Missionaries in the San Francisco Bay Area Share Their Stories With Trustees From the North American Mission Board

North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees met with three church planting missionaries in a local venue to hear about their recently launched churches. The venue represented the type of theater that new church plants would likely need to rent as they get off the ground. James Westbrook, lead planter of Realm Church (standing), shared with trustees about the way God has been moving in their neighborhood in Oakland, Calif. The vision tour was part of the Oct. 7-8 NAMB trustee meeting which took place in San Francisco. NAMB photo by Greg Schneider.

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for being a launching pad for digital and technological innovations. A group of church planting missionaries, however, is praying for the region to become a site for a global, gospel movement.

On October 7, trustees from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) traveled the city and listened to missionaries share their heart and vision for the church there. The tour was part of the trustees’ fall meeting which took place Oct. 7-8.

“San Francisco is a place where a lot of people are coming, immigrants from all over the world, because this place attracts technology,” said church planting missionary Samuel Perli. “It’s this place where so many people are coming in quest for truth, in quest for developing technology. So, we thought, maybe God has a purpose for us.”

Perli and his brother, Paul, grew up in Hyderabad, India. Their father was a pastor who developed a sending culture in their church and family.

“As God would have it,” Perli said, “God sent my brother and I to America to advance God’s kingdom here in whatever shape or form that might look like.”

With a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Perli works in the Bay Area’s technology sector as a bivocational, or co-vocational, church planting missionary. He and Paul primarily reach out to the South Asian population, many of whom are part of unreached people groups. Together, they started a Bible study that, over the course of a year, has grown to around 70 people representing seven different people groups.

“Because of the Send Network, what you’ve done,” Perli told the trustees, “we were able to get a grant to do a huge outreach concert to this unreached people group … Many people came to know about the love of Christ, and many of them came to TruthSeekers,” their Bible study.

Perli has already baptized two new believers who were formerly Hindu.

Along with the Perli brothers, trustees met another church planting missionary who came to the United States following persecution in his home nation.

Trustees were asked not to share any of the specifics of his story due to safety concerns for other fellow Christians in his homeland, but they were inspired by the testimony of his coming to faith and his journey as a refugee to the States where he now serves as a missionary.

“It’s encouraging to see that people are answering the call to go out and to do the hard work of planting a church, being part of the ministry and sharing Jesus,” said Briana Weathersby, a first year NAMB trustee and member of Transcend Church. She and her husband, John, planted Transcend in 2012.

A few miles away, trustees met a pair of pastors from The Movement Church — Edward Paz and Christopher Stites — who told of their plan to multiply the church across the Bay Area.

Paz shared the story of how the church began in September 2013, thanking trustees for being behind NAMB’s vision of reaching the North America’s densely populated, urban areas.

“As trustees, when Send Cities were talked about years ago and that vision was shared by [NAMB president] Kevin Ezell,” Paz said, “I just want to thank you for getting behind that because there is a pastor – myself –out here in Oakland, California, whose church would not have gotten started without the belief in that strategy.”

Paz shared the stories of three people The Movement Church has impacted — an unchurched, person, a de-churched person and an over-churched person. All three eventually came to Christ or rededicated their lives and became staff members at the church.

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Source: Baptist Press