Association of nations leads to alliance of pastors

South Asia (MNN) — Could the Great Commission be fulfilled in our lifetime? Jonathan Shibley of Global Advance thinks if it can, SAARC is a good place to start.

SAARC, the South Asia Association of Related Countries, is a collective of eight nations: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. However, Shibley said it’s more than just a political alliance.

(Photo courtesy of Global Advance)

“This is so important from a missions standpoint because these nations represent a high concentration of unreached people,” said Shibley. “It’s absolutely strategic for equipping pastoral leaders who are on the front lines for planting new churches.”

That’s why Global Advance has formed an alliance of their own. Shibley said they “have been connecting with pastoral leaders that are over networks of churches among several of the SAARC nations…. [These pastors] really have a heart for the entire SAARC region…to plant new churches and target unreached peoples.”

This alliance has been going on for five years now, and their plan for the future is ambitious.

“Their commitment and their goal is, over the next decade, to plant 10,000 new churches among the SAARC nations targeting an unreached people,” said Shibley. “It’s indigenous missions, and we want to encourage and equip leaders, provide resources to help church planters, and help with marketplace initiatives and economic development.”

By using television programs, on-the-ground church planters, and radio stations, “We have a goal this year to train and equip 7,000 kingdom leaders among the SAARC nations” and establish 800 churches, said Shibley.

(Photo courtesy of Global Advance)

But their mission isn’t a simple one. Shibley said one pastor even found “a death threat waiting for him when he got home.”

Sadly, that’s not abnormal, but, “that’s all the more reason for us who have the ability to [boost] God’s men and women who are on the front lines for the Gospel’s advance — to encourage them, to support them, and to pray for them.”

That’s where you come in. We’ll connect you here for ways to help. In the meantime, Shibey asks believers to pray that “God’s grace will be there, He’ll protect them, He’ll guide them and lay the framework for people to receive the Gospel.”