Global rural network wants rural churches to partner with IMB

Reaching rural communities with the gospel is something Jeff Clark is passionate about. He grew up in a farming community. Then, God called him to minister among rural peoples in Asia. It’s only natural for the International Mission Board rural network mobilizer to envision his two worlds colliding — rural churches in the U.S. connecting with IMB’s rural ministries through a global rural network. 

“It doesn’t matter where you are from or even if you share a language, rural people connect with each other in a special way,” Clark explained. “Half the barrier is resolved when a guy in Kenya says, ‘I’ve got 10 goats. What do you know?’ And the American answers, ‘I’ve got 60 in Indiana.’ This connection can open access for sharing the gospel.” 

For most rural families around the world, farming is a family thing. Rural church members will connect with other farmers on this aspect and might have an opening to share the gospel as they tell stories back and forth. IMB Photo

The Global Rural Network, a renewed commitment to make the gospel accessible in rural settings, will connect churches with IMB missionary teams working among the world’s 3.7 billion rural peoples. Clark encouraged churches to band together through partnerships or their local Baptist associations to go on a trip. 

“Small and medium-sized churches can be involved in missions, too,” Clark said. “Even if you are just sending one, that’s important. Maybe you aren’t sending anyone, but you can pray for the associational group going. Rural ministries have a place for you to be involved.” 

Molly Petry emphasized building relationships with rural peoples is the best way to gain gospel access. She works on a rural community development team serving Central Asia. There are only a few major cities in this region of the world, so that means people live in thousands of villages or small towns in the country. There are no churches meeting within hours of them. 

“Most villagers will never run across a believer. They don’t even have regular access to TV channels or internet to be exposed to Christian material,” Petry explained. “Our team is often the first believers they meet and that’s a huge impact.” 

The rural development projects allow the team to spend time building trust and relationships among the various small communities. The team uses extended time over meals and tea to get to know people and share Bible stories. After the project is finished, they keep these relationships strong by visiting to encourage and disciple isolated believers.  

A shepherd watches over his flock of goats. IMB’s Global Rural Network wants to connect rural churches with rural projects like raising goats to help missionary teams gain access for sharing the gospel. IMB Photo

Clark called “relationships” the currency of rural communities around the world. He emphasized these rural ministries are not looking for someone to preach. They need everyday people with everyday skills. 

“If you’re saying to yourself, ‘All I know is cows,’ I have a missionary in Africa begging to have someone help him understand Holsteins,” Clark reasoned. “IMB wants to help you see how to use your unique gifts overseas.” 


Contact Jeff Clark at for more information about the Global Rural Network and how you can connect. 

Some names have been changed for security