Project #1: Scripture Translation - FULLY FUNDED
When Pastor Matt first announced the Roots & Reach Initiative back in April, he asked us to consider what we might be able to accomplish if we connected our ministry investment in our campus development project with mission investment in special projects around the world. This is part of what he said:
What if we put together a team comprised of people that are all in for the global mission of God’s kingdom, and they’re conversant with what God is doing and what unique opportunities there are in the world? What if we got that team, and we just said, “dream a little for a while? Put some things on the white board and the costs next to them, things that we have not been able to do, things that we would love to be able to do, that would make a massive difference for the impact of the gospel around the world?” And then, as we invest in the Roots & Reach Initiative, we get to come back to the church and say, “look at this thing we get to do, and then this thing, and then this.”
And that’s what we’ve done. Our Mission Project Team formed and began meeting in May. We read and prayed through the book of Acts with our Unhindered guide in support of this team, asking God to reveal to us what work He would have us to engage in as part of this initiative.
We’re happy to report this team has currently identified six special mission projects that will be provided for through the first two tiers of giving to Roots & Reach where 80% will go toward our campus development project while the other 20% will fund these projects. We’ll be sharing more about each of them in the days ahead, but today, we want to tell about our very first one.
As a church, we want to help fund a Bible translation project to provide the Scriptures to an unreached people group in Central Asia in their heart language.
Through the Roots & Reach Initiative we will help fund the third phase of this project, which means we will provide for the translation of Genesis, Exodus, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation, and Psalms 76-150. That’s 5,705 verses of Scripture to which they have not had any access. Additionally, we’ll help create a Biblical proverbs book and launch a small-scale engagement program our church planting team will also be a part of.
Here at Brook Hills, the first pursuit that is foundational to everything else we do is “We pursue transformation; so we abide biblically.” How exciting it is that we now have the chance to be a part of helping others pursue transformation, too, by providing them with God's Word in which to abide.
The total cost to launch the initial phase of this project is $70,000. To ensure its funding, we need to hit a goal of raising $350,000 through Roots & Reach. That’s a lot, but think about it this way: for every $61.35 given to Roots & Reach, we’ll help fund the translation of one verse of Scripture. And as soon as we hit this goal, we’ll check this project off our list and move on to the next one our Mission Project Team has lined up for us.
So, what can you do? First of all, pray. Pray for this people group. Pray for our Central Asia Church Planting Team and for this Bible translation project. Then, give. Give to the Roots & Reach Initiative and gift the foundation of God’s Word.
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Project #2: Building Healthy Churches in East Asia - FULLY FUNDED
Thank you, faith family. Because of your generosity last week on our Roots & Reach Giving Day and your faithful giving to the Roots & Reach Initiative in the months leading up, we now have a strong foundation for our campus development project, and we have fully funded our first special mission project.
We will soon release those funds so this phase of Scripture translation for this people can continue. Please continue to pray for those who will be directly involved in this project, and for the people themselves, for them to have ears to hear and hearts to respond to the gospel and the Scriptures they’ll now be able to read in their own language.
With the completion of this first special mission project, we now have the exciting opportunity to begin a new one we are calling “Building Healthy Churches in East Asia.”
This project is going to allow us to strengthen the local church in East Asia by legally printing in Mandarin 3,000 copies of the Building Healthy Churches series from 9Marks (12 books each) to freely distribute to local pastors, which will help them equip, disciple, and mobilize their church members for evangelism and mission.
While Christianity is rapidly growing on the mainland in East Asia among the majority Han people, there are few good examples of healthy biblical churches. Often leaders excel in evangelism but don’t have much experience in discipleship, and as a result, their churches are not always the most healthy. Many pastors and leaders recognize there needs to be a fundamental shift in how they approach the church and shepherd their people, especially as the cultural climate continues to become more hostile toward Christianity and restrictive toward the church’s work. Imminent government intervention against churches in East Asia has heightened the urgency to make sure quality resources are available to pastors there as they continue to grow and lead their churches while the legal window for printing these resources is still open.
The Building Healthy Churches series from our friends at 9Marks is designed to do just that, to equip pastors and leaders to develop a healthy community of Christ followers mobilized to care for one another well and reach their neighbors with the gospel. Titles in this twelve-book series include: The Gospel, Evangelism, Conversion, Discipling, Missions, Expositional Preaching, Church Membership, Church Elders, Church Discipline, Biblical Theology, Sound Doctrine, and Prayer. Based upon feedback from pastors in East Asia, this series is a top priority for them to have as it addresses so many principles they and their churches need. And currently, there is a window of time in which these books can be legally printed and freely distributed to these pastors through partners in the field before government regulations become even more restrictive.
Many of our own pastors have also found this particular set of books to be extremely beneficial for shepherding our faith family here at Brook Hills. So, we are thrilled to be able to provide them to these pastors in East Asia. However, what excites us most is the potential fruit we could see from this effort.
The total cost of this project is $90,000. To ensure it’s funding, we’ll need to give an additional $450,000 to the Roots & Reach Initiative, but because of how generous you’ve been already, we are currently a little over 25% toward this goal. If you add this amount to our initial goal of $350,000, we as a faith family will fully fund this second special mission project once we hit a total of $800,000 given to Roots & Reach.
So, what can you do? First of all, pray. Pray for churches in East Asia, especially as they experience increased persecution from the government. Pray for the pastors of these churches to shepherd their people well. Pray for our friends at 9Marks as they prepare to freely distribute these resources through local partners. Then, give. Give to the Roots & Reach Initiative, and together, let’s help build healthy churches in East Asia by equipping their pastors.
Project #3: Deepening Oak Tree's Roots - FULLY FUNDED
Faith family, we are so encouraged by your faithfulness through the past year in so many ways, including in your generosity. As Pastor Matt shared last Sunday, when we combine what was given to the Global Offering with the “Reach” portion of our Roots & Reach Initiative, we all gave over $840,000 to spread the gospel through missions in our city and around the world. And that total doesn’t even include other giving like our Love Oliver initiative and the portions of our general budget set aside for City Ministries and Global Mission.
With our special emphasis on our Global Offering throughout the month of December, you might have missed that as of December 8, we reached our second giving goal in our Roots & Reach Initiative, meaning at that point we fully funded our second special mission project: Building Healthy Churches in East Asia.
In fact, we’ve already released the funds for that project so that the printing of those 36,000 books in Mandarin from our friends at 9 Marks can begin and get freely distributed to pastors throughout East Asia. Please continue to pray for those pastors and for the spread of the gospel and the growth of God’s church throughout that region, and ask God to use those resources to call the church to reach out to their neighbors in East Asia.
With the completion of this second special mission project, we now have the exciting opportunity to begin a new one we are calling “Deeping Oak Tree’s Roots.” In fact, we’ve actually been giving toward this project since we met that second goal.
Deepening Oak Tree’s Roots is going to allow us to fund the completion of the purchase of the current Oak Tree Ministries Building to help them establish a more secure and long-term presence in the community of Marks Village.
The federal poverty line for a family of four in the United States is $24,257. This means the national average is that 14% of the population lives in poverty. However, within the Birmingham city limits, the poverty rate is 28.1%, and 44% of elementary-age children live in poverty. Within the public housing community of Marks Village in Gate City, those rates are even higher. There are 500 public housing units in Marks Village, with an average income of about $6,500 per year. Almost 90% of the adults living in Marks Village have never married, and during one three-month period this past year, there were 28 documented shootings. For 10 years, Brook Hills has been focusing ministry resources in Marks Village. Our strategy has been to equip our people to engage the most vulnerable and in need, and those most isolated from the gospel, so we can relationally make disciples, release people from all types of poverty, and empower those in need to enjoy God’s good design for their lives.
Throughout this time, one of our strategic partners has been Oak Tree Ministries. They are reaching out to the children, teenagers, and families of Marks Village with the gospel, through racial reconciliation, education programs, weekly Bible clubs and studies, trauma informed care, and resources for crisis relief. They have been renting their current facilities, but have been offered the opportunity to purchase their building and the land located within the fence surrounding the building. Through funds raised for the building and from additional grants, Oak Tree Ministries is close to raising the total purchase price needed. Through our Roots & Reach Initiative, we have the opportunity to complete the funding of this project so Oak Tree can deepen their roots in Marks Village by permanently establishing themselves within the community, and use their resources previously set aside for rent to provide for staffing and programming purposes.
The total cost of this project is $50,000. To ensure it’s funding, we’ll need to give an additional $250,000 to the Roots & Reach Initiative. If you add this amount to our initial two goals of $800,000 for our first two projects, we as a faith family will fully fund this third special mission project once we hit a total of $1,050,000 given to Roots & Reach. However, because of your faithful generosity, we are already over 45% of the way toward this third goal.
So, what can you do? First of all, pray. Pray for the families in Marks Village. Pray for the staff and volunteers who serve with Oak Tree Ministries as they demonstrate the love of Christ and share His gospel in so many ways. Pray for us and our involvement and representation of Christ here in our city, for us to make the most of the opportunities we have, and to consider how we might serve some of those most in need in our city. You may even want to prayerfully consider serving with Oak Tree.
Then, give. Give to the Roots & Reach Initiative, and together, let’s help Oak Tree Ministries deepen their roots in Mark Village in order to better serve all those who live there.
Project #4: Clean and Living Water - FULLY FUNDED
Faith family, we are so encouraged by all the ways we’ve seen you reaching out to and caring for one another and your neighbors during this time. We’ve seen so many small groups connecting with one another online even though they can’t meet in person. We’ve had many asking for various ways they can help and making sure their friends and neighbors have everything they need. We’ve also seen many of our friends and partners in the city providing essential leadership and support. Specifically, our partners at Oak Tree Ministries have taken on the mission of providing daily lunches for the children in Marks Village along with giving additional food support to some of the families who live there as well.
We wanted to highlight for you what Oak Tree has been doing because, on the last Sunday we all gathered together, we actually fully funded our Deepening Oak Tree’s Roots special missions project as part of our Roots & Reach Initiative. Seeing Oak Tree in action during this time helps us to understand even more how vital it is for them to have a permanent home there in Marks Village, and we are all thankful to have been a part of making that happen.
Even though we’ve needed to adjust our regular rhythms and gatherings, we can still move forward in ministry together. Now, with the completion of this third special mission project, we have the exciting opportunity to begin a new one we are calling “Clean and Living Water.”
Through Clean and Living Water we will help complete three Neverthirst water projects in Miltou, Chad in Africa and provide training for local pastors serving in a least-reached context.
Neverthirst is a local organization and strategic partner of ours with whom we provide access to clean and living water to least-reached people worldwide. This year we have the opportunity to work with Neverthirst to invest in long-term water programs in partnership with local churches and church planters who have a vision to engage an entire people group with the gospel and provide clean water to whole communities in desperate need.
Chad is the largest of Africa’s sixteen landlocked countries with a population of almost 16 million people. The primary religion in Chad is Islam with over 52% of the population considering themselves Muslim. Despite the start of oil production in 2003, 46% of Chad’s population lives below the national poverty line. Corruption and violence define the government in Chad and make the country one of the lowest in all the world on the Human Development Index. Inadequate supplies of safe drinking water make Chad a very difficult place to live and survive, especially for women and children. According to Neverthirst’s Chief Strategy Officer, this is the most desperate water situation he has ever seen. In 2018, Neverthirst began piloting hand pump projects as a response to meet urgent need for water. This year, Neverthirst will partner with a group of local pastors and church planters to bring clean and living water to the people of Miltou and surrounding villages.
A network of Pastors in this area have a burden for those who do not have access to the gospel and who have never heard of Christ. New water wells and the rehabilitation of existing water wells will be installed through this network of local churches. Every pastor involved in the water program will also have the opportunity to be developed and strengthened by joining a series of three week-long intensives in evangelism and discipleship, as well as best practices for communities utilizing these wells.
The total cost of this project is $21,000. To ensure it’s funding, we’ll need to give an additional $105,000 to the Roots & Reach Initiative. If you add this amount to our initial three goals of $1,050,000, we as a faith family will fully fund this fourth special mission project once we hit a total of $1,155,000 given to Roots & Reach.
Project #5: Invest In Hope
Faith family, we all know how unique and challenging the past few months have been for everyone, not only in our church, but in the entire world. We have been so encouraged by the faithfulness you’ve exhibited in continuing to gather together online, in small groups connecting and encouraging one another, in so many serving our city in a variety of ways, in your constant prayer for our neighbors and our world, and in your generous giving.
Because of your faithful giving specifically, as of last Sunday, we have now fully funded our fourth special missions project, “Clean and Living Water,” as part of our Roots & Reach Initiative. This means our friends and partners at Neverthirst will now be able to complete three water projects in Miltou, Chad in Africa and provide training for local pastors serving in a least-reached context.
With the completion of this project, we now have a new opportunity to expand our gospel reach by giving to “Invest in Hope” with a partner ministry right here in our city called Blanket Fort Hope.
Human trafficking, the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex, is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the U.S. In Alabama, there are approximately 10,000 victims of sex trafficking each year. Of the 10,000, 57% are children, and the average age of child sex trafficking victims is 11-14-years-old. In the city of Birmingham, over $110 million is spent annually on commercial sex. Once a child is trafficked, they have an average of a 7-year life span beyond when the trafficking occurred.
Blanket Fort Hope is a fortress of safety for child victims of human trafficking, forging a path of purpose and hope for children. They were founded in 2015 and are the only anti-trafficking organization in Alabama dedicated to fighting child human trafficking beyond the initial few days following rescue. They exist to love and care for child victims through housing, services, long-term commitment, and prevention by community education and advocacy. Blanket Fort Hope gives a voice to the most vulnerable members in Alabama—children—through education, advocacy, and the building of a safe haven for Alabama’s child victims of sex trafficking. They do this through assisting law enforcement on child sex trafficking cases, speaking to the Alabama State Legislature on House Bills, conducting education training for churches, governmental officials, schools, and legal and healthcare professionals, and by starting the Foster Care Initiative, which is a training program for foster parents who welcome child sex trafficking victims into their homes.
Through their “Invest in Hope” campaign, Blanket Fort Hope will be opening a crisis center for child trafficking victims in Alabama that will serve Alabama and surrounding states in 2020. The crisis center will allow Blanket Fort Hope to stabilize children who have been rescued from the sex trafficking industry so they will be prepared for the next step in their restoration. Blanket Fort Hope believes this will lessen the number of runaways and give these children a much better opportunity to heal if they go in stabilized, not just off the streets. This crisis center will also be the only place in Alabama that specifically houses and addresses the needs of child
Brook Hills has the opportunity through our Roots & Reach initiative to invest in hope by helping fund about half of Blanket Fort Hope’s capital campaign which will fortify land development, housing and facility construction, crisis center services and programs, and, most importantly, the opportunity for these child victims to be introduced to the love and redemption of Jesus Christ.
The total cost of this project is $30,000, which means an additional $150,000 given to the Roots & Reach Initiative will ensure its funding. If you add this amount to our initial four goals of $1,155,000, we as a faith family will fully fund this fifth special mission project once we hit a total of $1,305,000 given to Roots & Reach.