Growing Remotely: Church Plants in Pakistan Receive Training Through GLC
Kenneth Charles and his family have lived much more life than would fit in the lives of most families. As a minority population of Christians in their native Pakistan, he and his family were persecuted to the point where Charles was kidnapped on his way to a court appearance and kept under guard in a disused cotton factory.
"One day they started fighting about something, two of the guards," Charles says, "so I felt in my heart that I should run from here. This was the time. They were going to kill me anyway, so what if they killed me while I was running? So I pray and start running. And I kept running for the next three years."
Those three years were productive. Charles reconnected with his family and they kept changing locations to avoid being recaptured.
"We stayed in 13 cities in Pakistan," Charles says. "God was so merciful that wherever we stayed for 3 or 4 months, we just planted a church there."
That church-planting part is important. We'll come back to that.
Eventually the family secured visas to come to the United States in 2006. They arrived, put down roots in New York, and began work on a new ministry effort: an audio Bible translated into their native Urdu, a language spoken by over 650 million people.
Over the next eight years, the family worked together on it and released it as an ever-growing app in 2015; as of now, they estimate they've reached around 40 million people. But the release of their audio Bible coincided with the Charles's daughter deciding she wanted to work with women in the Middle East. She looked for a Christian college and found ORU.
Charles came to visit the campus with her in 2016. "We went to the Prayer Tower and while I was praying, God spoke to me and wanted me to come here," he says. "I have a job and a house in New York and I said, 'I can't do it,' and He said, 'You have to come.'"
So he did. In fact, the entire Charles family eventually came to study at ORU.
But the story doesn't end there. Remember? The church plants?
"Last year in October, someone contacted me on Facebook," Charles says, "and it was one of the persons I started the church with in Karachi. He said what we'd started in a living room now had more than 300 churches with more than 60,000 members. We have 64 buildings and every day God is expanding them."
Charles then met with Michael Mathews, ORU's Associate Vice President of Technology and Innovation, to discuss ways to use the new Global Learning Center to disciple this burgeoning church community. From there, Charles, the church leaders, and the GLC team began forming an online Bible institute.
Over the summer, Charles and other leaders visited Pakistan and set up online classrooms in an empty basement of a Karachi shopping complex. Classes have already begun.
"We have the biggest church in Pakistan now, and we can train those people to help others," Charles says. "We can have an educational revival in Pakistan and they can start discipling others there. Now I understood why God brought me here."