While teaching in a Nigerian primary school several years ago, Istifanus Bahago sensed that God was calling him to be a pastor.
So he left his job and entered the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. There he realized the need for Christians to share the gospel beyond their own country.
He later became general secretary of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN) and promoted this message throughout the denomination. In January 2013, he and his wife left Nigeria to become CRCN missionaries in Sierra Leone.
In many ways, Bahago is an example of the new type of indigenous church leader receiving support from Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM). He was born in Africa, received his call and training in Africa, and now works as a national leader and missionary in an African country.
Over the last few decades, CRWM has increasingly partnered with and given grants to leaders like Bahago. In addition to subsidizing evangelists’ salaries, the grants enable a wide variety of leaders to receive further training for their roles.
The grants also provide believers with Bibles, fund seminary scholarships, help provide Christian education for children, and much more. Through these unfolding efforts, which include partnerships with many organizations and ministries, CRWM has deepened the capacity of its ministry partners to work in their own nations and beyond.
At the same time CRWM is supporting grassroots efforts around the world, it is convinced that there are still important ways in which North American missionaries can serve overseas.
Christians in many countries, for instance, are just starting to get a vision for applying God’s Word to life. Others are looking for biblical training on leading effectively. Meanwhile, millions of people—most in predominantly Muslim cultures—have yet to hear the gospel.
Committed as it is to the work, CRWM has found it necessary to change its missionary-support model in order to cover the cost of meeting these needs.
The new model moves away from basing missionary support-raising goals on a worldwide average to individualized budgets. These budgets, cut down to basic costs, enable churches and individuals to know the direct costs of having missionaries in their ministry locations.
As of July 1, 2013, CRWM career missionaries will see their support-raising goals gradually rise over several years to 90 percent of their individualized budgets. CRWM staff members, meanwhile, have redoubled their efforts to help missionaries reach their new support goals.
The new goals will enable CRWM to maintain current ministry initiatives, replace retiring missionaries, and send out new missionaries in response to urgent needs. As they do now, Ministry Shares will cover a portion of CRWM’s missionary budgets and overall ministry initiatives.
Through these missionary support changes, CRWM will be able to continue partnering with churches and leaders around the world to expand God’s kingdom.