By Brooke Miller, Content Creator at GACX
I can still remember sitting in the backseat of our 1989 Volkswagen Vanagon on the way home to Michigan after a month of traveling to the west coast. Our last stop was at the Corn Palace in Iowa. My mom pulled out her printed atlas and instructed my dad on where to exit the highway. My mom, tracing her fingers on the roads, began to look confused. “I think we are here?” However, we had arrived outside an old, empty building that read: The Corn Palace: Bar and Grill.
We all laughed, gave up on the quest to see the actual Corn Palace, and returned to the highway. Now we have GPS and all sorts of tools to ensure we arrive at the correct place. Accurate mapping is essential to see the Corn Palace and, more importantly, plant churches.
In 2018, eight leaders from The Timothy Initiative (TTI), Biglife, Global Church Movements (GCM), e3 Partners, East-West, Every Home for Christ, International Missions Board (IMB), and Team Expansion met at a GACX Forum. They wanted to duplicate the unifying work of GACX by partnering in a practical way to identify “missional gaps” or areas in each country where there was no active ministry. They formed the Coalition of the Willing (COTW), a collaborative effort to collect and share data to send church planters into the “missional gaps.”
COTW members securely gather and record data at the smallest community level (ex., the village level) to know precisely where the greatest needs exist. They use a visual mapping system that allows members to easily identify where the church exists and where it doesn’t.
The COTW and their local partners have mapped 437,000 villages worldwide. Mapping data is securely stored in an encrypted software program, managed by COTW, and accessible only to COTW members. Using the data, ministries work together to send church planters to the unchurched areas.
“I remember seeing an early iteration of the map, and my mind just started exploding. We might finally be able to get the Word of Jesus to every pocket of people on the planet!” exclaims Dusty Hoffman from The Timothy Initiative.
The Timothy Initiative collaborated with the City of the Nations and other COTW members to map the 70,000+ villages in a nation. As TTI spearheaded the efforts, the other organizations brought resources, people, and training centers. This project required vulnerability for organizations to report where they were succeeding and where they were finding difficulty. This collaboration visualizes 99.7% of the villages on the map. Tens of thousands of villages are waiting on the lifesaving message of the gospel and a church to be planted in their village.
Hoffman states, “We hit a Great Commission milestone. An Asian country is the first known country in the history of the Great Commission where we can say we have a church presence map for almost every village [in the country].”
In January 2022, a collaborative partnership started, including multiple GACX organizations (not named for security purposes), to train local churches and ministries to use mapping software to securely identify the presence of Christians and churches throughout an undisclosed country. Their goal is to complete mapping the presence of believers and churches in this country by December 2023.
“I don’t know if God wants to write a thousand chapters in this story; however many chapters it is, we’re maybe on page one or two of the first chapter. The COTW is always willing to welcome new ministries into the fold,” says Hoffman.