Gospel Partnership & Eternity
When a church makes a Great Commission commitment to partner with a church planter, that partnership impacts both the partner church and the new church.
Partner church members learn to live missional lives, and the church plant and planter receive vital support. The partnership between Pillar Church of Dumfries and Gilgal Evangelical Church (a church plant reaching Ethiopians in Northern Virginia) is bearing fruit now and making an eternal impact.
The following is an interview with Pastor Colby Garman of Pillar Church of Dumfries and church planter Zack Bekele of Gilgal Evangelical Church.
How has your partnership with Gilgal Evangelical Church served the discipleship and missional needs of Pillar Church members?
GARMAN: We want the members of our church to have eyes to see the need for multiplying Gospel ministry in our region. No matter who we are, we all suffer to some degree from tunnel vision as we go about our daily lives in large population centers like North Virginia. It would be easy to remain unaware of the barriers that exist in our own communities that impede the advance of the Gospel.
How has your partnership with Pillar Church changed your approach to ministry?
BEKELE: I [had] learned from a small church perspective. I thought that only large churches could start a new church. Pillar Church is not large but has started so many and continues to start churches. We review each worship service, and I get to sit in staff meetings when we do this. I never saw this done, so I have learned humility from the pastors. This is done with Clint [Clifton] and Colby. Following up on membership with everyone is important. Every member is taught why membership is important and why their commitment is important. Healthy membership means all members are to live missional—everyone invests in missional ministry.
What has this partnership meant to you as a pastor and disciple maker?
GARMAN: Personally, the partnership with Zack has reminded me that God organizes and leads His people for the sake of advancing the Gospel. The partnership began with a desire on our part to impact Ethiopians in the Greater DC area with the Gospel. We began praying for the right person to train, prepare, and partner with. It was exciting to see God work and answer our prayers along the way and lead Zack to come join the work here in DC.
How has your partnership with Pillar Church blessed your ministry?
BEKELE: We know that we are being prayed for. Pillar Church receives the needs of Gilgal.
Pillar Church prays every week for church planters. They have also helped to meet needs. When church planter apprentice Dawit Getachew started, the leaders helped him find a job so he could have more time to help with the church plant. Pillar’s Children’s Ministry director, Becky, provided guidance and help with starting Gilgal’s Children’s Ministry. When worship equipment was needed initially, Pillar provided equipment until SBCV could help.
How has Pillar Church made a difference in your family’s life?
BEKELE: When [my wife] Hana was sick, the members of the church visited and prayed with Hana frequently. Our children needed help adjusting to the new area, and the church was patient with them and helped us with their adjustment.
When the Bekeles moved to Dumfries, Pillar Church helped them move in and even assisted financially with the cost of the move. They spent quality time with the Bekeles and also helped them learn the culture of Northern Virginia.
What difference will this partnership make in the larger picture of mission partnerships in the future for the church and for the Kingdom of God?
GARMAN: The major difference for us is having a reliable church and partner to lead the way in reaching Ethiopians with the Gospel. We know Zack’s heart, judgment, and confidence in the Gospel and can wholeheartedly support and multiply what he is doing. Really, we are just getting started, and the [exciting part] will be seeing down the road how God uses Zack to multiply Gospel laborers to reach Ethiopians here and beyond.
Zack and Dawit have served as translators and team guides for several Pillar Church teams who’ve taken mission trips to Ethiopia.
How will you reproduce in new churches the way that Pillar Church has invested in you?
BEKELE: The vision is to multiply in DC the same DNA that I learned from the leaders. We have started a church at Alexandria and two mini churches, [one] at Silver Spring and [one at] Woodbridge.
Pastor Colby and Pastor Clint, along with members of Pillar Church, have invested into Zack and apprentice Dawit a culture of a healthy church, meaningful membership, and church planting.
GILGAL IS THE FIRST ETHIOPIAN CHURCH PLANT WITH THE SBCV and is being developed to be a multiplying church. Pillar Church will be able to rejoice in its partnership with Gilgal to reach thousands of Ethiopians with the Gospel. Gilgal is helping Pillar members live out their faith here and internationally.
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