Baptists Support Indigenous Church Planters - But Only for Five Years

Baptists Support Indigenous Church Planters - But Only for Five Years

Klaus Rösler - September 23, 2005

P r a g u e - Three years after its founding, the European Baptist Federation’s (EBF) Indigenous Missionary Project (IMP) has noticebly expanded its efforts. At the EBF council sessions beginning today in Prague, the Polish-born IMP-Coordinator Daniel Trusiewicz (Wroclaw) stated: „It’s easier for native Christians to win their fellow countrymen for the Gospel of Jesus Christ than for foreign missionaries.“ This programme was launched in 2003 by four missionaries in Moldova. Forty missionaries working in an area stretching from Russia’s Arctic Circle to the Black Sea are now involved. The long-term objective is to support 200 indigenous missionaries. These efforts occur in close cooperation with national Baptist unions and local congregations. Within five years, the church planter’s work should be developed enough to drop outside funding. After the initial two-and-a-half years, funding is reduced by 25% every six months. Only three support recipients have given up; all others are serving very successfully.

One of the most successful church planters according to Trusiewicz is the 29-year-old Moldovan Igor Seremet. He not only planted a new congregation in the regional capital of Annini Noi now numbering 50 members, this congregation also founded two further ones during its first two years of IMP support. Trusiewicz hopes for similar developments elsewhere. The Baptist Union of Moldova already is one of Europe’s most successful unions. When the Iron Curtain fell, the country hosted 230 Baptist congregations with 11.000 members. Today the numbers total 521 congregations and 21.000 members. IMP is supporting eight IMP-missionaries in this country.

Similar church planting tallies are to be found in Armenia. Since 1990, the number of Baptists has grown from 400 in four congregations to approximately 3.000 in 100 congregations and mission stations. The IMP is supporting two missionaries there. The Georgian Baptist Union has also experienced significant growth during this period, expanding from 10 congregations with 2.000 members to 75 congregations and 5.000 members. Two missionaries are being supported in this country. Trusiewicz states that the Baptist unions of Western Europe rarely experience such growth. Membership is stagnant in the large Baptist unions of Great Britain and Germany. The Baptist Union of Norway has applied for support from this missions project, but it has not yet been approved. The EBF supplies the IMP with roughly 125.000 Euro annually.