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Assemblies of God World Missions & Convoy of Hope

Partners in relief evangelism

By L. John Bueno

During nearly a century of steady growth, Assemblies of God World Missions has enjoyed God’s gracious provision of personnel and resources. A strong network of missionaries, churches and national pastors is in place to continue this growth through church planting, Bible school development, media outreach and other specialized ministries. But in the areas of relief ministry and crisis response, we have been hard-pressed to adequately respond.

In Romans 12, the apostle Paul described the body of Christ as encompassing many members possessing many spiritual gifts. In our worldwide Fellowship, God has gifted brothers and sisters with material provision and Christ’s love and encouragement — skills best suited for responding during times of crisis. Convoy of Hope is a clear example of such a ministry.

Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, just a few miles from the offices of the U.S. Assemblies of God, Convoy of Hope has transformed a 300,000-square-foot warehouse into a distribution center that is delivering hope and help around the world.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Mitch ravaged a path across Central America. AGWM and Convoy of Hope came together to provide relief for that region. Their cooperative ministry was the first large-scale response our Fellowship had to this kind of disaster. That partnership has continued on an even greater scale following the tsunami in Southern Asia; earthquakes in India, El Salvador and Pakistan; Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Caribbean; and many other disasters.

God placed the vision for Convoy of Hope in Hal Donaldson’s heart years ago. When he and his two brothers, David and Steve, and director Kenton Moody felt led to expand this ministry beyond the United States, they did so in partnership with AG World Missions. Several AGWM missionary families now serve full time with Convoy of Hope, and many other AG missionaries around the world assist Convoy personnel part time as needs arise. We believe God was preparing this partnership for this season in our mission to help meet the ever-increasing number of needs we face.

Almost every month, a major crisis takes place somewhere in the world. People whose lives have been radically disrupted through natural disaster are uniquely receptive to the gospel, creating a critical need for relief evangelism. Convoy of Hope has established resources and distribution methods that touch communities with a tangible expression of Christ’s love.

Beyond the disasters that capture international headlines are many others that are just as devastating to families caught within their more limited scope. AGWM and Convoy respond to local crises because our missionaries and national churches know the needs firsthand and respond with compassion. We don’t merely rely on secular news reports. The ears and the eyes of this whole ministry partnership are on the field and ready to respond.

Relief is only one component of Convoy of Hope’s ministry. As it does in cities across the United States, Convoy of Hope conducts community outreaches overseas. During these outreaches, material assistance comes hand in hand with a clear gospel presentation. AGWM is committed to addressing not only the temporary needs of people around the world, but also to making every possible inroad into a community with the eternally transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is poor stewardship to duplicate efforts when needs are so great. AGWM looks for every opportunity to join with people of like faith who have the gifts to do unique jobs in the world today. Years ago AGWM began a partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators rather than duplicate the efforts of an organization totally focused on the translation of God’s Word. Today, more than 20 AGWM families work on a variety of Wycliffe projects because we believe that creates the maximum effective use of Kingdom resources.

This same kind of increased efficiency is taking place as we partner with Convoy. When our missionaries come alongside Convoy personnel, we maximize our own funds and energies. In many cases, our people overseas administer the gifts and the relief Convoy supplies. Our partnership allows us to use the strength and ability of Convoy of Hope to get materials overseas where people on-site are ready to deliver those resources to hurting communities.

The scope of our missionaries’ sphere of ministry goes far beyond disaster relief and compassion outreach. But whether a missionary is a Bible school teacher, pastor or evangelist, he or she has the opportunity to pitch in and help in relief efforts and demonstrate the love of Christ anytime a disaster occurs. Following the tsunami in South Asia, Indonesia missionaries Jeff Hartensveld and Dave Kenney demonstrated this principle as they headed up relief efforts even while pastoring great churches in Surabaya and Jakarta.

I look forward to a continued and growing working partnership with Convoy of Hope. I have known Hal Donaldson for years, and I am challenged by his commitment, vision and unswerving adherence to what God has asked him to do. Together, Convoy of Hope and AGWM pledge our prayerful commitment to the Great Commission to take the gospel throughout the world using every available means.

L. JOHN BUENO is executive director of AG World Missions.

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