Proximate Church Planting

How often do we look at people around us and think, “That person is so far from the love of God?" What if God did that to us? Even those that may seem “far from God” are His children. God does not neglect them so neither should we. We are called to love.

Last August, Jason Zastrow traveled through eastern Nepal to offer some relief from the earthquake and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Jason was one of thirty Americans that traveled to Nepal from eight different states for this unusual short-term mission trip. The goal of this trip was to equip the local church and new believers to plant new churches and share the Gospel amongst unreached people groups.

Jason and his specific team of twelve spent the majority of their week in a village called Hoklabari. Each day four Americans, four translators, and four nationals went out searching for a person of peace to receive their message and in return would share their story of how Christ transformed their lives. Although at the beginning of the week Jason and his team led most of the conversations, by the middle of the week the nationals were taking on the role of planting churches and sharing with others in their village.

The team of Americans used the Proximal Church Planting strategy where they would share with 3 people, and those people would turn and share with others. The mission was to take the story they had been told and tell someone else or invite them back the next day. Even through his skepticism and nerves, Jason continued to hear Christ saying “Watch what I will do”. When speaking with villagers, the team used questions like, “Who is your god?” and “Would you like to hear the story that changed my life?”. These questions caused the people of the village to think deeply about what it meant to follow Jesus, knowing it would cost them. As Jason put it, “They knew the immediate cost to following Jesus and they wanted to be a part of His family more than they just wanted Salvation”. At the end of the week ten percent of the 3,000 people in the village of Hoklabari knew the Gospel and five house churches had been planted.

What was the biggest lesson you learned on this trip?

JZ: How much we don’t have because we simply don’t ask. For example, asking God to give us a certain perspective when it comes to seeing other people how he does - loving how Christ loves. If only we looked to God more to build certain relationships and give us certain opportunities to share the good news. The Holy Spirit is ready for a movement to sweep through his kids to power and release his church. Disobedience and lack of experience are the only things that hold us back. We were created to share the Good News and until we do that we will never be satisfied. Someday when I am standing at the throne I hope Christ does not say to me, “You led a great life but you could have done so much better."

What can we at Apex learn from the people in Nepal?

JZ: First of all, we need to really count the cost of following Jesus wholeheartedly. As a whole we need to be more hopeful about our culture and what Christ can still do with it. Second, we need to change how we present the message. We can become very good at picking and choosing who to love, and this creates lots of division within our own culture. Third, don’t assume everyone knows the name of Jesus. We need to think about the “persons of peace” that we are not tapping into and work on building relationships with those people. Lastly, my prayer is that Apex would not do house church to be trendy, but for discipleship. We will not thrive as disciples unless discipleship is the focus.

God never goes back on his promises of salvation. Are we so wrapped up and captivated by God’s love or are we making salvation about us? His love should be overflowing from us. We are to dwell in His love.


Author: Jacqueline Brown

Photographer: Jason Zastrow

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