Editor’s Note: Kelvin Joseph* and his wife are IMB missionaries in Poland. The International Mission Board recently initiated Church Connections to facilitate connections between IMB missionaries and churches who do not have direct contact with a missionary. Church Connections efforts began in 2020 with a pilot involving 10 percent of IMB’s missionaries. April 5, 2021, was the official launch of Church Connections, and 900 missionaries have since been assigned 22,000 churches to contact. It’s estimated that by the middle of 2022, every Southern Baptist church will have received a personal contact from a missionary.
A story told well really breathes, so I seek to be specific while building relationships with our Southern Baptist supporters back home. When churches and prayer partners are immersed in our work through hearing stories, I pray they feel they are truly a part of the ministry my wife and I do in Poland with the International Mission Board.
Relating to churches to communicate life is a big part of my enthusiasm for Church Connections. We need churches in the U.S. to be part of our work. Testimonies of what the Lord is doing inspire believers to join His work.
I believe communicating with churches and mobilization is nearly as important as my role as an evangelist. On a missions-focused Instagram account, I saw a quote that I see as a guiding principle: “Mobilization is to the church what evangelism is for the lost.”
How am I doing my job if I am not sharing the Good News, and how am I doing my job if I am not relating testimonies of God displaying His power with churches back home?
I went into the Church Connections project excited about the potential for the relationships that could be built. Before I contacted anyone, I wanted to learn something about these churches, so I looked up the Facebook pages of churches I was planning to call.
When Randy Walters, pastor of Alder Avenue Baptist Church, in Fremont, Calif., saw that a stranger living in Poland had given their Facebook page a “like,” he sent me a message. We connected and spent an hour on the phone discussing our ministries and the fact that we are both cyclists.
I hope that I was an encouragement to Randy. He told me Alder Avenue has not had a missionary contact them in many years.
We were also blessed by our connection with First Baptist Church in Fairfield, Calif. I reached out by phone to the church in the fall of 2020 and talked with Pastor Jeff Hood.
Jeff reported to the congregation on our work in Poland and asked the church to support us in prayer. An anonymous couple even stopped by the church office to ensure they were part of the church’s support for us. It was a fantastic thing to hear from Pastor Jeff and the church that they supported our calling to serve with the IMB.
Connecting digitally and sharing stories is a big part of our ministry. We are inviting the churches we contacted as part of Church Connections to join us as prayer partners by signing up at pray4poland.com. In June, we launched a new tool to reach those who are spiritually seeking among the 22 million Poles using Facebook, and we hope this website can focus prayer, from both the American church and local Polish churches, on this effort.
While each week I prioritize sharing face to face and on the street, our world is moving online. The online world helps me connect with churches digitally, and I pray it can help our Polish teams reach people who are spiritually searching – even our neighbors we’d never have another chance to meet.
But my prayer for Church Connections is that through our connection and the testimonies they hear, believers and churches will be called to pray Luke 10:2 – for God to send more workers into the Polish harvest fields.
*Name changed for security