I grew up in a missionary’s home, so it’s no surprise that the verses often referred to as the Great Commission are very familiar. I grew up hearing the importance of reaching our Jerusalem, our Judea, and yes, even the uttermost parts of the earth. But that is such an enormous task! How could we ever fulfill it? When Forbid Them Not first began, our primary focus was on that uttermost parts of the earth portion of Acts 1:8. That was where I saw the biggest need, and the Green Bean Project was an awesome way to fulfill that part of the Great Commission. But over the months and years following, God began to reveal other needs much closer to home.
The thoughts and ideas of how to best reach the fatherless grew and the vision for the ministry grew with them. I began to hear people saying, “This is too broad. It’s overwhelming. People will say there is no way one ministry can do all of this, and they won’t support the work.” But as those of us working directly with the ministry prayed about a shift in focus, God’s Word kept coming back to us. We are called to reach our Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and (not or) the uttermost parts of the earth.
Like any missionary, we have one mission “field”—the fatherless—but their location is not limited to one town, country, or continent. God has called us to reach them, whether they are near or far.
So what does that look like for a ministry as small as Forbid Them Not? Here’s a little breakdown.
Based in Billings, Montana, this is our home and our Jerusalem. Since I was a little girl, the city has boomed. While the city itself has a population of just over 110,000 the metro area includes more than 165,000, and it serves a trade area of more than 500,000. According to 2012 census information, approximately 32% of Billings’ children are growing up in single-parent homes, 75% of which are fatherless. Due to an increase in drug activity, our local and state systems for caring for neglected and abused children is in crisis. Billings is an amazing place to live, but many of our children and families are broken, hurting, and in need of the love and hope of Christ and His people.
Our Judea and Samaria
As mentioned above, the crisis our families are facing is not just a big city problem. The system as a whole across Montana is in crisis. Our legislature and Governor have been scrambling to find help. Montana is not alone. The numbers out of surrounding states are similar. God has deeply burdened our hearts, not only to reach our city but also our region and beyond. Obviously, we cannot be everywhere at once, but we can help walk alongside churches that are seeking to reach their fatherless and those caring for them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Uttermost Parts of the Earth
Through the Green Bean Project, we are able to walk alongside of ministries to the fatherless in other parts of the world. God has led us to support three missionaries in three separate countries over the past few years, and we are currently looking at adding a fourth. Each year, we have been able to provide for various needs including textbooks, school supplies, fabric for uniforms, clothing, vitamins, and small financial gifts to each of these ministries. This year their needs are much greater, but we believe that God is able to meet each of those needs. We may not be able to sit with the children one on one to share the gospel with them, but we can help those who are able to do so.
During the first two weeks of this year’s Green Bean Project, we’re going to be sharing with you more about our Jerusalem, our hometown of Billings, MT. Last year’s Green Bean Project was our only source of funding for meeting the needs of fatherless families here in Billings, so you can see the importance of this project to the local ministry. The need here is great, far greater than many would imagine. Billings has been home to me since I was 12 years old. It has woven itself deep into my heart, but it is a city with a host of hurting children and broken families and lives. My heart yearns to see the hope of Christ brought to its darkest corners.