Christian Reformed Home Missions serves the churches, ministries, and members of the Christian Reformed Church. We are committed to collaborating with partners to renew and multiply churches, campus ministries, and leaders.
The more than 200 ministries Home Missions supports are changing lives with the power of the gospel. This transformation takes place with the help of 12 ministry teams located across the United States and Canada.
Working through these teams, Home Missions staff collaborates with local and classis leaders to cast mission vision and set goals; to support and encourage church planting, local church mission, and campus outreach; and to make budget allocation recommendations for new and continuing ministry partnership grants.
Home Missions’ ministry teams are also committed to advancing Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native American ethnic ministries.
In the following stories, you will discover some ways in which the Lord is working through Home Missions to transform lives and communities in the United States and Canada.
New Ministry Reaches Out to Migrant Workers
The small, rural community of DeMotte, Ind., is marked by dozens of huge dairy and cattle farms. Because the farmers are mostly Anglo, DeMotte might not seem an obvious place to plant a Hispanic church. But some local farmers knew why it was a good idea: a growing number of the workers on their farms are Mexican immigrants.
Northwest Indiana’s First CRC, Community CRC, and Bethel CRC, along with a group of DeMotte area farmers and Home Missions, partnered to plant a church called Agua Viva (“Living Water”) last summer. Now, with Rev. Arturo Olguin leading the way, Agua Viva attracts more than 50 migrant workers and their families to Sunday morning services.
Before calling Olguin to DeMotte, the three CRCs and local businesses had formed ministry support teams to serve the needs of immigrants and migrant workers in their community. The teams, which include local Hispanic couples, deal with financial matters and also help with general support for Agua Viva’s local activities, such as a summer vacation Bible school.
Olguin, who previously led a Home Missions-funded church in New York City, preaches the Word every Sunday. But he also functions as a sort of “circuit rider,” traveling to local farms to hold Bible studies with Hispanic farm workers. This is a critical part of his ministry, because many of the workers are on the job when Agua Viva worship services are taking place.
Olguin and his team also offer three English as a Second Language classes, with more than 20 people currently enrolled. Olguin also offers family counseling and family Bible studies. “To me, that’s the heart of this ministry,” he says. “I’m trying to relate to families, sharing what the Bible has to say about being parents and children.”
Old Mission, New Ministry
In 2005, Susan LaClear’s stepfather told her the story of Maranatha CRC, a Navajo mission church in Farmington, New Mexico. LaClear’s great-grandfather, L.P. Brink, had established the tiny mission 70 years before. But now the church was struggling spiritually and financially and hadn’t had a pastor for three years. Out of the blue, LaClear’s stepfather encouraged her to consider becoming the church’s pastor.
“I certainly wasn’t a very viable candidate,” says LaClear. “I had no divinity degree, little experience in preaching, and we were very hesitant about moving to New Mexico. Their classis hadn’t even approved ordination for women yet.”
But in spite of the risks for the congregation and LaClear’s family, everyone stepped out in faith to answer God’s call, and she now serves as pastor of the church.
Today the old mission is alive with new ministry, thanks in part to a mission-focused church grant from Home Missions. A dynamic worship team integrates contemporary songs, hymns, and Navajo language into the worship experience. An influx of new families continues to revitalize the aging congregation. LaClear’s husband, Michael, works with the youth, and a team of servant-hearted members leads a vibrant children’s ministry. The church is also recruiting and training new leaders through the new Home Missions-funded Leadership Development Network.
LaClear, who grew up in Holland, Mich., and attended Christian schools from kindergarten through high school, didn’t clearly understand God’s call on her life until she went to the University of Michigan. While studying as a music major, God took hold of her heart and changed her life during a mission trip to Haiti. The mission experience, LaClear says, left her “so consumed with God and ministry that there was no turning back.”
She returned to Haiti for three years, then completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, spent two years at an Assemblies of God Bible college, and took a job as minister of music for a church in Jackson, Mich., where she served before being called to New Mexico.
Today, she can’t imagine being anywhere else. “We’re being transformed from a spiritually tired congregation into an energetic, outward-reaching faith community,” she says. “We emphasize prayer, and we see the results every day. God is renewing people’s lives.”
Exploring Faith on Campus
When Christian Reformed campus minister Neil Lettinga teaches classes on comparative religions, the topic is much more than an academic exercise. At the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, British Columbia, where Lettinga and his wife, Virginia, minister, students’ religious beliefs range from Buddhist to Sikh to atheist to Christian.
At the end of one semester, a graduate student named Peter who was in the comparative religions class stopped in Lettinga’s office for a chat about some PowerPoint slides. But on his way out the door, Peter turned and added one more thing: “Before, if you asked me what my religion was, maybe I would have said ‘academic’ or maybe I would have said ‘Christian,’ but I wouldn’t have meant anything serious by that.
“But through this class I’ve come to think that Christianity is something more than that. I’ve come to think of it as something that is right and true. But I really don’t know anything about it that’s not academic. What should I do? Where should I start to really explore this faith?”
Lettinga gave Peter copies of the books Mere Christianity and Girl Meets God, and is looking forward to continuing conversations with him.
New Church Brings Light to Seattle
Seattle is known for rainy weather and gray skies, so people trying to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” have their work cut out for them.
Ben Katt, pastor and church planter, is no meteorologist, but he definitely helps forecast the light through Awake, a new church plant along Seattle’s rough Aurora Avenue.
Awake serves a very poor neighborhood that’s even more marginalized by the incredible affluence surrounding it. “The area is very transient and trust is in short supply, especially for anyone who comes in professing to proclaim ‘good news,’” Katt says. “Our primary goal right now is simply to be there for the sojourner.”
Awake meets once a week in a local café for worship, fosters relationships with local motel owners and the residents who call the motels home, and creates opportunities for relationship-building: cookouts at homes, picnics in parks, and hanging out in the neighborhood.
“If we’re here—acting with love, living and speaking the good news—people will respond,” says Katt. “They’ll encounter Jesus and experience God’s grace.”
Home Missions at a Glance
Right now there are millions of North Americans who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but Christian Reformed Home Missions is dedicated to changing that! Through more than 200 ministries we support, we see the love of Christ transforming lives and communities across North America. The chart below reflects the recent growth of new Home Missions-supported CRCs.
Home Missions is helping the CRC introduce people to Jesus in new churches, in mission-focused congregations, on college campuses, in small groups, and through Christian schools in New Mexico.
Church Planting and Development: Currently 75 new CRCs receive financial assistance from Home Missions through these partnerships, with many more in the planning stages. Many of these new congregations are urban multicultural churches like Open Door Fellowship of East Harlem, which started this year in the heart of New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood.
Mission-focused Churches: Home Missions helps revitalize existing Christian Reformed churches through mission-focused ministries and grants. Working through mission-focused partnerships, we provide seminars, festivals, leadership coaching, assessment centers, support networks, and consulting to local churches. We also provide grants for programs, staffing, and technology.
Educational Mission: Home Missions provides grant funding and professional support for 22 campus ministries across North America. Home Missions also directly assists Rehoboth Christian School and Zuni Christian Mission School in New Mexico.
Leadership Development: Through classis-based partnerships, Home Missions resources 13 Leadership Development Networks (LDNs). An LDN is a three- to four-year in-ministry training program. LDNs are conducted in English, Spanish, and Korean. Many LDN graduates enter gospel ministry as pastors, evangelists, church planters, or church staff in the CRC. Home Missions also funds internships through which leaders are trained for outreach and discipleship.
Small Groups: Home Missions’ small group ministry reaches more than 500 Christian Reformed and nearly 400 non-CRC congregations in North America. Prayer and small group ministry includes leadership and training events, Coffee Break, Story Hour and Little Lambs, and evangelism. These small group ministries provide much-needed opportunities for people to support, encourage, love, and disciple each other.
Easter Sunday Offering: Home Missions is thankful to Christian Reformed churches and members and appreciates your prayers and generous financial support. On Easter Sunday, April 12, you can support the work of Home Missions with your church offerings. For more information, visit www.crhm.org or call 1-800-266-2175.
HM Appoints Development Officer for Chicago
Home Missions has hired former church planter Marc V. Zumhagen to work as a development officer out of the agency’s new Chicago-area office.
Zumhagen, 26, is a native of Chicago’s near southwest suburbs. He attended Calvin Theological Seminary and is currently working toward an M. Div. degree from Liberty University. Prior to joining Home Missions, he spent several years working on a political website that tracked the 2004 Illinois state senate race. He also helped plant a church in Michigan in 2006.
As a development officer, Zumhagen will help spread the message of Home Missions throughout Chicagoland, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. “I want to help build the kingdom. That happens through meeting with our donors and asking for their continued support, and by going into churches and preaching and teaching about how God is working through Home Missions’ ministries,” he says.
Home Missions’ new office is located in Palos Heights, Ill., directly across the street from Back to God Ministries International and Trinity Christian College. The region is also home to a dozen Home Missions churches, three Home Missions-funded Leadership Development Networks, three CRC classes, and the Home Missions Chicagoland Ministry Team.