Did you know that since the start of the conflict in Syria, the Christian population has diminished by half? But there is also good news rising from the ashes:
Ah, Cancun! Beautiful beaches and good times can be found here. But Cancun is also home to an entire region of real people, with real struggles and hopes and dreams.
We came at the invitation of Mundo de Fe Church for a Marketplace Missions week. We would visit numerous businesses and conduct a Global Advance Marketplace Leaders conference. But within five minutes of meeting our host pastor named Lalo, we learned of a tragedy that had struck too close to home that very week.
“Three members of our sister church were murdered this week. They think the Narcos mistook them for someone else.”
Then it sunk in.
I’ve traveled to Lebanon, Egypt, Africa, and Asia. Cancun is facing serious challenges too.
Our team was expectant that God was going to do something special during our days there. But our expectancy was small compared to the people we were privileged to meet.
Meet “The Chef” Luis and his wife Nilma. Together, with their son and daughter-in-law, they create some of the finest casual cuisines in the Yucatan. Strategically placed next to a large high school, they see their restaurant as a ministry.
Covering the walls are unique artistic chalk drawings of Biblical scenes with Scripture. “I am the Way and the Life,” declares one creative drawing of Jesus offering a hand to all who are willing.
Hundreds of students and their families crowd their little place in the mornings and afternoons. “My passion is to provide hope to the young people,” says the Chef. “They come here every day and need to know they are loved and have a future.”
The Chef’s other passion?
“I want to help feed the hungry in my city.” They already host outreaches and provide meals to the downtrodden, and serve their local church by providing meals for special events.
(The first Bible recipient at El Chef's restaurant, thanks to a generous donation from a Global Advance Ambassador.)
Israel is being primed by his father to take over a three generation family-run windows and mirrors business. They’ve built a legacy of integrity and generosity, now selling thousands of mirrors and windows annually. Their family generously supports their local church and other ministries in the region.
Jessica has taken territory in a man’s world. Her custom tools and construction appliance shop has grown for two decades. In a machismo culture, somehow God’s favor has allowed her to prosper with a majority-women staffed team.
“I cannot put my name on the other store location because the Narcos might threaten me to pay for protection.” This is a common problem in Mexico. If you are perceived as prosperous, you might be targeted to pay a monthly fee to gangs for protection of your business. If you don’t pay, you might face the threat of kidnapping... or worse.
We had the privilege of visiting a dozen businesses in Yucatan that are run by believers. God has strategically placed them in the marketplace for His glory. They are called to bless the city. They are Gospel bearers. They are problem solvers and nation builders.
Almost 200 attended our Global Advance Marketplace Leaders conference. Hungry for training and a touch from God, they cried, cheered, and committed their lives to further His Kingdom.
These wonderful people were challenged and affirmed as missionaries to the marketplace. They are raising the spiritual and moral capital of the nation. Pray for God to raise up millions like them around the world!
Thank you for supporting Global Advance to empower God’s frontline leaders around the world.
Jonathan Shibley serves as president of Global Advance. He started the Marketplace Missions initiative in 2003 to encourage and equip Christians in the marketplace in developing nations.
There’s something stirring.
God is moving in the hearts of His women... and it’s something like I have never witnessed before.
Sure, maybe I’m hyper-aware of the women of God who are taking hold of and walking in the purpose for which they are created. Bringing these women together and helping lift their arms is what I know I’m to be about in these last days.
But it’s more than this.
It’s more than an awareness brought about by a personal call.
God is strategically bringing His daughters together all around the world.
The generations of daughters who have gone before us have shown us strength and how to be strategic in the positions where God has placed us.
Like Abigail, who after hearing of the destruction soon to come upon her house, prepared a meal and came in complete humility before David. Her wisdom in choice of words and demeanor not only saved her household, but made her queen shortly after (1 Samuel 25).
The same is true of Queen Esther (Esther 5).
These past daughters showed us how to be fierce and bold like Jael, who was on guard and ready to act when the enemy came to her tent. She was ready to use the tools in her hands and the preparation she possessed due to her position. She executed the enemy and saved her people (Judges 4:21).
There are so many examples we could look to; women of God who have gone before us to pave the way. These women have modeled how to be strong and strategic, bold and fierce, and how to be all these things while walking in a gentle, quiet, and humble spirit before our Lord.
I believe the difference between past generations and ours is that doors are starting to swing wide open for women of God to walk out their callings and be used in unprecedented ways.
This isn’t just happening in our western civilization, but all over the world.
I just returned from a very strategic trip to Jaipur, India where I had the privilege of meeting with ten other women leading ministries in six different nations.
We came together, ate together, and shared vision.
We dreamed together and ministered together for three days at a Global Advance Esther Initiative conference specifically tailored to women in leadership.
As a team we spoke value, calling, and purpose into the hearts of these women.
The relationships built among this team of women across borders were beautiful to see, but it was the new spark of excitement for their ministries and the future possibilities that were by far the most beautiful.
I have to be honest.
As I prepared for my time with these women, I continually felt the pressure to make something spectacular occur with this opportune meeting with such high capacity national leaders. But God had already prepared the way. As we spent time together, I heard story after story of great ministry taking place and was moved by the countless sacrifices they make daily to advance the gospel in their nations.
I was humbled beyond measure and inspired by the fortitude and strength I witnessed in my sisters.
The greatest need they shared was for community with other women who are leading - women with whom they can walk alongside, sharing their joys and burdens while spurring each other on in ministry. Hearing this need sparked and encouraged my heart to press hard to continue to bring women in leadership together.
As leaders, we have the beautiful privilege to create life-giving community; a place for relationships to form and flourish, and a space for new vision to be birthed.
Through this beautiful community of women - this army of modern day Esthers rising up in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and beyond - may we boldly advance the Kingdom... together.
Cherice Stoltzfus - Global Advance Ambassador to India
The Esther Initiative elevates women to the areas of leadership for which they are gifted and created. Whether it be in the home, the church, the marketplace, or in their communities, women are being inspired to rise up as modern day Esthers in their nations – to courageously say yes to bold faith in action right where they live. We believe that one woman can make a powerful Kingdom difference when she knows who she is in Christ and walks fully and freely in her calling. We believe that her unique Kingdom contribution could even change the course of a nation.
“How good and pleasant it is when
brothers dwell together in unity….”
Recently in Guatemala we had the opportunity to come alongside pastors and church leaders to provide training and encouragement. The Holy Spirit ignited the hearts of these leaders to see their nation transformed. Dozens responded to plant new churches and send Guatemalan missionaries out!
“This week has been like a refreshing river in the midst of a desert!” exclaimed one pastor who oversees multiple churches.
“Most of the training for pastors occurs in Guatemala City but in the region of TecPan it is a rare thing. We’ve never had anything quite like this!”
Later in the week Global Advance had the privilege of convening entrepreneurs and business people in the region. Our team of company owners from the States toured several businesses owned by Christians to offer advice and prayer support.
Energetic anticipation filled the room at our marketplace conference as they were taught principles from God’s Word related to business. Eighty-two committed their work life and businesses to advance God’s Kingdom purpose in Guatemala.
Christian entrepreneurs and business people are crucial in nations like Guatemala to prevent “brain drain” and to bring blessing to the local churches and communities. Many times developing nations lose their best and brightest to opportunities in more developed economies.
Thank you for praying for frontline pastors and marketplace leaders worldwide! The unstoppable Gospel of the Kingdom marches on.
There is a move of God in Zagreb, Croatia to see His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven. At Global Advance we are empowering Christian business leaders across the globe to impact their communities. We believe that the Marketplace and the Church sanctuary working in partnership can transform a nation and advance the Great Commission. Each year we train business leaders in the nations while providing an opportunity for U.S. Christian business leaders to go with Global Advance to impact their peers internationally.
Recently Global Advance was in Zagreb, Croatia to engage marketplace leaders and share biblical wisdom to help them succeed in business and life. These events include business consulting, conference training of biblical business principles, and even business mentoring. We also work with our international hosts to develop a long-term business mission strategy to see local Kingdom Business Networks established.
When you partner with Global Advance, your investment has a Kingdom return. With your support we are taking critical steps to see nations transformed. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of the nations.
But change doesn’t happen without a champion.
At each Marketplace training event, we are strengthening leaders and building Kingdom Business Networks to engage stakeholders (marketplace leaders and pastors) early in their Kingdom work. By doing so we continue God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever marketplace leaders bring order out of chaos, whenever they draw out creative potential, and whenever they elaborate and “unfold” creation beyond where it was, they are advancing the Kingdom of God.
This year in Croatia we began the development of a Kingdom Business Network that will cultivate ongoing ministry to the marketplace and cultivate a rich environment of relational equity and trust. In this environment, viable business ideas connect with seed capital, and Christ followers begin to see their business work as sacred. When this happens the Kingdom of God draws near and the Kingdom Business Network begins to catalyze community transformation. These KBN’s will provide a systematic approach to entrepreneurship and business growth with a Kingdom focus.
This is a powerful process for raising the spiritual and moral capital of a nation...
This month, nestled in the highlands of the Himalayas in far Northwest India, Global Advance is training frontline leaders with one passion, one vision, and one cause – to advance the Gospel and expand the Kingdom.
As the training was set to begin we received this request: “Friends, let us continue to uphold one another in prayer and to encourage one another with words of affirmation and prophetic declarations - we just can't do this alone!”
Sadly, the day before this training we were informed that a Bharat Bandh - a nationwide shutdown - was implemented in this region. During the previous nation-wide strike, protests across the country had turned violent after agitators resorted to stone pelting, damaging public properties, and blocking rail and road traffic movements.
Some pastors traveling to the training were stranded on the roads for hours.
Once the delegates arrived at the Frontline Pastors Conference, they went through four security checks to enter the church area, all as a precaution to protect them from violent protesting. Through all of this, they made their way to be encouraged and to receive the much needed training for their work.
The front line of the Gospel’s advance is littered with painful and difficult opposition to God’s purpose.
Hate does not surrender easily to love.
Evil does not submit quietly to good.
When pastors and leaders gather to be trained, often they are overwhelmed by the struggle to push forward as they bear the burden and overcome the daily fear of spiritual collisions. These training events lift these hidden heroes as they respond to the Great Commission.
Regardless of security obstacles and impending persecution, these pastors are seeking a sovereign move of God in their region. Please pray for these leaders, and consider giving to Global Advance to help bring more training to the frontline leaders of the Gospel’s advance. They need our help more than ever.
The bright colors that gracefully adorned each woman stood out in stark contrast against the dark spiritual background of the beautiful nation they call home.
The nation is India, where the heat of violent persecution is rapidly rising for Christ followers.
These women are not unlike you and me in many regards. They are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, ministry leaders - passionate women who carry bold dreams in their hearts, yet manage many realms of life and responsibilities in order to nurture, protect, love, and disciple the ones God has placed in their influence. Like us, they balance great joy in the Lord, mixed with the pain that the world can so often bring because we're not home yet.
But unlike most of us, these women wake up each day in a nation where precious lives could be on the line simply because they identify themselves as Christians.
In 2013 India ranked 31st on the list of the top 50 countries where it's most dangerous to follow Jesus. In just five short years, India has surpassed more well known persecuted nations by earning an astonishing rank of number 11 in 2018.
Let that sink in. India just surpassed twenty of the most highly persecuted nations in the world.
News of increasing government restrictions and the violent influence of radical Hindu groups flood today's headlines. There is talk that their goal is to eradicate both Islam and Christianity from this second most populous country in the world by the year 2021. School curriculum is denouncing the name of Jesus, and Bibles are being burned in the streets. It's more and more common to hear of pastors being beaten and martyred for their faith. Most recently, an eight year old girl was targeted, abused, and tragically killed at the hands of Hindu extremists.
These are real stories reported to us from our very own partners on the front lines in India. These dear brothers and sisters in Christ need our support now more than ever.
This is why Global Advance is unwavering in our commitment to go to the most unreached places to empower frontline leaders to fulfill the Great Commission. This is what took us to Ludhiana, India this month for our second Esther Initiative training conference for women leaders in ministry.
To say that these incredible women - most of them first generation believers - are hungry for spiritual training on the next level would be an understatement. They have a strong desire to be intelligent women of the Word. They need to be encouraged to persevere in hope in an environment that rejects the one true God whom they treasure more than life itself. They long for someone to believe in them in a culture that often devalues them; someone who will lift their arms and empower them to go into the hard places - despite the many challenges stacked against them - to light this predominantly Hindu nation with the gospel.
And so we went with great JOY.
With connected hearts and our common bond in Christ, we trained, encouraged, believed in, and empowered these modern day Esthers. We challenged them to shine the light of Christ in their spheres of influence, and zoned in on intentional discipleship multiplication. We showed up to remind them that they were created for such a time as this, and that they aren't alone in this battle.
And as all Global Advance conferences go, corporate biblical training paved the way for profound personal impact.
Don't you love how God is such a personal God like that?
One delegate named Phoebe had miscarried just two days before the conference. This was tragic for this sister and her husband as they had been praying and waiting anxiously for this baby for the past six years. Phoebe knew that she had to attend this conference - a rare opportunity for women - in spite of the pain and agony. Through the teaching and testimonies of our team, the Lord spoke to her specifically, bringing much needed healing and comfort. Through tears she whispered, "This conference was just for me. God has provided for me through this training at just the right time."
She was comforted, and found healing and wholeness in the arms of her Savior.
Comforted, so that she can comfort others with the comfort she has received from God.
Comforted in the hard places, so that she can rise up and shine His light in the darkness around her.
Phoebe's personal testimony was just one of many heard throughout the conference. These women are now fired up and on mission for God. As their time together concluded, ninety-one of them stood to proclaim that they will go into the hard places - into the most remote villages of North India and beyond - to reach those who have yet to hear the good news of the gospel.
Now that's a story worth telling over and over again.
What a privilege it is to remind you that YOU are a crucial part of this story.
Your prayers matter.
Your going matters.
Your giving matters.
We'll keep telling what great things God has done because your partnership has significant Kingdom impact, and because He deserves all the glory.
Friends, we can't tire now.
Thank you for praying, going, and giving as we lock arms with these frontline leaders in the hardest, most unreached regions of the world. There's nothing better than knowing, loving, and serving Jesus together.
As the world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, our Global Advance Ambassador Team was busy making final preparations for the launch of our Esther Initiative Training Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. With a passion for seeing their churches empowered and their city transformed for Christ, local leaders reached out to Global Advance for help. What followed was a powerful move of God in their city.
“There are no words that can ever explain what we experienced and what was revealed to our hearts this weekend by our Lord and Savior through you as instruments of the highest Lord. Indeed, women's lives have been changed and will never be the same.”
“Women are launching into a new level of Kingdom purpose. My experience has forever changed my life and increased my intentionality in Christ.”
In addition to powerful testimonies like these, we are praising God for 286 conference women who recommitted to daily time with God, 256 women who committed to personal mentoring relationships, and 130 women who said yes to cross-cultural missions. Utilizing the Esther Initiative Leadership Training Manual, key leaders are now empowered to go into their communities and carry out the Great Commission. Multiplication occurs as these frontline leaders in turn disciple women in local mentoring relationships.
At Global Advance, we dream of the day when women everywhere know their true value, worth, and identity in Christ. When the older are equipped to teach the younger, and when the younger are empowered to boldly carry the torch that lit the fire in them to a lost and dying world. God is using the ministry of the Esther Initiative to empower women to joyfully proclaim these truths where the Gospel has yet to go. Thank you for your partnership that helps us get one step closer to that day.
They entered the room soberly and quietly - some cradling infants. Was that fear or sorrow in their expressionless eyes? I had been told that many of them had arrived in the back of a small truck – 43 men and women to be exact - counted as they walked through the front gate of the compound where we gathered. It was the faces of these women that captured me as they entered our “Upper Room"; not just their stoic nature, but also the painted black vertical stripes that were part camouflage, part defense against evil spirits, and part cosmetic beauty, I was told. And then there were the multiple silver-colored rings lining their ears and the pieces of what looked like bone in their noses. But it was the somberness of their facial expressions that drew me the most.
On my way to India I had asked God His purpose for my trip.
I did not want to miss what He wanted me to accomplish. The answer was clear: “To encourage them and share in their suffering. It is not just what you will say, but showing them My love that is important.” I later learned that one of them, a pastor’s wife with three small children, had recently become a widow; her husband shot by “Maoist militants” in their jungle village.
Father, show us how to love them.
We started with the story of Esther, an ordinary woman with courage and an extraordinary gift of beauty that God used to save her nation. They listened intently throughout the lesson and its translations: English to Hindi to Kui. Gradually their expressions softened as the lessons progressed, and soon there were hesitant smiles breaking across those beautiful faces as they sat for hours cross-legged on the blanket-covered cement floor. Yes, they were nursing their babies and tending to toddlers, but they were also beginning to believe who they were in Christ. They were loved, they were chosen, they were forgiven, they were accepted, and adopted by the King of Kings, and He had a calling on their lives to bring transformation to the women in their villages and their nation. They began to worship and even to dance before the Lord. Smiles lit up their faces, young and old alike, as they received God’s love and hope and in turn prayed for and encouraged one another.
And yes, very quickly we hugged them and prayed for them. We blessed their babies and laid hands on the sick. We shared our own life journeys of hardship and victory in Jesus. In small groups women shared their struggles and prayed for one another. They dreamed together about what they could do to bring hope and help to their communities, and how to encourage and support one another.
We laughed and cried together in that small room, sharing the “suffering” of the heat and crowded conditions, but rejoicing in the truth that we are one. Sisters. We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who sees each of us, and loves us, and unites us in service for Him and the expansion of His Kingdom. When the commissioning call was given in the final session of the conference, many of them responded. “Yes, we will go to the villages who have never heard, and share the good news of God’s love and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.”
Somehow, I believe that our lives will never be the same.
In an outcome I could never have anticipated, these humble, courageous women have challenged me to not fear suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
Lord, here am I. Send me.
- Connie Parker, Esther Initiative Ambassador to India
Global Advance is training frontline leaders with the call to reach remote villages in India where the Gospel still needs to go. In February, our ambassador teams conducted two powerful Church Planting and Esther Initiative conferences to provide training and resources in Chhattisgarh and Odisha States, where persecution for Christians is on the rise and only a fraction of 1% of the population professes Christ. Global Advance is on a mission to see the Great Commission become the Great Fulfillment. Your gift today helps us move one step closer to THAT day...
Building a kingdom coalition is hard work. At Global Advance, we have spent the past three years investing in high capacity leaders in eight nations located in South Asia known as SAARC. It came as a big idea from God to accelerate the Great Commission through partnerships and collaboration in this region. We felt God’s invitation to step out in faith and begin a massive Kingdom advance into the SAARC nations of Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, and the Maldives.
These SAARC countries represent a high concentration of unreached peoples, hostility towards the Gospel, and present financial and logistical challenges. Despite these challenges, a massive harvest potential of lives yet to be transformed by the power of the Gospel resides within South Asia.
In February of this year we convened these high capacity leaders in Sri Lanka. The 2018 SAARC Summit was a vital gathering to continue the work of strengthening relationships for the purpose of these leaders sharing resources and ministry strengths to fulfill our common vision. We recognize that this act alone goes against the tradition and culture of this region. However, we are seeing a powerful movement of God take place.
This big idea is rooted in our desire to see a spiritual breakthrough to the over 2 billion people in the SAARC region who have little to no exposure to the Gospel. In partnership with these leaders, Global Advance has made a 10-year commitment to train leaders, as well as to produce and distribute resources and discipleship tools for the advance of the Great Commission.
To accomplish this task, we are working with each national team to create deliberate, bold, and focused evangelistic initiatives in each of the eight nations. The indigenous national leaders are designing the strategies that are most effective. Together as a coalition, we want to see the planting of over 15,000 churches in SAARC over the next few years.
The opportunity lies before us and the groundwork has been laid. Now trust has been established. Synergy and passion is in play to boldly advance the Gospel throughout our SAARC network. A plan to equip South Asian frontline pastors and church planters has been formed, and the network has established teams that are already multiplying. In each nation, a multi-pronged holistic approach is being implemented to equip Kingdom leaders and Church planters, and our Alpha Relief Initiative has become a supply line for the front line of the Gospel's advance.
Your partnership with Global Advance positions you to participate in this big idea from God. Thank you for praying, giving, and sending us to empower frontline leaders for the Great Commission. Please continue to support the SAARC Initiative at Global Advance.
Paula Togni carries a personality you can't easily forget, but her energetic demeanor and warm Brazilian embrace are just friendly introductions to the deeply compassionate servant leadership she brings to her church and community. She's a wife, a mom, and an entrepreneur, who also happens to be pursuing her doctorate in Transformational Leadership and Cultural Transformation.
Paula is a woman of God on a mission for God.
Her passion? To propel leaders forward to help them accomplish their God-given dreams.
Several years ago Paula began training local marketplace leaders as a marketing and business consultant, but it didn’t take long for God to deposit a more intentional gospel-focused dream in her heart. It was at that time that Paula was introduced to Global Advance. God used this new Kingdom partnership to solidify her Marketplace Missions vision not only for her business but her entire nation. A Kingdom Business Network was launched in her church, and Paula began coordinating the first of many Global Advance Marketplace Missions Conferences. As a result, Christian business leaders across Brazil have been empowered to impact their churches and communities, and many in their influence have received Jesus as their Savior.
God is now expanding Paula’s vision to reach her community for Christ by incorporating multiple Global Advance initiatives into her ministry outreach in a local favela (slum) just outside of Porto Alegre. In a place where extreme poverty, drug rings, and violence compromise the physical and spiritual health of its people, local church, and marketplace leaders are coming together in unity to offer hope, healing, and community transformation through job skills training and the message of Jesus Christ. After hosting a second Esther Initiative Conference last year and launching hundreds of women leaders into mentoring relationships through our Esther Mentoring Track, Paula now dreams of an expanded training center in the favela where her team can continue to empower women and children to fully realize their identity, worth, and purpose in Christ.
We return to Porto Alegre in June 2018 where an expected 1,200 women from all over Brazil will gather for our third Esther Initiative conference. This multi-faceted event includes the strategic training of high capacity regional leaders; then the focus turns to putting this leadership training into action through a three-day social engagement ministry in the favela. Two additional conferences - national NextGen Engagement and Marketplace training - will follow this year under Paula's leadership. That brings the total number of frontline leaders trained in Brazil to over 2,500 in this year alone. Global Advance is providing the practical and spiritual support to stand-out leaders like Paula, empowering them to build relationships, identify local assets, and own the dreams God has given them to transform their communities for Christ.
When Paula was nine years old, God gave her a dream to become a missionary. Today, Paula is indeed going into all the world and advancing the Gospel as she represents Global Advance on the front lines of Brazil.
As mentioned, we have three training events in Brazil in 2018. Would you consider partnering with Global Advance on one of these events? Your support will have a far-reaching impact as we lock arms with Paula and her team to bring the transforming power of God to her nation.