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
July Missions Highlight
The Virtue Family
For this family of five, a day in the life of the Virtue family in Manila, Philippines is filled with many duties and places to be from the moment Brian, Christine, and their children, Morgan, Colin, and Kaelyn, wake up to the time they return to their home and prepare for the end of their long day. The Virtue family’s day begins by leaving the house at 6:20AM so that their three kids can be dropped off at the international school for missionaries. This school, though only five miles away from their home, takes approximately 30 minutes to get to due to the high density of traffic on the only route available. Brian and Christine’s work, IGSL (International Graduate School of Leadership), is in the opposite direction of their children’s school, so they take turns either driving the kids to school and working remotely, or going to the IGSL campus and teaching.
A typical week of work for Brian and Christine includes teaching classes, such as a two-hour leadership and evangelism class, engaging in discipleship during lunch with students, and running a small group once a week to talk about, what Christine expressed as, focusing on one’s “head, heart, and hands.”
This time for the students during the week is reserved for digging deeper into how they are doing personally,discussing what they are learning, and then actually putting into practice what they are learning and doing field ministry. Brian and Christine both expressed the uniqueness and importance of this aspect of their work at IGSL.It not only provides a safe space for the students to connect and grow with the faculty, but it also continues to help refine the students’ passion and faith as future leaders.
After a day full of school and work, the Virtue family returns home around 5:30pm for dinner and to spend time together before lights out at 9:30pm.
As a family who has devoted their lives to international missions, this snapshot story only explores the surface of what the Virtue family experiences in a week. On a daily basis they juggle many hats at IGSL, all while adjusting to a new culture, government and healthcare system, and managing family life. As Matthew 9:36-38, the verse on their support card says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” It is plain to see that the Virtue family is not only being sent themselves as laborers for the Lord, but they are helping prepare more laborers for the harvest that God is preparing in Asia. Let this encourage us to join with them in prayer for individuals in Asia, as well as praying and taking action here in our own community of Long Beach.
Written by: Brooke Jepsen
June Missions Highlight
“The Great Commission” that Jesus spoke to his disciples was “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). In this, “The Great Commission” is not about God commanding his disciples or us in this present day to work for Him, but rather work with Him. God states that he already has all authority and so our ability to do this work with Him comes straight from Him.
As was shared previously in January, this “Great Commission” played out in David’s life through God telling him to go back to his home village (located in Southeast Asia) and share the Gospel with the people there. As David continues to live in this reality week after week, we wanted to take a closer look into what a typical “Great Commission” day looks like in David’s life.
David begins his day in the house of a host, in the village where he’s visiting and training a local church planter. Last night’s meeting went late with prayer, studying the Bible, talking about new believers, others on the edge of coming to Christ, as well as talking about the challenges of persecution faced by the small group of new Christians in that particular village. In this specific village there was an evangelist who had originally come as a pioneer about five months ago. This man had prayed over sick people and saw healing in Jesus’ name which opened the door for the Gospel to be shared. From this moment on, these new believers quietly shared their faith and story of healing with others. There are now three Christian families in this village!
The church planter David met with last night has been a Christian a little more than five years now,and was challenged to come to this particular village, a neighbor to his own, and pioneer the first outreach ever known there. David came to this village and met with this church planter, sharing a Bible text, helping the man grow in faith and understanding; they talked into the late hours about how to get the gospel out carefully to more of the village families. Now it is morning and after a breakfast of rice, fruit, and tea, David gets into his vehicle and travels to another village to do the same thing all over again. Some visits take two days, but most involve one day and an overnight in the host’s house. Food is local and includes whatever the people he is visiting eat—this mostly includes rice with small vegetables, “naan” (bread), and if lucky, an orange for dessert.
David spends approximately 15 days a month visiting church planters in remote villages, these church planters depend on David as their sole lifeline to the Christian world, their own growth, and even God. A day in the life of David truly is not “typical” or “routine” as every day brings something new, yet David continues to work with and alongside God. Just as David is commissioned, so are we. God calls all of us to “make disciples” which is simply pointing others to Jesus, teaching truth we have been taught, and doing what Jesus did.
Written by: Brooke Jepsen
May Missions Highlight
Arbor Road Church missionary Pami Ellis has been serving in the Philippines at Shalom Christian Birthing Home for seven years with Action International Ministries. She grew up in the Philippines as a missionary kid, but came to the U.S. for her education where she obtained her registered nurse licensing and worked for a few years as a nurse. Pami then returned to the Philippines to work with Shalom and eventually became clinical director, which where she is today, seeing new lives brought into the world and others being transformed as they encounter Christ.
One example of this transformational work that Pami is a part of can be seen in the life of a baby recently born a Shalom named Clark. After Clark was born, he was having some trouble breathing. When he did not seem to be improving, an x-ray revealed that he had a hole inside his chest, causing his intestines and stomach to grow where his lungs should have been. Clark was able to receive surgery, but then had to spend a month in the hospital.
During this scary time in Clark’s life, Pami and the staff at Shalom were able to spend a lot of time with Clark’s parents. They learned that his family had been involved in a church, but had stopped going. One of the churches that partners with Shalom “adopted” Clark’s family, meaning they visited the family both at the hospital and home, brought them food, and prayed with them regularly. Using one of the most difficult times in their life, God was calling this couple back to Him.
Sometimes, God will use trials to draw us back to Him. He did this often with Israel. In the Old Testament, we see Israel choose to stop following God time and time again. Usually after this, they would endure a difficult and trying season, such as slavery or exile. In these challenging times they would then find themselves running back into the embrace of the Father. God does this in our lives too. As we face trials on this earth, He longs for us to bring them to Him, ultimately for us to bring ourselves to Him. He explained this to Israel, and it applies to us as well, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
Today Clark is a happy and healthy baby and his parents are actively serving at the church that adopted them during Clark’s time in the hospital. When recounting this story, Pami wrote, “Both Clark’s parents praise God that He used this particular trial to bring them back to Himself.”
Written by: Rachel Berkebile
April Missions Highlight
Often times when we think of missions, we only think of those serving overseas. We sometimes forget that when Christ commissioned the disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15) that whatever part of the word we call home falls under “all the world.” Arbor Road Church missionary Kellee Popp has learned to see high schools here in the U.S., and even more specifically, here in Southern California, as a mission field themselves. Working with National School Project (NSP), Kellee has come to see in a very real way that we are living in “all the world” among “all creation,” specifically high school students who have yet to hear the Gospel.
Growing up Kellee’s education consisted of being homeschooled and going to a Christian school and after graduating she attended a Bible college. Ministry was not ever really on her radar, and in fact she planned on becoming an attorney. During this time, having not contemplated the idea of going into full-time ministry, and really without knowing anything about it, Kellee started to feel the weight of the Gospel and the need to share it. She was feeling full of the Word and decided she needed to start sharing her faith. Also during this time, she began to see the need for youth mentorship. Looking back now, it is clear that through these things God was doing a lot in her heart foundationally, preparing her for the life He had set out for her.
In 2003 Kellee was attending Biola University, and one day while there she was approached by the president of NSP, which at the time was California School Project (CSP). He started their conversation by explaining that there were hundreds of high schools nearby with hundreds of thousands of high school students who didn’t know Jesus. He asked Kellee, in light of this information, “Do you want to start a ministry with me?” Having grown up a homeschooler Kellee had never really thought much about high schools, let alone high school campuses as a place for ministry. She realized though, that through a ministry like this, she would be able to share the gospel with youth right here in Southern California. Something that God had really been putting on her heart a few years prior. Kellee’s answer to his question was “yes” and she became one of the first team members to help start the ministry at NSP.
A year later Kellee was on a high school campus, La Mirada High, for the first time with NSP for their first rally. The students they had been training and equipping over the last year planned to put on a rally in their gym at lunchtime.The students leading the rally were ready to boldly go up on stage in front of all their peers and share the Gospel. The theme was “I agree with DJ”. Each student running the program had been wearing t-shirts that said “I agree with DJ” throughout the day. When other students asked, “What do you agree with?” they told them that DJ believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to find out more they should come to the rally at lunch. Four hundred high school students packed into the gym that afternoon and DJ, an actual Christian student on this campus, boldly shared the gospel. The response was massive, with students standing up and being saved. On their way out of the gym, every student was handed a Bible. And after the rally, Kellee saw students sitting and reading their new Bibles all over campus. In recounting this moment, she said that she would “remember that forever.”
Kellee realized that if Christian students learned how to do this, just like the ones at La Mirada High School, then this could happen on campuses everywhere. Being able to train and watch a high school student like DJ know legally what he could do on his campus and feel empowered to do so was awesome for Kellee. She was blown away by how many students chose to come to the rally on their own, seeing clearly their hunger for truth. Kellee loves the opportunities NSP gives to students. Not only does NSP equip students to share their faith, but it allows those who might never hear the gospel or go to church or read the Bible to learn about these things and have follow-up on their campuses with their friends and peers.
Kellee joined NSP staff in 2007 and has held a number of different positions within the ministry. She is currently the Development Director, which entails communicating with and caring for NSP donors. To date NSP has been able to coach students in 315 schools. We’re so grateful to partner with such a powerful ministry that’s spreading the gospel right here in our midst!
Written by: Rachel Berkebile
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