Unheard Stories of Church Planters from Around the World
Examining the passions and triumphs of champion church planters in various countries.
Paul and Cathy Becker have a vision to plant five million churches. As the leaders of Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI), they have already planted over 647,000.
In part one of our conversation, we heard how Paul received the initial audacious vision to plant 1 million churches, and the unusual events that led to him and Cathy being united. We continue this conversation, hearing some personal stories of the “champions of the church” – church planters.
It’s been inspiring, hearing how God brought you two together, and how He gave you vision in the early days. Can you share how DCPI has impacted the church planting world since its inception?
Cathy: God did a marvelous, wonderful thing in that first church we planted in New Hampshire back in my single years. The tools of DCPI gave us a roadmap to start that new church. Every church plant, whether it’s a few people and a few years, or a lot of people and a lot of years, God is at work in it. He uses it to touch people’s lives.
The church we planted in New Hampshire is now 21 years old. When I went back there for the 20th anniversary, I learned they had 1600 people worshiping in 3 campuses each Sunday. They had also been a part of the planting of 13 other churches in that 20-year timespan! The Northeast is the most unchurched and unreached area of the United States, and it is pretty incredible that DCPI played such an integral role in that.
Paul: From 1994 to 2018, we trained over 240,000 church-planters around the world. And those 240,000 have planted about 647,000 churches worldwide.
When you put that into the perspective of our first vision (1000 churches by 2020) we are reminded that God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or think. Now we’re actually working on what we believe is the goal that God has given to us – we call that the Great Goal – and that is to train enough leaders so that the first million churches of our churches will be planted by 2020. We started out with the vision of 1000, but God’s vision was 1000 x 1000 by 2020! Since then He’s given us an additional goal of planting five million churches. It’s an amazing thing that God can do. When it’s His vision, we realize we’re just stewards of that and we do our best to facilitate it.
“It’s an amazing thing that God can do. When it’s His vision, we realize we’re just stewards of that and we do our best to facilitate it.” – Paul Becker
Those numbers are mind-boggling, how God has multiplied your work despite the challenges that church planters face. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing church planting leaders around the globe?
Paul: Church planting leaders are facing many challenges.
One is funding. Church planting leaders are always in need of funding. Some of them are employed in other ways and do their church planting in a part- time fashion – that’s one way that people solve that problem. But others are suffering financially out there. They need more funding to do what God’s called them to do.
Another challenge of course is religious persecution and martydom, which happens more now than at any time in history. One of the exciting things that happened with DCPI in recent years is that one of our world zone leaders in northern India took an already established house church plant training and improved it and systematized it. As a result, we have seen over 20,000 house churches planted along the Ganges River in India, which has so much religious persecution towards Christians. Our world zone leader created our DCPI house-church planting track.
One more thing that church planters desperately need is the fellowship of other church planters, especially those that have been successful. And that’s one of the beautiful things about DCPI, because through us, God provides that fellowship.
When I was initially thinking about the one-million church vision back in 1997, I thought, “What if we found leaders out there that had a hundred churches, or a thousand churches, or ten thousand churches in them?” If we just found a thousand leaders who had a thousand churches in them each, that’s a million churches! What I didn’t know at that time was that God already had those leaders all around the world and that as we grew and developed He would connect these incredible champions of the faith to us. And they would support and care for and encourage and empower the church planters of the world to plant churches that truly lasted.
When you’ve been involved in planting hundreds of thousands of churches, there must be some stories of changed lives and communities that really stand out. What are some of your favorite stories?
Paul: Let me tell you something that happened to me in Cuba in December of 2016. I had heard of great things happening in Cuba related to DCPI, so I wanted to find out for myself. One evening, we left Havana and it was very dark out—they use very little electricity in Cuba. We went to a small home belonging to a church planter named Dunieski.
We’re having dinner with him and his wife Anita, and we ask them how they got involved in church planting and what they thought of the process.
Anita says, “Initially it was awful, it was terrible. We had no idea how to plant a church. But we called our mentor, Yassir who knew how to plant and was hosting a DCPI meeting. We went, and we found out how to plant a church, and everything has been different since then,” Anita continued.
Dunieski tells us he loves the planning aspect the most. They were taught to do a vision plan and a timeline, among other things. “I have updated my vision plan and timeline for the past four years, do you want to see it?” he offered. “I also have a process of discipleship, of bringing a complete pagan into becoming a disciple of the Lord. Do you want to see my process of discipleship?” He grabbed five notebooks, and proudly explained that every one of their new people have to go through all five in order to become a strong Christian.
Duniaski also added, “We have 15 house groups in Cuba. We want to start a Christian cultural revolution from Cuba to go around the world!”
Dunieski is now the second most influential DCPI leader in Cuba. The story is even more incredible when you consider that Duniaski had an injury when he was a boy, and his legs are those of a four-year-old’s. He’s in bed all the time. But he’s there, planning, leading, guiding this entire church, this growing movement. I’m so proud of this couple, they are so sacrificial and give of themselves so fully.
That church planter may be considered weak on the outside but he obviously has extraordinary internal strength!
Another story that I love takes place in the Philippines—there’s this leader named Bishop Sillada, from one of the southern islands where there’s a lot of communist oppression. He and his wife, Amelia, have a heart to reach out to unreached people groups.
Once they heard of an unreached people group in a village. To reach them you to go on a two day walk along a river. Now, the thing you need to know is that Bishop Sillada has muscular dystrophy, making it very difficult to walk – he has to rest a lot, and his speech is slurred.
Anyway, he was walking down to this river and over the mountain, which was a great sacrifice. When he got to the village, there had just been a tragedy – the chief’s grandson had just died. Bishop Sillada, a man of great faith, asked if he could help. The village people were at a loss, so they just let him do what he wanted. He went to the child’s body and prayed and prayed, and the little boy came back to life!
Right then, the village chief became Christian, and his entire village became Christian! Isn’t that amazing?
Cathy: There’s also Gerhard, one of our wonderful leaders in Europe. His father was a Nazi, and his mother an atheist. This probably makes him the last person you would think would become a mover and shaker in the church-planting world. But he has such a love for Jesus!
DCPI trained him to plant churches. During the training, he was told he had to come up with a vision plan and timeline. He presented this – the Lord put it in his heart to go and train leaders in church planting in every place that Hitler had a concentration camp. We got to visit with him a few months ago and learned that he had taken the training to Poland. He had trained up a number of leaders there, and already, they had planted 45 churches in these areas where there were once concentration camps.
These are great stories! How can an interested person participate in this vision?
Paul: There are many ways in which a Christian can contribute to the completion of the 5 million church vision. I believe that God is bringing in his harvest of souls, and He’s using church planting to do that. That’s why we’re seeing such incredible dynamism around the world in church planting. There are many organizations that are turning toward church planting to see this happen. It’s a move of God. You can pray for this to happen, and you can go to our website, www.DCPI.org.
“I believe that God is bringing in his harvest of souls, and He’s using church planting to do that. That’s why we’re seeing such incredible dynamism around the world in church planting.” – Paul Becker
There are so many ways you can help. You can also become part of our prayer team; you can invest financially in this; you can plant a church-planting church—that’s the ultimate thing you can do to help all of us move. You can become a certified trainer in training others in how to plant churches.
There are lots of ways in which you can participate, but the important thing is, you can become a partner, as together we see God reach and fulfill His 5 million church vision.