In April, we shared the story of how Palm Valley Church in Goodyear, Arizona launched Purpose Driven strategies in Cote d’Ivoire. As an International Partnering Church (IPC), the church has committed to train African church leaders under the direction of Palm Valley’s Senior Pastor Ryan Nunez, and Mission’s Pastor, Rusty Hood.
In May, one month after releasing that story, Palm Valley led a team of 12 members to Cote d’Ivoire to help launch PD/PEACE and train African pastors. During that international journey to impact churches, Palm Valley’s own members discovered a whole new passion for missions they’ve been fostering for three years.
It all began in 2014 when Palm Valley started teaching “When Helping Hurts” about poverty alleviation, relationships over task, and asset-based development. Their goal was to implement all aspects into their local and global missions, and provide PEACE teams with a mountaintop view on where it was directing their church.
Suddenly all the training and preparation in missions came into focus during their trip to Cote d’Ivoire. “A few team members had been leaders of other regional trips,” explains Pastor Rusty. “They were able to see how all the changes in missions over the last three years have pointed to what they saw in Cote d’Ivoire.”
In preparation for greater outreach, Pastor Rusty started training PEACE leaders during all-day sessions and workshops. By the end of July, Palm Valley will have 22 certified PEACE Leaders equipped to train others in the Purpose Driven movement. This momentum has led Palm Valley to launch Missions Training Classes at both their Arizona campuses, so that leaders can fully understand what it means to be a healthy Purpose Driven Church.
Pastor Rusty credits Saddleback’s Daring Faith campaign for helping them gain a vision for reaching the unreached. Just three months ago, Palm Valley Church completed the Daring Faith series by challenging 1,500 members to go out on mission by 2020. That would equate to 500 members a year. In the brief time since members were commissioned, the results have been staggering. Palm Valley’s exponential involvement in missions is remarkable for a church which sent out only eight-members on mission just four years ago.
“With the remaining trips I have scheduled for the fall,” says Pastor Rusty. “—we will have sent 250 members on a mission trip this year. To have 250 people join a missions trip is amazing.”
This number is in addition to the 120 high school students and the 100 middle school students who have participated in missions trips this year. This surge in missions has bought about five locations where members are sent to serve. Now, Palm Valley is actively looking for more locations and opportunities to engage members in ministry. Their goal is to partner with local churches in the field and continue to teach how healthy churches produce healthy missions.
Along with their ongoing work in Cote d’Ivoire, Palm Valley has also launched missions trips to Mexico, Las Vegas, Arizona Reservation Ministries, and Haiti. But their work is far from done says Pastor Rusty. “I would like to seek out more regions where we could send teams,” he says. “My heart has been longing to bring awareness to the refugee crisis and human trafficking.”
Palm Valley currently sponsors several refugee families. This ministry includes a process to adopt and minister to a refugee apartment complex in their area. Their local missions trips to Las Vegas have helped brings awareness to human trafficking and how members can serve the innocent victims.
“Now I want our church to launch global mission trips that will allow our members to serve in these areas of ministry,” add Pastor Rusty.
The next big step will come in January when members commit to joining PEACE trips during the months of April through June. Until then, Pastor Rusty has dedicated part of his time to seeking out new locations of great need. To go from eight members to 500 living on mission is something that only God could do.
To learn more about living on mission and serving as an International Partnering Church, visit pd.church/start.