JOURNEYS

Equipping Great Commission Laborers

Called by God and inspired by an Amazon pastor, Ed White began an organization to spread the gospel in the most unreached places

Dr. Earnie Coalter, a member of Great Commission Resources International (GCRI) vision trip team to Nicaragua in 2008, extends a warm greeting to a girl at a garbage dump in the country's capital city of Managua. Many young girls in the dump are forced into prostitution. GCRI has worked in 2008 to raise funds to build a rescue home for these girls. ©  

Ed White, founder and president of GCRI, interviews slaves in Ghana, West Africa, who were going to be released that day, in order to document their struggle. These former slaves were liberated and in turn were ministered to by Christian leaders in that country. GCRI, 2004, raised support to pay for the release of these women and children slaves, put under slavery as part of a cultural/religious system ruled over by witch doctors. ©  

Sam George, a native missionary in India, delivers a message to a gatherers at an evangelistic gathering. GCRI helped build a Bible training center there, where he teaches pastors how to be better missionaries to their own people. GCRI continues to help build Bible training centers and support other ways to equip indigenous missionaries. ©  

Seven years ago, deep in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, I was first exposed to the hunger indigenous communities have for the gospel. That trip and seeing the passion of a pastor to reach people for Jesus Christ inspired me to work to equip him and others like him with resources to share His saving truth.

Great Commission Resources International (GCRI), the non-profit organization that I formed in 2004 with help from a number of individuals, was created to support indigenous Christian workers. The organization continues to support these Gospel-sharing efforts in a variety of ways, including augmenting feeding programs, construction of facilities, and Bible resources, among a multitude of other things.

That initial trip to the Amazon area occurred in 2003 on a youth mission trip sponsored by the church where I was an assistant to the youth pastor at the time. The pastor in the Amazon with whom we had linked up had invited people from around the area to see the Jesus film (which had been translated to Portuguese). More than 1,000 people came that day, traveling by horse, by canoe, by truck to see the film. I cannot put an exact figure on the number of professions of faith that were made, but I know it was a lot.

After the event, that pastor said to me, “If I only had a generator, I would take the Jesus film up and down the river.” It occurred to me that we didn’t need another Western missionary in the Amazon –we simply had to equip this passionate pastor.

God had given me a job in that moment to equip indigenous pastors. GCRI came to be shortly after that trip to do just that.

Once GCRI was founded, we began to look for other areas of the world with a similar need. God partnered us with other mission organizations already working to advance indigenous work, and we were able to bolster their efforts in helping equip indigenous people.

We started out with small projects, like providing Bibles and bicycles, lanterns, horses, canoes, etc., so that Christian workers could be mobile in spreading the Gospel. We have spread resources to unreached peoples in virtually every area of the globe.

As God grew our organization, and increased our supporters, we began to fund more and more indigenous work (with 100 percent going to the field – our organization is all volunteers).

Now, every six months, or so, we commit ourselves to larger projects, ones that will make very large impacts in the communities in need, such as building a Bible training center or a rescue home for children.

Our first large project of this type was to fund the release (costing about $23,000) of slaves in Ghana West Africa, put under slavery by the cultural/religious practices there. Their release enabled Christian pastors to bring the gospel to those woman and children who previously had been under the domination of the witch doctors who served the local idols.

Our most recent focus was on Ruby Ranch in Nicaragua, where we raised funds to help establish a Christian family retreat outside what is essentially a trash dump community in Managua.

Currently, we hope to fund a ministry in a country in Southeast Asia that assists Christians in the southern region of the country. Numerous Christians across several villages have been forced from their homes at gunpoint, their livestock slaughtered, their water buffalo confiscated, their furniture burned in the village square and their homes destroyed as well. All of this could have been avoided if they would have renounced their faith in Jesus. No one did. GCRI hopes to fund the completion of a Bible training school for the pastors and provide some farm equipment so that these newly relocated Christians can prepare new land for farming.

Throughout seven years of this organization and seeing the Lord move in so many indigenous communities, I have come to this realization: a new paradigm is essential for the Western church if we want to accomplish the Lord’s desire to win the world for Christ. The indigenous missionary speaks the language of the people, understands the culture, lives at the same economic level, and does not contribute to the perception that Christianity is a Western religion.

We’ve set ourselves on that journey…and we continue to link arms with our Christian brothers and sisters in the poor, remote and often persecuted regions of the world—and see lives transformed. To God be the glory!

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Ed White is the founder and president of Great Commission Resources International (www.gcri.org). He may be reached at 757-944-1011 or edwhite7@verizon.net.