their home cities in the U.S.,” Derry said.

Of the eight planters who traveled to Colombia, seven were fluent in Spanish, and six had roots in Latin America, making them particularly effective in working alongside national believers in Colombia.

“It was very beneficial for me personally to see those dynamics play out and to see how God’s very much at work within the Spanish-speaking cultures here in the States,” said Laughrun.

Victor Pulido, who planted Global Community Church in Edison, N.J., and is originally from Mexico City, said that the trip helped him develop meaningful connections and relationships with those serving on the ground in Colombia.

“The unity of IMB and NAMB will always be better than working separately, anywhere in the world, because the experiences of both complement each other,” he shared.

“We’ve got an incredible resource and gift from the Lord in our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters that can be trained, equipped and mobilized,” Laughrun added. “For these church planters to see that, and then take it back to their churches, many of which are primarily Spanish-speaking, it can give them a vision to raise up Spanish-speaking missionaries and Spanish-speaking missions teams to reach the nations.”

Published March 6, 2024

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