New Baptist Congregations: More than 4.000 Conversions
Rome – Between 4.000 and 5.000 persons have accepted Christ thanks to the Indigenous Missionary Project (IMP) founded in 2002 by the European Baptist Federation (EBF). The project is committed to the planting of new churches through local, native pastors. This was pointed out by Daniel Trusiewicz (Wroclaw), the IMP’s Coordinator, at recent sessions of the EBF Council in Rome. Native Christians have already planted a total of 110 congregations. Unique about this programme is the fact that it is limited to five years with the intent of motivating new congregations to become self-supporting. After the first two-and-a-half years, support is reduced every six months. Yet the Pole Trusiewicz conceded that economic self-sufficiency has rarely been achieved. After the end of IMP support, many church planters are forced to work part-time in another job to cover costs. At the present time, 60 church planters in 24 countries are receiving support. Their monthly stipends range from 250 to 400 Euros ($340 to $540 US).
Trusiewicz noted that the programme profits society in general at these new locations. New Christians often visit orphanages and special events prepared for orphans, teach Roma children, work among the homeless, organise soup kitchens, distribute clothing, help one-time drug addicts, arrange support for the poor and unemployed, provide medical aid, etc. According to Trusiewicz: ‘It is normal that transmission of the Good News is accompanied by social action.’ This builds bridges of understanding to those just getting by on the fringes of society.
Most of the funds required for the programme come from the USA – 44 of these church planters are supported by Baptist partners in North America. The Baptists of Germany, Norway, Scotland, Swedish organisation Interact, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland are each supporting two projects. The Czech Republic, Romania and the USA’s Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are supporting one project each.
Trusiewicz thanked in particular the Romanians for their support. Romania’s Baptist Union has transitioned from a receiving to a supporting one. He is pleased that two Unions have increased their support despite the on-going economic crisis.