Effective ministry often is the result of strategic partnerships with a common goal. Around the world, Foursquare pastors are collaborating with other individuals and organizations to help people, and to get the word out about the love of God and forgiveness in Jesus’ name. These partnerships are as unique as the individuals themselves, but whatever they’ve chosen to do, one thing is clear: God is using these unique partnerships to bring healing to people and to build His church.
Giving Prostitutes a New Start
Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Missionary Tammy Toft works with both mainstream and Christian agencies to reach women trapped in the sex trade, helping them find a fresh start in life. So just how did she find herself helping women get free from the destructive cycle of the sex industry?
A 20-year burden to help resulted in Tammy volunteering at a mainstream rehabilitation center called Atoll in Tallinn, Estonia, the city where she and her husband, Brett, serve as Foursquare missionaries. She realized the women at Atoll were getting excellent help and services from the social workers and psychologists there. But they were missing the healing and forgiveness that only Jesus brings.
With the support of her husband and in partnership with organizations such as Serve the City and FMI, Tammy started the Butterfly Project, a ministry dedicated to helping prostitutes change their lives, one woman at a time.
She and a dedicated team of volunteers devote three days each month to do a professional makeover for a hand-selected woman from Atoll. It’s a process focused on preparing the woman for job interviews and workplace skills she will need to be successful in her new career.
“It’s amazing what happens to her on the inside when someone invests in her life like that,” Tammy tells Foursquare.org.
After the woman has completed her metamorphosis, Tammy insists it’s perfectly natural to say, “If you liked the way it feels to change the outside, it is only a tiny drop compared to what God can change and heal on the inside, if you let Him.”
These women are eager to say yes to the Lord. Tammy remembers fondly when one lady asked if she could bring two of her friends along. One of those friends was still working the streets.
Brett Toft notes that Foursquare Estonia is a “stage one” work in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model. This is the “initiate” stage, where evangelism is the focus with the goal of making responsible, reproducing disciples.
“The Butterfly Project is a missional outreach on behalf of FMI,” Brett adds. “It is a pre-evangelism service project that we expect will result in a spiritual discovery group, one of several that will form the new church in Tallinn.”
Pastoring a Floating Church
In a ministry partnership with the United States Navy, the United States Department of State, Project Hope and other organizations that involved hundreds of military personnel and volunteers, Foursquare Chaplain and U.S. Navy Commander Raymond (Ray) Houk served as a “pastor” of the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship.
While at sea, Ray ministered to the diverse 900-member crew made up of men and women from every military branch, and also civilian volunteers from health services organizations. They represented 13 nations and five language groups, and made the ship their home for the five-month tour of duty.
The goal of the mission called “Continuing Promise 2011” was to bring hope and healing to people in Jamaica, Haiti, and Central and South America. Ray also arranged for volunteers from the ship to work with Foursquare leaders while they were in Haiti, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
The USNS Comfort, originally built as an oil tanker and converted to a hospital ship in 1987, was quite a sight for many locals—it is painted white, and is the length of three football fields. Many patients served by the ship’s crew were introduced to Western luxuries, such as air conditioning, for the first time in their lives.
The vessel anchored for 10 to 12 days at a time in various international ports, and a triage was set up on shore. During the five-month deployment, the more than 500 doctors and medical personnel on board treated over 68,000 patients, and performed over 1,200 surgeries in the ship’s operating rooms.
When they were in Peru, Ray remembers being called to the ship’s ICU one night to visit a 67-year-old woman who had broken her hip two weeks before. She lived about three hours north of the city, and made the trip to receive medical help because an angel appeared to her during the night and told her to go.
While she lay in bed aboard ship on the night before surgery, she was afraid and called for the chaplain.
“Working with a translator, I was able to listen to her concerns, encourage her and pray with her,” Rays says. The next day, following the successful surgery, Ray saw her walking with her walker, and she gave him a hug.
As Ray reflects on the memories from his five months as a “pastor” aboard the USNS Comfort, perhaps most important were the many ways the Lord worked in the lives of people. Ray says his team of chaplains held 164 worship services from April to September, with a total of 4,567 people in attendance, and they conducted 29 field services for 1,327 people.
Ray’s ministry on the Comfort also resulted in 37 people onboard receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, and nine people being baptized in water while the team visited Guatemala.
Offering Summer Camps in Jamaica
What happens when Christians from Foursquare churches in Washington, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Rhode Island, California and South Dakota get hooked on hosting summer camp for churches in Jamaica?
They become “Jamericans,” say David and Cindy Barry, assisting ministers at The Walk (Tampa Foursquare Church), pastored by Ricky and Kari-Ann Navarro in Tampa, Fla.
For 30 years, David and Cindy have made yearly pilgrimages from their home in Tampa to minister among the churches in Jamaica. Recently they began a partnership with Foursquare National Leader Mervelyn “Joy” Mullings to help Foursquare pastors organize and run summer camps for Jamaican people from ages 7 to 70.
Generally, the camps attract anywhere from 50 to 80 people from local Jamaican Foursquare churches who take part in age-appropriate activities and teaching. In a recent camp, Cindy says that 19 out of 24 kids from 5 to 11 years old gave their hearts to Christ, and three of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.
In another camp, a 14-year-old girl couldn’t get out of bed the first night. She had just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was in constant pain. Team members and girls from her dorm gathered around her and prayed. Cindy says her healing wasn’t obvious in the beginning, but before the first worship service, she was walking and participating.
“I saw her, throughout the week, enjoying everything the camp had to offer,” Cindy adds.
The Jamaica teams led by David and Cindy are examples of FMI’s Go Teams, ministry opportunities for churches or individuals who want to join other groups for short-term missions trips. They affirm that new recruits for Go Teams are always welcome.
You Can Get Involved
The Butterfly Project: “It’s a great honor and joy to watch these women fly like beautiful butterflies,” Tammy Toft says. “I am so happy when these women discover their confidence, dignity and inner strength to go forward and be anything they want to be in Christ.” Read more about Tammy and the Butterfly Project.
Project Hope: “Bringing Christ to the military opened this window of opportunity for me to serve on this unique mission,” Ray Houk says. There is plenty of room for civilian medical professionals of all types to volunteer for similar missions through Project Hope.
Go Teams: “We hope more people from the U.S. will take time to give of themselves through Go Teams to touch the lives of people in Jamaica or wherever God leads,” say Cindy and David Barry. Find out more about short-term missions opportunities.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles