Take Back Black Friday Projects

by Cathy Nelson

We have the opportunity to make a big difference in two really different ways this year with our Take Back Black Friday initiatives. The funds will be split between Mission Gate’s Promises of Hope Ranch in Troy, Missouri, and Trinity Video Seminary.

Promises of Hope is a facility to meet the needs of women who accepted Christ in prison from Women’s Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Center in Vandalia, at Chillicothe Correctional Center and local jails. In their homes, Mission Gate recognizes the needs of the residents and helps them grow spiritually and emotionally. They receive food, clothing, ID, sundry items, bedding, housing, employment assistance, transportation needs, one-on-one counseling, weekly 12-step recovery groups as well as parenting, life skills, and spiritual development classes. One of the most exciting parts of Mission Gate is that people who graduate from the program learn to care for themselves. Most say that the structure and learning how to develop new relationships is critical to their continued success. The women’s homes also help mothers regain custody of their children. Our gifts would help expand the ranch to care for six more women at a time (12 per year). Because of a faithful donor Mission Gate has a $90,000 matching grant, so our giving could be doubled and might cover mini vans to transport residents, Bible study curriculum, a playground and fencing, a required fire prevention sprinkler system and other Mission Gate needs!  Lives are being transformed from crime to Christ at Mission Gate and you can make a difference.

Trinity Video Seminary (TVS) started as a residence school in Russia to train pastors. In 2006 Dr. McNeill passed the directorship to Vitaly Petrov. In October 2006, the McNeills were under the watchful eye of the FSB (former KGB). The Bible College was vacated of students, staff, and equipment just a few days before officials came to make an arrest. They prayed for direction and believed God was leading them away from brick and mortar to the internet to hide from the FSB. Since then TVS has grown from 40 students to 3500 on-line students registered for a wide variety of courses. Putting the teaching into video has made it accessible to anyone, anywhere. Students do not have to leave their family and job to study. Most students have vocations to support their families and are dependent on the flexibility TVS offers to equip them for ministry.

TVS is excited that thousands around the world are watching their videos quietly without doing the coursework. There have been 1,308,409 total views of TVS videos uploaded to YouTube! TVS administrators have every reason to believe that many of them are non-believers who are being exposed to teaching that may lead them into a relationship with Jesus! Consequently, some professors include the plan of salvation in their lectures. There are 150 countries accessing TVS teachings. In January 2018 Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and TVS established an official partnership. The agreement allows TVS crews to record TEDS courses live. TVS will then give the English copies to TEDS and TVS will have the rights to translate the courses and use them as part of their curriculum. Costs for these classes average $175 per student, per course taken. (A student would pay $1800 for the same courses in a traditional classroom.) Full courses recorded in English are translated into Russian, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Uzbek multiplying the financial value. As revenues allow, more language translations will be added.

The Chinese government is now implementing more restrictions on Christian freedom to worship. In October 2017, TVS began partnering with China Reach Mission and the first Chinese course “Global Church planting” is in production. China Reach will find tutors to facilitate the courses. Perhaps they will find, as TVS has, that the tutors also serve as spiritual mentors for the students who share deep questions they might not discuss with local leaders. As such, the tutoring process at TVS has become a discipleship ministry and is another way that God is using them around the world.

First Free could take part in this effort by helping fund the translation of four courses in Mandarin–Church Planting, Cross Cultural Communications, The Gospel and Islam, and World Religions. The budget on this project is $65,000. Completing the preparation of these 4 courses will take about 3 years as many hours are needed to prepare them for access to students.

First Free has supported TVS monthly, sending our support through Reach Global, our denominational mission, but this seems to be a great project with good timing for us to make a significant impact for Christ’s Kingdom in ways we might never be able to measure.

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