Wayne and his wife, Sarah, (last names withheld for security reasons), along with their four children, have lived in Bangalore, India, since 2004, when he was appointed as Foursquare Missions International’s (FMI) area missionary to South Asia.
Serving in South Asia is something Wayne did not originally envision for himself. He graduated in 1991 from Life Pacific College (then LIFE Bible College) in San Dimas, Calif., after interning for two years at the Angelus Temple Hispanic congregation. Following that, he and Sarah were married and served on the pastoral team of Iglesia La Roca, a Hispanic church plant, while Wayne also worked on the staff of Cornerstone Foursquare Church in Anaheim, Calif.
In 1998, Wayne was hired by FMI to assist with missionary training and deployment. Wayne and Sarah knew God had called them to the mission field, but Wayne reflects: “I always assumed God would call us to Latin America, as we both speak Spanish.”
However, in 2003, Wayne was asked to serve in India and South Asia. This was quite a surprise, but both knew it was God’s direction.
“The Lord made it clear through several points of confirmation that we were to pursue this path” Wayne explains. “And it has been a wonderful and fruitful experience of learning from and serving with the Foursquare pastors and leaders of South Asia.
Wayne partners with the Foursquare national leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal in their efforts to reach the lost, disciple new believers, train leaders and plant new churches. He has the privilege of serving alongside the apostolic leadership of Rev. Leslie Keegel, national leader of Sri Lanka.
“I’m in South Asia because I want to experience God more deeply, and I want to see the lost come to know the Savior who loves them,” Wayne affirms. “When we step out beyond ourselves to embrace God’s will for us, we get to see Him show up in ways we could have never accomplished on our own.
“I love working alongside the national leaders and missionaries here,” he continues, “teaching, coaching, encouraging and resourcing them. I am part of an incredible team of dedicated people who are introducing tens of thousands of people to Jesus Christ. Many of those people had never even heard that name before.”
He is also excited about the potential for more missionaries coming to the region. In 2010, FMI will deploy two new missionary couples, and three more are preparing to go in 2011.
In a region where 85 percent of the 1.5 billion people are Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, sharing the gospel in a large “tent meeting” fashion is only possible in some of the settings, due to strong persecution. Throughout South Asia, many pastors and church members experience ongoing threats against their lives or physical assault. Some have even given up their lives in serving Jesus.
But outreach continues in the midst of difficulty. In Pakistan, two city churches are currently being planted, and a Bible institute is training leaders. In Nepal, missionaries are raising up young church planters, starting several churches, caring for the orphans and widows through two children’s homes and vocational training programs, and offering gospel recordings and indigenous music through a recording studio.
In Bangalore, India, the Foursquare churches have found an effective strategy to reach families through ministry to children. They offer evening tutoring sessions for about 300 children as well as Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs that touch even more kids; these represent two of the church’s most fruitful efforts to reach the community.
Three out of four of these children live in Hindu families, and they represent hundreds of family units who receive practical personal ministry, through home visits and training on hygiene and parenting. Pastor Thomas (last name withheld) notes the children are becoming active disciples of Christ who are taking the gospel into their homes, praying for their families, and sharing Jesus within their own family structures. Some are now pastoring or leading other ministries.
Pastor Thomas asks that people pray for the church in India, so more churches might be planted in rural and non-evangelized areas. He also expresses the need to pray for leadership development in his country, and for leaders who speak multiple languages. In India alone, there are 22 official languages across 35 states and territories, which results in significant cultural gaps and differences that need to be bridged.
Along with this, the Indian Foursquare church has doubled in the last three years, with several new churches being planted. Several of those new church plants were started by missionaries from Foursquare Sri Lanka.
Foursquare Sri Lanka has aggressively been planting churches for three decades, and now has over 1,500 churches, along with a multitude of community ministries, including children’s homes and vocational training for women and children who have lost their families due to the civil war. They are a nationwide movement of mature, committed, compassionate leaders.
The Foursquare church is also spiritually exploding in Bangladesh. In 1999, pastors Benjamin and Monica (last names withheld) of Bangladesh joined Foursquare with their small village church. Under their leadership, the church grew to 38 churches by the end of 2006. At the end of 2009, there were 320 churches and over 300 new outreach points in villages around the country. The number of pastors and the number of disciples, or pastors in training, has doubled every year since 2006.
One reason for the exponential church growth is the method of leadership development in the country. In Bangladesh, in order to be considered a Foursquare Bangladesh pastor, a church planter must develop his church to 25 baptized adult members, raise up a disciple, and help the disciple plant at least one new church. That cycle continues, with the new church planter developing his church, becoming a pastor, and raising up a new disciple to plant yet another church.
“This is a reproducing philosophy,” Wayne notes. “It creates a never-ending loop of active discipleship.”
Another natural reason for the success of the church in Bangladesh was the initiation in 2006 of a micro-business model for pastors to become self-supporting. Under the direction of Pastor Benjamin, FMI and the Foursquare Foundation partnered financially to help 18 pastors begin their own income-generating micro businesses.
Pastors invested in various endeavors: fields to plant rice, ponds to harvest shrimp and fish, small stores to operate, and bicycle rickshaws to rent out and manage. The success of the micro businesses has enabled pastors and churches to become financially self-sufficient and help start other churches. Since these endeavors started, more micro businesses have begun, and the Bangladesh Foursquare office and leadership are now receiving support from the tithe on those.
The micro-business model is being utilized in other countries in the region, as well. Several Sri Lankan and Indian pastors also have income-generating businesses.
“These micro businesses help to address the question of sustainability and provide a financial means for more churches to be started,” Wayne explains. “They also help to engage the pastors directly with the people of their communities at a relational level.”
He notes many people in the Bangladesh communities have expressed an appreciation to those pastors for being working members of the community. The micro-businesses are helping to build bridges of trust and relationship.
The latest statistics, from 2009, testify to a total of 2,323 Foursquare churches and meeting places in the five countries of South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal). That number continues to grow rapidly.
There are still three countries in the South Asia region—Afghanistan, Bhutan and the Maldives—where the South Asia leaders are praying for inroads for evangelism and church planting. Wayne asks for prayer for the advance of the gospel in this region.
For information on helping FMI works around the world—including how to support the Global Missions Fund, a missionary or project, or to donate toward disaster relief, log on to //give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Mission Fund goes directly to the mission field. Visit FMI to get detailed information on short-term missions teams.