August 2021 – “Why can’t we do this all the time?” It was a simple question that led to a worldwide ministry.
While taking a tour through Budapest on their way home from a mission trip to Moldova, Dr. Mark Davis posed this question to his good friend, Dr. Steve Wilks.
In 1998 the two pastors had been in Moldova training pastors and communities to do evangelism and church planting.
“We started 19 churches on that project in two weeks,” Davis told AFA Journal. “On that bus traveling through Budapest, we were just reveling in what we had seen God do.”
Wilks was all in, “so right there on the back of that bus touring Budapest, Worldwide Church Planters (WWCP) was born,” Davis explained.
A flame kindled
Starting a global ministry was not a spur of the moment thing, however. The Lord had been working on Davis’ heart for some time, but it was a trip to Kazakhstan in 1995 that sparked a passion.
“When I saw what God was doing in places around the world, God began moving on my heart to get more involved in missions,” Davis said. “Not just by raising money or praying, but actually going to the mission field, sharing the gospel, and helping pastors who wanted to plant churches.”
His next trip was to Russia, on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, where he witnessed a number of churches planted.
“Once I saw how spiritually hungry and responsive people were around the world, especially since they had not been exposed to the truth of the Word of God, it just sparked a deep interest to learn more and be more involved,” Davis added. The flame grew brighter, and “God just continued to open doors, and as long as He was opening the doors, I just continued to step through them.”
Davis said WWCP’s goal is in the name itself – to plant churches around the world. And the work, though not easy, is pretty straightforward.
Pastors and missionaries in the field who feel led of the Lord to plant a church in an area they believe will be responsive, reach out to WWCP for assistance. WWCP will then put together a team of volunteers, travel to that area, and begin training those individuals to work through that process.
“Often we find that when God is moving on the heart of one person this way, He’s already been moving on the hearts of several others,” Davis said. “So we bring those individuals together and put them through about two weeks of training, teaching them the fundamentals of church planting, evangelism, and discipleship.”
Once the team is ready, WWCP will take them into the communities where they desire to plant a church and begin evangelism efforts.
“As individuals express their desire to want to know more about the Lord or tell us they have made a decision to follow Jesus Christ, we bring them all together to start the church,” explained Davis. “And in many respects, we will have had the first church service right there on the spot.”
After a church has developed a strong foundation, WWCP helps the members learn how to replicate that process. “We believe that churches ought to be reproducing other churches,” Davis said. “So we teach them to do just that.”
Davis went on to share a moving testimony to illustrate how that plays out. “We were in Burundi a few years back during a time of genocide,” he explained. “We had finished the training, and I asked the students where they wanted to plant a church.”
Two brothers raised their hands and said they wanted to go to the top of a nearby mountain and plant a church together.
“I was ready to go with them and help, but they said it was too dangerous and wouldn’t let me go,” Davis said. “They told me the camp of the rebels who had been going through the city killing people was located up there, and they were going to share the gospel with them.”
When the brothers arrived back at camp that evening, they gave a report of what they had witnessed.
“We saw 40 professions of faith among the rebels,” the brothers said. “And they begged us to ‘please come back, start a church here, and teach us more about this man called Jesus.’
“They were facing potentially deadly opposition, yet went anyway for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Davis. “There is a church up there on that mountain today as a result of those brothers making that commitment.”
WWCP ensures the new churches have what they need for ministry with follow-up care and training.
“It’s a long-term relationship. We are committed to the process,” Davis explained. “Our goal is to send two board members back to recent church plants every quarter to conduct seminars to train the pastors how to lead their churches and reproduce themselves.” According to Davis, this process continues until the church is able to carry on without WWCP, but even then, contact is still maintained.
“And in East Africa and India, we have a process through the Baptist College of Florida in which our board members and associates provide training through 10 theological courses. And upon completion, they receive a certificate from the college,” Davis continued. “Then from there, we seek to establish a continuation of training in theology so they know the fundamentals of Scripture and basic doctrine.”
Fortunately, due to the Lord’s blessings on WWCP, it has become difficult to keep up with the number of church plants and decisions for Christ.
“It gets a little difficult to keep up with all that’s going on, but I can give you close numbers,” Davis said. “We’ve seen well over 1,000 first-line churches started.”
By first-line churches, Davis means churches planted directly by WWCP.
“We planted 79 churches in a country several years back, and that has now increased to over 300 churches,” he explained. “So when the churches we plant, plant churches, and then those churches plant churches, we don’t get all those reports. It just gets to be mind boggling.”
Regarding decisions made for Christ, Davis believes that number to be around 400,000 to 500,000.
“We certainly don’t know any person’s heart or mind, but that’s just an estimate of people we’ve heard say ‘I’ve given my heart to Jesus today.’”
Learn more, get involved
Listen to a two-part interview with Dr. Mark Davis on Exploring Missions with Bert Harper on AFR. Visit afr.net/podcasts/exploring-missions to hear the podcast.
Davis said WWCP is “highly motivated to find people who want to go to the mission field and see people saved and pastors encouraged.” The trips range from a week to 10 days in the field.
For more information, visit wwcp.org, call 850.572.1801, or write Worldwide Church Planters, 2931 Angus Circle, Molino, Florida 32577