Building bridges and breaking barriers

Convention speakers emphasize relational nature of evangelism

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Kim Bontrager, creative arts director at Ridgepoint Church, Wichita, Kansas, and a team of musicians led in singing during USMB Gathering 2022. Photo: Janae Rempel

Four keynote speakers addressed the USMB Gathering 2022 theme, “Increasing Impact: Reaching the lost,” during the National Convention held July 28-30 in Independence, Missouri. The theme was also highlighted in workshops held Friday afternoon.

Gary Comer

Author Gary Comer cited Jesus’ example in John 4 as a model for drawing people to Christ. Jesus positions himself at the well and connects with the woman by asking for water. Starting where the woman is, Jesus reads her need, invites a response and ignites movement.

Evangelism happens by framing conversations with dialogue, stories or questions; spending time with people and establishing safe relationships.

“Relationship is where influence is today,” Comer said.

Hillary Morgan Ferrer, founder of Mama Bear Apologetics, said many self-proclaimed Christians live with a non-biblical worldview, and nonbelievers often hold false views of Christianity.

Hillary Morgan Ferrer

The ROAR method seeks to build conversational bridges: Recognize the message by naming the foundational truth claim, Offer objective discernment, Argue for a healthier approach and Reinforce ideas through discipleship, discussion and prayer.

“The way we interact needs to be different from culture,” Ferrer said. “We are not on any of these sides, but we are on the side of Christ.”

Jeff Hubrich, campus pastor of Lakeview Church in Grantsville, Utah, shared statistics showing a decrease in professing Christians.

“Christians have slipped into a bad habit of introducing people to religion and church culture instead of introducing them to Christ Jesus,” said Hubrich, who shared his story of meeting Jesus.

Jeff Hubrich

Hubrich and his wife, Heather, were up-and-coming leaders in the LDS Church but secretly doubted their faith and considered divorce.

Eventually, the Hubrichs left their faith and quit their jobs. A friendship with another couple led to both Jeff and Heather placing their faith in Jesus, attending church and eventually, pastoring at Lakeview.

Jeff Bell, lead pastor of Mosaic in Denver, Colorado, encouraged people to never allow barriers to get in the way of others who need to see Jesus, referencing the friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof in Mark 2.

Jeff Bell

A barrier-removing Christian chooses relationships over rights, sees interruptions as divine appointments, pays the price and never loses sight of the barriers removed for them, Bell said, challenging attendees to be spiritual tsunamis whose impact continues for years like waves on a lake.

“We spend so much energy living in the know, we neglect the go,” Bell said.

Worship and testimonies

Sessions also included times of worship led by six musicians from Ridgepoint Church in Wichita, Kansas, and testimonies.

Amy Gelatt

Delegates heard from Amy Gelatt, North Oak Community Church, Hays, Kansas. A descendant of tribal headhunters evangelized by Welsh missionaries in India, Gelatt intended to be a single missionary, so she attended Bible school in the U.S. Instead, she married and raised a family. Fearing a loss of her earlier vision, Gelatt recognized a need to die to self and invest in God’s kingdom while working in a school and hospital.

“When it’s God’s fire, it doesn’t die even if it’s smothered,” Gelatt said. “It smolders and awaits for a fresh wind to fan the flame.”

Jean Pierre Sabimpa

The Friday evening program highlighted Congolese congregations and leaders who are becoming part of USMB.

In his testimony, Jean Pierre Sabimpa of Christ Salvation Church in Kansas City said he fled from DR Congo to Burundi in 2004 after rebels attacked his village. Three years later, Sabimpa’s family came to Kansas City through a refugee resettlement program. Sabimpa attended college and started a trucking business.

“It was by God’s grace that we were resettled in the USA, and my heart was at peace” he said.

A prayer by Nabihogo Imaculee, also of Christ Salvation Church, opened the Friday evening program.  A choir from Mlima Wa Sinai Church provided special music.

During the convention sessions, delegates were introduced to four new ministry leaders who each spoke briefly.

  • In May, Bruce Enns began serving as Multiply general director, having served 17 years as lead pastor at Forest Grove Community Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • Brian Harris assumed the role of USMB church planting mobilizer on Aug. 1, 2022, having served nearly 18 years as lead pastor at Pine Acres Church in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
  • David Janzen was inaugurated in September 2021 as Tabor College’s 14th president, having served 15 years as a full-time faculty member at California Polytechnic State University.
  • André Stephens assumed the presidency of Fresno Pacific University July 1, bringing 30 years of experience in Christian higher education, most recently as vice president for student development at Biola University.

The national convention concluded with a communion service Saturday morning.

Workshops highlight evangelism

Delegates chose two workshops to attend Friday afternoon.

Most popular in Track 1, based on attendance, were Hillary Morgan Ferrer’s workshop about linguistic theft and a question-and-answer time with Multiply’s new general director Bruce Enns originally scheduled for after the Thursday evening session.

In Track 2, which carried an evangelism theme, highest-attended workshops were a question-and-answer session with apologist Hillary Morgan Ferrer and “Ethnic Evangelism” with Congolese pastor Henri Ngolo and Doug Hiebert, who serves with Multiply.

Other workshop presenters included Ron Klassen with Rural Home Missionary Association,Central District Conference minister Rick Eshbaugh, MB Foundation president Jon Wiebe and USMB pastors Phil Wiebe, Tim Thiessen, Jeff Bell, J.L. Martin, Kyle Goings and Russ Claassen.

Janae Rempel
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.

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