In April 2017, after almost 10 years serving with Teen Challenge – first in Kazakhstan and then in Georgia – Blair and Althea and their sons Locky and Jesse made the move into a new mission field. They now work as part of Christ International Church Mission (CIC); a live-in discipleship program which provides Bible training and community development skills for new Iranian Christians.
The goal of CIC – as the video below explains – is to bring new Christians to Georgia for one year and train and equip them to plant new churches in their country of origin or the surrounding region. The community development skills they learn in the program – which include dairy farming, fruit growing and other agricultural practices – help them to develop self-sustainable ministries, as well as knowledge they can share with others.
CIC’s director Reza says CIC is meeting an important need, given the lack of discipleship available for Christians within Iran. “The growing Church in Iran needs leaders and there is a great need for discipleship,” he says. “The people trained here will be able to become independent Spirit-filled disciples who can transform the nation and communities in Iran by the gospel and [through] development.”
As well as training new Christians to take the gospel back into Iran and surrounding countries, CIC team members and students minister to Iranian tourists and visitors to Georgia. They start conversations, give out Bibles or flash drives full of digital content, pray with them and invite them to church. CIC also has a ministry on social media which is reaching countless people in Afghanistan and Iran.
Althea says in a day-to-day sense, she works primarily as a cashier for the training centre and the CIC church that meets there, while Blair is an all-rounder – helping within the Bible school, in the community development areas and mentoring students. They both also serve in the leadership team of their church. “We have our specific roles within the ministry but being missionaries, we also put our hands up if there are other needs – for example, cleaning, helping with transport, translation,” Althea says. “Blair has many years’ experience in counselling (through his work with Teen Challenge), so he often spends time with the English-speaking students if they have any issues in regards to family, faith, etc.”
Althea says the family is happy to be where they know God has planted them.
“Serving God and being in the place where you know He has planted you [is] always exciting,” she says. “It excites us seeing the openness of the Iranian believers and their desire to grow more in their faith. We feel very privileged and blessed to be in this place at this time, working with this ministry.”