Since Stadia’s early years, our church planting impact has reached outside the United States. Early attempts in Canada and Great Britain were followed by several new churches in Israel with Palestinian Christians. One partner took Stadia resources to Liberia and helped start two churches there.
But then in 2011 the most dramatic and dynamic Stadia Church Planting global expansion began in Ecuador in a strategic partnership with Compassion International. Stadia and Compassion pioneered the planting of churches in communities of extreme poverty. The goal was to create environments where child development centers could use church buildings, and new church planters could benefit from the immense credibility these centers provided. Since 2011, Stadia has planted more than 130 new churches throughout Latin America using this model, and more than 35,000 children have been sponsored.
The impact on Stadia crystallized in a new mission and vision. “Stadia plants churches that intentionally care for children” became Stadia’s mission both globally and here in the United States in the emerging wave of church planting in Latin America. If we are successful, we will see a day when “every child has a church.” This is our vision.
In 2016, Stadia began working with Asia Christian Services in Thailand and Myanmar. The goal of this partnership is to plant churches that serve refugees along the border and to develop strategies that reach Buddhists with the truth and love of Jesus. More than 80% of the population of both countries have Buddhist origins, but previous evangelistic work has been mostly among the tribal animists in the northern regions of Thailand and Myanmar. What is emerging is exciting as trained church planters lead and new church facilities serve children as pre-schools in addition to worship facilities.
More recently in Stadia’s story, another strategic partnership emerged with Enhance*, which plants churches in some of the most unreached regions of the world. The model involves up to 25 first generation followers of Jesus spending a year in intense training. Then, with Stadia’s support, they return to their home communities or are assigned spots to serve, love, and share Jesus among the poorest of the poor. Enhance has started more than 24,000 churches this way over the last 15 years and is on pace to have 100,000 new congregations by 2030.
No doubt God will call Stadia to work with these and more partners as the next season of ministry unfolds. But we are already humbled by what we’re learning and, by God’s gracious hand, how much progress is being made in planting churches that intentionally care for children.
*Actual organization name altered for security purposes.
This blog post is part of a year-long celebration of God’s work through Stadia and our partners over the past 15 years of church planting. Learn more about Stadia’s “15” celebration HERE.
Brent Foulke, Resource Development Executive
Brent mobilizes people and groups to resource the Stadia mission. His church planting adventure began in 1991 when he and his wife Kay were called to plant in Albany, NY. Determined to help start a movement, Brent and the young Albany congregation, known as Christ’s Church, engaged with others to plant in Nashua, NH a few years later, then in Poughkeepsie, NY, Binghamton, NY and by the end of a decade as far away as Gaithersburg, MD where 22 disciples moved on mission. After coaching dozens of church planters sponsored by churches, foundations and church planting agencies, Brent left the staff of Christ’s Church to work full time facilitating new churches throughout the U.S. He served three years as Executive Director of the Exponential Conference before joining Stadia as an executive and working in a variety of ways to advance the Stadia mission. Brent and Kay continue to call Upstate NY home where they garden together and travel to visit their children and grandchildren in Colorado (Ben, Katie, Zachary, Liam, Annalyn), St. Louis (Brendon, Amanda, Morgan, Grahm), San Diego (Keenan, Trevor) and New York (Kyrin, Dom, Zinnia).
Are you ready to start global churches that intentionally care for children? Stadia is ready to help!