The landscape of global missions has changed over the past several years. If you’re the kind of person who reads books about global faith, attends the occasional conference, or stays up to date with any missionary effort you already know this to be true. If you’re not that kind of person, that’s OK. Your life may be simpler for it!

First, there are some things about global ministry and Agape Asia that are fundamental and unchanging. These are clear from Scripture and experience:

  1. Our loving Father has called us to compassionately serve those in need. His greatest command is that we love Him and love our neighbor, whether next door or across the world.
  2. God has a special place in His heart for children, especially the orphan.
  3. All of God’s people have been trusted with a mission to make disciples and to share Good News with those who have never heard.
  4. We are all called to share our blessings – material, spiritual and more.

This is why Agape Asia exists and this is what drives our mission.

We care for thousands of children in Asia every year because our Father loves them deeply. We boldly share Good News as we go because of the commission Jesus gave us all. And it’s our privilege to connect people all around the world – donors, leaders on the ground, collaborators, encouragers – to this important work.

Just yesterday we received exciting news from Nepal. Community leaders in a new village recently invited Agape leaders to come care for at-risk and abandoned children. Agape leaders are beginning to work with an existing, small church in this village to care for at-risk children in their community. Their compassion is opening doors for Gospel conversations that are already bearing fruit with 5 new believers. How amazing is it that leaders and supporters all around the world get to be involved in a shared story of changing children’s lives and transforming a community with the Gospel!

Agape Asia celebrates stories like this for obvious reasons. We also love hearing these stories because they serve as wonderful examples of some subtle, but important things. Here are a few important lessons that US-based organizations like Agape Asia have been learning and that we’re seeing in places like Nepal:

  1. We need to shift our focus from sending foreign missionaries to raising up local leaders.
  2. Decision making and “ownership” should lie more with local ministries than with people thousands of miles away.
  3. Long-term health of ministries, communities, and individuals needs to be valued more than immediate results.
  4. Compassionate benevolence and discipleship need to go hand in hand.

If you look back at that brief story from Nepal you can see each of these things happening.

One, our partners in Nepal are local believers who are committed to raising up more leaders from their own communities. Local leaders are more effective at ministering to their own communities and they can step into ministry more quickly than a foreigner who needs to adjust and work to fit into the culture. Even more importantly, when local people care for their own neighbors it sends the message that compassion and faith are not foreign things. They can be and should be something that every believer grows into. Agape is so proud that 100% of our work is carried out by local leaders in Asia. It’s our privilege to support them and provide them with leadership training.

Two, you also see in this Nepal story that ownership and decisions lie in the hands of local believers and community leaders. We’ve all heard or experienced stories of churches in the US calling the shots for believers overseas, choosing leaders, and rushing to fix every problem. Although this is usually done out of compassion, we’ve learned that it can also be crippling. Agape is honored to partner with and support 20 different ministries in Asia. These are leaders and groups who were doing amazing work before we came along. Our aim is not to take over or change their work. Instead, we want to multiply what God is already doing in these places. It’s a delicate dance, but we want to add fuel to the fire without smothering it out with our good intentions.

Three, leaders like these in Nepal are serving and growing in ways that makes sense for their ministries in the long-term. Rather than building large buildings that they’ll never be able to financially support, they are working with families in communities in a way that is sustainable. Instead of adding hundreds of children in many different places, they are focusing on a handful of children in a small number of communities. This slow approach allows them to gradually raise up new leaders and to ensure the quality of their work. Their focus is on building deeper, long-term relationships with both children and communities that will bring about deeper change and long-term stability.

Fourth, you can clearly the effectiveness of loving at-risk children and sharing the Gospel at the same time. Although Agape has always hoped for both of these things to happen, it’s sometimes been easier to care for children and hope that we will eventually be able to share Good News. It’s too easy to make discipleship one of those “eventually” things that never actually comes around. Today, Agape Asia works with our partners to be sure that childcare and discipleship are going hand in hand. Sometimes that means beginning new partnerships with groups who share this focus from day one. Other times it means training and developing existing partners to better carry out this side of our mission.

We hear stories like this one from Nepal and we celebrate. Then we prayerfully strategize about how to replicate this in other places, how to instill this DNA into other partnerships, and how to humbly serve our partners in Asia in ways that result in more children’s lives changed!