Image Credit: AOG World Relief

Restoring Unity
United in One Love

Afghanistan Appeal

ACCI Missions has launched a non-tax appeal in response to the Afghanistan crisis. Please continue to pray for the many Afghan believers, refugees, foreign workers, Christian workers and the future of Afghanistan.

To find out more information, please click the button below.

1Day Campaign

It’s a simple idea that continues to change the lives of people all around the world. Give one day’s salary to help ACCI reach families and communities in need.

Who We Are

ACCI Missions is the missionary sending and support agency for the Australian Christian Churches movement

Our Vision

Our Vision is for a world where all people have an opportunity to hear the gospel and the freedom to choose, believe and express their faith. We believe in a world where Christian principles of justice and equality are actualised. Where individuals, families and communities are empowered to influence decisions affecting their own lives, advocate for their own rights as human beings with equal voice and equal value under the premise that all life has intrinsic value before God who created life. Where every child’s right to a family is upheld and defended. 

Our Mission

Our Mission is to see whole life transformation in individuals, families and communities by empowering our people to love well and develop holistic and sustainable solutions to combat injustice, reverse the effects of human poverty and to engage communities as active participants in their own development. 

We Believe

We Believe that all people, regardless of race, gender or social status have intrinsic value and inherent dignity. The church has a crucial role to play in defending the rights of the marginalised. The root cause of poverty is injustice and social exclusion. Those living in poverty are rights holders not objects of charity. The process of development should be empowering and should amplify the voice of the marginalised. We abide by the ACC Statement of Faith 

Director’s Report – PS Alun Davies

This will be my last report as Director of ACCI Missions.

Reflecting on my time leading ACCI Missions, there are many things we have achieved.

Over the past 12 years, the team and I have worked to restructure missions, developing a fresh vision for the organisation, strengthening its foundations and creating cohesion between our international group of missionaries and our home team. We’ve also reformed missions – looking at everything from our missionary manual through to how we train and prepare people to go to the field.

Read more

A message from incoming ACCI Director, Ps John Hunt

I’m excited about leading ACCI because I believe God has graced our movement to influence the world. Our culture, leadership, structures and approach, combined with our peculiar mix of both pragmatism and idealism, is unique. And we uncompromisingly get the job done.

Read more

General Manager’s Report – Chad Irons

While the effects of the COVID restrictions has had an impact on donation revenue this year, the generosity of our church and individual donors to our Australian National Bushfire Appeal was overwhelming.  Over $400,000 was received through the height of the fires in January through March 2020, with another $600,000 received though our sister organisation, ACCI Relief.

Read more

Image Credit: Mandate Ministries
01 | Global Reach

Making a difference in lives across the globe

Number of missionaries

110

Churches Planted

255

Leaders Trained

3,927

Number of Salvations

3,678

Countries Impacted
  • Mozambique

  • South Africa

  • Lesotho

  • Kenya

  • Georgia

  • Ukraine

  • Romania

  • Middle East

  • Indonesia

  • China

  • Philippines

  • Japan

  • Argentina

  • Pakistan

  • Sri Lanka

  • Nepal

  • Cambodia

  • Vietnam

  • Thailand

  • Uganda

  • Pakistan

  • India

  • Iraq

  • Russia

  • Papua New Guinea

  • Cameroon

  • Turkey

  • Laos

  • Guinea

Returning to the field after COVID-19

2020 wasn’t the year that any of our field workers expected. As well as having their plans for the year thrown into chaos by COVID-19, many also found themselves ‘stuck’ in Australia for much of the year. Here, they share some of their thoughts, highlights and learnings from an unexpected season.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Tim and Bronwyn Perry

“We came back to Australia on a long overdue home assignment. We were due to move back to Thailand on the 30th of March 2020 but flights shut down a week before that. We were therefore unable to leave Australia until we finally got a flight on the 30th of November 2020.

Read more

THAILAND

Mariaana Klar (who serves with her husband Erik)

“I was separated from my husband and our Thai team for over seven months — in fact, it was a lot longer [than it would have been otherwise] because I had already been in Australia caring for my Mum over the Christmas season. Mum recovered enough to be moved to a nursing home and I flew back to Thailand but within a week, had to return to Australia. COVID-19 had been declared a global pandemic. Flights would be cancelled by the end of that week. I could not risk a long separation from Mum, as I was the only one amongst my siblings able to get to her. I arrived in Brisbane on the 25th of March and went straight into 14-day self-quarantine. Mum died on the 28th… Needless to say, it was a tough time of isolation and separation. From there on, I wasn’t able to go back to Thailand for many months.

Read more

GEORGIA

Althea Greive (who serves with her husband Blair)

“I went to Australia early March; the plan was for one month to celebrate my mum’s 90th birthday – I am an only child. Halfway through the month, the crisis came to a head and I contacted Blair in Georgia to see what we should do. Should I return before the month or stay as planned to honour my Mum? I chose to stay. When my return date of early April came, I was not able to return.

Read more

How ACCI supports new missionaries

Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER CHAD IRONS

In a nutshell, what does the ‘sending’ process look like? “We like to think of the sending process as a coaching process. Every field worker applicant already comes with a range of skills, training, experiences and qualifications, and our goal is to help them move from where they are now, to using all that previous learning, skills and experience on the mission field…

Read more

Intercultural Missions Course

EXPANDING ACCI’S INTERCULTURAL MINISTRY COMPETENCE (IMC) COURSE

“Why didn’t somebody tell me about this before I came here?” Preparing for life and ministry in another cultural context is no trivial matter! Particularly if it’s someone’s first time engaging in long-term overseas missions. We’ve heard this agonised question too many times! In response, ACCI has created a new online intercultural missions training course, which covers the perspectives and skills most relevant to engaging in effective cross-cultural life and ministry.

Read more

Building excitement for the Church in Japan

Eugene and Fiona Gebert, JAPAN

In 2017, Eugene and Fiona Gebert planted WakuWaku Life Church in Fukuoka, Japan.

WakuWaku means ‘exciting’ and the couple’s goal is to create a church environment that’s fun and welcoming for the whole family. But most importantly, they’re focused on helping people experience the life-changing power of God’s love and commit their lives to following Him. Beyond that, the Geberts want to help raise up the next generation of leaders who will plant and grow other life-giving churches throughout Japan.

Read more

God hasn’t forgotten the Middle East

J and A, MIDDLE EAST

J and A live amongst the Kurds – the world’s largest stateless people group, who are spread across Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. The Kurdish people have known decades of instability, oppression by their hosts, conflict, genocide and displacement. Without a nation of their own, these generous and hospitable mountain people have been neglected and unengaged by missions for centuries. J and A, along with their three children, are believing that God will bring healing to these people and lay the foundations of a pioneering Kurdish church.

Read more

Taking the Gospel to all mankind

CENTRAL ASIA

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he asked his disciples to make disciples of all nations, including those which would reject him or be resistant to God’s message. In Central Asia, one ACCI missionary couple is risking it all to ensure that people have an opportunity to hear the word of God and can apply it to their lives.

While we’re not able to share their names, or the country they work in, for security reasons, we know you’ll be inspired by their story.

Read more

Helping vulnerable women find true freedom in Christ

Matthew and Rebekah Rodda, GEORGIA

Every year, ACCI supporters and churches generously give up a day’s income to help people and communities in need. In 2020, these incredible donations for Missions amounted to $47,122, enabling 1Day to support vital work in nine countries around the world. One of these projects is the Teen Challenge Centre for Women in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, which Rebekah and Matthew Rodda helped start.

Rebekah and Matthew have served with Teen Challenge Georgia since 2017 in the Adjara region. Matt oversees a local church plant, while Rebekah runs a street outreach program to women exploited by the sex trade. While the Teen Challenge Men’s program has been running for many years, there has been nothing similar for women.

Read more

Rethinking short-term missions

By Chad Irons, General Manager

Short-term missions (STM) is about participating in God’s plan for the world and is grounded in the desire to share God’s love and to support and benefit communities overseas. Trips are designed to either have a learning focus – imparting knowledge about local and global issues and challenging visiting teams’ assumptions. Or they’re exposure trips; focused on giving people an inside perspective on other countries, cultures and contexts.

In the case of learning trips, teams will often come home and take some type of post-trip action – whether that’s immediately upon their return or over a longer period of time. Exposure trips are often taken up by people who are sensing a longer-term call to missions or overseas development, and can be an opportunity to explore that calling and to get a more realistic sense of what it might be like to live in that country.

COVID travel restrictions have, of course, put the brakes on all of this and there is still a significant amount of uncertainty about what the ‘new normal’ of short-term overseas travel will look like as borders reopen. Yet even though our bags are gathering dust, we can still engage in learning. It might be an opportune time for you, as a church or individual, to assess your approach to short-term missions and think about what your participation really means.

Several years ago, ACCI developed a website – ethicalmissionstrips.org – to open up the conversation about how to engage more ethically and more effectively in short-term missions. Rather than a list of do’s and don’ts, the website provides a structured way of thinking through what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘right’ (the basis of ethics) in short-term missions and how to apply it to different contexts.

Good intentions are a great starting point for short-term missions but we must be careful not to stop there. Without thinking these things through, our short-term missions and volunteering efforts might not contribute to the lasting change we deeply desire. In fact, they may actually hurt the communities and people we aim to assist.

We invite you to work through our ethicalmissionstrips.org website, to think through the four key considerations that make up the ethical framework and to consider how you apply them to your short-term missions program or trip. By doing so, you will be better positioned to relaunch your short-term mission – when the time comes – and have a positive impact on the people and places you plan to visit.

Virtual PanAsia 2020

In the first week of August, field workers, mission partners and pastors from around the world came together for PanAsia 2020. Like many events last year, it was a virtual gathering – with people tuning in from their loungerooms, home offices and kitchens to hear from the ACCI team, guest speakers and our amazing field workers.

Making use of Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, the five days saw a mix of pre-recorded devotions, sermons and field worker updates, along with live prayer sessions and informal coffee chats conducted over Zoom. Even in this format, there was a real sense of community and family togetherness – something many found encouraging during such tumultuous times.

Field workers and church partners alike were thrilled to have a new way to connect with the work being done around the world and with each other. Engagement across the three platforms was high throughout the five days, with a huge 29,330+ views recorded on Facebook alone.

Here are a few comments we received online from field workers and Australian supporters who ‘attended’ PanAsia in 2020 – some for the very first time!

It was great hearing what is going on and how ministries are coping and moving forward. I love the passion and heart of ACCI. Thank you for your faithfulness. – Sonia

Loved going to PanAsia this year online. – Phil

Wonderful testimony of lives impacted. – Deborah

Board Members

As of December 2020
Alun Davies

Missions Director, ACC
International

Ben Teefy

Lead Pastor, Desert Life Church

Katrina Yassi

Campus Pastor, Faith Christian Church.
Appointed February, 2020

Catherine Thambiratnam

Head of Social Justice,
Hillsong Australia

Danny Major

Global Director, Enjoy Church

John Hunt

State President, ACC QLD & NT.
Appointed April, 2020

Commitment to best practice

AUSTRALIAN CHARITIES AND NOT- FOR-PROFITS COMMISSION

ACCI Missions is an ACNC registered charity.

This means ACCI Missions is listed on the ACNC’s Charity Register and is regulated by the ACNC. The Register has information about charities’ operations, including who runs it, how charities spend their money, if they are up to date with their reporting and if any compliance action has been taken against them.

More info at acnc.gov.au

Missions Interlink

ACCI Missions is a Missions Interlink member.

Missions Interlink Associates that are incorporated within Australia accept and adhere to the Missions Interlink Accreditation Standards.

More info at missionsinterlink.org.au

External conduct standard

The ACNC External Conduct Standards will impact on how Australian churches manage their overseas missions program. ACCI Missions & Relief has had to comply with external standards of good practice in overseas missions for many years and we have in place existing policies and procedures that will ensure our compliance with these standards. Based on our experience and our understanding of ACC Churches and their missions programs, we have tried to provide a pathway through this challenging new area of compliance.

For more information read our External Conduct Standards FAQ.

Feedback

ACCI Missions recognises that listening to and responding to feedback, concerns and complaints is integral to our commitment to achieving the high standards and ensures accountability to all stakeholders.

Anyone wishing to provide feedback or lodge a complaint regarding the conduct of ACCI Missions, please contact the General Manager at complaints@acci.org.au or the Director at info@accim.org.au

Finance Report

Where funds were spent in 2020

The total revenue for ACCI Missions for 2020 was $3.7 million. The graph below provides a high-level overview of how funds were spent.

Financial Statements

A copy of the full audited General Purpose Financial Statements for ACC International Missions Inc is available for download here.

ACCI One Life partners support the growth of global missions by giving towards ACCI’s administrative costs. The generosity of these partners allows us to staff our operations centre with skilled and passionate people who can provide vital support and advice to our missionaries and field workers around the world.

OneLife partnerships have also helped fund the development of our Intercultural Missions Course, which will train the next generation of missionaries. Lastly, OneLife support enables us to help churches throughout Australia see the difference their giving is making in the field.

Thank you!

Director’s Report – Ps Alun Davies

This will be my last report as Director of ACCI Missions.

Reflecting on my time leading ACCI Missions, there are many things we have achieved.

Over the past 12 years, the team and I have worked to restructure missions, developing a fresh vision for the organisation, strengthening its foundations and creating cohesion between our international group of missionaries and our home team. We’ve also reformed missions – looking at everything from our missionary manual through to how we train and prepare people to go to the field.

We’ve restaffed missions, bringing in the right people to carry the vision of our fellowship and help take missions forward. We now have an efficient and effective missions ministry, based on best practice, and are achieving amazing results with a small team. We have also rebuilt trust in missions – proving to churches, and to future missionaries, that we’re the right organisation to partner with to build God’s Kingdom. We provide an expert understanding of missions and we have a team of missionaries, partners and support staff that enable us to serve our churches and support them with excellence.

There have been some exciting initiatives I’ve been proud to help get off the ground. Our annual PanAsia conference – which I started 14 years ago as ACCI Regional Director – has grown from 10 people at a boardroom table to an average of 320 attendees every year. We’re now filling one of the largest conference venues in Phuket, while also running a kids’ program and sessions for youth. Importantly, we’re creating space for our missionary teams to connect and for church leaders to be inspired by the incredible work that’s happening around the world.

Our annual 1Day campaign – which encourages individuals and churches to give one day’s salary to help those in need – is another initiative that continues to go from strength to strength. In the past 11 years, 1Day has raised over $2.7 million for vital missions and relief work around the world. It’s enabled us to train leaders, plant churches, develop ministries and assist national churches.

It’s been a blessed and fruitful time leading this ministry, and I am very grateful for everyone whom I had the privilege of working with: our wonderful Melbourne team, Ps Wayne Alcorn – our National President – the National and State Executives, the board of ACCI Missions, our many generous supporting churches and stakeholders, and especially – our amazing missionaries, who remain my heroes. The support of these wonderful people and churches have made all of this possible.

Ps John Hunt has been appointed as the next Director of ACCI. John has served our Board of Directors. He has served on both the ACC National Executive and the Queensland State Executive over many years and is currently the Queensland State President. I know our mission and the vision of our fellowship will thrive under his leadership.

Ps Alun Davies

A message from incoming ACCI Director, Ps John Hunt

I’m excited about leading ACCI because I believe God has graced our movement to influence the world. Our culture, leadership, structures and approach, combined with our peculiar mix of both pragmatism and idealism, is unique. And we uncompromisingly get the job done.

I’m incredibly thankful for those who have gone before and have laid such a solid foundation. That includes all our current team and our field workers, who have displayed remarkable resilience and employed substantial gifts and talents. I am incredibly excited as we watch God position our movement for this next generational wave of the ACC to hit the planet.

Man is utterly hopeless before God without Jesus Christ, which is why he commissioned his disciples to ‘go’ to every corner of the planet. I’m comforted by the last part of the Great Commission where he arms us with the knowledge that, as we go, he is with us. We can literally conclude that we are the hands and feet of the one who is worthy.

I was thankful that I grew up in a culture with many opportunities to hear the Good News. We must never stop until everybody on the planet has that same opportunity. A higher calling, I know not of. We must go for Jesus.

General Manager’s Report – Chad Irons

While the effects of the COVID restrictions has had an impact on donation revenue this year, the generosity of our church and individual donors to our Australian National Bushfire Appeal was overwhelming.  Over $400,000 was received through the height of the fires in January through March 2020, with another $600,000 received though our sister organisation, ACCI Relief.

More than 90% of this bushfire funding was disbursed prior to our 31st December 2020 year end. We were particularly excited about a partnership that allowed ACCI Relief Staff, ACC Churches and Chaplains to work alongside Services Australia case workers in order to provide case by case family support to those most in need.

Overall,  ACCI Missions has continued to prioritise maintaining financial support and stability for our missionaries. More than half of our missionaries spent an extended period of time back in Australia during the height of the 2020 global lockdowns. We have been encouraged to facilitate a number of those workers to return to the field in the first quarter of 2021, with many more preparing to return over the remainder of the 2021 year.

These restrictions have also highlighted the effective national teams, workers and partnerships which surround these missionaries.  In the midst of this unfolding crisis, these national workers have demonstrated courage and commitment to serving and loving their neighbours.

Thank you for your continuing support as we work towards seeing God’s plan for whole life transformation in individuals, families and communities come to pass.

Chad Irons,
General Manager

Tim and Bronwyn Perry, SOUTHEAST ASIA

“We came back to Australia on a long overdue home assignment. We were due to move back to Thailand on the 30th of March 2020 but flights shut down a week before that. We were therefore unable to leave Australia until we finally got a flight on the 30th of November 2020.

Since coming to the field in 2007, we’ve been working with Erik and Mariana Klar and the River team. At the end of 2019 we felt it was time for us to move on. We believe that God has called us to a new season. The overall purpose of this new season is to ‘administer revival in southeast Asia’. God has given us five headings through which we should do this, and the details of how to do our work are now beginning to be revealed to us. These five areas are:

  • Presence:Taking His presence and ministering His presence wherever we go, as well as training people to live in and from His presence.
  • Pioneering: Pioneering not only in new works but, more importantly, in new ways of doing things.
  • Next generation: Identifying potential young leaders, training them and releasing them into what God has called them to do. Mentoring, encouraging and parenting the young.
  • Justice: Connecting into all levels of society to identify and bring attention and action to areas of injustice.
  • Unity: Connecting with national church leaders, organisational leaders and NGOs to assist in bringing a unified holistic approach to bringing the Gospel clearly and effectively to southeast Asia.

The COVID season was unexpected for everyone. For us, the extra time in Australia became a blessing as we got to spend more time with three of our four adult children and their families (though it was frustrating to be in Australia and not able to see them throughout the many months that Melbourne was in lockdown).

One of the takeaways for us was learning that God has a purpose in all seasons. Naturally, we wondered why we were stuck in Australia when our calling was to be in southeast Asia. God began to show us that we were not in a holding pattern, nor stuck out of the will of God, but that this was a season in and of itself. God had a purpose for the season, a purpose for us in the season and so much that he wanted to achieve both in and through us during that time. Nothing is ever wasted in God.”

Mariaana Klar (who serves with her husband Erik), THAILAND

“I was separated from my husband and our Thai team for over seven months — in fact, it was a lot longer [than it would have been otherwise] because I had already been in Australia caring for my Mum over the Christmas season. Mum recovered enough to be moved to a nursing home and I flew back to Thailand but within a week, had to return to Australia. COVID-19 had been declared a global pandemic. Flights would be cancelled by the end of that week. I could not risk a long separation from Mum, as I was the only one amongst my siblings able to get to her. I arrived in Brisbane on the 25th of March and went straight into 14-day self-quarantine. Mum died on the 28th… Needless to say, it was a tough time of isolation and separation. From there on, I wasn’t able to go back to Thailand for many months.

My husband and The River.Asia team continued the work and were instrumental in reaching communities with practical and spiritual help. We have a registered foundation, recognised by the Thai government, and were therefore allowed into places normally not accessible and definitely closed from outsiders during the COVID-19 restrictions. We also went online with our kids, youth and church services, while also continuing face-to-face contact (adhering to government restrictions)

The most significant change for me on return to Thailand was the many new people who have found salvation and are now part of our family! This truly goes against the many restrictions, which drastically reduce people’s freedom of movement, which hides their faces behind protective masks, which subdues their conversation in public places, and which drives virtually every person into acute preoccupation with their mobile phone screens. Business closures, unemployment, homelessness, begging and crime have continued to increase. Thousands of mostly young people have joined the bold protests against the long-established governing institutions. Fear of the future is evident everywhere. In the midst of all this, we look to God for leading in reaching people with the message of Jesus!

My takeaway from this time was to always be ready for change and be willing to learn new ways and methods! God is never short of creating new roads and new streams for us to reach people! His call to us is for every season and becomes even stronger in times of crisis!”

Althea Greive (who serves with her husband Blair), GEORGIA

“I went to Australia early March; the plan was for one month to celebrate my mum’s 90th birthday – I am an only child. Halfway through the month, the crisis came to a head and I contacted Blair in Georgia to see what we should do. Should I return before the month or stay as planned to honour my Mum? I chose to stay. When my return date of early April came, I was not able to return.

Consequently, I missed the birth of our first grandson and our 30th wedding anniversary. But I knew that it was important to keep my promise to my Mum. I returned to Georgia at the end of November; it was the first time that I have ever been away from my family for this amount of time.

Work continued in CIC Mission while I was gone but of course, due to the pandemic, things were delayed in preparing for the dairy cows to arrive, and building teams and specialist people to help with the dairy set up was postponed (although everything did eventually happen). What I noticed when I first came back was how grey and drab everything is – I had spent nine months in Queensland, in sunshine, with lots of colour! Now we are in winter, most people are wearing masks (fines apply if not worn), restaurants are closed, big shopping centres are closed and curfews are in place. I actually feel like I am in reverse culture shock!

The lessons I learnt during this period is that God is extravagant in everything that He does. I experienced so much love and support – both financial and friendship – and blessings in provision, like a car to drive and being able to live with my parents-in-law (who are amazing, beautiful people) during my time in Australia. I also felt many times that God’s peace was overshadowing me. Even though it was a difficult time, He allowed me to feel His presence and security. The other thing that I so deeply believe, and have shared, is that nothing happens by chance. I feel that God was using this time of separation from my family to prepare us for something else that He is wanting to achieve in us for our future.”

We have a number of other field workers actively planning their return to the field throughout 2021. Please pray for open doors.

How ACCI supports new missionaries

Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER CHAD IRONS

In a nutshell, what does the ‘sending’ process look like?

“We like to think of the sending process as a coaching process. Every field worker applicant already comes with a range of skills, training, experiences and qualifications, and our goal is to help them move from where they are now, to using all that previous learning, skills and experience on the mission field. We want to identify the gaps in their learning, skills and experience, and target those areas in their preparation. For example, an experienced pastor going to church plant overseas probably does not require any additional ministry training but will need to increase their understanding of cross-cultural communication. On the other hand, a qualified social worker going to work as part of an overseas children’s ministry or project, will need to learn family, cultural and community dynamics, the different legal child protection frameworks in that country, and they may also need to do some supplementary ministry training. The social worker might also have no experience fundraising or engaging supporters for their ministry vision, whereas the experienced pastor will probably be able to draw upon their experience of engaging their church.”

What are the most common challenges people encounter when preparing for life in the field?

“The most common areas we need to help people work through are their own assumptions, which are based on the culture they are coming from, as we don’t want to see them carrying that cultural bias to the field. It is also a big change adjusting from short-term missions to long-term missions. We work to proactively identify and address these skill, knowledge and experience gaps with learning opportunities, training, or even short-term field experiences. The topics that we have put into our Intercultural Missions Course are the most common collection of missing knowledge items – or the knowledge items that require life-long learning, like growing in cultural intelligence – so we believe that will play a big role in preparing and equipping people.”

What are the benefits of missionaries having ACCI backing, rather than trying to go it alone?

“Networking with other cross-cultural workers, a peer support network, as well as opportunities to connect and engage with Australian churches. We also offer ongoing coaching because as people stay in the field, exploring new opportunities, they will continue to unearth more of these ‘gaps’ in their knowledge and understanding, as well as just through the normal change of seasons. The ACCI team has a mix of skills in finance, support-raising, systems, organisation and management, cross-cultural communications, community development, and so on. The team can give wise advice in times of change and at any point during a missionary’s journey. Lastly, ACCI has the systems to manage the finance side of things, so our missionaries can focus on the ministry and activities that they are called to.”

Intercultural Missions Course

Expanding ACCI’s Intercultural Ministry Competence (IMC) Course

“Why didn’t somebody tell me about this before I came here?”

Preparing for life and ministry in another cultural context is no trivial matter! Particularly if it’s someone’s first time engaging in long-term overseas missions. We’ve heard this agonised question too many times! In response, ACCI has created a new online intercultural missions training course, which covers the perspectives and skills most relevant to engaging in effective cross-cultural life and ministry.

Here, John Symons and Ian Grant, the course’s creators, describe how completing this training can help anyone with a passion for God’s mission in the world! In particular, IMC will empower new field workers to maximise their impact once they arrive in their ministry context.

“How will this course help me prepare for long-term field work?”

“The content in these modules emerged from a comprehensive survey of our experienced field workers. We urged them to tell us what perspectives, principles and skills they considered were necessary for new cross-cultural witnesses. We believe that the 11 modules we’ve crafted, filmed and field-tested, will help people think through at least three critical areas: the attitudes with which they’ll approach their field ministry, what they’re going to do, and how they’ll go about it.

Engaging with the IMC perspectives will save both potential misunderstandings and time, once you’re amongst the people to whom you’re called. It’ll hopefully also prevent you from reinventing the wheel, setting off in a wrong direction, and ending up with broken relationships. Completing the course will challenge your attitudes, provide motivation, and instil confidence that you can start well, and genuinely learn your way into a great future!”

“So, how does this course differ from other training I might have already undergone, like university or Bible college degrees?”

“Our course is designed to challenge mindsets, provoke thinking and impart vital skills, rather than to provide a ‘complete knowledge base’ for people. It’s designed to initiate people into the whole cross-cultural dimension, by raising awareness of issues that are generally invisible when working in a largely mono-cultural context. We desire to make you go and discover more, or to provoke further enquiry in a specific area that you think you’ll need in your ministry context.

IMC is very strongly focused on the range of work in which ACCI mission, relief and development workers in particular, are likely to be engaged. It’s quite pragmatic, and oriented to the process through which onboarding team members will progress, in order to become ACCI field workers. Being able to craft the course this way was one of the motivations for creating it. We do strongly encourage people to also choose any other qualification, education or training that will accurately qualify them for their anticipated ministry context.”

“How important is it that people engage with these insights and skills before they embark on long-term field work?”

“No one course, can provide all the answers, or help people avoid all the pitfalls, however, we believe IMC will push people in the right direction. Its most important result is that it will help focus your mind on asking the right questions! This will get you thinking in the right direction and pursuing the right information, which should launch you in the right direction. It will also hopefully improve your ability to deal with pitfalls, should you stumble upon them!”

“How can people get the most out of it?

“We’d say that as you engage with, and work through this course, you’ll need to be thinking about how the materials you’re reading and hearing impacts the context in which you intend to minister. For example, how does it impact the ministry in which I anticipate I’ll be involved? You’ll need to engage with the course on that level and discuss the issues that arise from that thinking with their field supervisor.”

“I’m in! Can I sign up for free?”

“Yes, you can sign up immediately! And you get our first module, and one other module for free! The course is online right now, at acci.talentlms.com/catalog and can be started at any time, with new modules being released every month.”

Module 1 – Welcome! God’s Mission – Your Place! Available now!
Module 2 – A Biblical Theology of Mission. Available now!
Module 3 – Culture, Worldview and Belief Systems. Available now!
Module 4 – Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies. Available now!
Module 5 – Biblical Responses to Injustice. Available now!
Module 6 – Planting and Developing Churches in Context. Available now!
Module 7 – Self and Family Care. Available July 1, 2020
Module 8 – Working with Others on the Field. Available July 1, 2020
Module 9 – Managing Effective Ministries and Organisations. Available August 1, 2020
Module 10 – Supporter and Funding Engagement. Available September 1, 2020
Module 11 – Child Safe. Available January, 2021

Building excitement for the Church in Japan

Eugene and Fiona Gebert, JAPAN

In 2017, Eugene and Fiona Gebert planted WakuWaku Life Church in Fukuoka, Japan.

WakuWaku means ‘exciting’ and the couple’s goal is to create a church environment that’s fun and welcoming for the whole family. But most importantly, they’re focused on helping people experience the life-changing power of God’s love and commit their lives to following Him. Beyond that, the Geberts want to help raise up the next generation of leaders who will plant and grow other life-giving churches throughout Japan.

Challenges of church planting in Japan

So, what are some of the challenges of church planting in a nation like Japan where only 1% of the population are Christians? Eugene and Fiona say identity is a big issue, with Japanese heritage and culture closely tied to the Buddhist and Shinto religions. Those who convert to Christianity often struggle with the idea that they’re ‘not Japanese any more’. “We want to help them connect with their identity in Christ and help them see that that transcends all nationalistic barriers,” Eugene says.

Helping people grasp the idea of regularly “meeting together as a church family” is also something the couple must work on, with most Japanese seeing religious gatherings as being just for special occasions, or for times they need something.

Teaching people to use their gifts to expand the Kingdom is another challenge. “Japanese people hold qualifications up very highly and sometimes feel unqualified to use their giftings in an active role,” Fiona explains. “The concept of everyone making disciples is another thing we navigate.”

Using everything you’ve got

As well as helping people grow in their faith, Eugene and Fiona are passionate about people realising their God-given potential. In every interaction they have with people, they’re looking for ways to encourage them in their giftings. Even during their weekly food outreach to the needy in the community, in a local park, they’re building people up to see the best in themselves. They have even gained new interpreters that way!

“People are in the park because they’ve lost their jobs or because of other circumstances,” Fiona says. “But they’re very talented, gifted people and it’s wonderful to see them rise up and given every opportunity to grow and be the people God created them to be.”

Eugene and Fiona also use their giftings – and their personal interests (motorbikes, gardening and coffee) – to connect with new friends and ultimately win people for Jesus! “You use everything you can, wherever you can to connect with people,” Eugene says.

Navigating COVID

Of course, 2020 wasn’t an average year for the Geberts. Like churches all around the world, they had the added challenge of COVID and had to quickly create online services and content during various periods of lockdown. Some things have remained online – like their English classes which flourished in this format – but most activities, including services, were back in the church building for a while. (A new third wave of COVID-19 in their city saw the return to online formats from January 2021.)

Amazingly, the couple saw people not only keep their connection with their church throughout 2020 but grow stronger in their faith. That was apparent in the number of people who wanted to get baptised once in-person services resumed. “That really excites me,” Eugene says. “It shows the growth and what’s happening in people’s hearts and that they’re drawing close to God.”

The extra time at home during 2020 also gave the couple, and their two children, time to get to know their neighbours – some of whom are now coming to church as a result. “It’s really positive to see that through all of this there’s still great growth,” Eugene says. “People are finding us and connecting into the church community and learning and growing in their personal walk with God.”

“The Church of God is never closed!” Fiona concludes.

God hasn’t forgotten the Middle East

J and A, MIDDLE EAST

J and A live amongst the Kurds – the world’s largest stateless people group, who are spread across Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. The Kurdish people have known decades of instability, oppression by their hosts, conflict, genocide and displacement. Without a nation of their own, these generous and hospitable mountain people have been neglected and unengaged by missions for centuries. J and A, along with their three children, are believing that God will bring healing to these people and lay the foundations of a pioneering Kurdish church.

How are you helping families and communities navigate life in this difficult context?

“Our work is primarily medical but we also provide material relief when the situation demands. We run two emergency clinics in different border communities which provide medical support to both host community villages and refugee camps. We also work alongside the Ministry of Health and rural clinics to implement the maternal health program throughout the region. Sometimes we also deliver medical, or first responder, training to government clinics and communities that are exposed to regional conflict or unrest. As well as medical support, we have also been able to work directly with some communities to assist with the supply of water, food and school supplies.

We feel that providing medical assistance to families is a really beautiful way to express the Gospel in any context. There are some sensitivities that come with working in a country like this but it’s important that we’re in the public space, participating in the community and putting our values on display every day. So, while we love our projects, they’re just a platform that allow us to be present, in the midst of all the trauma, corruption and conflict, and minister to those who need it so much. Through these platforms, we find people of peace, share meals with them, visit homes and work towards our ultimate goal, which is to make disciples and see the birth of the local church.”

How did COVID-19 affect your work in 2020?

“Our organisation was given an essential service exemption last year and our clinics remained open for the entire lockdown duration. During the second half of 2020, we were often in regular contact with COVID-19 patients as we worked alongside the local ambulance service.

While the restrictions have eased a lot, COVID-19 continues to be a major threat to families’ wellbeing and the country’s economy. As the economy stalls, hundreds of businesses have closed, currency has devalued and government wages have gone unpaid for almost 10 months. This means that families face some really difficult situations on all fronts.

In 2021, as we continue to navigate the pandemic and economic challenges, our goal is to remain present in our communities by showing up each day and standing alongside them. Continuing to serve these communities, as the region begins to recover, is a tangible way of reminding them that God hasn’t forgotten them.”

What are some of the biggest hurdles you face in carrying out your work in this region?

“There are a lot of challenges to working in this region. Political instability, conflict and corruption are obvious parts of life here and do affect our projects. But what we struggle with the most is discipleship. Multiple languages, traditional culture and Islamic tradition present their own challenges in the discipleship making process, as well as fear and intimidation when it comes to sharing the Gospel with Muslim families.

As an example, after two years of language study we started working in a small, displaced community. This community speaks a different dialect to what we have been learning which makes communication difficult. It is also an extremely conservative community where the women we work with are controlled in every aspect of their lives by their husbands, fathers and brothers. If we make one cultural mistake, we risk losing access to all these families. This story is not unique and each project and community we work in faces similar challenges.”

What drew you to this part of the world and to serving in such a challenging environment?

“We feel God’s pull towards nations and communities that are unreached, that don’t have national churches or local Bible translations. Before we moved here, we spent significant time in the tribal lands of India, amongst rural communities that have been largely forgotten by the government and the national church. It’s these challenging environments and regions that often host unreached and unengaged communities. It can be difficult but at the moment, there is an open door into this part of the world. We don’t know how long the door will be open but while it is, we want to be there to love families and believe for disciples and a national church.”

Taking the Gospel to all mankind

CENTRAL ASIA

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he asked his disciples to make disciples of all nations, including those which would reject him or be resistant to God’s message. In Central Asia, one ACCI missionary couple is risking it all to ensure that people have an opportunity to hear the word of God and can apply it to their lives.

While we’re not able to share their names, or the country they work in, for security reasons, we know you’ll be inspired by their story.

Can you tell us about the part of the world where you work?

“The people there are conservative Muslims and very few have heard the Gospel. There are no churches and very few believers. This unreached people group numbers about twice the population of Australia, but believers among them amount to just two average size Aussie churches.

Anyone who decides to follow Christ is considered a traitor to their country, their religion, their culture and their family. So, there’s a lot of persecution of believers and anyone who shares the Gospel with them. And the region is politically unstable as well.”

Tell us about the ministry you’re a part of and how it’s reaching this people group.

“Our work is mostly radio, which although it sounds old style is the primary way that people on the ground get their information. It’s a part of the world with very little electricity, let alone TV or internet. A lot of people can’t read or write and leave school very young.

The radio programs we make go straight into people’s homes. The programs are shaped to fit the context of their lives. So, for example, in this part of the world there’s substance abuse and a lot of domestic violence, so we’ll have a program maybe about a drug addict and their parents, or someone who is suffering domestic violence, and the programs act out those situations but also provide solutions from Jesus perspective.”

How are people encouraged to grow in their faith after hearing these programs?

“We are able to connect with the people listening to the programs through telephone follow-up, which can lead to some significant conversations. Our follow-up workers talk with about 100 people a week. Lots of repeat calls are there, as people are listened to and prayed for. We estimate there are about 200,000 people listening to our programs.

We also have direct discipleship programs to teach the scriptures to believers and help them to apply them in their own lives. We use the Discovery Bible Study approach in some of the programs. It’s like a church in the home. So, as a part of the radio drama, a group of believers will sit together and memorise a Bible story and then talk about it. This is something that the radio listeners can join in from their homes.”

What specific role do you play in supporting this ministry?

“Our role, behind all of this, is the heavy lifting in administration and communications. Our specific part is to support the team making the radio programs, so that salaries are paid and airtime is paid for. We can get involved in some of the projects as well, and support the team and speak into vision casting as part of the leadership.

And we generate intercessory prayer – for the teams and for the listeners.”

What does the future look like for this ministry, say in the next three years?

“We’ve started an initiative to help our listeners who don’t have a radio and don’t have the internet. It will take about two or three years to bring to completion, but the idea is that they’ll be able to get the radio programs on their mobiles.

The goal is that someone comes in from a village area and they find a free internet connection so they can download content on their mobile which they’ll then take back home to listen to later, and maybe share with friends and family. Then when they come back into the city again, the next episodes will be available to download or they can explore another series.”

Is there anything you’d like to say to those who support this important work?

“COVID-19 has got us all focused again on our local areas and that’s absolutely right and wonderful. But we ask that churches not forget about the ends of the earth. The unreached will remain unreached if they can’t hear the Gospel in ways that they can understand.”

Helping vulnerable women find true freedom in Christ

Matthew and Rebekah Rodda, GEORGIA

Every year, ACCI supporters and churches generously give up a day’s income to help people and communities in need. In 2020, these incredible donations for Missions amounted to $47,122, enabling 1Day to support vital work in nine countries around the world. One of these projects is the Teen Challenge Centre for Women in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, which Rebekah and Matthew Rodda helped start.

Rebekah and Matthew have served with Teen Challenge Georgia since 2017 in the Adjara region. Matt oversees a local church plant, while Rebekah runs a street outreach program to women exploited by the sex trade. While the Teen Challenge Men’s program has been running for many years, there has been nothing similar for women.

“Over the years we have been in Georgia, we’ve had a number of local pastors ask us when the women’s centre will start,” Rebekah says. “There has been nothing for homeless women, those involved in prostitution, or women addicted to drugs or alcohol, or for other life-controlling issues. We need a place for women who want to break free from these things.”

Rebekah says the Teen Challenge Centre for Women, which is now up and running, will enable women to break free from their life-controlling problems and find true freedom in Christ. “Graduates of the program will become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, spiritually alive and able to carry the message of how Christ has set them free back to their communities,” she says.

Of course, this kind of hands-on, practical, 24-7 support requires funding to get it off the ground and to maintain it. 1Day is helping fill that gap. “At the moment the 1Day costs are covering rent, utilities, food, other sundry program costs and some small set up costs,” Rebekah says. “1Day is vital for this. It takes money to start things!” Rebekah says that the women are asked to pay to stay at the women’s centre but usually can’t afford the actual cost to keep them. “So, subsidies and donations are much needed and appreciated!” she adds.

Rebekah says the program usually runs for one year. It is expected that the centre will run long into the future, helping many women break the shackles of addiction and despair. “We expect to see changed lives, where women find lasting freedom from their addictions and discover the life-changing power of Jesus,” Rebekah says. “Thank you 1Day for helping make this vital work possible!”