Category Archives: Global Movement

General Assembly/Gospel Priorities Summit registration open


Online registration for the 43rd General Assembly/Gospel Priorities Summit is now open. The Assembly meets June 20-22 at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Sharpen,” based on Ephesians 4:12, “… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ …”

The three-day gathering features plenary speakers each day and breakout sessions on Thursday, all focused on the EPC’s four Gospel Priorities of Church Health, Church Planting, Effective Biblical Leadership, and Global Movement.

“The EPC exists to carry out the Great Commission, and those four priorities are the way we do that,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “In the past, our Leadership Institute concluded on Wednesday. This year our equipping is interspersed with business across each day—that’s the ’Gospel Priorities Summit.’ Based on feedback from last year’s attendees, we will have more of a conference feel as opposed to primarily a business meeting with some equipping at the front.”

Plenary session topics include:

  • Church Planting on Tuesday morning, featuring Michael Carrion, Vice President of Church Planting and Leadership Development for Redeemer City to City in New York, N.Y. He will speak on “A Gospel- and Mission-Centric Movement” and “A Compelling Narrative and Hermeneutic for Evangelism.”
  • Global Movement on Tuesday afternoon with “Sharpening Our Focus on the 3 Billion” featuring John Love, Mary Ho, and Matthew Ellison. Love is an EPC Teaching Elder serving with EPC World Outreach and Pioneers; Ho is the International Executive Leader of All Nations International; and Ellison is the President of Sixteen:Fifteen.
  • Church Health on Wednesday morning, with sessions on “Celebrating Evangelism in EPC” with Jeff Moore, Bob Stauffer, Thomas D, and Mark V.; and “Love Thy Neighborhood” with Keon Abner, Founding Pastor of Bridge City Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and Marc de Jeu, Church Health Coordinator and Mission Mobilizer for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies. Moore serves as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Ill.; Stauffer is the EPC’s National Director of Church Health; and D and V serve with EPC World Outreach.
  • Effective Biblical Leadership on Wednesday afternoon with EPC Assistant Stated Clerk Michael Davis discussing “What Is an Effective Biblical Leader?”

For complete information about the speakers and topics—as well as details on the Thursday breakout sessions—see

The first of five business sessions convenes on Tuesday afternoon, June 20, at 3:00 p.m. (Mountain).

Worship service speakers include:

Other gatherings include a wide variety of Networking Lunches each day, as well as meetings specific to World Outreach, women’s ministry, ministry wives, and more.

Early registration runs until May 15, with a registration fee of $295 per person. New this year is that the registration fee includes lunch each day, while on-campus dinners Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are optional at a cost of $30 per person. The $50 early registration discount ends on May 15, when the fee increases to $345 per person. Late registration begins June 15 with a fee of $395 per person.

For complete information and to register, see

Gospel Priorities Team champions church health, church planting, global movement, effective biblical leadership


The EPC’s Gospel Priorities Team: (from left) Bob Stauffer, Tom Ricks, Gabriel de Guia, and Michael Davis.

Four members of the Office of the General Assembly staff are collaborating as the EPC’s Gospel Priorities Team to shepherd the denominations four strategic priorities of church planting, church health, global movement, and effective biblical leadership. With the formation of the team, the priorities have been officially renamed “Gospel Priorities.”

The quartet, under the leadership of Assistant Stated Clerk Michael Davis, includes Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach; Tom Ricks, National Director of Church Planting; and Bob Stauffer, National Director of Church Health.

“The Gospel Priorities Team was developed from the vision of the EPC,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “It is our desire to carry out the mission of God as the people of God. This team will achieve that goal by equipping and resourcing Teaching and Ruling Elders to build the Kingdom of God for the glory of God.”

Davis noted that ongoing collaboration between World Outreach and the Church Planting Team is an example of how the group is fostering teamwork across the various ministry efforts of the EPC.

“The synergy between World Outreach and the Church Planting Team is a growing endeavor to see our global church planters and domestic church planters collaborate on serving immigrant communities,” he said. “And our Church Health and Effective Biblical Leadership teams are collaborating to assess the health, viability, and needs of our churches and pastors through surveys and other assessment tools.”

Ricks agreed that the group’s purpose is to help create a culture that matches the EPC’s mission and vision.

“We are trying to be who we say we are,” he said. “The four Gospel Priorities are how we are going to tackle those opportunities and tell people about Jesus. My heart is that the EPC would habitually be planting churches that become multiplying churches—churches planting churches planting churches.”

Stauffer noted that healthy churches and healthy pastors are closely associated.

“I am really excited about what the Lord is doing in the EPC,” Stauffer said. “Healthy churches lead to healthy pastors, which in turn lead to healthy churches. I look forward to collaborating with Michael, Tom, and Gabriel to develop and implement strategies to reach our communities and the world for Christ.”

“It’s exciting that we are approaching the Gospel Priorities with unprecedented unity,” de Guia said. “We are working together to make each other more effective and stronger as we pursue the Great Commission. It’s motivating to collaborate with my brothers Tom, Bob, and Michael in seeing how we can be of one mind, one spirit, and one purpose.”

Davis added that he is “excited to see the Gospel Priorities Team facilitate a pathway that the family of churches in EPC will flourish to benefit their local context and for generations to come.”

For more information about the EPC’s Gospel Priorities, see

Fire, storm ravage World Outreach ministry partner EduNations schools


The EPC’s World Outreach partner in Sierra Leone, EduNations, experienced two disasters in the past two weeks. EduNations builds and operates schools in under-resourced communities in the largely impoverished west African nation.

On February 2, a dormitory building in their Senior Secondary School in Rokassa was destroyed by fire. The blaze was contained to one building, and no injuries were reported.

On January 24, a storm in the village of Mayatta tore the roof off a building that housed teacher’s offices, staff room, and classrooms for grades 4, 5, and 6. Books, supplies, and furniture were ruined by wind and rain.

EduNations placed the cost to rebuild the damaged structures and replace the lost contents at $50,833:

  • Rokassa dormitory reconstruction: $34,579
  • Rokassa dormitory furniture: $6,658
  • Rokassa student and teacher clothes and belongings: $4,896
  • Mayatta Primary School reconstruction: $4,700

“Thankfully, nobody was injured in the fire, but the damage was catastrophic and left the building demolished and completely destroyed all of the belongings of the 39 staff and students who lived in that dormitory,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk and Founder of EduNations. “In Mayatta, the principal and teachers did their best to rush as many academic and teaching materials to another building as soon as they could, but many books, school and office supplies, and furniture were gravely affected.”

The EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund is accepting contributions to help EduNations rebuild. Secure online donations can be made at, which also includes instructions for donating by check and text-to-give.

“As we have seen in recent months with Hurricane Ian and the tornado in Selma, Ala., the generosity of the EPC when disaster strikes is one of our hallmarks,” Weaver said. “Now it’s our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone who find themselves in dire circumstances.”

On January 24, a storm in the village of Mayatta, Sierra Leone, tore the roof off a building that housed teacher’s offices and classrooms for grades 4, 5, and 6 at the EduNations Hope Academy Primary School.

World Outreach names three to staff positions


World Outreach (WO), the international missions arm of the EPC, has named three individuals to staff positions at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Jordin Greer is the new Assistant Director of World Outreach; Torres Kearney joins the staff as Executive Assistant to Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of World Outreach; and Carla Cora will serve World Outreach as Accounting Analyst.

Jordin Greer

Greer comes to WO from Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kan., where she served as a Pastoral Resident. She also served as an adjunct professor at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan., teaching undergraduate students in New Testament and basic Christian doctrine.

Her responsibilities at Eastminster included preaching, pastoral care, and developing and implemented a membership discipleship plan. A Kansas native, she is a graduate of Sterling College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Greer is an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Great Plains with ministry experience in Guatemala, Albania, Macedonia, the Philippines, Spain, and numerous domestic mission projects.

“Missions has been a part of my life since my call to ministry in 2013,” Greer said. “I believe God is the great initiator of mission and has invited us to partner with Him. I am excited, humbled, and extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve World Outreach in whatever way I can.”

Torres Kearney

Kearney joins the WO staff from First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., where she served as Mission and Discipleship Coordinator. She was a member of FPCO’s Orlando Heart of the City Fellows Program from 2020-2021 and also served at Third Millennium Ministries, an EPC Approved Mission Agency, as an Assistant Project Manager.

A native of Dublin, Ohio, Kearney is a graduate of Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., where she received the prestigious “Senior Woman of the Year” recognition in 2020.

“I am so excited to join the World Outreach team,” Kearney said. “Over the years the Lord has grown my heart for the world and blessed me with different opportunities to pursue this passion. I am grateful for his provision of a position at World Outreach.”

Carla Cora

Cora serves both WO and the EPC Finance Department led by CFO Pat Coelho. She and her family immigrated to the United States from Brazil in 2022, where she was a Managing Partner for D.F.C. Manutenção de Equipamentos Médicos, a medical equipment maintenance company, and served as an Elder at Bola de Neve Church in São Paulo. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Toledo University Center (Unitoledo) in São Paulo.

“I remember once praying and saying, ‘Father, I just want to serve you, please always prepare an opportunity for me. And here I am!’” Cora said. “I love seeing the gospel moving forward and being able to be a part of that in some way cheers up my heart so much!”

“In bringing Carla, Torres, and Jordin onto our team, the Lord has answered a multitude of prayers, and generously provided,” de Guia said. “I’m excited for their passion for the mission and the giftings they each bring to their roles with EPC World Outreach.”

EPC pastors hold prominent roles at World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly


Rob Norris (right) convenes the Sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship on October 27 at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla. Seated are (from left) Case Thorp, FPCO Senior Associate Pastor for Evangelism, and Davi Gomes, WRF International Director.

Church and denominational leaders from the EPC held leading positions at the Sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) in October. The WRF meeting was held at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., with the theme, “The Nature and Mission of the Church.”

In noting that “the church is at the core of who we are,” Rob Norris opened the meeting on October 27. Norris is the WRF’s Chairman of the Board and serves as Teaching Pastor for the EPC’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md. Norris also led the second Plenary session, “The Worship of the Church.”

“Everything that we are and everything we do as the community of Christ is designed to move towards the glory of God,” he said. “At the very center of our adoration is the blessing and the work of Jesus Christ.”

Norris added that the worship of God can only be accomplished in and through Christ.

“To approach God in any other way is unacceptable,” he emphasized. “Jesus also said the Father is seeking such to worship Him. In this worship we have direct access to the Father’s presence. Quite simply, the Father is seeking exclusive worship—that we would worship Him. He is seeking those who worship in spirit and truth. We are to be devoted to God through and through. To worship the Father in truth means according to the specifics that He revealed about Himself.”

“The Church Under Pressure from the State”

On October 28, EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver participated in a panel discussion, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.”

EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver (left) participated in a panel discussion on October 28, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.”

In response to a question about EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson’s two-year imprisonment in Turkey from 2016-2018, Weaver noted the contrast between the Turkish and American governments.

“In Turkey, he experienced real persecution from the Turkish government. On the other side, the EPC—working to try to get freedom for Andrew—found a partner in the U.S. government to secure his freedom.”

Weaver noted that pressure on the church in the United States is likely different from that experienced by his fellow panelists.

“Pressure seems to be coming more from the culture than from the government,” he said, adding that societal pressures too often result in division rather than unity.

“The way the church in the U.S. is responding to pressure has been divisive, and it’s over things that aren’t even necessarily doctrinal,” Weaver said. “When the dust settles, 20 percent of the congregation is gone because you did or did not wear masks, and 20 percent of the people are new because you did or did not wear masks. People have made those decisions not on theological convictions but on political convictions.”

He also expressed concern over the church’s response to pressure, more than the pressure itself.

“Pressure is not in-and-of-itself is bad, but if we could see it as under the sovereignty of God rather than something to be avoided, then I think it should unite us. And yet in the last two years the pressure from the pandemic has divided the church.”

Weaver referenced discussions with EPC pastors over the past year to illustrate the point.

“What I have heard from a number of pastors in the EPC is that while attendance is down post-pandemic, giving is about the same. So it appears that the pressure of the pandemic maybe pruned away some who perhaps were not all that connected or invested, but those who have stayed are strong and just as —if not more—committed.”

Other panelists were John McClean, Vice Principal of Christ College in Sydney, Australia; Kin Yip Louie, Associate Professor in Theological Studies at China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong; and Sichan Siv, who escaped the “killing fields” of Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime in 1976, and later served U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2001-2006. He currently serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas.

“Made to Flourish: Faith and Work”

Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor of Evangelism and The Collaborative for host church FPCO and Moderator of the EPC’s 39th General Assembly, led a seminar on October 28, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work.”

Case Thorp led a seminar, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work” on October 28.

In describing his title, Thorp explained that The Collaborative is FPCO’s evangelism ministry.

“Note that in the name is “co-labor,” Thorp noted. “It is based on 1 Corinthians 1:9 where we are invited by God into fellowship with Christ.”

He also described how The Collaborative approaches evangelism from a relational perspective within the context of the community outside the church.

“At FPCO, we talk about living missionally in our family, neighborhood, and our vocation—and that’s the Collaborative,” Thorp said. “Our focus is discipleship of Christ-followers for their effectiveness in and through their work, and through the culture of their company. I know theology and Bible, but our people know the culture and jargon of their industries. They know where the brokenness and idols are. So we come alongside.”

“Distinguished by Christ”

David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, concluded the Assembly with his message, “Distinguished by Christ,” on Sunday morning, October 30.

Preaching from Matthew 16:13-20, Swanson address some of the deepest questions about identity.

David Swanson, FPCO Senior Pastor, preached the conclusion of the Assembly on October 30.

“Who are we in our identity in Christ? Who are we in relationship to the Bride of Christ that God has called us to inhabit and be part of from the moment of our conversion? Who am I in relationship to all my other brothers and sisters? And then Who are we as a church in relationship to the rest of the world? How are we known? How does the world know us? And how do we know each other?”

He said all those questions are critical in the life of the church.

Referencing the Matthew 16 text, Swanson said it was time for the central issue of that day and time to be clarified: Who is Jesus? He emphasized that the question continues to be asked.

“What is staggering to me is that people today get to that place where they are trying to figure out who Jesus is, and they let ‘I’m not sure’ be their answer. They just stop searching. I mean, if there is even the most remote possibility that Jesus could actually be the incarnate Son of God and the Savior of the world don’t you think you ought to get that nailed down? Don’t you think you ought to at least explore? And as the church today, don’t you think we ought to have that question nailed down?”

Assembly Business

In Assembly business, commissioners heard a report from the Theological Commission which presented a proposed Statement on Ecclesiology. The 22-page statement encompassed 12 sections: The Trinity and the Church, The Nature of the Church, The Church and the Kingdom of God, The Church as a Covenant People, The Authority of the Church, The Liturgy of the Church, The Gifts and Ministry of the Church, The Unity of the Church, On Separation and Schism, On Church and Parachurch, The Mission of the Church, and Application of Ecclesiology.

Luder Whitlock, EPC Teaching Elder and former President of Reformed Theological Seminary, opened the WRF business session with prayer on October 28.

The Assembly also honored Luder Whitlock, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean and former member of the EPC National Leadership Team, for his role in founding the WRF in 2000. Whitlock hosted the organizing meeting of the WRF with leaders from the World Fellowship of Reformed Churches and the International Reformed Fellowship.

The WRF is comprised of more than 73 denominational members in 30 countries, 54 congregational members in 26 countries, 114 organizational members in 30 countries, and 374 individual members in 53 countries.

Designed to offer a gathering point where Reformed leaders can work out mutually beneficial cooperative agreements, the WRF focuses on the contemporary needs of the international Reformed community, such as the plight of persecuted Christians, religious freedom, societal changes, incorporation of theological education, missions, publications, and the expansion of evangelical fellowship into all parts of the world.

The EPC is a denominational member of the World Reformed Fellowship.

Church revitalization, global ministry engagement headline “In All Things” podcast episode 50 with Doug Resler


Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo., is the guest for episode 50 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Resler discuss the benefits a congregation receives when its pastor is involved in ministry beyond their local church, as well as Resler’s passion for church revitalization and the importance of that process starting with a revitalized pastor and Session. In addition, Resler describes how global engagement helps the church minister to the world that is coming to the United States in increasing numbers.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, to host World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly


First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., is hosting the sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) October 27-30, 2022. Held once every four years, the theme of this year’s meeting is “The Nature and Mission of the Church.”

“This inspirational gathering of Reformed believers from all over the world will include daily worship, a Friday evening outreach concert, workshops on a multitude of important topics, and plenty of time for relationship-building and fellowship,” said David Swanson, FPCO Senior Pastor. “Come to Orlando and join us for what promises to be a very significant time together. With so much upheaval and pain in our world, we need to be together prayerfully for the gospel.”

The Moderator of the Assembly is Rob Norris, Teaching Pastor for the EPC’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md.

On Friday, October 28, EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver will participate in an 11:00 a.m. panel discussion, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.” Case Thorp, Moderator of the EPC’s 39th General Assembly, will lead a 4:00 p.m. seminar on Friday, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work.”

Swanson will preach the concluding worship service on Sunday, October 30.

Among the variety of other speakers are Michael Aitcheson, Senior Pastor of Christ United Fellowship (PCA) in Orlando; Michael Allen, Professor of Systematic Theology and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando; Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.; Davi Gomes, WRF International Director and former head of the Andrew Jumper Presbyterian Graduate School of Theology of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil; and Andrew McGowan, Director of the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology in Dingwall, Scotland.

Leaders from several EPC World Outreach partner ministries also will appear, including Richard Pratt, President of Third Millennium Ministries, and Steve Curtis, International Director of the Timothy Two Project International.

For more information and to register, see

“In All Things” podcast episode 37 features longtime EPC Sierra Leone ministry partner Samuel Sesay


Samuel Sesay, missionary evangelist with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone and President of EduNations is the guest for episode 37 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Sesay discuss his journey to faith from a Muslim background within the syncretic religious environment of Sierra Leone. Sesay also describes the mission and vision of EduNations, which operates 15 Christian schools with more than 3,500 students in predominantly Muslim villages in the West African country, as well as how the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone—which has witnessed more than 1,000 baptisms in the past eight years—was birthed from the ministry of EduNations.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

Sesay presents 3 Circles evangelism tool in Sierra Leone, West Africa


After returning to Sierra Leone from the 42nd General Assembly in June, Samuel Sesay presented the 3 Circles personal evangelism tool to the congregation at Grace Community Church in Freetown. Sesay is a Missionary Evangelist in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone and also currently serves as President of EduNations, Inc.

Among the items of business approved by the Assembly was for the EPC to enter into a formal fraternal relationship with the EPC of Sierra Leone. The 3 Circles is the recommended evangelism tool of the EPC’s Church Health Team. For more information, see


“In All Things” podcast episode 26 explores confluence of student ministry and missions mobilization with Shawn Stewart


Episode 26 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Shawn Stewart, Mobilization Coordinator for EPC World Outreach. This week, host Dean Weaver and Stewart discuss what mobilization is and how he serves the denomination in his role. Stewart also describes some challenges related to finding those whom God has called for service, and how World Outreach is ministering among refugees in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, he reflects on his early days in student ministry, including how he integrated the concept of “holy sweat: the blessing of sweating and serving” into the student groups he worked with.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

International Disaster Relief Fund receives $437,000 to date


As of Thursday, May 5, $437,481 has been donated to the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund. This amount includes two separate gifts of $50,000 each and nine additional donations of $10,000 or more.

“I should never be surprised at the generosity of the EPC when people are in need,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Our churches and church members have demonstrated God’s love over and over again when the need is the greatest.”

The fund was launched on March 1 in response to the crisis in Ukraine, with contributions to the fund currently being sent to EPC partners in Eastern Europe that are helping with refugee efforts.

Bruce Anderson, Director of the International Theological Education Network of EPC World Outreach, said donations are meeting humanitarian needs, including “tons and tons of food supplies for people who are running out of food. They have no access and are even running out of water.”

He added that some of the money was used to distribute Bibles, Christian literature, trauma kits and medicine, as well as purchasing two vehicles being used for evacuation efforts.

Bruce Anderson

“Our friends have distributed 1 million prayer, Scripture, and gospel booklets that were printed up in the Ukrainian language and distributed inside Ukraine for people who are broken and crying out to God,” he said. “Many of them are not yet followers of the Lord but are turning toward Him.”

Anderson reported that $115,000 in donations recently wired arrived “just in time.”

“Our partner in Poland sent me a text message in which he told me that they had 20 tons of food, medicine, and essential items ready for shipping, but another partner had not sent them the money for the transportation cost. They feel the urgency, right? They know people are dying and are being traumatized, and they are going to send the supplies without having money,” Anderson said.

“So his text says, ‘we prayed this morning about funds NOW—N.O.W. capitals—for this transportation. After the prayer, I opened the account and received the EPC gift for Ukraine. God is great! Praise the Lord for His timing!’”

Anderson noted that donations are not only helping provide material assistance, but also arrived in “God’s time” for those ministry partners “to know, as he said to me, that God is with us and the EPC is with us and we are not alone.”

Click here to donate to the International Disaster Relief Fund.

The purpose of the Fund is to help relieve suffering when needs arise round the world that are outside the scope of the domestic EPC Emergency Relief Fund, which is used for situations in North America.

“In All Things” podcast episode 22 describes EPC Ukraine relief efforts with Bruce Anderson


Episode 22 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Bruce Anderson, Founder and Coordinator of the International Theological Education Network (ITEN) of EPC World Outreach. This week, host Dean Weaver and Anderson discuss how relationships built over more than two decades of ministry in Eastern Europe are providing avenues for donations to the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund to be put to immediate use helping people suffering in the war in Ukraine.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

“In All Things” podcast episode 16 examines loving Muslims with Timothy Harris


Episode 16 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Timothy Harris, longtime EPC Teaching Elder. Host Dean Weaver and Harris discuss Harris’ life in ministry, including his recent book, Loving Your Muslim Neighbor: Stories of God using an Unlikely Couple to Love Muslim People, and How He Might Use You to Do the Same. The book is available at

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

EPC World Outreach to hold weekly virtual prayer meetings for Ukraine


In response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and eastern Europe, EPC World Outreach is hosting virtual prayer gatherings at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) each Thursday in March. The meetings will be held via Zoom and are available to all with registration required.

Gabriel de Guia

“We held a virtual prayer gathering on short notice last Thursday, and more than 100 people registered,” said Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of World Outreach. “It was a powerful time of intercession, as well as an opportunity to hear reports from the field—glimpses of what God’s people are doing in this crisis to meet the needs of many in Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, and Russia.”

In addition, de Guia said opportunities for assistance were “talked about and prayed over.”

“We have many opportunities to come alongside this gospel work and how the EPC International Disaster Relief Fund will be used in sending resources to those engaged on the front lines,” de Guia explained. He said World Outreach is focusing on three strategic locations to deploy donations to the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund:

1. Poland. Bruce Anderson, Director of World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN), is coordinating with a long-time trusted ministry partner in Lublin, Poland. Donations would support threefold efforts:

  1. Assisting Christian chaplains in Ukraine who bring medicines, medical supplies, other personal supplies, and gospel ministry to soldiers throughout Ukraine. These chaplains do not carry weapons but need helmets and vests.
  2. Help evacuate disadvantaged people in Ukraine who are at particular risk.
  3. Help provide food, clothing, housing arrangements, and other necessities of Ukrainian refugees coming to Lublin.

2. Hungary. World Outreach global workers who live in Hungary are already housing two families who have fled Ukraine. Opportunities to help other families increase by the moment.

3. Czech Republic. A ministry partner of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn., is involved with ministry to refugees in Prague. He is in Prague now, assessing the situation firsthand. Ministry teams are responding to an absence of any organization as busloads of Ukrainians are dropped off at stations with nowhere to go to provide shelter and basic needs.

“There’s constant flux in this chaotic moment and other opportunities will arise,” de Guia said. “But for now, these are the clearest ones for us to engage in based on trusted relationships.”

Click here to register for the prayer gathering. Click here to donate to the International Disaster Relief Fund.

International Disaster Relief Fund launched as Ukraine crisis widens


The EPC has launched an international disaster relief fund to help relieve suffering when needs arise round the world that are outside the scope of the domestic EPC Emergency Relief Fund, used for situations in North America.

“The crisis in Ukraine is dire, and we are called to help as we are able,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Our existing relief fund is not set up for this type of need. This new fund will provide a way for people to give when disaster strikes in areas where we work but where we don’t have EPC churches.”

Weaver noted that donations to the fund will be forwarded to EPC World Outreach workers “on the ground” in affected areas, international ministry partners, or to appropriate other agencies and organizations at the discretion of EPC leadership.

“The need right now is almost unfathomable with the mass migration of displaced people fleeing Ukraine,” said Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach. “Women and children are leaving the country with little more than the clothes on their backs, while the men are required to stay behind and fight. It’s heartbreaking to think that for some of them it is their last goodbye.”

Click here to donate to the International Disaster Relief Fund.

Contributions are tax-deductible, and donations that exceed directly related disbursements will be held for other international humanitarian disaster relief situations.

Thank you for providing help to those in need.

World Outreach offers prayer suggestions for Ukraine


But the Lord sits enthroned forever; He has established His throne for justice, and He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the peoples with uprightness. The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. —Psalm 9:7-10

Scripture continually reminds us that the Lord is enthroned forever; He is in control, establishing His throne for justice. The Kingdom of God has come, despite the chaos and darkness around us. He promises to always be with His people and that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Would you please pray with us for peace in the region, and even more that all those people would know the name of our living Lord and put their trust in Him!

  • Pray for all involved in the region to know the name of our Lord and put their trust in Him. People often turn to the Lord in crises.
  • Pray for peace in the region and wisdom as leaders work toward that peace.
  • Pray for our ministry partners in the region. Some are in the middle of the situation; others are out of immediate harm’s way, but sanctions have closed the movement of funds and ongoing ministry in the area.
  • Pray for all the ministries located in countries bordering Ukraine that are taking in thousands of refugees. These refugees are women, children, and older men (younger men, age 18-60, have been required to remain in Ukraine and be available to fight). Approximately 120,000 Ukrainians have fled to other countries, including Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Czechia (the Czech Republic). This number is expected to swell greatly.

Additional Resources

These articles offer context and additional prayer needs for Ukraine:

Prayer requested for Ukraine


The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), of which the EPC is a member, joins the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) in condemning the violation of international law by Russia and calling for an immediate end to the attacks on Ukraine. WEA and EEA also call upon churches around the world to pray for restoration of peace.

“We join our brothers and sisters around the world in prayer for peace in Ukraine,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “May God grant peace and safety to those in harm’s way. We pray that God would use this tragic situation for His ultimate glory, and that Ukrainians and Russians alike will come to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior in the midst of this crisis.”

Thomas Schirrmacher, WEA Secretary General Bishop, said, “We are gravely concerned to yet again witness armed conflict that will inevitably lead to tragic loss of human lives, including innocent civilians who only desire to live in peace. We call for an end to the hostilities, an immediate ceasefire, and respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity. We also call on the global Christian community to pray for peace in Ukraine. Europe has witnessed the horrors of war in the past and has learned that armed conflict and military occupation only bring suffering and devastating.”

The European Evangelical Alliance released the following statement:

“The European Evangelical Alliance condemns all attacks upon Ukraine. General Secretary Thomas Bucher said, ‘We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos, and misery that will result.’ The EEA calls upon Christians to pray for all who suffer and for those who have the power to save lives and bring humanitarian aid and protection. And let us pray for all those with the power to stop the war and to bring about long-term peace.”

Formed in 1846, the WEA seeks to strengthen local churches through national alliances, supporting and coordinating grassroots leadership and seeking practical ways of showing the unity of the body of Christ. For more information, see

The EEA exists to foster unity and evangelical identity and provide a voice and platform to evangelical Christians. Seeking empowerment by the Holy Spirit, it extends the Kingdom of God by proclamation of the gospel to all nations and by Christ-centered transformation within society. For more information, see

Collaboration Team seeks to grow inter-department discussion, ministry efforts


Led by Michael Davis, the EPC’s Chief Collaboration Officer, representatives from a variety of EPC ministries and committees met via video conference on February 10 to cultivate and enhance ministry efforts. The goal of the monthly meetings is to enhance alignment between the Office of the General Assembly, EPC World Outreach, the Next Generation Ministries Council, the Revelation 7:9 Task Force, and other permanent and interim committees of the denomination.

“God has always made sure that we had a redemptive plan, not just for the here-and-now, but for the generations to come,” Davis said. “In our mission, vision, and every component in which we do our ministry, it’s not just to think about what we are doing now but how it will affect generations down the road.”

He emphasized that the next generation of leaders in the EPC—whether they serve in the local church, on the mission field, or in denominational staff roles—are affected “by what we do now. We are not just seeking to be effective and efficient in aligning the strategic priorities for strategy’s sake. We want to align so we look like a puzzle that’s all together and not separated into our parts.”

Davis also noted the strategic priorities of Multiplication (church planting), Transformation (church health), Global Movement, and Effective Biblical Leadership “are not just a good idea. We are setting the landscape and the trajectory to teach our children, and hopefully their children’s children, how to effectively win people for the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The group discussed ways to identify and enhance alignment, as well as some tactics for collaborating across the various committees and ministry areas.

Joining Davis were Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach; Jason Dunn, Associate Director of World Outreach; Greg Aydt, Chairman of the Next Generation Ministries Council; Andrew Smith, Co-Chairman of the Revelation 7:9 Task Force; Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk; Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk; Brian Smith, EPC Director of Communications and Digital Strategies; and Vanessa Mullendore, Strategic Priorities Administrative Assistant.

Prayer requested for Kazakhstan in wake of January riots


In the aftermath of January riots in Kazakhstan, leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Kazakhstan have requested prayer for the Lord to restore peace and stability in the country.

Between January 2-6, citizens across the Central Asian nation took to the streets to express dissatisfaction with a spike in gas prices. Some of the protests escalated into violence. The Kazakh government reported 227 deaths and nearly 10,000 arrests, but unofficial reports have put the death toll as high as 2,000.

“No one from our church and Presbytery was hurt or injured,” one of the EPC’s ministry partners in Kazakhstan reported by email. “Churches continue to be online at this time due to Omicron-spreading issues, but after January 31 we think we should be allowed to meet in our buildings. Could you please lift up in prayers our country, our people, and the Church in Kazakhstan? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver is asking all EPC congregations to pray.

“We have had a long-time fraternal relationship with The Presbyterian Church of Kazakhstan,” Weaver said. “They are wonderful followers of Jesus and great partners in the gospel. In Galatians 6:2, the Bible calls us to share one another’s burdens. I hope each of our congregations will do that in prayer.”

In this video from The Telegraph, protesters in Kazakhstan’s largest city stormed the presidential residence and the mayor’s office on January 5 and set both on fire as demonstrations sparked by a rise in fuel prices escalated sharply in the Central Asian nation.

“In All Things” podcast episode 3 highlights EPC World Outreach with Gabriel de Guia


Episode 3 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach. This week, host Dean Weaver and Gabriel discuss Gabriel’s journey to faith in Christ, more than 20 years serving with Cru, and now leading the global missions arm of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at

Presbytery of the Alleghenies golf tournament raises $42,000 for EduNations


Thanks to the sponsorship and participation of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, EduNations hosted its third annual golf outing in September at Avalon Golf and Country Club in Sharon, Pa.

Motivated by compassion for “the least of these,” EduNations gives forgotten children tangible reasons to hope. More than teaching ABCs, EduNations creates schools in Sierra Leone, West Africa, that become beacons of growth and learning. In addition to providing education to children during the week, these schools function as the center for their communities’ development by providing clean water, health education, AIDS prevention, adult education, future vocational training, and community empowerment. Through partnership with the EPC, many first-generation believers have been born in the six remote villages where EduNations has schools. As part of the Engage 2025 initiative of EPC World Outreach, the Presbytery of the Alleghenies has adopted two of these remote villages—Rokassa and Fintonia.

With the support of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, EduNations held its first golf outing fundraiser in 2019 to support the construction of its first boarding high school, which officially opened in January 2021. This two-story school building in Rokassa enables EduNations students from all six remote communities to receive a high school education, focusing in either Science, Commercial Business, or Liberal Arts. In addition, students live in dormitories with the other boarding students and receive three meals each day. In 2020, funds raised at EduNations’ golf outing supported room and board expenses for the first class of 130 high school students who started attending the Senior Secondary School in January 2021.

The goal of this year’s golf outing was to “Send More to School” and provide room and board for EduNations’ second class of students entering the Senior Secondary Boarding School in Rokassa. The boarding school is a big step for EduNations because prior to this, students who had passed the national Basic Certificate Exams after junior secondary school (the equivalent of middle school in the U.S.) simply had nowhere to go to further their education. Now, students from all villages will have the chance to complete an undergraduate education in a Christian environment. This opportunity to directly impact students’ spiritual lives is invaluable, as all of them are entering an age where they can really make their faith their own.

Thanks to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies and all who supported and participated in this year’s golf outing, EduNations raised $42,000—an increase of $10,000 over the 2020 fundraiser. This year, about 260 students are attending EduNations Senior Secondary Boarding School in Rokassa. We are looking forward to seeing how these students, who are for the first time in their lives removed from the Islamic beliefs and practices of their parents, will be impacted spiritually as they are exposed to the gospel and discipled in their young and growing faith. Thank you!

by Sarah Pietryga
Development Coordinator, EduNations

With the support of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, EduNations golf outing fundraisers have helped support the construction of its first boarding high school, which officially opened in January 2021. This two-story school building in Rokassa, Sierra Leone, enables EduNations students from all six remote communities to receive a high school education, focusing in either Science, Commercial Business, or Liberal Arts. In addition, students live in dormitories with the other boarding students and receive three meals each day.

World Outreach webinar to address Afghanistan crisis, opportunity


In response to the crisis in Afghanistan, EPC World Outreach is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, August 25, at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern). “Afghanistan Crisis and Opportunity: How Your Church Can Respond” will provide answers to the questions of how followers of Jesus can respond to the Afghan crisis and refugees coming to the U.S.

“We will talk about God’s heart for the refugees, how to be in prayer for Afghanistan and God’s Kingdom there, and how we in the EPC can reach out in practical ways to Afghan refugees that are coming to the U.S.” said Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of World Outreach.

To register for the webinar, go to

“We want to give specific ways for people to be praying for the situation in Afghanistan,” de Guia added. “One of our workers who is intimately involved in that region and among those people sent us the prayer points below. All of us in World Outreach encourage our EPC brothers and sisters to join us in prayer in the coming days and weeks for God’s glory to be revealed in Afghanistan and among the Afghan refugees.”

Prayers from a World Outreach global worker

  1. Peace of heart. Too many people are crowding the airport and making rash decisions, including believers—albeit they have reason for concern. God is in control and has higher authority than the Taliban.
  2. Relief to internally displaced people. Thousands of Afghans fled their homes to flock to Kabul, only to get caught there now but they are without much food, water, or money. No one is there to help them that we know about.
  3. Civil government. God ordains rulers and kings. The new rulers have the task of running a civil government and society that is stable and peaceful. Even if it is along lines we do not prefer, such laws have not stopped the Church in the past nor will it now.
  4. Protection from fear and boldness of believers. Evacuation is not the best route for every believer nor all Afghans. Looking to the West has become an idol. God is able to protect them and make the Good News to those around them now and protect them even unto death.
  5. Opportunity for Christian workers to Afghanistan. Once there is order there will be a huge need for humanitarian/Christian aid organizations to return. We worked under them before and will likely do so again.
  6. God’s Kingdom to come to Afghanistan. There are no human solutions. Not armies, nor money, nor training, etc. have been able to change their hearts, the real root of the problem. Only God can do that through Jesus.

2021 Leadership Institute: The Israel of God


In the 2021 Leadership Institute seminar The Israel of God, Mike Kuhn examined an array of passages from both the Old and New Testaments in light of the question, “how we should understand ‘Israel’ biblically?” He also considered three implications regarding the current state of Israel:

First, the identity boundaries of Israel were never ethnic but covenantal.

“The sign of the covenant was the identity marker,” he said.

Second, the Old Testament anticipates what the New Testament teaches—an expansion of those boundaries in terms of both land and people.

Third, all nations are included in the Israel of God—people—and the promised land is a renewal of all creation.

“Jesus, in word and action, gave sufficient indication that the true people of God are those people who believe the testimony about Him and join themselves to him to become one with Him,” Kuhn said. “Jesus is the spiritual progenitor of a new people, a new nation consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.”

Kuhn emphasized that this new nation is the inclusive and expansive continuation of Old Testament Israel.

“The difference is that now the anointed prophet, priest, and king has appeared—God’s eternal purpose for His people is fulfilled in Christ,” he said. “To use the language of Hebrews, the shadow has now given way to the reality. In Christ, God’s purposes are not merely proclaimed, but achieved. Christ is the Israel of God.”

Kuhn serves as Missional Theology Specialist for EPC World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN). For more than 28 years, he lived in three different Arab countries: Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, where he served as Professor of Biblical Theology and Discipleship at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut from 2012-2018.

The Leadership Institute is an equipping component of the annual General Assembly meeting.


Phil Linton reflects on seven years as Director of World Outreach


Phil Linton

At the end of this month, I will step down after seven years as Director of World Outreach. I want to reflect here on four developments I’ve seen in our work during that time.

Internationalized Church-planting Teams

The EPC World Outreach global workers we send out from North America almost always end up teaming with spiritual brothers and sisters sent out from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These relationships are rarely orchestrated from denominational or mission agency headquarters, but rather are organic partnerships that grow as disciple-makers from very different cultures discover each other working on the same task directed by the same Spirit.

Second-generation EPC WO Global Workers

By Presbyterian standards EPC World Outreach is relatively young, having sent out its first workers in 1985. But in recent years we have seen adult children (Jackie, Peter, and Josh) from three different EPC WO families return with the EPC into full-cycle church planting among people with least access to the gospel. With these folks we build on the foundation of decades of the very best preparation for cross-cultural ministry.

Repatriated Immigrant Global Workers

The dream of escape to America—the Land of Opportunity—is still very much alive throughout much of the world. Few who have achieved that dream give it up and return to the lands of their birth, but we in EPC World Outreach have several families where at least one spouse fits that description. These families have unusual credibility with neighbors who recognize they are animated by a power greater than material success. Coupling that credibility with a deep understanding of local culture to share the gospel has had a major impact in many cases.

National Church Missional Leaders

As World Outreach Director, I receive several requests each week from Christians around the world, asking for “partnership.” Of course, partnership may have many different meanings, but usually these appeals are for funds to carry out ministry in their communities. As important as these ministries are, I routinely turn down such requests to focus our resources and energies on a different kind of partnership.

World Outreach has developed close relationships with church leaders in Asia and Africa whose eyes are always on the frontiers of their communities. They look beyond where their churches are, to the neighborhoods, villages, and towns where no churches are. They pray for those places; they go to those places; they train and send people to those places; and EPC WO comes alongside to help them. Our efforts here become magnified and multiplied for a hundred-fold effect.

One final note: these developments in World Outreach have been gifts from God through the labors of people other than me. It has been the labors of loving missionary parents which have borne sweet fruit in the lives of our World Outreach MKs. It has been the faithful service of elders in our presbyteries who nurtured relationships with national church missional leaders in places like Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Albania, and Russia. It has been EPC pastors who welcomed and befriended immigrant Christians in their congregations, and then encouraged and guided them to be sent back by EPC World Outreach. And it has been our WO global workers who have recognized “God’s team” in the faces of El Salvadoran, Brazilian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Albanian, etc. brothers and sisters and reached out hands to work together. To all of you, I say thank you for your service to Christ, and for making my work as WO Director a joy.

Grace and peace,

Phil Linton
Director, EPC World Outreach

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk models Revelation 7:9 with local outreach efforts


A beacon of hope and light sits on the top of a hill in Nassau, Bahamas. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk is a church with a rich history and tradition. It was established in 1810 to bring the rites and traditions of the Church of Scotland to Scottish immigrants—some of whom were “loyalists” banished to the Bahamas following the American Revolution nearly 30 years earlier. But the picturesque, inviting structure houses a congregation that looks very different today than it once did.

“When I arrived at the church in 2010,” said Pastor Bryn MacPhail, “There were about 40 persons attending worship and only two or three children.” He added that the congregation was predominantly white in a country where 90 percent of the population is Black.

“I really believed our church should reflect the diversity of the community around us,” he noted. “I found an orphanage nearby called Ranfurly Home for Children and started volunteering there once a week so I could build a relationship with them.”

Bryn MacPhail

MacPhail also discovered that the church bordered the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhood in the city, known as Bain and Grant’s Town. He began volunteering in a local community center, the Urban Renewal Center, and soon was bringing others from the church with him to play sports, provide tutoring, and take kids to lunch.

“It took a while for people to warm up to us,” MacPhail recalled. “But we kept going, week after week. That went on for a couple of years. Eventually the director of the center told me that most of these kids did not go to church. She suggested that maybe we could find a way to get them there.”

So St. Andrew’s hired a bus and driver, which cost $60 a week. They began driving around the neighborhoods of the inner city, inviting kids to come to church. In the first year and a half, they averaged two to four kids per week on the bus.

Their persistence paid off—eventually the bus filled up with kids from the city, and a second bus was added to bring youth from the Ranfurly Home. On any given Sunday, as many as 50-60 children and youth came for Sunday worship.

MacPhail soon realized that the influx of young people was more than the church could handle, so he asked a local missionary, Bob Mastin, to become the church’s ministry partner. In addition, a St. Andrew’s deacon who had served as Assistant Commissioner of Police stepped in as the point person to help with logistics and to make local connections.

Luncheons for area residents are just one of many ways St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk blesses its neighbors in Nassau.

Mastin, who serves with Bahamas Youth Network, already had a strong rapport with the youth and ran a parallel ministry in Nassau. He had moved to the island in 2017 after several years of visiting on short-term mission trips. As a coach and teacher, his love for youth and passion for sports were natural connection points for helping him relate to inner-city kids.

“My heart is in working with underprivileged kids,” Mastin said. “When I arrived, I was the only white guy in my neighborhood. One day I was out canvassing the streets when the police pulled me over and asked for my ID. They thought I was lost and warned me that I was in a dangerous area. I told them that this is where God had called me and my wife, and we were here to stay because we wanted to help the community in whatever way we could.”

Mastin agreed to partner with St. Andrews while maintaining his commitment to Bahamas Youth Network—which keeps him busy visiting local high schools, coaching soccer, and teaching family life classes.

“We’re all doing this together, and it really is making a huge difference and having an impact,” Mastin noted. “I recently had lunch with two guys who I have built a relationship with. One of them is schizophrenic and has been in the mental hospital 12 times trying to kick a drug habit. He told me that since I came down and brought the gospel, he has found meaning and purpose for his life. I told him that it’s not me, it’s the Lord. And he said, ‘But you are the vessel God used in my life.’”

The partnership between Mastin and St. Andrew’s is bearing fruit in the form of a Thursday night discipleship group with eight boys between the ages of 12 and 18, which started in January.

“We’re studying a curriculum that invites them to talk about painful moments in their lives,” MacPhail said. “One 14-year-old boy shared about how on his sixth birthday he watched the police come and arrest his Dad and take him away. The stories we hear are horrific.”

St. Andrew’s has a long-standing partnership with McDonald’s to provide backpacks and school supplies to children in several neighborhoods near the church in downtown Nassau. The backpacks were filled with books, pens, pencils, and other supplies. Children who received the backpacks attend the St. Andrew’s Sunday School and Big Harvest Community Sunday School.

Mastin believes that growing up in a tough environment has made them more resilient.

“They really are great kids,” he said. “You can see that they are hungry for something different, and they are growing in their faith and seeking after the Lord.”

A few of the youth have chosen to be baptized, and some of them serve on St. Andrew’s audio/visual team.

“I can’t wait to watch their stories unfold,” MacPhail said. “We told them that we will invest in them every week, and our hope is that they will grow in their faith and become deacons and leaders in the church someday. We even promised them that if any one of them feels called to be a pastor we will help with their education.”

The group already has an inspiring role model who is one of their own—Jude Vilma.

“Jude was born in Nassau and grew up in a Haitian Creole community on the island of Abaco, about 100 miles north of here),” MacPhail said. “Through a variety of influences he graduated from high school, received a scholarship to work with Bahamas Youth Network, and started attending college.”

It was around that time that Vilma—who currently is studying at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando—met MacPhail and got connected with St. Andrew’s.

“God called me to full-time ministry, and I served as a Youth Coordinator with the Bahamas Youth Network and also a pastoral intern with St. Andrew’s Kirk,” Vilma noted. “This partnership enabled me to serve in the church and work with this community organization that is big on discipleship. I was also eager to take theology classes online because of my love for God’s Word and for learning.”

Jude Vilma

MacPhail said his dream is that Vilma will one day return to the Bahamas and become the Senior Pastor at St. Andrew’s.

“God’s been gracious to me and has blessed this ministry, but a white foreigner can only do so much,” said MacPhail, who hails from Canada. “Most of our inner-city kids are from a Haitian background, and many of the adults do not even speak English. I believe the church would absolutely explode in size if Jude took over. He can speak to them in a way that I can’t.”

Vilma said that he plans to return to the Bahamas once he has completed his education and as the Lord leads.

“My hope for the church in the Bahamas,” he said, “is that there would be more pastors and leaders who proclaim sound doctrine, that there would be unity among believers, and that Christianity would be seen as a lifestyle—not just a religion or something you do on a Sunday.”

Until Vilma’s hope is realized, MacPhail said St. Andrew’s will continue to faithfully serve their neighbors in Bain and Grant’s Town, even though the pandemic has not made it easy. He said they have been unable to visit the orphanage in 13 months, and they started operating a food pantry out of MacPhail’s office just to try and meet all the needs. He reported that in the past year alone they distributed more than $50,000 worth of food.

“People occasionally ask me what the secret is, and how we have been able to succeed in the face of adversity,” MacPhail said. “I tell them one thing: Just keep showing up.”

by Kiki Schleiff Cherry
EPConnection correspondent