Project #1: Bible for the Baloch - 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 the Baloch people of Central Asia in their heart language. 

The Baloch people group is primarily located on the border area of Iran and Pakistan. This area is commonly referred to as Balochistan, and their total population is between 12 and 14 million people. The language spoken there is Rakhshani Balochi, an Iranian language. The Baloch mainly inhabit mountainous terrains, which have allowed them to maintain a distinct cultural identity and resist domination by neighboring rulers. They are predominantly Muslim, with only a handful of believers among them, most of whom live as refugees in neighboring countries because of persecution. They have an incredible love for one another, for their families, and for their tribes. Balochistan, as an area, is almost entirely off limits to foreigners. The best way workers have found to engage the Baloch is outside of Balochistan in major cities in the Middle East. The Baloch need a sustained presence of gospel witness for a stable group of believers to form and a church to be planted so they can begin to multiply among themselves. There are small teams of missionaries engaging the Baloch. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  

We have been praying for and sending members of our faith family to serve among the Baloch for seven years. One of the greatest needs for reaching the Baloch is the Bible translated and appropriately distributed in their own language. Portions of the New Testament and Old Testament have been completed in a multi-phased project. Members of our Central Asia Church Planting Team are directly involved in this project and are so excited that we, their church, will now get to be an even more integral part.  

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 the Baloch have not had any access. Additionally, we’ll help create a Balochi-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 for the Baloch. 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 the Baloch people. 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 to the Baloch people.

Learn more about the Baloch at brookhills.org/baloch.  Follow us on social media for updates.

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: Bible for the Baloch.

We will soon release those funds so this phase of Scripture translation for the Baloch people can continue. Please continue to pray for those who will be directly involved in this project, for our members we have serving among the Baloch, and for the Baloch 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. 

We have been engaged in this area of the world for nearly a decade, though it hasn’t been among the Han people but rather the Hui, a Muslim minority people group of over 15 million. As we’ve shared in previous months, due to the recent government restrictions on foreign workers, our efforts have shifted elsewhere. This means we no longer have an in-country presence among the Hui but have passed the task of Hui work completely to the churches among the majority Han people. Our prayer is for God to use resources like these we are providing to strengthen the church there in East Asia, and that as they grow in their faith and knowledge of Christ and capture a vision of the mission to which He has called them along with us, that He will also give them a heart for the Hui and a burning desire to reach their countrymen with the gospel. The reality is this: the Han church there is uniquely positioned to reach the Hui, and we are praying that this project will help equip pastors and their churches to do just that.

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 for our Bible for the Baloch project, 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. And pray for the Hui, and ask God to raise up from among the Han church brothers and sisters to carry the gospel to their unreached countrymen. 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

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, especially the Hui people.

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 Bible for the Baloch and Building Healthy Churches in East Asia 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.