Global Update Vol 1- Current World Situation

Okay, at Empower Ministries, what we do is we search around the world for national or indigenous church planting movements that are growing, that are solid, that are theologically sound, they handle money well, they are morally and ethically solid based on the Word of God.

Joy- Welcome friends, to our first episode of On the Move” with Ron and Charis Pearce of Empower Ministries. We are thrilled to have you join us as we dig deeper into this exciting ministry and visit hotspots around the world where God is transforming lives and building his Kingdom. I’m Joy Kita, a writer for Empower. I’ll be your host for these podcasts. Each episode will take an in-depth look at how God is on the move around the world and on occasion we will talk to national church planting partners. We’ll hear interviews from inspirational church leaders overseas and learn why Ron has devoted himself to partnering with God and believers from around the world. Sitting in front of me is the founder and President of Empower, Ron Pearce and joining him is Charis Pearce, Vice President of Empower and Director of International Operations. Let’s dig right in!

So guys, I’d love for our listeners to get to know you better. Let’s start with you Ron, can you give us a little bit of background on yourself? Where did you grow up? Maybe how you spent your free time? Did you have hobbies or interests?

Ron- Well, Joy, thank you for doing this today. It’s a very simple answer to that question. I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church regularly and when I was 13 years of age I committed my life to Christ. Now I have always been a Christian I think. In other words, I grew up always loving Jesus, going to Sunday school, and memorizing scripture. I cannot even remember a day when I did not love Jesus but somebody told me that I should make it official and, therefore, when I was 13 there was an evangelist that came to town and he was there on a Sunday evening at church and I thought, well, I better go make it official. So I went up to the front, got down on my knees, I knew the sinner’s prayer very, very well, I knew it all throughout my life and I just repeated it. I said Jesus I love you very much, I want to give you my life. I give you absolutely everything and I want to follow you forever. And when I said that, I added a little extra on the end but I said Lord, I have one condition, please don’t let it be boring. I said that for a reason because I looked around church at various older Christians that I saw and I saw that they were bored. And I saw that they weren’t excited about Jesus or talking about Jesus or even sometimes living the Christian life and I thought, I don’t want to be like that. Therefore, I just asked the Lord not to make it boring, make it exciting, please. And he did. He took me on an adventure and it has been wonderful, the things that I have seen of what God is doing all around the world. So I encourage all young people all over the place to pray that same sort of prayer. Now, where did I go after I accepted the Lord? I went to high school in Saskatchewan and then I went to Bible School after that where I met my wife Nancy. We got married and we have three children. Charis is my oldest daughter sitting here across the table from me today. Then I went back to seminary for training. We were going to Vietnam as missionaries and that was in the plans until Vietnam fell in 1975 to the communist control throughout the entire country. So then we started to work nationally in Canada starting churches. We started a little church in Sarnia, Ontario and pastored a couple of other little operations there, outside of Sarnia in the outlying area. And after that I joined a little organization called Allstate Insurance and at Allstate Insurance I learned a lot about life and they trained me in a lot of things. And then I started to get involved with the national churches around the world in 1989 and started to work with them as far as what they needed to see the growth of the national churches in so many countries around the world. That is when something happened around the world, Joy. Maybe I should just jump right in with this right now. There was a change between 1989 and 1991 in missions as a whole. It was like God threw a switch in heaven and all of a sudden we went from planting seeds, which we had done for hundreds of years, and it turned into something different. When three international events occurred, it seemed to revolve around these three things, when Russia fell apart, and the Soviet Union fell apart when the Berlin wall came down and the third thing was Tiananmen Square in China. Those things happened in that period of time between 1989 and 1991 and it was at that time that the national churches around the world just started to explode in size and the numbers in all these countries started to grow. That is when I became more involved in helping them to grow.

Joy- And out of all of this Empower was born.

Ron- Yes, in 2004 we started Empower Ministries and it has grown to, now we are involved in I think Charis, about 43 countries around the world. Why don’t you tell some of the countries that we work in.

Charis- We work in Ethiopia, China, throughout the Middle East, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, there are so many but that’s a few of them.

Joy- And so Charis, you have been a part of Empower from the very beginning, can you tell our listeners a little bit about that choice.

Charis- Oh, it was a very easy choice. I grew up meeting the church planters and national leaders from around the world and so it was a very natural progression when we started Empower I just wanted to be involved. It was an honor to help them in whatever way I could.

Joy- So you felt fully prepared for this great adventure that you now live?

Charis- God has been preparing me on the way.

Joy- So, talking about Empower, for our listeners that may not know exactly what you do, could you give a little snapshot about Empower, Ron?

Ron- Okay, at Empower Ministries, what we do is we search around the world for national or indigenous church planting movements that are growing, that are solid, that are theologically sound, they handle money well, they are morally and ethically solid based on the Word of God. We look for operations like that and then what we do is we want to come alongside and help them to grow in size and in depth. So we want to, I was taught this many years ago by my spiritual father, he said this, we want to lose our identity in the church of Jesus Christ around the world, and that is what we at Empower Ministries try to do. We try to empower the national church but not get in the way of God leading that national church in the way that they are supposed to be led by God and, therefore, sometimes you have to take a backseat to the operations and you just come along to encourage and inspire and to equip and to provide all sorts of things. One of those entities that we have worked in around the world is in China, the largest church in the world and I still remember the first time going in there and sitting down with one of the leaders and this was many years ago. I said, so what do you need? And he started off by talking about, well, we need the Bible. That is the foundation for all of our work, wherever we go around the world, it is the word of God. That is the centerpiece and everything else flows out of that. We work by providing Bibles and short-term pastoral support, we do equipment like bicycles and motorcycles to help the national pastors get out into the hinterland, into the farthest regions to make best use of their time. We will facilitate training seminars, provide training materials. What other things do we do Charis? Just going through the list in my mind of some of the things that we do.

Charis- Equipment that they need in villages to do mini crusades, PA systems.

We try to empower the national church but not get in the way of God leading that national church in the way that they are supposed to be led by God and, therefore, sometimes you have to take a backseat to the operations and you just come along to encourage and inspire and to equip and to provide all sorts of things

Ron- We sometimes are called in in an emergency situation and we call it Empower Care and when we come into a hurricane or earthquake situation where a country has been devastated, what we try to do is take the funds in to locally buy, in that country, all the food and supplies, and emergency supplies that they need and we provide it to the national church planting movement that we are partnering with in that country and they are the ones that do the distribution. In that way they have a way of meeting people, helping people, but also a big part of this is they get to explain the good news of Jesus Christ even while they are giving out the food and the blankets and everything else so that when people look for answers to things that are deeper in life, the spiritual things of life, they’ll come back to that pastor and talk to him. So we are giving him the opportunity and the tools in his hands to go out and bless people in the physical way but also eventually bless them spiritually.

Joy- And I’ve heard you use the term hotspots and maybe you can explain what that is.

Ron- A spiritual hotspot is an area in the world where the Spirit of God is being poured out in a massive way. Now this usually happens in an area that has been prepared by God. How do you look for that? Well, at Empower we pretty well know when there is going to be an outbreak of the Holy Spirit in a certain region or country or area. It’s this way; we look for a healthy level of persecution on the church, we look for a low standard of living and the third thing is that we look for a dedicated, motivated, and strong national church planting leadership that are very strong both in the Word but also in evangelism and putting the new converts in church plants and in house churches or in small gatherings that grow very, very quickly. So when we find these three things all in the same spot, that is usually the spiritual hotspot. I took that from years and years ago, I think I was listening on the news and they were talking about there was a hotspot in Africa or something and a war had just broken out, and I thought well, there are spiritual hotspots in Africa too and that is when we started to coin that phrase.

Joy- So Charis, in terms of projects that Empower is working on, do you have one that you are particularly excited about?

Charis- I think I get excited mostly over the requests for Bibles. We get requests for them in most countries that we work in and when we get the request we know that there are massive numbers of people turning to the Lord so it’s exciting when the request comes in and we are able to fulfill that.

Joy- And is there a country that is requiring more Bibles lately, like more now?

Charis- China is ongoing, there is always a need for Bibles there. And right now we are doing some major print runs for Ethiopia.

Ron- One story from Ethiopia that gives you the idea as to how desperately they want them, need them, is one church that we were able to take in 100 New Testaments to a congregation of about 400 new believers. Now all these were new believers that came out of a Muslim background and they had all been Christians for about six months or something of that nature. I think if I remember correctly they had two New Testaments and one full Bible for a congregation of 400 people and, therefore, we were able to work with our folks and they were able to take in these 100 New Testaments. They were at the front of the church when everybody was gathered there, this little mud floor, bamboo wall, metal roof church. So they were all sitting in there and they said here are some New Testaments for you and they were going to hand them out. Well, there was a riot. It was a pushing sort of, I want to get a copy of the word of God, pushing towards the front and everybody was concerned that people were going to get crushed in this free giveaway of Bibles. So the pastor got up and all the people delivering Bibles and said, Stop, stop! Calm down, don’t worry, you will be able to get a New Testament and we will get more New Testaments.” There was one gentleman, an older fellow, and he was at the back and I still remember the pastor telling me this story about where he was at the back of the church and when everybody else was calming down, he didn’t and he was pushing his way up to the front and pushing people out of the way and finally, they had to tackle him. They tackled him to the ground and he still struggled to get up and claw his way up to the front and they said, What’s wrong? Why are you doing this?” And he said, All my ancestors for generations back as far as we can ever remember were all Muslims and they have all died now not knowing the pathway to eternal life, not knowing the gospel,” and he says I am going to get, for my children and my grandchildren who I love so dearly, I’m going to get a copy of the word of God, I’m going to get a New Testament.” Or basically, he was going to die in the attempt and that showed his desperation because he knew that the answers to life were in God’s word. He was convinced of that and he loved them so much that that was the most important thing in life for him to do was to acquire a copy of that for his family. That is why we get excited about printing scriptures and providing. Simply because people around the world realize this now more and more. As the world is falling apart in so many ways, in so many areas, people know that there is an answer out there and it is all traceable back to the word of God. And that is why people want to get a copy of the Bible.

Joy- It’s an absolutely incredible picture that you are painting with this man that’s racing up to get this Bible and I think of the Western Church and how different it would be if some of us had that same passion for it. But how do you see the Western Church’s role in all of this?

Ron- I would say that the Western Church can do many things but there are a couple of items that are really, really important. One is that we really need to pray for the people in all of these countries where the Spirit of God is being poured out so massively because they are experiencing persecution. They are working hard and they need wisdom as to how to go and stretch out and reach all the areas that are around them. They need energy, just physical energy. These national pastors that I know in Vietnam, in Laos and Cambodia, they work from sunup to sundown and then well into the night. We are not talking about a five day, 40 hour week. We’re talking about guys that work seven days a week and we are probably talking about 14 hour days and that means that they run out of energy after a while so we need to pray for things like this. Second of all, we can help them by providing the necessary funds to purchase for them Bibles, short-term pastoral support to help this national pastor get up and running in an area where he has no support. There’s no Christians there but he’s planting a church and that ranges in size from about $25 per month to probably around $100-$125, is that right Charis?

Charis- Yes, that’s right.

Ron- And so we can provide short-term pastoral support, not forever but probably for 12 months to 2 years that sort of support would be given to them, to their family. Usually therefore you are seeing a family of 4 or 5, a pastor, pastor’s wife, three kids all being taken care of for as little as $25 a month. That’s a bargain but that really helps them to get launched. And then we can help them by going on and giving them training and people can donate funds so that we can facilitate training of large numbers of pastors to get Bible training because they don’t have Bible schools everywhere in the world, Joy. Sometimes it’s a matter of they have their Bible in front of them and they will study, study, study but they have a lot of questions. So we will take trainers in, pastors, teachers into some of these locations or we will take the national trainer or teacher in the country and will provide the funds to give them a place to study, all the books that are necessary to study and we will just provide that training for them so that they can study in the Bible. And these are all Bible study courses that aren’t like in the west, this is like studying the book of Romans, studying Genesis, and studying the Pauline Epistles and things like that. This is really Bible study and Bible training. So those are the things that we in the West can do right now, we can pray for them and we can provide the funds to help them grow and that is really the important thing at this point in time.

Joy- This is our first podcast of many to come and in the future we are going to be hearing more in depth stories about the hotspots around the world in the countries that God is working in. For me, hearing all of this, I’m amazed at the need for Bibles around the world. I don’t think I’ve given much thought to that certainly as a believer and I am really, really excited to hear more details about how that works in the different countries and it’s just really exciting to know that Empower is out there fulfilling this great need which is, like I said, incredibly exciting. Do you guys have any final thoughts to our listeners?

Ron- I would say that, I would take this and try to encourage people, this thought. You probably are looking into the news, watching it on television unfold all around the world and you’re probably seeing a world that is in chaos in many spots. We are sitting with nuclear weapons in certain countries that are in the hands of what I call madmen. You’ve got materialism that is going wild in so many countries of the world. All that people want is to get their hands on goods and ease and comfort and all that sort of thing, and people’s minds, you might think are not on the important matters of life. Like where am I going to go after I die? Is there a heaven, is there a hell? What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? Is there a God? All those sorts of questions are really the important things in life but we are getting our eyes on the things that can worry us from morning until night or we are getting our eyes on the things that make life more comfortable and we are taking our eyes off of the things that God says are important. I’m going to tell you this, I believe right now that we are on the verge of the greatest world revival that we have ever seen because we are at the start of it right now and it is growing. In other words, there is country after country right now where the church is just exploding in size and it’s just the beginning of that growth. And as the pressure comes on these churches around the world, they are going to grow even faster. So we are at the beginning of the greatest turning to God. Why is that important? Because that is encouraging. That points to the fact that Jesus is coming back very, very soon. To me that is what I would tell people all over where I preach and teach and travel, I try to encourage people with this. At the same time that the world is falling apart, now we are seeing Jesus, building his Church in a way that we never even dreamt was possible before and it is going very, very well. So this is not a bad news story about persecution and suffering and wars and rumors of wars and all that. This is a story of how Jesus is building his church. And that is what Empower Ministries wants to get across to people, we are winning this battle, we are winning this war!

Charis- And this is a very exciting time to be living in. We are seeing so many come to the Lord that every day it’s a new chapter, a new story comes in on how God is moving in a different country. So it’s an exciting time to be living in.

Joy- Well, I’m excited and I’m very encouraged. I think this is an incredible thing to hear for our listeners. So there you have it, folks. You’ve been listening to On the Move” with Ron and Charis Pearce. Please join us next time as we talk about China, Israel, and Ethiopia. What is God doing in these hotspots? What are some of the challenges believers in these areas are facing and how can the body of Christ help? Thanks for listening guys, I’m Joy Kita.

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