We desire to share God’s love with people across the world and do this by supporting different missionaries and organizations. Here you’ll find information on our partner organizations, church plants, missionaries we support, global news, and prayer requests from around the world.
"RED DOT" STORIES
March Missions Highlight
Growing up a Muslim in Southeast Asia, Ali often found himself unsatisfied with his religion. He felt in his heart a deep spiritual hunger. Over time, and in spite of knowing that a shift from Islam would bring persecution upon him, Ali came to know and accept Christ into his life. He found the true bread of life that filled the spiritual hunger Islam never could. Knowing this truth was something he had to share, so Ali began preaching the gospel. Over the last ten years his efforts have helped to bring over 2,000 people to Christ,creating many small house churches. For the last year, Ali’s ministry has been connected to and supported by The Timothy Initiative, whose goal is to multiply disciples and disciple-making churches to further God’s Kingdom. This is a ministry that we here at Arbor Road Church are proud to partner with.
Like Ali, the people he has led to Christ live in Muslim communities, facing fierce persecution. One of Ali’s disciples, Gafur has faced much persecution. Gafur came to know Christ through Ali and his teaching in 2013. He was discipled by Ali and after several months, Gafur began teaching as well. He started with his immediate family, leading his wife and two sons to Christ. His ministry then began expanding to extended family and friends, and now Gafur has helped lead nine families and seven individuals to Christ.
Suddenly, because of Gafur’s faithfulness to teach God’s Word, this Muslim village was a small, but growing, Christian community. The Muslim leaders of the village were greatly displeased and began to persecute the small group of believers. Initially, their persecution manifested as slapping, threatening, insulting, and restricting Christians from shopping at the local grocery. Instead of frightening off the believers, these efforts drove them to want to teach the truth to those in their community even more. Seeing that their previous efforts to deter the believers did not work, the village leaders held two meetings in order to persuade the believers to return to Islam. During both of these meetings the believers were not swayed from their faith and instead boldly proclaimed Christ. In response, the Muslim leaders excommunicated the Christians and disallowed them from burying any of their dead in the village cemetery. Seeing this, Gafur donated a piece of land for the believers to meet at and worship together as well as another plot of land in which they could bury their dead. Through the efforts of Ali and Gafur, this small group of believers is growing and becoming a thriving Church community.
The Bible teaches over and over again that the world will hate those who follow Christ. Living here in Long Beach, our community at Arbor Road Church does not face nearly the same sort of persecution that Ali, Gafur, and their small house church communities face. We at Arbor Road Church are thankful to have the opportunity to come alongside our brothers and sisters living in Southeast Asia and help support their efforts to further our Father’s Kingdom.
Written by: Rachel Berkebile
February Missions Highlight
The Virtue Family
Trusting in the Lord, a young father, Andrew, and his family, recently left their home in Bangladesh and moved to the Philippines to study at the International Graduate School of Leadership (IGSL). Andrew grew up Hindu, but after studying the life of Jesus, and with the help of CRU, he gave his life to Christ. He also led his, now, wife to Jesus while they were at university. Unfortunately, when his parents found out about his new faith, they stopped funding his education and have not spoken to him since. So Andrew worked night shifts in order to continue paying for he and his wife’s education. After both of them graduated, being the only Christians in their region, as far as they knew, they felt called into ministry. Their ministry in Bangladesh has thus far consisted of evangelizing and running a program for orphans.
Andrew and his wife are just one example of some of the students that Arbor Road Church missionaries Brian and Christine Virtue are currently mentoring. Brian and Christine, along with their three children Morgan, Colin, and Kaelyn, live and work in Manila, Philippines with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) at the International Graduate School of Leadership (IGSL). Their ministry involves both teaching and mentoring students who come to the university from all around Southeast Asia to gain solid biblical leadership training at a graduate level.
As Brian explained his and Christine’s ministry, he talked about the story of Apollos in Acts 18. Apollos was “fervent in spirit” and used this passion to go into synagogues and speak boldly about Christ. Priscilla and Aquila, friends of Paul, heard Apollos speaking and recognized his love for the Lord, but they also realized he was missing some important information. So they “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Similar to Priscilla and Aquila, Brian and Christine are able to help students, who come to the International Graduate School of Leadership, refine their passion through leadership training and theological teaching. Brian also stressed that one-on-one mentorship is a key part of this training, which is evident in their relationship with people like Andrew and his wife.
As Brian shared more about Andrew, he explained Andrew’s future vision for the ministry he left behind in Bangladesh. After their training at IGSL, Andrew and his wife hope to return to Bangladesh to continue evangelizing through planting churches and reaching out to rejected people groups, including orphans, widows, prostitutes, and elderly seniors.
Written by: Rachel Berkebile
January Missions Highlight
This New Year many of us are thinking about our resolutions, ways in which we can change our lives and make them new, hopefully for the better. All too often we forget the saving grace of Christ makes us new to a degree no gym membership or diet ever could. When we ask Him to enter into our lives, He changes them in ways we would never expect, sometimes bringing us through hardships we could never anticipate. Ultimately, whatever the new year has in store, whatever we may have to endure, He gives us a reason to keep singing his praises.
David, one of the missionaries we support here at Arbor Road Church living in Southeast Asia, was given a newness from Christ that drastically changed his life’s trajectory. David grew up a Hindu, with a different name – Ram. Ram’s father was in the military and when he grew up, he followed in his father’s footsteps. While serving in the military, Ram met his wife and after a few years of marriage they had their first daughter. Only a few months after their daughter’s birth, Ram’s wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was given only a few months to live. Ram cried out to his Hindu gods to help his wife, but they were silent. So, he threw anything having to do with them out of his home. One day, a missionary came to Ram’s house and shared the Gospel with him. Ram listened to this Good News with eagerness and accepted Christ as his Savior. Ram began to pray to God to heal his wife and miraculously, over time, He did. Eventually, Ram’s wife also came to know Christ. Ram and his wife continued to share the Gospel and many of the men Ram worked with in the military were beginning to come to know Christ as well. The military was displeased with this and so they relocated Ram, not only once but twice. Each time, sending him and his family to a more isolated location.
Around the time of the second move, Ram had a dream. In this dream he saw Christ and He was calling him by a different name, David. In this dream, Christ explained to Ram that he was now to go by David because like King David, Ram was a man after God’s heart. Christ then commissioned Ram, now David, saying, “I have given you a new name and a new purpose. You are to leave the military and return home. There, you are to tell others about me and build my church.” David was overjoyed by this news as he longed to return to his village and share the Gospel with his family and others living there.
David did leave the military and he and his family set out on a journey that would change their lives. Over the next few years, David would suffer persecution and imprisonment. His family’s home would be burned down and they would have to run for their lives, but God used them and their ministry to bring thousands to Christ. Today, the ministry of David and his wife consists of multiplying house churches throughout their region, running a school for over 300 children, and housing and raising eighteen orphans (now that the three children of their own are grown and working in or helping with ministries themselves).Their ministry reaches daily into hundreds of villages where no gospel witness ever existed before. Arbor Road Church is proud to be partnering with David to plant churches for four unreached people groups with 150 house churches and more than 500 baptisms reported within just the last three years. As a church we want to pray for protection of these new believers as the gospel multiplies throughout the region.
David’s story mirrors that of the Apostle Paul’s so beautifully. While David was not killing Christians before he came to know the Lord, he was living a life totally counter to the one God had chosen for him. Through his transformational relationship of Christ, David was given a new name and a new life that brings praise and glory to God, much like Paul. David and Paul’s stories also remind us that when we trust our Lord with our old selves, He gives us new life, a life full of purpose and praise, no matter the hardships we face.
Written by: Rachel Berkebile