Today in the Planter’s Bulletin, I want to introduce you to Christ Our Hope Church, a plant in New Jersey. Close to our heart, they have an amazing road ahead as they discover the unreached people living right next door to them.
When living in the Metro New York/New Jersey area, you continually encounter lostness. Ninety-six out of every 100 people you meet will not be Christian, and among many people groups, the number of Christians drops to near zero. One of those people groups are the Karachai (0.02% evangelical worldwide).
The Karachai are a Turkic people, most of whom reside in the Caucuses. But in Clifton, NJ, they walk among the thousands of Turkish people undetected. Unless you are looking for them, you may not find them. However, through friends with the IMB, the Lord has placed this people on our hearts. In Clifton/Paterson, we live within two or three miles of several unreached people groups. We feel a burden for them all. But God is placing the Karachai and other Central Asian groups on our hearts specifically.
Right now, we are in the process of meeting and identifying where Karachai live and work. We have met some at local Turkish hangouts. We desire that one of our key church plant team leaders, Wes Handy and his wife Zhanara, focus much of their ministry on reaching these people.
Zhanara is Kazakh, and her language is close enough to Karachai that she can converse easily with them. Wes has received a burden from the Lord for reaching Central Asians and plans on learning Turkish (since many of the Karachai in our area might first identify themselves as Turkish, and since this would be a gateway language for learning other Turkic languages). They desire to reach Karachai by showing hospitality and engaging the community.
As they immerse their ministry plans in prayer, they are currently meeting new Karachai people and gathering information on the local community. They are also developing global relationships with workers on the field among the Karachai in their homeland. This will require a lot of time, effort, finances and gospel focus in the weeks and months and years to come. May this be the beginning of a broader work among Central Asians in Clifton/Paterson and throughout the Metro New York area.
Building real relationships with people is the key to successful gospel ministry. The good news is for people! This past November, a new couple associated with the church plant hosted a party at their home for filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. What was so awesome about this event was that they invited their neighbors and friends to join in. This enabled natural gospel conversations with people who already trusted our brother and sister who hosted the event. We are learning never to pass up an opportunity to be in a group that includes non-Christians. Presence will lead to proclamation.
Mike is an Assistant Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism, the Associate Director for North American Church Planting for the Center for Great Commission Studies, and a National Missionary of the North American Mission Board (D.Miss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div., Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary)