October 7, 2016
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel serving in Southeast Asia and Fredericksburg, Va., formalized an “Encourager Church” relationship Sept. 25 with Orange Baptist Church, a CBF partner congregation in Orange, Va.
Led by senior pastor Richard Clore, Orange Baptist Church entered into a covenant partnership with Cindy and Eddy Ruble, who serve in Malaysia and Indonesia, and Greg and Sue Smith, who serve the Latino immigrant community in and around Fredericksburg, Va., through their nonprofit LUCHA Ministries, Inc.
The Rubles’ ministry focuses on survivors of human trafficking, migrants in crisis and poor and marginalized communities. It also includes disaster response and development, education empowerment and advocacy in preventing child sexual abuse. Through LUCHA Ministries, the Smiths provide a Christian response to the question of immigration and the needs of the immigrant community by upholding the rights of immigrants and their families, serving as an information broker and equipping stakeholders with key skills to transform knowledge into practice and addressing the spiritual and social needs of the community.
CBF Encourager Churches are a crucial component to the work of CBF field personnel around the world. These relationships between field personnel and congregations invite churches into a unique and intimate role in missions and unite churches with the ongoing mission work in CBF’s three contexts: Global Poverty, Global Migration and the Global Church. This brings churches into the historic role of sending members of its body into the world as CBF field personnel cultivate beloved community, bear witness to Jesus Christ and seek transformational development.
A congregation becomes an Encourager Church when it formalizes its relationship with specific field personnel. There is flexibility in this program where churches can shape the details of the partnership to best fit their needs and the needs of field personnel with whom they partner. Encourager Churches offer four encouragement areas: prayer support, program support, short-term engagement and financial support as they aim to deepen relationships, cultivate mutual transformation, bear a consistent witness and focus on financial stewardship alongside field personnel.
Clore said that the Encourager Church initiative is an answer to prayers of the congregation, prayers that began during their journey with the Dawnings initiative, CBF’s congregational renewal process.
“The Encourager Church initiative is for us an answer to prayer,” Clore said. “We are excited about the transformative possibilities our relationships with the Rubles and Smiths hold. We hope and believe that as our congregation’s heart becomes intimately engaged with these couples that our financial support for the CBF Offering for Global Missions will grow.”
Cindy and Eddy Ruble said that spending the weekend with Orange Baptist Church was a meaningful experience.
“We are excited to be entering into this Encourager Church covenant as we know that what we do in Asia is intimately connected with our stateside partners and supporters,” the Rubles said. “Nothing we do is possible without this connection — linking hands and hearts across the globe to carry out God’s mission of adding the victims of human trafficking, natural disasters and systemic poverty. We anticipate this relationship growing deeper in the coming years of this partnership as we both learn more about each other and about what God is doing through CBF to reach out to communities, both locally and internationally. It is exciting to see how ministries and outreach on opposite sides of the world overlap and intersect.
Greg Smith echoed the Rubles and added that entering into the covenant relationship with Orange Baptist Church reiterated for him the “value of connecting with a local congregation who pledges to support us in our ministry.”
“As I worshipped and fellowshipped with Orange Baptist during the Encourager Church weekend, I was reminded again and again that the strength of our ministry with and among Latinos arises in so many ways out of the relationships we form with God’s people. I look forward to discovering new ways of serving my Latino and immigrant neighbors and friends that will become possible through the prayers and support this church will provide.
Sue Smith said that it is important for field personnel to know that people are praying for them and supporting them in their ministry.
“While many do this, it’s the Encourager Churches who take that extra step and make a formal commitment to us,” Sue Smith said. We know that no matter what, they’re going to be there for us.”
CBF Church Engagement Manager Ryan Clark, who previously served in the Philippines alongside his wife, Cindy, as a field personnel, offered praise for Orange Baptist Church and other Encourager Churches.
“Our supporting churches really do a miraculous thing,” Clark said. “In the hustle and bustle of a life too busy, they take time to pray, give, inquire, cry, move call, fly, walk, build and listen when it would be easier to give into the demanding pace of our daily rat races. I remember when we were getting ready to leave for the field. We visited one of our Encourager Churches right before leaving and saw the title, “Our Missionaries” above our photo. It gave us a sense of peace knowing that no matter what was ahead of us, we would be okay because we were going with a ‘great cloud of witnesses’.”
CBF Global Missions is inviting and challenges Fellowship churches to become covenant partners with field personnel as Encourager Churches. To learn more about how your congregation can become an Encourager Church, contact Ryan Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.