Mark Hobafcovich said it’s interesting that he, a native Romanian, works with an American mission board, but he’s excited about being part of mobilizing pastors and churches for church planting through the North American Mission Board.
“I’m now an American citizen and a citizen of heaven,” Hobafcovich told a group of Birmingham-area pastors. “I’m happy to meet pastors and other leaders and ask them to pray for new churches to bring people to Christ.”
Hobafcovich hosted a luncheon at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham March 7, noting NAMB uses this type of gathering to cast a vision about lostness and opportunity in North America. He will host 37 similar events this year, departing Birmingham for Oxford, Mississippi then on to Memphis on this trip.
“Many in America and Canada have never heard the gospel,” Hobafcovich lamented. “They may have heard of Jesus but not specifically about the forgiveness and eternal life He offers to those who seek Him.
“We at NAMB come and go, but the state conventions, local associations and the churches remain. We want to build and strengthen relationships with these groups,” he asserted. “We encourage them to pray for new churches around the nation and to consider doing new church plants themselves.”
Hobafcovich said his basic message is prayer.
“Jesus had a strategy of prayer when He asked us to pray for the lord of the harvest to send laborers,” Hobafcovich noted. “This strategy hasn’t changed. We must pray for new churches and for new opportunities for the gospel to be shared in our homeland.”
George Wright, senior pastor of Shades Mountain, was keynote speaker at the luncheon, telling the group he felt a calling to do a church plant as a college student.
“My wife and I moved to northwest Atlanta in 2006 to plant a church and remained there 11 years,” he recalled. “We then took a church in South Carolina for five years before moving to Birmingham last summer.
“Shades Mountain has a rich missionary history, and we continue to encourage our members to be involved in missions.”
Wright said he believes the next few years could be the best for God’s Church because the culture is “hungry and desperate” — conditions that became more acute during COVID-19.
He pointed pastors to a passage in Matthew 9 Hobafcovich had cited earlier, declaring Jesus had a heart for the Kingdom of God.
“His message was about the harvest,” Wright asserted. “The Church can be known for our message about masks, vaccines and the current administration in Washington, but this is not our message. Jesus’ compassion moved Him to action, and we must also show our compassion for hurting people by loving them and sharing Christ with them.”
Wright called church planting the “evangelistic front line” of the church.
‘Heart for prayer’
“Jesus also had a heart for prayer,” he noted. “He saw the labor shortage and called us to pray.
“Church planters depend on God and pray desperately since they know if they don’t reach the lost, their labor is a failure. All of us church leaders should hit our knees, fall on our faces and cry out for laborers to join us in the work of the harvest.”
NAMB has asked local congregations to consider linking with church planters in North America as prayer partners. A website, prayforplanters.com, identifies church planters and their locations, and individuals and churches can commit to pray for specific workers. The same information is available by texting “praying” to 888123.
NAMB.net offers further church planting stories, along with resource materials for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.