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Why Men Need MOVE

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By Jim Beaird

On January 21, 2020, 44 men from across the U.S. met at the airport in Houston to board a plane to Liberia, Costa Rica, to participate in a MOVE building trip. Every year an Open Bible MOVE ministry team chooses a project to undertake. The locations vary but usually require travel to a foreign country where men work and live in less-than-ideal conditions. 

I scanned the group of men for a couple guys I knew from college days, Dick Crawley and Rick Jarvis. I must admit to a certain level of apprehension as I realized I was not a young man anymore, and that it was too late to bail out.  

From left: Dick Crawley, Rick Jarvis, and Jim Beaird

I had not participated in a MOVE trip for 28 years. I had allowed the business of ministry and the responsibilities associated with my position as regional executive director to negate the possibility of spending a couple weeks being “one of the guys” sent to make a difference in the lives of people who desperately needed our help as the answer to their prayers. 

After connecting with my two dear friends, we grabbed a bite to eat and waited to board our flight. Once the flight took off, our team spent the next three and a half hours getting acquainted and sharing our expectations as best as we could speculate. Some men were new to this kind of expedition, and others were veterans with up to thirty years of trips behind them. 

Once in Liberia, we boarded a bus for a two-hour trip to Upala, where we were assigned rooms and roommates for the next two weeks. After a full day of travel, the simple accommodations of a no-frills motel room beckoned to us for a good night’s sleep before beginning our long-awaited project of building a beautiful church in rural Costa Rica. 

The next morning, we boarded another bus for a forty-five minute trip to a small community called Nazareth. A cement slab greeted us, as did villagers wondering what to expect. We gathered on the slab and had prayer, just as we would do every day before beginning work. Each morning a different man would share his personal story. We became aware of the narratives behind each man and what brought him to this point in his life. I could tell that this trip was about to change everything I believed about the real purpose of MOVE trips.  

Challenge for Lonely Leaders and Unchallenged Men 

As I previously stated, my schedule and budget simply had not allowed me to participate in such ventures, or so I thought. Leadership is lonely. Nobody understands that aloneness as well as a leader who is continually called upon to solve problems and act as the perceived paragon of virtue. A leader often cannot have a “buddy” with whom he can occasionally let his hair down or enjoy carefree moments not attached to his role as leader. During the 48 years of my ministry, I forfeited many opportunities to have a close friend or a life apart from my ministry. 

In addition, most churches are blessed with men who will unite behind a common goal or agenda – men who are project-driven and enjoy accomplishing tangible projects that meet a specified need. It’s sad when church leaders don’t promote these projects and men miss out on a challenge not even presented to them.  

My participation in this trip provided me with insight I would like to pass on to lonely leaders and these unchallenged men. Leadership does not have to be lonely, and men need their leaders to challenge them to a project in which they work together to beat the odds and produce something only God can bless. 

In Costa Rica eight pastors joined thirty-six laymen in a cross-cultural project in which more was erected than simply a physical building. “Skilled craftsmen” such as those found in Exodus 31:1-6 provided the guidance and labor for laying block, welding, and utilizing various other skills needed to successfully complete the task at hand. I felt my heart bonding with the hearts of men from across the nation as we labored together – each man doing his part to build a lasting monument to the glory of God. We laughed with each other, and at times we cried. There were times when someone would touch my shoulder and say, “Here, let me help.” We were there for each other, and we saw to it that everyone stayed safe.  

I know of no other project presently in Open Bible Churches that brings lonely leadership and challenge-driven men together as does MOVE. A special thanks to Pastor Aaron Keller, MOVE’s national director, and Dave Bethany, its director of construction, for their galvanizing efforts to provide this opportunity to serve God’s Kingdom. 

By Jim Beaird 

Dr. Jim Beaird pastored for 30 years before becoming the regional executive director for the Southeast Region of Open Bible Churches, a position he held from 2002 until his retirement in 2019. He has a heart to train pastors and leaders to be true to their calling and to be lifelong learners who finish life’s course with a strong and vibrant effort. His books include The Proximity Factor and The Providence Factor.  

Around the World

How Japan is Powerfully Engaging the Next Generation

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Discipling the next generation has been a value of Open Bible since its inception, and this commitment has been shown through a variety of Global Missions initiatives worldwide. From orphanages in India, to schools in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia, to feeding kitchens throughout Latin America, to working with teenage inmates in Mexico, to youth camps in Ukraine and Uganda, Open Bible intentionally invests in children and youth. Across cultures, both traditional and culturally specific approaches are employed by Open Bible churches. The common theme in all these initiatives is to reach, disciple, and engage the next generation for the Kingdom of God! 

Japan is one of several countries where exciting things are happening because of Next Gen investment. Despite Christians making up less than one percent of the population, Japan Open Bible Churches show profound commitment and creativity in reaching beyond the four walls of their churches to the next generation.  

A special time of youth worship

Japan churches have made it a priority to actively address social needs, enhancing their accessibility to the community. Machida Bible Church in the Tokyo area, pastored by Yutaka and Sakie Yoshinaga, hosts a monthly “Curry Day,” tackling the issue of children eating alone at night due to their parents’ work schedules. This event invites children to join church members for affordable curry rice in a warm, welcoming space. The aim of such initiatives is to present the church as a safe haven and to foster meaningful relationships with neighborhood families.  

In a similar effort to connect with the community’s elementary-aged children, Machida Bible appeals to their sweet tooth! Once a month they transform the church into a “Sweet Cafe,” giving all attendees coupons to exchange for tasty treats. Church members then invite children to participate in other activities such as dance, playing musical instruments, sports, and games. The Sweet Cafe has proven to be a welcoming space for both children and mothers with young children. 

Despite Christians making up less than one percent of the population, Japan Open Bible Churches show profound commitment and creativity in reaching beyond the four walls of their churches to the next generation.

In modern Japan, mastering English is more than just a practical skill; it is an effective way to engage students who might not typically associate with Christianity and to introduce them to Jesus. Church English classes use conventional language acquisition methods alongside unconventional ones, such as praise songs, dance, camps, and Christmas programs. Additionally, monthly student-parent gatherings feature illustrated Bible stories and related activities. These English classes resonate with Japanese youth, and Open Bible Japan welcomes native English-speaking missionaries to join them in this venture. 

Laying the foundation for faith and discipleship is a priority, and Sunday School is where much of this happens in Japan’s Open Bible churches. However, it is the active participation in ministry – even for the younger generation – that solidifies that foundation. Therefore, elementary students regularly participate in Sunday worship teams, playing the drums, the guitar, or keyboards. Church youth groups also form “Mission Go” teams to support smaller churches in youth evangelism initiatives. These teams have helped run a basketball clinic for the community’s youth and assist in local children’s ministries.  

Japanese youth in Thailand for a mission trip

Partnering with Open Bible missionaries in Thailand, Japanese youth take part in mission trips. These cross-cultural experiences leave a profound impact on their lives. One teen noted, “I led the worship time and thought to myself, ‘I’m praising God in another country!’ I was deeply moved by how sincerely the people worshipped and my tears flowed uncontrollably.” Another participant remarked, “I could see the strong tie between Thai Buddhism and their landmarks. I realized the similarities with Japan and that we must pray that these places in both Thailand and Japan be dedicated to God rather than idols.” Japanese youth’s active participation on mission trips helps deepen their faith, encourage gift development, and give perspective on how to effectively pray for other cultures. Japan’s ministry to and through its children is a powerful testimony to what can happen when we entrust the gospel to the next generation.  

Students learning English proudly display their work alongside their teachers

For some, ministry to children and youth is seen as secondary. Global Missions’ dedication to fostering a legacy of faith to the next generation is more than commendable; it is biblical. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14 NIV). Thank you for your support of Open Bible churches worldwide through the investment of prayer, time, energy, and finance as we seek to reach, disciple, and engage the next generation for the Kingdom of God!

About the Author

Tammy Swailes

Tammy Swailes is passionate about cross-cultural Christian education, so working with INSTE Global Bible College to disciple and equip leaders throughout Europe and beyond is a great fit! Tammy has lived in Europe since 1999 – first in Hungary and now Ukraine. Before that, she was in Japan as well as Spokane, Washington. She now serves as INSTE regional director in Europe, assisting INSTE programs in five languages. Tammy has her undergraduate degrees in both Missions and Christian Education, and a MA in Intercultural Studies. Photography, good coffee, multi-cultural experiences, and the family’s Yorkie are some of Tammy’s favorite things. 

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Around the World

Cuba: No Embargoes on God’s Presence! 

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Attend one worship service at Pastor David Moreno’s Open Bible church in Guanajay and you’ll quickly find there are no limitations or “embargoes” on God’s presence in Cuba. Rich worship, inspirational teaching, and the robust moving of the Holy Spirit are enduring hallmarks of Pastor David’s church, Templo Evangelico de la Biblia Abierta. This flagship church reflects what God is doing in and through Open Bible Churches across the country of Cuba.  

Southeast Regional Director Nathan Hagan shares with the Cuban church members

The spiritual health of this church belies the fragility of life in Cuba. Scarcity of food and medication, heavy fuel rationing, and steep inflation ─ over 30% last year ─ define their grave economic reality. These conditions have already pushed hundreds of thousands of Cubans to leave their homeland in a daring quest for a better life. 
 
Open Bible’s 149 Cuban churches are much more than houses of worship. Beyond offering crucial salvation and discipleship, they are community centers, helping to fill the gaps for the people they serve. Daily they provide miraculously obtained food and other essential items so desperately needed by the Cuban people.  

As the director of Mission Esperanza, over the past year I have had the privilege of partnering with Pastor David, who also serves as the president of Open Bible in Cuba, and his national leadership team. Mission Esperanza’s call is to serve and encourage the Cuban people and churches by facilitating pastoral leadership conferences, assisting in the construction of churches, and shipping essential items from the U.S. 

In February 2024, I led a group of nine Open Bible pastors and leaders on a vision trip to Cuba. I was grateful that Open Bible President Michael Nortune was able to be part of that group. Pastor David ferried us around for three days, visiting several Cuban Open Bible churches and pastors and helping our group to learn firsthand of the hardships and opportunities in Cuba. A real highlight of the trip was hearing President Nortune preach in Pastor David’s church that Sunday morning. He delivered a Holy Spirit inspired message of encouragement and issued a biblical challenge that was enthusiastically received in the crowded sanctuary. 

President Nortune prays over local Cuban pastors

Previously, in October 2023, Mission Esperanza held our first Pastors Conference with 350 pastors and church leaders in attendance. Pastor Aaron Keller (Des Moines, IA) joined me in hosting our conference speaking team of Pastor Raul Escalante (Sunrise, FL), Pastor Pablo Urra (Miami, FL), and Pastors Marcelo and Bernarda Rodriguez (Grecia, Costa Rica). The Lord moved powerfully through our gifted speakers, each one covering ministry subjects particularly relevant to Cuban churches and the failing Cuban society. That our speakers were all fluent in Spanish and understood the Latin culture multiplied their ministry effectiveness. Many times, sessions concluded with prayer at the altar during our three-day conference. I was blessed watching Mission Esperanza’s team move across the sanctuary praying with our Cuban brothers and sisters as they poured out their praise and ardent petitions to our Heavenly Father. Time paused as the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of His people. I have received many reports of the blessing of last October’s conference, praise the Lord! Mission Esperanza is looking forward to our next conference scheduled for May 2024, where we anticipate another 250 pastors and leaders from a different region in Cuba. 

Certainly, Cuba needs our prayers and support. Please prayerfully consider supporting the people and churches in Cuba by giving through Global Missions’ Mission Venture Plan (MVP). There are two ways you can bless Cuba under the MVP category of Humanitarian Aid. You can give a one-time amount to the “Cuba Aid” fund, or you can give monthly by selecting Cuba Adopt-A-Church.This program is a $30 to $50 monthly commitment, which will support a local pastor and church.  
 
The Church is growing rapidly in Cuba. People are coming to Christ across the country, new churches are being planted every year, disciples are being made, and 350 students are being trained and equipped for ministry. Recently, while discussing the Lord’s work in Cuba, President Nortune reminded me, “The story continues, and we all can be part of it.”   

The needs are great, but just as there are no spiritual embargoes in Cuba, there are no limitations in Christ! 

*Credit for all photographs goes to Tim Wedhe.

About the Author

David Bethany

David Bethany is a follower of Jesus Christ. He is blessed by his wife, Carla, and is dad to four adult children and “papa” to eight energetic grandchildren. David is the Director of Mission Esperanza and has been the Construction Director for MOVE Ministries for the past thirty-one years. He owns a construction consulting firm in Los Angeles and attends Village Church. 

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Around the World

Church Planting Continues to Multiply in West Africa 

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Rich Kopp lives by these words, and the evidence is in the fruitful church planting plan he helped launch in West Africa.

Rich, an Open Bible minister, church planter, missionary-at-large, and co-founder of the Church Planting Academy, collaborates with other experienced church planters to train teams of new church planters in Ghana and Liberia. Beginning this fall, they will be expanding into Kenya.

A recent graduating class of the Church Planting Academy.

It all started in 2014 when Twum Bosiako, Open Bible’s director in Ghana, invited Rich to Ghana to hold evangelistic meetings. While Rich was there, Twum, who also happened to be Rich’s Bible college friend from the early 1970’s, lamented the declining numbers of churches in Ghana. As they conversed, the Holy Spirit reminded Rich of a church planting plan he helped write years earlier. While a good plan, it never got off the ground in the United States. What if it could work in Africa? After praying, teaming up with another friend, Nick Mahabir, and contextualizing the program for Africa, Rich and his team launched the first month-long Church Planting Academy in Ghana in 2016.

Kofi Gyansah and Dominic Darkwa were part of that first group of students. At the Academy, two prospective church planters are partnered together to sit, learn, take tests, and get evaluated as two-member teams. After a month of training, they’re sent out as a team to plant a new church. Many graduates plant churches in their own communities in unchurched areas, allowing them to continue to support their families. Others go to outlying communities where there is no Gospel witness or where there are believers who aren’t able to attend church regularly because of distance.

Graduates of the Church Planting Academy have begun no fewer than twenty churches in Ghana and Liberia in just under eight years.

Kofi and Dominic started their church plant in their nearby community in Kumasi, a city in the south. Today, Kofi’s and Dominic’s church is a thriving church plant full of young people. Their church is expecting to send out church planters soon to plant yet another church. Kofi was invited to become a member of the Academy’s teaching team with Rich and Nick and has since begun leading Open Bible’s church planting ventures and the Academy in Ghana.

The Church Planting Academy produced such good fruit in Ghana that Open Bible’s churches in Liberia wanted to use the training. Victor Dayougar went through the Academy in Liberia and co-planted a church. Rich and Nick invited Victor to teach the evangelism aspect of the Academy training because he was especially gifted in this area. More than just theoretical lessons, Victor’s coursework included hands-on evangelization in the surrounding villages. After taking the first course, teams of two went out and a few days later were able to baptize three of the new converts in the lagoon! What a fantastic way to top off their “homework” assignment!

One of the many church plants started by a Church Planting Academy graduate.

Graduates of the Church Planting Academy have begun no fewer than twenty churches in Ghana and Liberia in just under eight years. In 2024 the Academy will begin in Kenya. Only God knows where He will lead next. These African churches and communities are as diverse as the teams that plant them. But the seeds of the Gospel are sown and grown into the communities, bringing in a harvest. Rich and Twum could never have imagined that God would use their 50-year-old Bible college friendship and a forgotten church planting plan to rekindle the passion for church planting in West Africa.  

Want to invest in the West African church plants? Check out their MVP Giving pages HERE:

Rich & Patti Kopp (Ghana)

Ghana Church Planting Academy


Tammy Swailes

Tammy Swailes is passionate about cross-cultural Christian education, so working with INSTE Global Bible College to disciple and equip leaders throughout Europe and beyond is a great fit! Tammy has lived in Europe since 1999 – first in Hungary and now Ukraine. Before that, she was in Japan, as well as Spokane, Washington. She now serves as INSTE regional director in Europe, assisting INSTE programs in five languages. Tammy has her undergraduate degrees in both Missions and Christian Education, and a MA in Intercultural Studies. Photography, good coffee, multi-cultural experiences, and the family’s Yorkie are some of Tammy’s favorite things. 

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