Don Steiger, is pastor of Radiant Church in Colorado Springs, an Assemblies of God congregation of 1400 people. Don's initial synopsis of adoptions was that they "brought fresh life to the congregation."
The adoption idea was first conceived by a lay person in the congregation, but quickly gained the support of the pastor. The congregation looked for a people to adopt in which the Assemblies denomination worked and chose a particular Muslim group (name witheld for security). The church also adopted the 5,000 Chinese living in Belize because of a particular church member's interest and contacts there. The two groups, one accessible and one in a "closed" country, presented two different challenges. For the Chinese group, in addition to prayer and mission support, short term teams which were sent, were welcome and effective.
The commitment to the "closed" group has largely been in funding missionaries and in informed prayer--but not in any haphazard way. A guest speaker, the denominational director of that field, challenged the people to set prayer goals. From the 800 adults attending his presentation, 13,000 hours of prayer were committed. Members turned in a monthly prayer log of hours prayed. A prayer task force was developed that would keep the vision alive. The church hosted cultural meals, missionaries from the region, monthly prayer in the Sunday service, and a seminar on the culture. Radiant has also been one of the founding members of the network for this people.
The church's budget has not suffered from the adoption. Quite to the contrary, all types of giving have increased. In the first year of adoption, 1994, mission-designated giving rose 26%, from $250,000 to $324,000 and has continued to rise since. Giving to the general church budget simultaneously increased by 14%. "We see God blessing us because of the adoption," Steiger said. "We didn't cut anything or quit supporting any missionaries. This has only strengthened us."
Presented at the Mission America Joshua Project Consultation, Colorado Springs, CO, May 1997.