“Fundraising, training, discipleship and lots of Starbucks.” OMer Ron* described his job description simply, but, in reality, his role requires many dimensions of the skill set God has woven into his story.
As a pastor and director of a multi-organisational initiative aimed at sending expatriate believers in the Arabian Peninsula (AP) to the least-reached people around the world, Ron wants to see people from everywhere take the gospel to everyone.
Ron and his wife didn’t start out globally-minded. “I went to Bible college, got married, started working in churches, then the Lord moved us and connected us with a church planter, and we just fell in love with the concept of seeing new people come to Christ,” Ron described.
So he launched his first church plant alone. “I was young and thought I was required to do it all,” he said. A couple years later, he and his wife were working two jobs each, and Ron found himself burned out, disillusioned, in debt and needing a change.
Like many, Ron and his wife moved to the AP for adventure and cash. “We had a 7-year plan to pay off our debt. God did it in three and a half years. Within months of paying off that debt, God called us into missions,” Ron recalled.
Instead of relocation, however, that missions work required refocus. “We still work with the church, but how we work with the church looks different,” Ron said. Looking at the large percentage of his church members coming from other countries, Ron saw potential for both global gospel multiplication and local interaction with the nations continuously arriving in the AP.
Officially, the initiative Ron directs exists to give the expatriate church in the Arabian Gulf opportunities to volunteer in service and relief situations around the world. He also hopes to mobilise people—like him and his wife—who came to the region to make money.
“My wife works day and night with locals,” Ron said. “She shares the gospel; she talks about difficult conversations…She didn’t come here with the intentionality of being a local worker, but God gave her the door to be a light.”
“Part of our heart is to help expats in the Arabian Gulf realise that they can make an impact just by being a witness in a nine-to five-situation [in the workplace],” Ron shared.
Sometimes that starts overseas. For example, he took a dozen teenagers on a short-term trip to India. “We gave them opportunities to minister, we gave them opportunities to share their testimonies and to literally share the gospel, for some of them for the very first time,” Ron noted. “In the AP, there’s the concern of, ‘How do I share my faith with my friends, especially if my friends are Muslim?’”
Having practiced sharing their faith, the teens had potential “to scatter after this trip to parts of the world [I] will never go, and they will take the gospel with them,” Ron said.
In the AP and around the world, the initiative helps global gospel multiplication “because of the vast amount…of expatriates who could come to faith or are believers and could end up in places that we couldn’t get the gospel,” Ron explained. “We just see this exponential potential.”
Right now, Ron is in a networking phase, “going out and meeting with pastors, going out and meeting with church leaders, going out and meeting with other missional organisations and sharing the vision, hearing others’ hearts and helping connect dots within the Gulf,” he described.
Connecting the dots includes informing congregations about where and when they can serve overseas, publicising trainings on marketplace intentionality, and strategising with pastors from all ethnicities about how to get their people involved in missions. It also means drinking a lot of coffee.
“We recognise we can’t’ do everything, so we need partnership,” Ron stated. “The important thing is that there are many pieces, and we are just one of those pieces.”
Still, he said the scale of partnership is unprecedented. “We’re modelling something that’s not being done right now—the ability to have church partnership and have the organisation operate in secure fields…there is multi-agency collaboration and partnership like never before. It gets a little 'sticky' here and there, but that people are willing to get in the same room and pray together and share together and strategise together, that excites me.”
Pray for more open doors and more open hearts, Ron explained. “Open doors meaning we would like to get into places to minister that we haven’t been able to get into in the past, and open hearts meaning people catching the vision of mobilising the nations within the church,” he defined. Pray for workers, finances and for churches to work together. Pray for more people to know Jesus.
Nicole James is a writer for OM International, passionate about publishing stories of God’s work among the nations and telling people about the wonderful things He is doing around the world.