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DOVE Christian Fellowship International

DOVE Christian Fellowship International (DOVE International) is a worldwide family of believers in Christ involved in churches and ministries located in six continents. As an international family, we are diverse in culture and background but share a common God-given vision, values, mission, and commitment to start and nurture churches and ministries to transform communities throughout the nations.
DOVE Christian Fellowship International
DOVE Christian Fellowship InternationalApril 22nd, 2015 at 11:58am
Update from DOVE International Leadership Conference...
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DOVE Christian Fellowship International
DOVE Christian Fellowship InternationalApril 20th, 2015 at 1:19pm
Surprised by God
by Wallace and Linda Mitchell

It’s astonishing that God called me to plant a church. I was not raised in a Christian home. In fact, I didn’t even attend church until I was thirty years old.

My wife, Linda, and I had married right out of high school. Two years later while I was attending college, we had our son, Mitch. After college, I found myself in a devastating situation: no money, no car, no home. In desperation I cried out to God for help. Within two weeks I had a job, a car and a home. The first night in our new apartment, I tried to grasp how I had fallen into this good fortune. The only thing I could determine was that I had called out to God for help. I reasoned that if God could help me, I wanted to know who God was.

I went to the library to search for a book about God. Under God’s guidance I found the book, Archaeological History of the Jewish and Christian Faiths, which routinely referenced the Bible. I decided I should read the Bible to find God. My wife had an old Bible that she had received while attending Sunday school as a little girl. I read through the entire Bible in about a year.

In Romans 3:23-25, I came to understand I was forgiven through Jesus Christ as I accepted Him as my Savior. At this point, I still had not attended a church. I worked for the government and was transferred to Washington, D.C., where we had our daughter, Nicole. Although life became more financially stable for us, Linda and I had deep marriage difficulties and separated for two and one-half years.

During that time I started attending a Bible church, which gave me much needed discipleship and ultimately helped restore our marriage. Eventually I became an elder in that church and later an associate pastor. Through that church, I attended a cell group conference where Larry Kreider was speaking. His teaching opened up the world of “cell church” to me, and began to answer questions I had about the spiritual gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. With this enlightening at the age of 50, the Lord stirred in my heart to plant a church in another county. I shared my desire with the pastor and elders who prayed with me, questioned me and encouraged me to put in writing my desired purpose, vision, values, organization, administration and leadership structure. This was very helpful because it provided documentation for the foundation on which we eventually built the church.

Although the whole cell church concept was different from the practices of my church, the leaders approved the church plant and agreed to pay my full salary and all church planting expenses for one year. The leaders allowed me to present the proposal to the congregation and release anyone who wanted to come with me.

For six months, the church plant met in the existing church’s youth room during the same time as the Sunday morning service. At the end of that time, we moved into a school located in the area where the church would be planted. In six years, due to the support of our releasing church, the faithful giving of our members and a miracle of God, we were able to buy five acres of land in the center of a densely populated residential area. We were able to build phase one of a two-phased building project. In growing the church, I applied the principles I learned from DOVE International. I think I may have been one of the first persons to complete the DOVE Leadership and Ministry School.

Our philosophy changed from traditional to cell church. Another change included embracing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Having the blessing of our sending church and the insight from DOVE International was the greatest blessing for the planting of Broadlands Community Church. This above everything else contributed to our survival and ministry.

Despite this great start, I failed to see the importance of continual association, networking and training with those in a church planting movement. Our former church released us to chart our own course. Due to philosophical and vision differences, I did not turn to them to deal with the issues that surfaced in starting a church. In the beginning, while absorbing what DOVE International had to offer, attending many conferences and training sessions, I did not follow through with the DOVE connection. This hindered my leadership and our growth and ministry. After ten years, I felt isolated and saw the need for more relationship, support and accountability with likeminded brothers and sisters. I called Larry and asked to meet with him. He was very gracious and helpful. Soon we began the engagement process and now we are very happy to be a partner church with DOVE International.

We are committed to small groups, which form the core of our entire ministry. From the very beginning, we incorporated discipleship into our small groups. This has worked well and people have blossomed and matured in this family atmosphere. We offer book studies and Bible studies in our small groups. Because we focus on small groups, people are ministered to in a variety of ways. We have developed a strong family atmosphere. We encourage our groups to be creative on their outreaches. Every other month one group will sponsor its individual creative outreach, which other groups will be invited to participate. We use the term easy/easy for these outreaches. Meaning the event is easy to ask people to attend (non-threatening) and easy for people to come (non-threatening) with the purpose of building relationship. This has worked well and is enjoyable.

A lesson I learned from experience is that I attempted to make the groups and events too structured for everyone. You might say I was so ideologically committed to cell groups that I missed the principle of family and relationship. We leave each event to the discretion and creativity of the group, and this variety of approaches works well. Basically people meet people based on who they are and their shared unique interests. We also have several church-wide events, which are meant totally to enhance cell group participation. Some of these are Christmas Eve service, Easter Egg Hunt, and Vacation Bible School. Everyone seems to enjoy the church-wide involvement and looks forward to asking their friends to attend. Again, the idea is to build relationships with those without a church home.

My teaching gift worked well in discipleship but not so well in outreach. I taught on outreach more than I participated in outreach. Now I am more conscious of modeling personal evangelism. I also personally facilitate an Alpha course for non-believers, which fits nicely into the cell group vision and encourages outreach and participation in small groups.

Today, we at Broadlands Community Church are still learning and still excited about what God has in store. We believe a great move of God is unfolding and we are in a position to participate. God is faithful!

http://www.dcfi.org/church-planting/the-invitation/
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DOVE Christian Fellowship International
DOVE Christian Fellowship International added 9 new photos.April 16th, 2015 at 3:31pm
The annual DOVE Mission Festival was held at Newport DOVE on March 7. Following praise and worship Peter Bunton, DMI missions director, interviewed Dan and Sarah Albitz about their first two years of being missionaries in Kenya. Dan and Sarah encouraged others to consider a term of missionary service.

Dan and SarahDMI missionary, Dan Bumstead helped the audience understand the crucial importance of focusing on the unreached peoples of the world. Dan and Regina work among the Toka people in Zambia.

Marisa Barnett, who provides business training and mentoring to young entrepreneurs in South Africa, shared the importance of having hope in one’s life, while Justin Shrum stressed the importance of justice in missions. Justin and Rawan Shrum work in Germany to help restore the victims of forced prostitution and sexual exploitation.

Children's offeringThe children of DOVE USA worked together to raise $850 to give to the DOVE churches in Colombia – Herederos Calarca and Herederos Del Reino. Leaders of these churches were happy to receive this money from American children to use in sharing food and the gospel with poor children of their communities.

As we embrace the world with prayer, service and finances, lives are changed. The festival closed with a call to missions to which a number of people responded.

We continue to pray that the DOVE family of churches would always focus on the missionary task in the world.
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DOVE Christian Fellowship International
DOVE Christian Fellowship International with Chad MillerApril 13th, 2015 at 6:28pm
A church planting story in Brazil and Pennsylvania

You don’t need to be someone special or a high achiever to plant a church—just obedient. Before my wife, Chris, and I married or even participated in any mission outreaches, we sensed God telling us, “Reach people where you are.” So we did. I drove kids to youth functions and led a small youth cell group. I even met my wife through youth ministry.

After we were married one year, I had a dream. I saw a map of the world marked with red dots all over it, and sensed God saying, “You are going to touch these places in the world.” When I awoke, the vision seemed so vivid. I protested, “God, I don’t know any languages and I don’t have a burning desire for any one nation. . . . What am I to do?”

Chris and I joined a team for a two-week mission trip to Brazil, where we both developed a concern for Brazil and a desire to help that nation. We enrolled in the DOVE Leadership and Ministry School, and later, in a language study school in Brazil. We asked God where we should live. Within that year, we moved to the city of Fortaleza, rented a home, and began teaching the Bible in the Portuguese language. We invited a Brazilian team of young adults from YWAM to work with us for ten days. During those days, we showed the Jesus movie, held numerous sports events and built relationships with kids and young adults. The relationships built during those ten days became our core group. Within a few weeks, we had fifty to seventy-five kids in our home daily. Almost all of the youth came from single-parent homes. We opened our doors at 9 a.m. for the kids to hang out and play games and sports. We closed the doors at noon for an hour. Chris and I did not have any children of our own, so that made it easier to open our home. At times the kids annoyed us, things got broken, but we became family.

We began a Sunday evening service and started a small group. Although the parents encouraged their kids to attend, they were not interested in pursuing God for themselves. Today the church is multi-generational, but it took about seven years before adults attended. Many of the youth who participated in our youth ministry are living for God today and did not become involved in drugs like family members and the kids around them did.

We learned that commitment fluctuates greatly when working with first-generation Christians. We had months of solid attendance followed by months of dwindling attendance. In fact, we saw the numbers fluctuating between six and sixty. That is very frustrating, but people need to see you will be there for them. Time builds trust. We asked God how we could affect our community and open doors to them. The area was full of drugs and violence. We became proactive, praying in streets, serving at soup kitchens and bringing people into a safe environment.

We saw miracles—including soup multiplying as we prayed because more people than we had expected showed up for a free meal.

We returned to the USA after seven years in Brazil. I became involved in youth ministry and serve as the youth leader for DOVE USA.

About two years ago, Chris and I planted a house church in Lititz, Pennsylvania. To plant an effective church, we must look at the need and meet it, not build a church around our need or what we want it to be. Chris and I saw that discipleship is the most important thing needed in our new house church called The Gathering. Discipleship is knowing what the Word of God says and doing it.

Discipleship doesn’t normally happen during a preaching service. So we only have preaching every other week. On the alternate week, we break into discipleship groups. People can attend worship services and small groups every week and never be discipled or accountable to anyone. But having discipleship groups meet during the main service every other week, forces every person to be discipled. In these groups, we study the Biblical Foundational Series. We apply what we are learning and share what God is doing in our lives. We pray and encourage each other. We find by breaking into small groups and praying for each other, God touches people. We see the strength in discipleship. It’s refreshing to see new Christians discovering with confidence that they are capable of discipling others.

The Gathering meets every Saturday night. People who are not connected with church come and accept Jesus. It’s been surprising to see how The Gathering is growing into a multi-generational church. When Chris and I first started the church, we expected it to be made up of mostly young adults. But now we have lots of children, young and old, poor and rich, and multi-ethnicity. It doesn’t matter the age or background, people desire community. We want to create an environment that supports and allows transparency. People have a preconceived idea that church must be a certain way, but we believe that models and structures need to change if we are to reach people. Be real. People aren’t looking for perfect leaders—but authentic leaders. Another main goal for our group is church planting. We talk about church planting a lot. We meet with young adults to teach them that they can do more than lead a small group—they can plant a church.

We find many young adults are ready and willing to plant a church. As leaders, we train and release them. If we wait too long, we get in a rut and never do it. Our goal is to plant more churches. In Brazil, Chris and I planted a church by ourselves. Although that church plant was successful and continues to grow, we would not plant alone again.

We believe it is important to have a team. Those who are interested in planting a church should meet with interested people and get a game plan. Chris and I are called to plant churches, but we aren’t going to recreate the same church over and over. Each church plant is different. One will become a micro church, another—a community church or mega church. The important thing is not structure, but whether discipleship is happening.

Chad and Chris Miller

Read more church planting stories at http://www.dcfi.org/church-planting/the-invitation/'
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DOVE Christian Fellowship International
DOVE Christian Fellowship InternationalApril 6th, 2015 at 9:16pm
The Sting of Death
Kenya is in mourning this Easter Monday. The church in particular is asking a lot of questions. Why did the attackers start with the praying Christians? Why during Easter? Why innocent students? Are we losing freedom of worship in Kenya? Are we heading toward religious wars?

The two women who went to the tomb early Sunday morning were also in turmoil. Hopes and dreams for the future had come crashing down. Their hearts were laden with grief and pain. Everything looked dark. But Josh Meyer at Franconia Mennonite Church reminded us this morning that some of God’s best work is done in the darkness. During the darkness of that Sabbath night over 2000 years ago, God redeemed a seemingly hopeless situation.

Darkness and pain do not generally get very ‘good press’. They are not things we look for. But death and darkness do not have the last word. With the infusion of God’s power, they can actually be a seedbed for victory. That is the message of Easter: light over darkness – victory over death – hope conquering despair. That is the hope we can grasp and hold on to, even in the midst of the darkest night.

The blood of martyrs, throughout history, has often been a seed of revival. And we have been crying to God for revival! We have been crying for a new wind of the Spirit to shake the status quo of the church and visit us with power.

Desperate times help us realize that we truly need God. When we desperately seek for Him, we surely shall find Him. In the grief and mourning, may we seek help from Him who has alone defeated death.

~ Ibrahim and Diane
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Larry's Blog

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