In October, Rafieg, a businessman from Sudan, met the church planter he sponsors in southeast India. That connection, orchestrated by Northwoods Church, Peoria (Illinois), through Zion Evangelistic and Care Ministries (ZEC Ministries) was possible through a church planting investment initiative. They hope that this initiative will continue to grow at Northwoods and within FEC, since anyone can sponsor a church planter for a $3,000, one-time investment.

Northwoods’s relationship with ZEC Ministries began in 2011, and by 2013, ZEC Ministries had become an FEC partner. The ministry founders, Syam Babu and Esther Sunitha, began by reaching children in the greater Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, but their ministry has grown to include training thousands of pastors.

Now, through Syam’s leadership, new church planters are being identified and resourced through partnerships like the one with Northwoods. That partnership allows individuals or churches to invest $3,000, providing a simple community structure for the new church and a short-term salary for the church planter.

On their October trip to India, the Northwoods team met 45 of the 54 sponsored pastors and visited 15 new locations where church planting is underway. On their visits, the team collects the plant’s story and passes it along to the individuals who have made investments. As a team member, Rafieg was able to meet the pastor he has partnered, visit his village, and hear an update firsthand.