This week on The Ministry Growth Show we're talking with Doug Lucas from Team Expansion. Doug shares his expertise and insights from 42 years working and building one organization. It's not often you find a leader who has been with an organization for that long. In this episode, Doug and I discuss adaptation to change and how it's crucial to organizational development and growth. Enjoy!
You're listening to the ministry growth show brought to you by Reliant Creative, the creative agency for gospel centered ministries. Find out more at Reliant Creative dot org. Welcome to the Ministry Growth Show, a podcast dedicated to helping churches and ministries grow and make more effective impacts for the Kingdom of God in an ever changing digital world, whether you're building and growing a gospel center ministry or leading a church, if you want insight into the strategies, struggles, challenges and successes of other ministry leaders, you've come to the right place.
Welcome back to the ministry Growth show today on the show, I'm going to be talking with Doug Lucas. He's the president of team expansion. Doug. Thanks for being on the show. It's an honor to be here zack.
Yeah, excited to have you. Can you tell us a little bit about team expansion and what you guys are doing? Sure. Team expansion is a, an organization that focuses on partnering with local churches all around the world.
Two try to make a positive impact on folks who don't normally have a chance to hear about jesus and who are probably in some kind of a need one way or the other in everyday life as well. So it's really just a collection of uh men and women who are trying to make a difference uh for good all around the world, It's an honor to work with him.
And so are you guys doing like coaching, training, equipping type stuff with those church partners? Uh yes, we do that. But our real, real focuses on the unreached people groups themselves. So we're, we're primarily outwardly focused out of the, the, to a part of the world that you'd think of as being uh where the light is not yet, you know, shining, I guess you could say.
So we're doing typically uh disciple making movement strategies, were trying to launch uh, you know what you might call faith communities were trying to multiply those. So we are working with local disciple makers and training them to try to multiply and then as a side benefit, we're working with local churches to try to make all that happen.
So part of our ministry is equipping local churches to do the same and their own sending areas as well. Okay. And so you guys are working with local national partners in the work that you're doing as well, how, how wide reaching his team expansion by God's Grace, God just keeps working in front of us and making it possible for us to multiply, I guess.
Uh, it's over 50 countries now, 90 teams, About 380 full time workers. And uh boy, it just seems like uh there's more happening every time I glance. We've been especially active in one country in Southeast Asia recently.
Uh, where, because of God again, working there in our midst, There are now literally 34 different tribes with, uh, some kind of engagement going on in one form or another. And we have now, uh, I guess nine different teams of people that are trying to launch things in three different countries in East Africa that are all very, very difficult and dark.
And one of those countries is, I guess in the top five for the most difficult places to live for christians in the whole world. So it's a real, it's a real challenging work. But the people that I get to work with are some of the really the greatest people in the world.
So they make it fun. Mm That's cool. Now, why do you serve with team expansion? Like, can you share maybe some of your initial calling and how, um, how is that shifted over the last however many years you've been doing team expansion? Sure.
It's a fun story for me. I don't know if it would be for you and your listeners, but it's fun for me to remember. I actually didn't know what I was going to do in life. I I did go to bible college out of a kind of a deal with God.
I I was lost in the infield of the Indianapolis 500 qualifications during a cloud bursting rain. And the family that had taken me there as guests. They, they had lost me and I'd lost them. And here I was this little, you know, seventh grader in the middle of all these very, very adult, you know, mostly males.
And it seemed like everyone had a big thing of beer in his hands and this cloud bursting rain made life Impenetrable lee difficult for me to see. I was just uh torrents of rain. Everybody was trying to get through the tunnel at once, I was vacuum packed squeezed the other side, squirted out there in the parking lot.
I felt like some Disney mouse in a, in a cartoon looking for my family, you know, five or somebody. And uh I remember looking up in the sky Zach uh saying to God, look, I'll do whatever you want, please just get me out of this mess.
And I backed up my back against the wall of the grandstand, the big, the big bleachers there. And as I looked up in the sky, I suddenly saw this figure on the top row leaning over the fence and it was some rascal that was dropping a full beer can on my head, trying to bomb me.
And I thought well that's no answer from God. So as this beer can was on its way, it actually kind of paralyzed me in fear for a moment as 1/7 grader. And right as it hit this uh car that was backing up in front of me, I guess he wasn't as good as a rocket ship launcher, It squirted beer up in the air like this guy's er and I ran for it and right then my friend and his car load of friends and his dad, the dentist backed up and said get in.
And I thought how did they find me there? 400,000 people here today. And I got in that car, my friend Dave turned to me and said what happened? And I looked back at him and the whole car was quiet like turn to the dentist in the front seat and I said, well, I'll tell you what happened.
I, I think I just committed my life to becoming some kind of minister and they all laughed. And so I did go to bible college, but I had no idea other than escaping beer can rockets what I would do. But one of the classes I couldn't get out of was a required missions class.
And the first nine weeks were all filled with bible studies on the Biblical basis for missions. And boy at the end of nine weeks stack, I came with basically my suitcase packed ready to go wherever. So I changed all my major and everything and, and became, you know, emissions major ended up trying to figure out which or that I would try to go with and lo and behold the kind of churches that I that I hailed from just didn't really seem very excited about any of the existing organizations As it was back in the 1970s.
And so I began to ask some organizations, would you help me start one that would kind of satisfy these picky churches from where I'm from. I don't mean to be negative about them, but they were kind of kind of selective.
And they did these other orders help me start the this organ, we call the team expansion. And And that's really the way it got started. And that was 1978. And so it's been the same job ever since when I was in the lawyer's office.
And they said, what do we call you? I said, well, I don't know anything about this. You can call me whatever you want. It's okay, we'll put president and it's stuck. So that was the initial calling. But It was really a bible-based calling.
I saw these 52 passages focused on what's going to happen to unreached people and those who haven't had a chance to hear and those who are troubled and and despairing. And I just from then on, I it's always been the same as like I've I've never once kind of wavered in my commitment and I In a way, I think it's weird over the 42 years, um, to to think I've worked the same job and I meet people all the time who, you know, have been basically three years here and three years there and there's nothing wrong with that.
But it's just funny because every morning I get up and I realized we've got to make this happen, we got to make this happen, we've got to make this happen. It's just always been the same every morning for those 40, whatever, 42 years.
That's really cool that you have this, you've had this passion for so long with so much consistency. Yeah, you're right. That is super rare. Well for whatever it's worth, I guess, I guess I have become convinced that if a person will keep doing the simple things and just keep on practicing and trying them that sooner or later, I guess with God's help, you know, you're bound to get a little bit better or else you'd be much of a fool.
I mean, you know, I have a friendly would he was also trained by Curtis Sergeant, one of your previous guests. And lee keeps saying that to me, he says doug, we just have to keep doing what we're doing because we'll get better at it.
And I think that's a Curtis mantra and I really believe it's true that we're bound to get better at it if God is patient enough with us to keep on letting us try. Yeah, definitely. That's that adage about something about 10,000 hours before you become an expert at something.
I'm sure you put that in and more now that you've been in this for 42 years, goodness never never added it up. But it probably sure seems like that those who have to work with me, uh What are some of the challenges and struggles you've experienced looking back on these last 42 years? Well, you know, transitions are tough for any job.
And I would say one of the challenges is that Whenever you stay in a job for 42 years, they're going to be transitions. And you know, one of the toughest things for me is I get close to these people, I mean, they become like family to me and then if something does happen that changes their life circumstance, meaning that they have to transfer to somewhere else or transfer out.
Uh It's not that I take it personally exactly, because I don't want to make it seem like it's some kind of, you know, I go home in a fetal position laying in a bed, that guy you're crying, but it is difficult to lose people that you love and that you've come to really value.
So that's been hard. And there are a few people that have worked with us for literally decades and then they've had to change to something else and you know, those are tough times, but I think uh I think God always helps us through the transitions if we let him, doesn't he? I mean, that's just you've probably seen that in your life as well, Zach that he he seems to want to help us through those tough times, doesn't.
Have you, have you noticed that in your life? That but you have Oh my goodness. Yeah. And there's there's something that that I think is so beautiful that he his glory gets to shine brightest in those times when we are weakest, right? And so those moments where like, I don't know what I'm doing or I don't know what's next or goodness gracious, whatever is in front of me is really difficult and for me personally, my default is always too try to muster up the strength and and just go do it myself.
And so being um humble enough to allow him to guide me through those circumstances is still something that I'm very much learning how to do. So um Sure, yeah, yeah. Looking back at the times when I did just say I can't do it, there's there's, I don't know what I'm doing or I can't mustered up muster up enough strength to get through this.
I got to just rely on you. Are they looking back on those times? Like oh wow, he definitely showed up one and two that went so much better. Just relinquishing control to him and allowing him to Exactly, I'd through that.
So you've captured Exactly. And I got to say that experiencing those times, it's almost, it almost becomes like that title of that was it dickens, You know, the first, the first line in that story, it was the best of was it at the best of times and the worst of times.
I mean I can remember specific things. I, once I was helping us, I was helping the Orig start work and what was then the soviet union, they still called it the USSR at this time. And, and I don't think you could call it a sabbatical because it was anything but arrest, but it was a a longer start up for team expansion.
And I think uh, was probably something like the, the fourth month there as we were launching this new field. Uh, it was the time when the USSR was starting to break up and Gorbachev was kidnapped on this particular day.
And at that point it did seem like bloody civil war was about to ensue. And to make matters worse, one of our 19 members was a former U. S. Military intelligence officer focused on the soviet union. So he had the guys, you know, he came across to the other eight of us as being a real expert in his field and he downright Zach just adamantly claimed this was going to be civil war and we were going to be caught in the middle of the bloodshed and we were weigh like 1000 miles from Moscow away in the south and this is a city of half a million people kind of a nondescript place that you wouldn't have normally ever heard about, but it had gone really well for us those three months we've experienced some really amazing growth already.
This was a very kind of uh unique time and life for the USSR anyway because people were beginning to ask questions why, why is this all happened and how could communism not be working? And all these questions were causing people to, it was like a shakeup of their foundation.
So we had actually seen around, I'd say 100 people become really interested, 600 people become sort of interested in Christ but the really fun part of it was 25 had already given their lives to Christ and dedicated to him like full tilt and 15 of those were now leadership material.
And I remember we gathered in what was my our home, my family and I, we had two kids, two little kids, four and one at the time we gathered in there in my family's house uh that night of the kidnapping to kind of try to figure out what we would do next.
And there were the 15 kind of new leaders in this little movement that had started and they were just as wide eyed and scared to death as we were as about what would happen. They were all predicting war as well.
Remember the little, the ship's captain, he said, you know we got to get you out by night across the black Sea, I have access to a boat, we can get you out that way. I mean that was how desperate this is getting a number of a young, auburn haired young lady.
Her name was Lana. And she suddenly turned to me and said, But Douglas, what will we do with this startup of this group of believers? What what will we do next? And the room got very quiet. And I remember looking back at her saying, well, you know, we could study a time in the new testament when things were very hard and it didn't look very promising for them.
They were in an occupied country and they were being killed off persecuted for their faith. And she said, it sounds like our time our country. And I said, yeah, it pretty much was in a way. She said, let's do that, let's study that book.
And so we started studying through the Book of Acts that night. And as I look back on that, I was I was kind of you know, young trembling in my faith and my boots and when they all left and it was dark and that night I slept with a short wave on headphone in in my one year and your earphone in my one year out in the front room.
And I kind of woke up with a start and looked out the window and there was a shape like a bat that was out in one of the trees. And I thought for sure I heard it whisper, get out of here, be gone, get out of here.
And I felt like it's a demon talking to me in the form of that bad. I mean it was just the kind of stuff you read about in some Peretti book or something, you know this present darkness kind of book. And yet somehow I got the stuff in my head to say, I said it kind of out loud in a sense by the power of jesus christ.
I say to you, I am not going to leave and we are going to do whatever jesus has called us to do here. Well that little church of 15 became a church of 1000 zack and it won't want to plant 65 other daughter churches and granddaughter churches that started two different works among Muslims in fields next door has sent missionaries to other countries and it's still growing today.
They have their own property, their own leaders. We don't have to send missionaries there anymore. There are missionary sending place and I look back and then I think that was the hardest time. But it was one of the best times in my life too.
So there you go. Those have been some of the challenges. Yeah, wow, that's an incredible story, goodness. Now, Over the last these last 42 years running this thing and building this thing and just being led by the Lord and some of those challenges and struggles, how have how have you guys seen your strategies shift? You mentioned de mm disciple making movements.
Um was that something that you were using early on in the ministry? Or has that been something you've added to your repertoire of things that you teach and coach on and train in over the over the course of the ministry.
It was not, we focused like a lot of words did in the 70s and 80s and 90s even we focused on starting these beachhead churches of 100 that were kind of in some kind of rented or purchased property. And it was a hard going and it was partly out of a realization that our workers were kind of floundering that when one of our staff bubbled up to me, this, this set of principles that sounded to me at first so insanely simple.
And I just kind of tolerated it in a way as his buddy and as his co worker. And of course I was also the president and I just said, yeah, yeah, go go for that. That sounds really odd. Just, it could not be that simple.
You know, and, and uh, a couple of years went by and I guess to his, to his credit and the fact that he's so, uh, you know, connected to us. He's been with us since 1984. And to his credit, he would invite me to some of those early trainings that he, that he uh managed to, to launch with the help of people like Curtis sergeant, he would always invite me to come to the sessions and give a greeting, you know, because I was the president.
And, and then he sometimes he'd asked me to quote teach, unquote this one session. I didn't know what I was doing and he was just doing it to try to get me there. So I'd learn it, you know, he was sneaky and uh, It was probably in 2012 to 2015 that all this was going on.
And then By the time we got to 2000 15, 1 of our fields had really embraced it full tilt and I was seeing, The fruit and that's really what convinced me to really look into it more deeply. In 2015, we started embracing it more and more.
And then I would say after that, little by little, it's become the actual strategy that we now want to use in all of our fields. We haven't forced prior strategies out. So if there's a team somewhere that's still wanting to use a previous strategy, we don't boot them, we don't kick them out.
But over time they've many of themselves selected out anyway. I would say at least 80-90% of our workers now are are doing what you would call de mm strategies all across the board, wow. So that's a big recent shift for you guys.
That big goodness. So as you've seen that shift being a shift that's been pretty recent for in in grand scheme of things for your ministry, what kind of, what kind of guidance do you have on for other organizations, other ministries, on staying nimble and open to change in strategy when the Lord kind of leads your you as a leader um, for maybe, you know, other young organizations that are um, what I've found oftentimes or sometimes um want to stick to, uh, what, what they started with or what their, you know, known for or what is what maybe even be true or what they're comfortable with.
I love your question, Zach, I don't know where you get these if you've got some kind of a questions podcasters asked, but, but that is a great question. It was in probably the late eighties, a a friend and in a way he was kind of a mentor because he was a more senior leader in the faith let appear organization.
And He spoke to me one day about change and he said, you know, one thing I've noticed about you dog is you don't seem to be glued into anyone approach. You do seem to be sort of, you kind of remain in a state of being willing to unfreeze.
And then the other thing I noticed about you is that you're very quick to freeze in on something new. So he said the one the one piece of advice I would give you and he was many years my senior. But he said the one encouragement I would give you is hold it all at arm's length.
He said, here I am, you know, many years your elder, I need to learn from you to be more open to change. But he said, I would also hope you could learn something from me uh, to be uh, you know, not so quick to throw out say the baby with the Bathwater, you know, to use that overused metaphor.
And he loaned me a book. It was a book that's hard to come by now, but it chronicled change in the middle of the Second World War in our pacific fighting theater. And it was about a hardware store owner Zack who was a gunnery something or other sergeant on a I guess some kind of battleship in the middle of pacific.
And this guy began to notice he would just look down the line of turrets and he began to notice how hard it was for the gunner operators to keep their cannons or whatever you call their guns aimed at the enemy.
And the reason is because uh the guns were fixed site guns on a tour it and there was very little way to tune them. So what amount it was this big giant wheel and what it amounted to was they had to guess when to pull the trigger of the gun based on the pitch and yaw and the waves of the ship.
So this guy who was a hardware store on her Zach, he looked down and he realized everybody on the on the row was looking at the ocean instead of at the enemy and they would try to glance at the waves and figure out when the ship would pitch and yaw.
And then they would study the movement of the turret of the gun, the barrel of the gun and as the gun would look like it was starting to aim at the enemy. They would guess when to pull the trigger and and then it would take a while for the, for the shot to fire and make its way to the enemy.
And they would hope that with that guessing that they would happen to have moved, that the barrel would have moved by the wave into the right trajectory. You know, there's so many things to keep going and this book that'll only explained that in the middle of the pacific, this guy got the idea of attaching a kind of hand, fine tuning crank to the barrel and he asked permission of the captain of the ship to change all the guns to his idea.
And of course, the captain was reluctant because you're not supposed to change things in the middle of a battle, in the middle of a war while you're at sea nonetheless. And so what he did is he wrote the people at the pentagon and he gave the pentagon this, this plan and said, our gunnery sergeant believes this would up our odds.
Can we have permission to modify? Well, the pentagon allegedly according to story anyway, didn't write him back, they were too busy with war stuff. So finally, this captain who was chronicled in the book is being quite a maverick.
He finally just said, look, we're in the middle of a horrible war. And this, this war is not going our way. Just do it, do two or three of the tourists and show me what you mean. And the guy did at sea, He actually completely broke down the barrel and arrange this fine tuning crank, all you know, in the shop at sea.
And he trained the gunnery guys to use this little fine tuning knob. So that zack, if you can imagine now the ship is pitching and yawing. The guys learn to use this little hand cranked devices very fine tuned so that the gun was now constantly turning.
The gun was constantly changing. It's, it's uh, aim in comparison to the ship, but it was constantly aiming at the target in comparison to the target. And these two or three guns started just blowing the enemies to death.
And the other guys on the row started looking at these two or three guys that could make this impact. And they said, how do we get one of those? Little by little? They kept going to the captain until the entire ship had changed this new pattern and the captain send it back to the pentagon and they still didn't answer him.
So the captain being a maverick that he was Zack, he wrote the President and true story. It's in all the documents, he wrote the President and send him these results. And the president actually turned to the pentagon and said, you got to get this guy here in the pentagon said, what? So they literally like, I'm not making this up.
They actually flew the captain and the hardware store owner the pentagon and they set up a moving platform demonstration on the banks of the potomac with target artillery to demonstrate this to the guys in charge.
The pentagon and the president came to it movable site. Gunnery was invented by a hardware store owner at sea and I read this book and I thought, wow, change is actually a good thing if we embrace it.
And from that day on I thought, okay, if you're saying this is a gift, I'm going to be willing to try it. But I'm going to try to learn from my senior. I'm not going to just throw things away if they're working.
And I think that's part of what's going on here Zack. It's that almost savoring change because it can be a good thing. Well, that's that's such a beautiful picture or metaphor analogy, whatever. Have you have that story of keeping your eyes on the, on the right thing, right? You've really got this moving target and in ministry the importance of keeping our eyes on christ and not getting caught up in the waves and not getting caught up in the things that are distracting is is so significant and important.
So that's that's a really cool story. I think part of it is also just a convincing mantra that I have in me that I am not that good. I'm not that smart. I don't have all the answers. I I'm not naturally a very athletic guy.
Maybe I'm not, I mean I'm not, but but I think that in itself causes me to believe somebody else in the circle might have a better idea, let's hear it. And maybe that's been a part of what's made team expansion work.
Uh, there's a guy named Gary Trousdale that's written a couple of books about, you know, miraculous movements and and such. When he interviewed me, he told me that many of the organizations that were transitioning to D.
Mn strategies had split wide open and it had been very uncomfortable. And I remember him saying one of the unique things about team expansion is you haven't, why is that? And I didn't know what to tell him because to me, it's just a part of our culture that that we're trying to explore and we're trying to embrace.
And uh, if jerry trials dale, I guess is to be trusted, what he thought was, it's interesting that your willingness to embrace change is part of what's made it so fun for you to be able to make this transition to determine strategies.
Mm Well, I think there's something to be said about and this comes up in conversation on the podcast pretty often is this idea around uh for a ministry leader, what does it look like to find that balance between? Mhm.
Being strategic in whatever it is in our marketing practices, in our mission strategies um and also being nimble to whatever the Lord is guiding and directing and leading. So there's there is a there's something significant that I see in talking with ministries when a ministry leader is willing to stay nimble and humble for the Lord to just completely transition or shift the direction of the organization versus ministry leaders who are maybe stiffed armed and want to be more heavily strategic in their own.
Like I made this strategy so I want to stick to it. And uh there is a like there is an incredible importance to being strategic and putting thought and effort into those things and having plans and having strategies around everything that we do.
Absolutely, I'm not saying that we say no to those things. Um, but with absolutely completely open hand, open arms to say, Hey Lord, this is the strategy that I've come up with. This is the direction I think you're leading, but I want to stay humble and nimble to where you will guide and lead and direct.
Yeah, I agree with you. 100% accurate now. Doug you shared one really cool. The, the Russia story was was awesome. Can you share some, some uh some of the things that you've seen recently now that you guys are pushing and training with the D.
Mm. Strategy, some stories, exciting things that God is doing through this new direction that you've taken around this new strategy. Sure, as many as you want, I don't know, you know, whether your sponsors, how long you have, but yeah, one of the things we're learning is the, the amazing trust in local, uh, you know, leaders that become our cohorts and I know this is just a story that you're bound to hear over and over again, People who are living in and willing to die for it.
You know, young men and young women who will ride a motorcycle way up in the mountains and upon arriving at a village, begin prayer walking and while there walking they'll find a uh, you know, a family that's got up a sick husband and they'll be invited in to pray for the husband.
And, and before long the local police come and arrest them and haul them in. Confiscate their motorcycle and and hold them all night long, tease them about rape, tease them about never letting them go in a in a room with no windows and hold them prisoner and then suddenly like the next morning letting them go and saying we're going to keep your motorcycle because we're convinced that you were spreading this story of jesus and we're gonna confiscate your motorcycle but you're welcome to go, just don't ever do it again and then they go back and debrief and pray and and really can't wait to share the message of jesus again.
It sounds like some book of acts come alive but that's that's really in a way what it is. I I I think about the men and women in places like You know we started in Venezuela in 1986 when it was kind of resembling a modern, you know metropolis of, they called it the city of eternal spring caracas.
I mean it was beautiful and escalators and big shopping malls and people playing chess out in the middle of the plazas. And and we got off to a great start and over the years, you know the government in Venezuela is very troubled I think.
And now so many of the believers there have have lost their jobs and even if they had a job there the money is so devalued and even if they did have valuable money there's no food to buy, it's all gone.
So the average Venezuela, now I saw in a study recently has lost like £16 over the last year. And in the middle of all of this, these churches just keep growing and multiplying and those men and women who day in day out and then our own north american sent workers as well.
People that are living in places, you know, we had, we had people in one of the cities that I won't name on line where this pandemic originated and, and seeing them, you know, have to go through government sponsored, uh, repatriation flights, evacuation flights, getting on the phone with these folks while they're trying to drive across the country and make it in time for an evacuation flight and knowing it's the last flight out and they're going to be stuck in a place where the airport is going to be shut down for its indefinitely.
And yet they live these lives because of their commitment to christ. They leave their there friends, their grandparents, you know, who sometimes say, well, you can go and just leave the grandkids with us.
I mean, they leave the house, they sell the house ac where they've made memories where their kids have made tree houses. They sell all that stuff and they do that for this calling. And they sell or give the family dog to somebody they trust and they traipse off to some what the world would call Godforsaken place and they do this because they are convinced that life and all the things we hold dear are they just pale in comparison to living and loving and learning and knowing, jesus and being able to obey him and wearing a white robe on that day when he comes back and judges a belief that that day is more important than any possession and any career and any any idea that we would have held dear.
That the thing that that passes up all of that stuff, this calling for, jesus, it that that's just me, some of the most exciting stuff that we see in team expansion. But along the way, God has been good.
I have to have your in front of me web page that is literally a real time readout of the groups that people started and and the people that they are inviting to those groups and the prayers that they're praying, it's it's actually accurate to the, to the moment.
So when somebody inputs data and some land in North africa, it literally keeps up by the minute in in this a set of metrics that we keep. And yeah, seeing the 2004 and 18 Baptism so far in the middle of a pandemic year.
And seeing 800 new groups started in the middle of a pandemic and knowing now there are 4,032 groups that are active around the world with 25,916 members is exciting. But What stands behind that zack, what I get to see here is you see, I kind of know the inside data and the inside data is our workers have shared their testimony or God's story, 92,121 times so far this year.
And even as I'm saying that I get this little moist, you know, glitz in the eye because I realized, yeah, that that lagging indicator of those baptisms, it's there because the holy spirit worked in those people's lives.
But the Holy spirit worked in those people's lives because 92,121 times somebody told the jesus story to someone else. And that's really the story. That's that's great. All these people that are given, they're given.
They're all both both are are local, national, you know, international partners as well as these folks then out from north America, they're they're just amazing people with whom to work, Zack. Mm that's so cool.
How are you guys taking those incredible stories of transformation that especially through you? And a lot of the partners that we've been talking to in this space, um there's just tens of thousands of stories coming out of the work that is being done and the work that God is doing through all of you and all these other organizations that you guys are partnered with.
Are you taking those stories of transformation from the field and communicating and sharing it with your audience and uh, I don't know how you guys are structured, but if you have a donor base, like what does that kind of look like? It is hard because we do have to do everything by, by direct support raising.
Very, very few people in team expansion are on a straight salary. You know, it would be listed in the literally in the handfuls. Almost everybody is direct faith based support raising however many of our workers are in muslim lands or, or other lands that are regulated and restricted.
So it's true, we have to rename everybody. We have to mosaic out all those faces because of facial recognition software. We have to sweat bullets to try to figure out how do we make sure that this is still going to be engaging for a donor to, to read and be excited about and at the same time safe for the people who were in the field.
So literally every single name has to be changed and, and every picture either substituted out with some similar looking picture from Unspool Ash, you know, or else, you know, we have to completely hold that story and not tell it because it's too sensitive.
Uh, last month, one of the families we've been working with and one of our fields in, in East Africa, uh, that family of local, you know, brand new believers were arrested because they had started sharing their faith with others and they had Children.
It was just really ugly to think that they sent their kids to jail along with them, but they did and they were tried and it looked really bad. Our workers were trying to take them food because they didn't serve them anything in the jail.
Uh, this is a place where people, you know, write books about persecution and we were sweating bullets for this family. And the whole time, the sad part about it was, we really couldn't say much about it.
Uh, there were some press releases that broke into national syndicated news about it, but not from us. We weren't taking part in that, but we were asking people in general to pray about a family in a place that was in jail for their faith.
But as it turned out, the local law enforcement sent them up to the capital and of all things, the capital decided to exile them rather than put them in jail. I don't know, maybe they don't have, you know, enough money to keep people in jail now.
So they just basically exiled and they basically said, we don't care where you go, but you're not welcome in our country anymore, even though you're one of our citizens, if you believe this malarkey, we're just going to throw you out of our country and you have to go somewhere else.
So they are now in a neighboring land safe and secure. Uh, we gave them names that aren't like their real names necessarily Mona and Wally and their kids. But in a way it's a happy story, I guess you could say on one side because they weren't killed or, you know, beaten up, uh, they weren't put in some dark jail where they'll rot.
So it's a happy story. But in another way, it's hard because we couldn't tell prayer partners and friends and supporters much about it. We had to rename them and be very general. We've not once said the name of the country.
Uh, it is very hard, I got to say, but we're trying our best. We do emails. We do, you know, some limited web stuff. We, we donors especially that are involved, especially at a high level. We send them kind of specialist mailings that don't get published on the web and aren't, aren't distributed widely.
And we asked them, will you just please keep these very discreet and then the donors and the foundations that give, you know, major gifts, uh, they get like more personal letters directly from me. And I'm basically swearing them to secrecy and we're being more open to them.
So those are kind of, some of the levels, I guess, uh, that, that we work on. Gotcha. Well, that's, that's super helpful. Yeah. There's, uh, an importance in communicating stories and sharing what God's doing.
But mm, if it's, if working to harm your national partners are missionaries on the ground, have said yes to jesus in a place that tossed into the gospel that, you know, there, that's good that you guys are taking that seriously and never want to put those in risk that are living in situations that are much different than what we experience here in the States.
It is crazy, isn't it? We have a guy who's a former cop who is our, you know, actual security director for our fields and we have a communications team that takes this extremely seriously and I do, I take it extremely seriously.
So you're right. It is, it is very important. Yeah, there's a, there's a responsibility that is laid on, especially ministries like yours that are doing work in hospital places too to communicate what God is doing, but also be careful to protect those that are, that you're serving and working with.
So that's really cool. Um Doug this has been awesome. I appreciate you being on the show so much. I want to be respectful of your time. If people want to get a hold of you or learn more about team expansion, how can they do? So sure, that's nice of you, Zach, they can go to the website, it's just team expansion spelled out with no punctuation.
Team expansion dot org. They can go there while I was on this journey trying to understand the mm I kind of began with a friend documenting the stuff I was learning and we turned that into a companion, you know, like a micro site, you could call it more disciples dot com.
And that actually became then a book that's on amazon, that's just called more disciples. Uh and so that's available to learn more as well and they can use the contact form on the, on the website very easily.
I I get I get those messages forwarded to me all the time where somebody will use that contact form and I'm happy to the answer. So that's awesome. Well Doug, can I pray for you and team expansion, be very kind of you Exactly, Father, I just lift up Doug and his team, I pray that you would continue to guide and lead this amazing ministry and this amazing man, thank you for his um willingness to be obedient to your call Father, thank you for the work that you've done it and threw him that, um, you've done in and through his team, a team expansion and I pray for their national partners, their missionaries on the ground that you would protect them, keep them safe and, uh, give them, um, courage to continue being bold for you.
Father, thank you so much for, uh, just what you're doing through this ministry. You've, you've invited us all into this, um, the redemption of humanity and we get to be a part of that. It's a, it's a exciting opportunity and an invitation to be part of what you're doing.
And um, and so we thank you for Doug and his team's willingness and obedience to jump into that. Um, yeah, we love you so much. Father, jesus name Amen Amen. Thanks Doug, thank you so much for being on the show.
I really appreciate it. It's an honor. Thank you for inviting me. I wish you godspeed and all the other folks that you're interviewing and in all of your endeavors as well. Brother. Thanks. Thank you.
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