An interview with 4D founder & president, Hank Paulson, October 2016
The objective was to mobilize 30 churches to reach out to their neighbors with the truth and love of Jesus Christ.
1. Hank, can you give us an overview of how Ambassadors Together went in 2016?
The goal to train, mobilize, and mentor 200 volunteers from 30 evangelical churches throughout Romania, Moldova, and Serbia was achieved. It was a significant increase of 33% over the prior year. Final numbers are: 31 camps/outreach teams, 4662 participants, 399 volunteers and 86 churches involved. (In Moldova, there often were several small churches involved together.) Our aim was to have at least 30% unchurched participants, but the final results are closer to 50% unchurched. Therefore, a very missional experience! Most of them involved week-long camps.
2. Can you describe the overall impact of the project to date?
The impact far extends the summer camps and outreaches. It continues to be felt in the participating churches and by their volunteers and pastors involved. It resulted in new commitments to Christ, new members for the churches, and new ministry callings. Also, it is causing a ripple effect, with others wanting to join in next year’s events. (We have experienced the same in Czech Republic, where my wife and I were hands-on involved these last two summers in a very missional, local, church-based effort. It is very enriching for the participating church(es).
3. How will the project impact future planning, budgeting, and evaluation?
Evaluation is still in progress and is seen as a starting point for 2017. We love to see the number of churches continue to grow and have additional Balkan countries involved (especially Romania, but also in Moldova and Serbia).
4. How will the results of this project be used to encourage others within and outside the organization to be involved?
Through the pastors and 399 volunteers – their commitment and reviews allow the program to grow into a movement and have a reputation that attracts more requests from the field than we will be able to accept (Which is considered healthy. Not all who request help are able to bring their needed people and resources to the table.). A key reason for this year’s success in Romania, was that in each of their 20 teams, there was one or more of the leaders who studied in Cluj in years past. At that time, they were trained “hands-on” in church-based ministry over a period of often 5 or 6 years, and after that, they were intentionally sent out. They are now a network of trained lay leaders and pastors throughout Romania. There is the benefit of being trained, experienced, and known by 4D’s Romanian director, Rei Abrudan, who started children, youth and student ministry 25 years ago and has worked closely with me all those years. Last year, Rei was asked to start a new church which, today, already functions as a base for training. About 500 are now in attendance and growing. We encourage the same church-based strategy also in Moldova and Serbia. In Moldova, the partnering churches were mostly in the south. Many of them are of Turkish ethnicity. In both Romania and Serbia, a number of camps focused on the Roma (Gypsy) minority.
5. Why is it so important for 4D to partner with local churches?
Having local churches in Romania, Moldova and Serbia as the beneficiaries of the programs, involving their people, and sacrificing their material resources, provides a sense of local ownership that is foundational for their prayers, but also for follow-up in ongoing weekly events. It’s exciting to see how our partnership empowers (not dominates) and encourages churches and future leaders in ministry – not only for ministry to Christians, but especially also to help churches have an outward look and be a lighthouse in this world. The ongoing mentoring relationships are very important in seeking long-term impact. The teams typically are prayed for and sent out/commissioned by their local churches.