On balance, I feel more encouraged by all that has happened in Advance in 2019 than in any previous year. For this I am grateful to God and you all. In addition to continuing our core work of planting new churches (and welcoming existing churches into partnership) and strengthening churches, there have been some significant developments in terms of commissioning new hubs – groups of churches who work on-the-ground together to plant and strengthen. The increased ownership and leadership from these developments will certainly lead to greater effectiveness of our partnership.
In Africa we celebrate the establishment of the East Africa Hub including churches from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Madagascar. A superb group of leaders gathered in Antananarivo in late 2019 to pray and plan together for the region.
In South Africa the four existing hubs go from strength to strength, each hosting a full calendar of local gatherings and joint strengthening moments. We are particularly excited about the two youth camps, in Gauteng and the Western Cape, that mark our first major foray into strengthening and inspiring the next generation as a movement.
The UK, just a handful of churches a few years ago, has grown tremendously and this year empowered two new hubs, Wales and South East. The UK has grown to over 20 partner churches, with a further 10 considering membership. This region has excelled in their generosity, amongst various gifts to different parts of the world, also contributing a whopping 50,000 pounds to our partner churches in the Asia region.
At the end of 2019 we hosted two conferences in Asia to facilitate attendance for our Indian and Nepalese partners. By all accounts the events were a huge success. We continue to be humbled by the steady perseverance of our brothers and sisters in this region, operating in oppressive conditions, yet displaying God honouring fortitude in all of their efforts. “Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the affliction you are enduring (2 Thes. 1:4).
Ashleigh and I were gutted to miss the mid year Global Conference in Cape Town, a consequence of our decision to plant in Washington, DC and the associated visa application restrictions. However we followed the event closely and believe it was our best together moment yet! The conference theme was ‘Generation to Generation’, with particular emphasis on the young leaders who we will pass the baton to. I opened the conference on video preaching from Psalm 127 where the older generation are compared to archers and the younger generation to arrows. I noted that career archers in the mid-ages developed a one-sided hunchback due to their incessant commitment to firing arrows. I called us to such a ‘healthy deformity’ when it comes to our investment in raising up strong men and women to lead the charge in future. It has been great to hear how local church eldership teams are re-forming mindsets and structures to enable a greater emphasis on preparing and releasing arrows. Churches in Tanzania and South Africa have already applied the message by working together with new strategies to inspire and equip young people.
This happy report belies the challenges that many of our churches, eldership teams and leaders have faced in the last year. This opposition has come from authorities and law-makers, secular culture, personal trial, and sadly sometimes from their own church communities. “To this end, we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:11-12).
We remain convinced that we are better together – better able to plant, strengthen, celebrate with one another and support one another as we pursue His Great Commission together. Let’s “do it again” in 2020!
PJ and the Global team.
Cape Town, South Africa
29 – 31 May
Conference offering: $73,000.00
Every two years Advance hosts the Global Conference, rotating through different regions where our partners are active. In 2019, church leaders from around the world made their way to Cape Town, South Africa.
Around 450 people attended each of the three conference days, as well as 200 leaders signing up for the optional workshops held the day before the main conference. These leaders included representatives from 5 continents, and 16 countries.
The conference was framed around the theme ‘Generation to Generation’. Sessions included talks on the importance of raising up leaders, holding to the whole Gospel, letters to younger selves, charges from young leaders and the need for Advance to strengthen our emphasis on and engagement with the generations to come.
Advance conferences are always as much about reconnection and relationships as they are about teaching and exhortation. This event was no different, with delegates enjoying lunch and dinner together every day, as well as further meetups around beautiful Cape Town outside of ‘office hours’. We celebrate genuine relationships as a movement, and make extra time for these to strengthen at our conferences.
This year, the Global offering was targeted at an upcoming plant into the middle east, church planting in India and Nepal as well as investment into youth events in South Africa. On the Thursday night those who gathered pledged over $75,000 to these projects. We are looking forward to seeing new church communities planted, ground taken for the Gospel in unreached people groups and the next generation spurred on to faithfulness in Christ.
Roger Curran and Erik Santiago
15 – 16 November
This event was such a highlight in our year! Hosted by our friends down at KCC in Southampton, over 300 of us gathered together as a growing family from across the UK. Over the two days, we both dived deep and covered a breadth of topics as we explored what it means to be a people living in exile and how we can be faithful citizens of heaven whilst engaging in the contexts that God has placed us in.
We were thrilled to have Donnie Griggs and members of his team from One Harbor Church pouring out such great teaching and encouragement into our context both from the stage and in the one-to-one connections & conversations. The challenge and provocation to live intentionally Godly lives and how we respond and pursue those often on the fringe of the community, was a powerful theme that came over again and again and particularly in the TED-style talks from Travis Evans – The Poor & The Addict, Vicki Clark – Adopting the Exile, Gemma Gillard – Nearing the end of exile: the urgency of old age.
It was such a blessing to have our friends from Monument Church, Sam and Becki Cox, with us to lead our times of worship together – from the start it felt like there was a real hunger and sense of urgency to our worship. The unplugged time of prayer and worship on Saturday morning, really helped to set the tone and expectation for God to meet with us powerfully.
A huge celebration for us was having one of our partner churches, Hope Church Rhondda, lead a fantastic programme for our young people. We look forward to more opportunities to serve and invest in our next generation over future events. It was an incredible joy to round up the conference in worship as we took up an offering of over £40,000 in support for our brothers and sisters in Nepal and India and the vital Gospel work they are doing.
Morehead City, North Carolina
19 – 21 September
The first North American Eastern Hub Conference was an overwhelming success. With over 230 attendees hailing from Miami to Toronto. The representation of churches evidence of wonderful diversity in our partnership. Given the nuanced nature of many of the topics related to leading in exile, one of the real wins from the conference was short “TED”-styled talks on specific issues, followed by round-table discussion and prayer. It was a real sharpening moment for many of us.
St Louis, Missouri
14 – 26 October
In the last week of October, Eldership teams from the Central region in North America came together at Cross Point Church, St Louis. This was our first Central Hub gathering, with the schedule geared toward prayer and relationship building.
The conference gave us the opportunity to lay good foundations among our eldership teams. We are looking forward to future projects and gatherings as we establish an effective network of churches in the Central hub that can further plant and strengthen churches in the region.
Brea, Southern California
7 – 9 November
It was so good to gather the churches in the Western Hub of North America! These churches have developed a tight bond , spurring and encouraging one another, in spite of the fact that we are spread across over a thousand miles. We heard some new voices, including former White House aide Johnathan Schrader on the political climate and recent Biola University graduate Emma Leever about Access Ministry for those with special needs. We also had input from Steve Van Rhyn, Donnie Griggs and PJ Smyth; fortuitously the conference was preceded by a Global Team meeting in Southern California.
7 – 9 November
In 2019, Advance hosted its first gathering in India. Over 150 church leaders from across the country came together for three day together. The Indian church is under significant pressure from the state. Organising a Christian gathering in this environment is a perilous exercise and we praise God that our gathering proceeded safely.
19 – 21 November
Since day one of our partnership with Advance, the movement has played a vital role in planting & strengthening the Churches through prayer, regular visit, hosting conferences and of course extending financial support at times.
Our good friend, Brian Barr, has walked the talk from the beginning. His heart is to help Churches and strengthen our arms and walk shoulder to shoulder with us in our calling without any condition. Now its not only Brian and One Life Church but entire Advance movement walking with us and endorsing what we do here.
Advance Conference brings a sense of the bigger picture to all believers who participate since many are confined with in their own local context in the villages. It is a privilege to many people to come together to worship as a combined big family with people from outside the country.
The work of Church planting has been escalated to another level here in Nepal and we try to plant at least a Church every year. Thank you to the wider movement for standing with us and endorsing our work here in Nepal and in India. We love you all and pray for you regularly.
120 men and women gathered, from the various elder teams across the UK, in Redhill. The combination of an unusually warm, spring weekend and the excellent hospitality of the Christ Central team made for a really relaxed time together with plenty of opportunities to connect and build relationships.
The lead elders, from our partner churches across the UK, gathered to connect, encourage and pray for one another and spend time enjoying God together. The team took time to review and reflect on all that God had done over the last 3 years and to strategize and dream together for what he might do over the next 3 years through our growing movement of churches.
There is a growing sense that the Lord is doing something special among Advance churches in Wales. This feeling was further energised by the first Advance Cymru Leaders Day which took place on 14th September at the Union School of Theology, Bridgend.
The Western Cape Hub, in South Africa, has one of the densest populations of Advance partner churches in the world, numbering just over 20 churches in the region. Lead couples and Eldership teams from across the wider Cape Town metropol gathered at Common Ground Church on 21 February for an afternoon and evening together.
It is always life giving gathering a large group of local leaders to catch up on news, celebrate churches in the region and commiserate with those in the midst of tough seasons. It is similarly heartening to see friendships growing between leaders, joyful greeting hugs, smiling reunions and intimacy in moments of prayer for each other.
The Western Cape Hub gathers the congregations from all of the hub’s churches together, once a year. The night is a special moment of partnership, as folk from a wide range of churches participate in the band, share news on stage and have an opportunity to catch up over coffee and treats before the evening begins.
We hope these nights inspire everyone attending with a raised perspective, and faith for what God is doing in our region.
In early April the Advance churches around Johannesburg closed down their regular Sunday meetings to gather together in one place at one time. This was an opportunity for the churches to experience the joy of our together mission in the city and to enjoy the thrills of a big meeting with accompanying kids work, worship and preaching.
Our kids had a total blast and the afternoon was rounded off with people hanging around to eat together as the teenagers sold boerie rolls – taking the opportunity to raise funds for the 180 camp happening in January. As a result it was a total win for the whole family with many feeling a greater connection to one another and what God has called us to as a family of churches in the city.
In 2019 the KZN hub enjoyed four significant connection times. The year started off with an all leaders gathering at Grace Generation Church in Pietermaritzburg with an emphasis prayer, prophecy and worship.
With global being in South Africa, there was a commitment to send as many of our folks from the KZN hub to Cape Town, to enjoy gathering with Advance churches from around the world.
The year ended with us having a leadership time at reconciliation Road church. One of the exceptional joys of that morning was seeing and amazing multicultural expression not only in the content but also in the room with those attending. Additionally we took time to pray for the launch team that is about to plant a church in Montclair in Durban, “Hope church”.
Lastly, the year was filled with wonderful strengthening moments where many from the different churches went to other contexts to teach and to encourage. In the latter part of the year we had the wonderful privilege of connecting with Grace Family Church in Newcastle who have committed to partner with Advance.
The Eastern Cape (East London and Port Elizabeth) partnering churches gathered for their annual Elders and Wives retreat at the beautiful Haga Haga Hotel, from the 23-25 August. It was sweet time, the Lord has blessed us with a strong sense of brotherhood and friendship, with a real warmth and ease in our togetherness. We went with CONFIDENCE in the Gospel – for the time together: CONFIDENCE in Partnership, in the Text, in the Church, in Christ and in His Faithfulness.
Arno De Bruin
The gospel continues to bear fruit in East Africa, and the Advance Movement of churches was privileged to play a small part in that in 2019. We currently have established churches in three East African countries (Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania) and we’re moving intentionally towards partnering with a group of churches in Uganda. Here are just some of the highlights from the last few months;
A new church was birthed in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, on the 23rd of June! Advance churches from Tanzania and Kenya sent a combined team to strengthen the launch, which included door to door evangelism and a very encouraging first Sunday meeting for what is now Covenant Global Church, Ntinda-Kampala led by Moses and Sarah Nkwatsibwe.
Over recent months, the churches across the region have benefited from an increasing number of strategic strengthening visits to cross-pollinate and to build relationships and leaders. We look forward to more of the same in the coming months and pray that God would use the foundations being laid now to build churches that will be a blessing to our children’s children and beyond.
In early September 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit the East Coast of the United States. Gratefully, the hurricane missed our friends at One Harbor Church, in Morehead City. However it struck their neighbors in Ocracoke with devastating effect. Having recently launched a local recovery effort in their own town after Hurricane Florence, the One Harbor team sent volunteers to Ocracoke to assist the residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Kristin Cook, Disaster Relief coordinator at One Harbor wrote us a brief report on their experience.
Alan Frow, lead Elder of a fantastic, multiplying Advance partner church in Southern California has just published his third book, Broken for Blessing: The underrated potential of a medium-sized multiplying church. We asked Alan to send us some background to his new book, and to give us an overview of the themes he covers. Follow the link below to read Alan’s blog post.
All 2019 financial figures provided are based on 12 months of actual income and expenditure. All Advance Global funds are accounted for by 3 trusted churches (One Harbor, Gateway, Commonground) on 3 different continents and audited according to local standards of good financial practice.
Outflows are made up of direct giving to churches, and indirect support of the movement through staffing, administration and leadership input.
Advance’s Global fund is used as a strategic resource to strengthen new church plants and Kingdom building initiatives.
Advance strengthens churches and hubs through the development of shared resources, leadership visits, administrative support and movement communications.
Partner churches contributed to a special offering at the Global Conference, hosted in Cape Town in 2019
Advance has an awesome team of staff scattered around the world. Each is based at an Advance partner church. These are the men and women working hard to make our partnership flourish through conferences, gatherings and shared resources.
Erik Santiago, Rachel Farris
Polly Murphy, Kelly Botha, Melissa Temaneu
Names witheld for security reasons
Erik Santiago, Roger Curran, Simoné Buchler, Catherine Junor, Jon Marshall