We receive frequent requests to expand our ministry into new countries (“venues”) as our ministry and the success of our model become better known. Prayer permeates the entire analytical process, as we consider whether a potential new venue meets the following criteria:
- Identify vocational church planters ready to enlist;
- Identify teachers qualified to teach Bible and theology;
- Find suitable places for gathering to teach and learn;
- Confirm curriculum availability in the local language or availability of suitable translators;
- Verify funding to operate that particular venue;
- Identify a ministry champion capable of managing that particular field operation; and
- Seek God’s call as to a particular potential new venue.
Once we are satisfied that our criteria for opening a new venue have been met, we go forward, trusting that the Lord will sustain and provide the renewable resources that will ensure the planting of hundreds and even thousands of churches in that new venue.
We have had a situation where, although the original criteria were met, that status changed as time went on. This required the tough decision that it was better to close down that venue and devote our resources where they would be more productive. Although those decisions are hard, good stewardship requires us to regularly evaluate where the ministry stands in each venue and how we can improve. Accordingly, although we have had operations in 14 countries over the years, we currently devote our resources to the 8 countries where we feel we can be most effective.
Before taking on a new field project, we do our due diligence, but we walk by faith, not by business plan. Over 20 years ago there was a mega church that provided regular support to the ministry of WLM. We met with the missions pastor of that church just as we were about to enter Cuba. After consideration he flatly told us that if we entered Cuba before we got more substantial funding, he would terminate that church’s support immediately. We politely explained that the call of the Lord was being felt strongly to take the ministry to Cuba. After discussions for a few days, he did indeed end all support abruptly (never resumed), and we proceeded to follow the Lord’s lead. Twenty years later we have planted over 15,000 churches in Cuba and have presented the gospel message to more than 1,000,000 who have received Him as Savior.