Many of our members personally participate in helping to fulfill the Great Commission through giving, praying, and going. We are connected to the Nations and believe it is a great privilege to join our lives to people from many different ethnicities, cultures, and languages. NEO House Church Network is delighted that Northeast Ohio is home to 116 different ethnic groups.
Who we are
NEO House Church Network was forged out of a passion for missions. The initial vision for this church in 2010 emerged in part from the “Perspectives” Course. We are not just a local church with a parochial focus, but are called to be a training and deploying church. From our inception we have encouraged our people to experience the field and generously support mission efforts. Regularly, NEO-HCN folks go to the nations—Tibet, China, Nepal, Thailand, Haiti, Italy, England, Romania, Mozambique, Israel, Ukraine, Malawi, Madagascar, Vietnam, South Korea, South Africa, and Uganda have been some of the more recent destinations. In 2013, 10% of our giving was directed to international missions. That was a start like a toddler’s first steps…so far this year, in 2014, we are on track for approximately 20% of combined total giving going for missions. In time, we believe 50% going toward missions is more in keeping with God’s purposes for us. That is our prayer.
The gravitational pull toward parochialism (an exclusive local focus), ingrownness (we only care about our church or community) and perfectionism (we are never qualified, called, or equipped) is to be fought with intention. Apart from gospel passion and international vision, these three flaws are those toward which churches or movements shrink.
What kind of mission are we called to?
We could do any number of good works in missions and, I suspect, we will always have a variety of people accomplishing a variety of activities abroad. Mercy ministries, orphanages, justice, prayer excursions, medical, and service trips…all are good and should be encouraged. This approach is consistent with what the broader evangelical Church is accomplishing. We certainly affirm a wide variety of missional activities, but is there a specific focus for NEO-HCN that can move the fulfillment of the great commission forward and which reflects our unique DNA?
Do we have a focus in view?
We believe the answer is yes! International flavor should magnify local character. We plant simple churches, operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, host participatory assemblies, and unlock the apostolic character of the Church. Our central international focus we believe should be on the training and equipping of emerging leaders and planters who can multiply simple churches. We can export who we are. If we transplant New Testament church vision and methods, we can leave a lasting mark that may spread throughout a nation.
The Macedonian Call
We receive periodic inquiries concerning training and equipping for Christian workers in new and emerging fields, especially Asia. These inquiries come because of our website or articles Joseph Horevay has written that have exposed a distant leader to NEO-HCN and its teaching. Nepal and India have been the two inquiries which stand out as special. Both are predominantly Hindu regions, yet are very open and there is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s aggressive work there.
Gireesh Nedungadi is a leader of a house church network in Maharashta State in Western India. It is the second most populous Indian state with 110,000,000 residents. It is Hindu and contains 40,000 villages. Gireesh and Joseph Horevay became acquainted in spring of 2013 when Gireesh had 250 house churches. Today he leads 2,000 village-based house churches with 20,000 participants. Gireesh is a first generation Christian and so are all his people. Most of his leaders and disciples are illiterate. There are no experienced Christians in this movement. This is Gireesh’s request: Please come and teach us doctrinal foundations and principles of leadership.
For the past year as we have cared for our own Nepalese house church, the discussion has often turned to visiting and training leaders in the nascent church of Nepal on simple church dynamics and on reproduction. Marlene Morris recently ministered at a woman’s conference there. Nepalese pastors continue to say, “Come!”.
Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan
NEO-HCN’s relationship with Carole Ward has opened the door for us as a fellowship. Carole Ward’s ministry, Favor of God, is based in Uganda. We have been asked to come alongside as teams to help serve and learn with their ministry in Gulu, as well as help train and equip indigenous church planting teams. This invitation may involve travel to the more volatile Southern Sudan. As a church planting movement, NEO-HCN can learn a few things. Their goal is to plant 1,000 churches. Does that sound familiar? Carole has invited Renee and me, as well as a team, to come this February or March to see how NEO-HCN may effectively partner with future teams and longer-term workers.
Conflict and downed jetliners have only stirred the spiritual hunger in the Ukraine. NEO-HCN has backed the orphanage work there in recent years. Veteran Alliance missionaries, forced out of Sevastopol in the Crimea, are settling in Kiev and have asked NEO-HCN if we could send a worker to serve there for one year as they plant a church and establish ministry.
Short-term trips can be life-giving game changers or disasters. Planning plays a big part in the equipping, but training does so especially. We expect any team participant to complete our cross-cultural and ministry training regimen. We will address character, team work, authority, prayer, evangelism, Holy Spirit ministry, the values of NEO-HCN and our international objectives, as well as how to navigate cross-cultural challenges. No one should go without training. Returning teams should debrief as they return so together they can process their various experiences, affirm successes, and reconcile conflicts and disappointments.
What this means for us
The blessing of God seems to follow a commitment to missions. To be sure, passion and ascending spiritual maturity certainly does. We believe missions will spark in us passionate Gospel-centered living and reinforce the necessity of extended prayer, sacrifice, and surrendering our own comforts. Missions will help us become an apostolic movement that can leave a legacy in the nations. You may say “you are not there yet”. I’d say you are right. We are not ready to harvest an oak forest but we are ready to plant acorns.