Missions in Action



Join us for ImagiNATIONS (Missions Week)

Missions Week is coming up and we are so excited for this opportunity to learn more about what God is doing around the world. You will hear how God wants to grow our imagination for the nations and how we all get to participate. 

There’s all these events:

  • All-church gathering and dinner on Wednesday
  • Saturday programs & breakfasts for both men and women
  • Monday Worship & Prayer night following Pizza with Prayer Partners
  • Sunday services where you will hear messages from keynote speakers 

Please register for meals here. Come be part of what God wants to teach us and see how God wants to transform our world through us! 

Missions Trips 

We are excited that, after the last couple of years of Covid travel restrictions,  we can go on mission trips again this year! This year is your opportunity to GO and serve with Black Rock Global Partners. There are trips near and far with various service opportunities. Please pray about how God wants YOU to participate and which trip may be right for you. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) begins with the word “GO…” and continues “into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” We all have a next step we can take to fulfill this assignment so let’s be asking God to make it clear and give us the power and provision to follow Him. You can find out more about all the available trips and sign up here. Deadline for most applications is March 1.

ImagiNATIONS - Missions Week 2023

We couldn’t be more excited to introduce our upcoming 2023 Missions Week. Throughout that week, the theme, “ImagiNATIONS,” will draw our attention to what God is doing around the world that no eye has seen and exceeds even what we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Many of our Global Partners will join us in person. We are excited to hear their stories of what is happening in their parts of the world.

Check out this video from Jeremy.

One of the things we’re most excited about is hearing how God is moving among people of Muslim faith. It’s really extraordinary! You will want to hear our March 12 keynote speaker, David Garrison, who spent several years researching this topic. If you can’t wait for March and want to hear more about this, he’s featured on season 2 of the Maverick Podcast. These 25-minute episodes are worth your time and will prepare your heart for our 2023 Missions Week. Listen to an introduction here.

David tells amazing stories from his research in his book, Wind in the House of Islam. Pick up a copy at our Resource Center or place an order on Amazon.

Your story matters in God’s story. If you are curious about how you might play a part by going on a short-term mission trip this year, stay tuned at the end of January when we will release the dates and locations we’ll be sending teams to!

The Persecuted Church

Every year, the global church sets aside a Sunday in November to join in prayer “for those who share our faith but not our freedom.” We at Black Rock commemorated Persecution Sunday by hearing from Black Rock Global Partners in creative access countries. In this video we hear about their experiences with persecution and stories of how God is at work even where being a Christian comes at a great cost. Please be advised: This video contains mature content that may not be appropriate for children.

Check out this video.

As we remember our brothers and sisters around the world who face persecution, please pray for their ability to “press on.” (Philippians 4:13)

To become a prayer partner click here

Charlotte's Cow


We’ve all heard of Charlotte’s Web. This story from World Relief Rwanda is about another Charlotte, and how God provided for her dire needs through the local church. Black Rock has partnered with World Relief Rwanda for 12 years, focusing on the Nyamascheke region through a Church Empowerment Zone. The goal is lasting change, not just quick fixes.

How does a Church Empowerment Zone work? World Relief’s model is to unite local churches and equip pastors to train their flocks to live biblically, including a focus on identifying and showing God’s love to the most vulnerable in their communities. Through this “empowerment,” the churches and pastors become the heroes. Black Rock’s support enables local churches to fight poverty by training families in micro finance, reviving agriculture, and partnering with short term teams of volunteers to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

In August, World Relief workers visited Nyamascheke and relayed Charlotte’s story. 

Charlotte was born with albinism and never knew her father. When she was 11, her mother died and she went to live with her uncle’s family. When she was 15, her uncle also died and she could no longer stay there because her uncle’s wife despised her disability. Living alone, she was sexually abused and became pregnant. The man ran away, leaving Charlotte in great need. At this point, she dropped out of school and stopped attending church.

When her church heard about her situation, they reached out. Having been trained through World Relief to care for the vulnerable, the pastor visited her and provided spiritual counseling. The church also offered practical help. The congregation provided her with food, built a house for her, and collected enough money to buy her a cow (valued at $250) so she and her baby would have milk. To celebrate 2022 International Women’s Day, they presented the house and cow to Charlotte and promised their ongoing support. Charlotte has returned to church and plans to go back to school as well as join the savings group to learn how to create a better future. Charlotte is so grateful to the church of Nyantunda that provided so much support.

This success story illustrates the difference we can make around the world through our support of Global Partners like World Relief Rwanda.

To find out more about World Relief Rwanda click here 

To become a prayer partner click here 

Amirah Service Day

Please join us at a service project for Amirah. Just like Jesus, we can help “prepare a place” for ladies who will be transitioning to Amirah’s newly renovated residential facility in Hartford.

When Amirah director Michael Distefano spoke at Black Rock in June, there was a significant response. Folks wanted to learn more, so we followed up with a Zoom call giving details of how Amirah provides freedom and a fresh start for those entrapped in sex-trafficking locally. 

We also asked how Black Rock could help practically and they suggested a service day at their Connecticut location. This space is being transformed into a long term residence for women as they rebuild their lives and we get to help do some fall clean up outdoors and possibly some light work inside. It would be great to have you or your family or community group join us on Saturday October 15, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM. Please RSVP by October 1. Any questions? Email sashford@blackrock.org

Note: Because of their security protocols, a background check is required (It’s only a 10 minute online form). To fill out the form click here.

Watch Pastor Jeremy’s September Missions update video. Click here.

Job Opening

Black Rock has just posted a new position for a Missions Trip Coordinator. If you are passionate about Global Missions and want to help mobilize and organize our church family to serve on short term trips abroad click here to find out more.

From Jihadi to Jesus

This praise report just in from a BRC global partner who works with Arab World Media: 

We have so many praises in our Media Department! During the past eight months, we have witnessed 160 new believers in Christ, 7662 downloads of the Arabic Bible, 8895 people who are in active contact with our responder team, 22 baptisms, and 68 new members of our Bible study/fellowship groups. Please join us in praising the Lord for this marvelous harvest!

This past March, through a new focus to reach Jihadi Muslim Scholars and Imams, they connected with many from this background. Here is the story of one man, Tawfik, who came from a committed Muslim background. After finishing school, Tawfik traveled to Saudi Arabia for employment. During his years there, he saw many people involved in sinful practices and observed that they misused their wealth in pursuing evil. He wondered why they were doing such things and if they were even Muslims.

After Tawfik returned home, he noticed that his former Islamic teacher was instructing students to be committed to God, to marry only one wife, and to live a simple lifestyle, as a luxurious life would lead to sin. Yet this same teacher had four wives, several expensive cars, and blatantly led the kind of life he warned his pupils against. Tawfik asked himself, “Why is my teacher living a double standard? Why doesn’t he live what he teaches? Are all Muslims like this?” 

Confused, Tawfik felt he couldn’t be a Muslim any longer. This caused so much internal struggle, he decided to end his life. But God intervened and reminded Tawfik of something his father had said before he died. “If you need to know the truth, go to the Christians. They will say pure truth, and they are faithful.” 

In his search for Christ, he found Maarifa’s website. They sent him a Bible and encouraged him to read it. When Tawfik started reading the Gospel of Matthew, he couldn’t put it down—he finished it in one sitting. He found he wanted to read more, and to understand everything in depth. He spent a lot of time online with Maarifa responders and attended online classes. 

Two weeks ago, he prayed with Maarifa staff and received Jesus as his Savior.

We praise our Heavenly Father for our new brother in Christ and pray for Tawfik to be filled with God’s peace, joy, and courage.

To learn more about Arab World Media, click here

To become a prayer partner, click here

To see our fall prayer guide, view photos from recent short term trips, read prayer requests, and gather around our shared passion for Global Missions, join our Missions in Action Realm group. Sign up for Realm here.  (Once you’re on Realm: Simply login & search for the “Missions in Action” group and join!)


    Short Term teams - long term impact

    This summer two teams from Black Rock traveled overseas to strengthen our Global Partners. 

    The Ripple Effect – Nigeria 

    Our team has returned from a two week trip to Nigeria. They were able to come alongside our Nigerian partner City Ministries in caring for orphans, caring for the children of local workers attending a Spiritual Life retreat, teaching crocheting at a center for women coming out of drug abuse and prostitution, sponsoring an outreach in the local jail, and more. Here’s some of their pictures and reflections in their own words. 

    “Every single member touched hearts and lives in their uniquely gifted way.”

    “Nigeria is a place where persecution runs rampant, crises and tragedy are normal, and burnout is a risk. Still, there are so many people running towards Jesus and God is moving powerfully.”

    “This trip to Jos, Nigeria had a big impact… both on our hearts as a team and on the people we were fortunate to partner with. One highlight was getting to talk with a Nigerian-American missionary. He is a father of three and works hard to advise Nigerian pastors as they rebuild their communities and homes following the many attacks and crises that Christian villages experience in Nigeria. After we cared for his kids for a week at our VBS retreat program, he shared with me that for the first time in months, he was able to have uninterrupted hours to spend with the Lord. As a result, he now felt revitalized to better support the 100 pastors he leads and their parishes. It was a blessing to get a glimpse of the ripple effect that is to come from supporting these amazing missionary families.”

    “There was a dance competition with the Bassa teen girls and boys, inspired by Brad, Jhay and Becca’s singing. All I can say is ridiculously amazing dancing.”

    “We are so grateful to have spent time encouraging all that our brothers and sisters are doing in Jos and spur them on in their good Kingdom work!”

    Peter Fretheim, who has led City Ministries for the last 24 years and hosted many short-term teams, said the summer team was unusual in that they were made up of such talented individuals. He called them “super servants”. By providing childcare and worship, they helped City Ministries run a conference for local pastors. Attendees were “refreshed, recharged and loved to go back out and serve even more”. But their greatest “gift” was that they “elevated the nationals” through personal connection; hanging out with them, playing sports, joking around. They blessed the church and the community, “from orphans and abused women to jungle people” by ministering through music and the gift of their presence.

    Peter also shared two new prayer requests that stem from the mission of City Ministries to “preach the gospel and heal the sick”. 

    • Pray for their new endeavor to launch an indigenous missionary training school, equipping new converts to go back to their own people and as Luke 8:39 says: ‘Go home. Tell your people this amazing story about how much God has done for you.” (The Voice)
    • Praise God for the donation of a state-of-the-art 2022 bore hole rig and pray this tool will bring clean water to local communities. To get water, many young girls trek for miles with jars on their heads through sometimes dangerous roads. Pray that like the woman at the well, they will encounter Jesus, leave their jars and tell their communities about Him. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God…he would have given you living water.” John 4:10 ESV 
    • Pray for the next short term trip going back to Nigeria in January 2023. The deadline for applications is August 31st. If you are interested in joining that team you can fill out an application. Click here.

      To hear from the FretheimsClick here  

      To become a Prayer Partner – Click here  

      To see pictures, prayer requests, and gather around our shared passion for Global Missions, join our Missions in Action Realm group. Sign up for Realm here. (Once you’re on Realm: Simply login & search for the “Missions in Action” group and join!)


      Our family team has returned from the Dominican Republic. Here are the highlights of their trip. Despite record high temperatures they were able to serve both the local Haitian and Dominican communities by painting inside and outside of two houses, visiting members of the community to share the gospel and supporting the local churches by running a Vacation Bible School for kids. 

      Keith Winger, who led the team, shared this personal snapshot. “While our goal for this trip was to benefit the local communities, which I hope we did, we were really grateful for the perspective our kids gained through coming with us. They left with a new awareness that in other parts of the world kids don’t have the many toys and amenities we enjoy. One of my kids said ‘now I don’t take all this for granted’”. 

      Also a shout out to our devoted Black Rock prayer partners, one of whom jumped in at the last minute to pick the team up…in Boston…when their flight was delayed and rerouted.


        Updates from Amirah & Bridgeport Rescue Mission

        Check out this video update from Pastor Jeremy. Watch here. 

        When Michael Distefano of Amirah spoke at Black Rock last month, it was clear the congregation was “moved”. In response to his invitation to join their “Move for Amirah” event, many expressed interest to find out more. One BRC member was even inspired to run an Iron Man triathlon. For anyone who is interested in finding out more about the fight against human trafficking and how to help by partnering with Amirah, we’ve arranged a follow up Zoom call for this coming Thursday, July 28, at 7:30 PM.

        • To join the Zoom call, please register for this free event HERE and you will be sent a Zoom link.

        Also, watch as Jeremy shares an exciting update about one of our oldest partners, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, and their newly renovated community care center. We celebrate the opening of this new facility that triples the Mission’s capacity to show the compassion of Christ to those fighting hunger, homelessness and addiction. With more space, they are now able to offer extensive life change programs, an expanded food pantry and a community dining hall with state-of-the-art kitchen. This facility will also host the Mission’s brand new resource center providing, for the first time, primary health care and dental services. This is another way your investment in missions helps BRM fulfill their call to meet basic needs today, restore hope for tomorrow and transform lives forever.

        • Find out more about Bridgeport Rescue Mission HERE.
        • Sign up HERE to become a Prayer Partner.
        How Your Giving Is Impacting India, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, & N.Africa
        Pray, Move, and Work for Amirah
        On Sunday, Michael Distefano from Amirah shared stories of how God is impacting the lives of women in our area who have survived different forms of sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, and prostitution.  Here are some ways that you can stay engaged with Amirah:

        • Pray for Amirah Your prayers cover and fuel the work that God is doing among the staff and residents of Amirah.  Become a Prayer Partner to stay up to date with their stories and needs. Sign Up to Pray for Amirah
        • Move for Amriah | June 24 – July 3 The annual “Move for Amirah” challenge will take place June 24- July 3. They are asking people to set a goal to “Move” – either walking, running, or biking. The reason to Move is to symbolize the hardship of someone trying to break the cycle of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Through your move, you will have the opportunity to raise awareness and funds in order to help more people understand the hardship that many face while trying to break the cycle and support survivors on their recovery journey. Learn more and join this event individually or with your friends and family!

        • Work for Amirah | Learn More and Apply for employment Amirah is an organization staffed by followers of Christ and they are hiring for the following positions:

          • In Connecticut:
            • Transitional Program Director: This role is for a licensed clinician and is responsible for overseeing our program in our CT transitional home.

            • Home Manager: This is a part-time position in our CT home and is responsible for all things related to keeping the physical home running – from house maintenance projects to cleaning schedule to meal planning.

          • In Massachusetts: 
            • Director of Development: This is a fundraising position. This person should have experience with grant writing and individual giving, and will be responsible for leading our fundraising and partnership efforts for the organization. 

            • Rapid Rehousing Manager: This is a case manager position. The person should have some background in social work will be responsible for quickly placing women who are exiting commercial sexual in apartments and covering their case management needs.

            • Program Coordinator: This is a part-time administrative position in our North Shore Safe Home. This person manages the house calendar and helps with administrative needs in the home.


        Your giving to Missions now has a direct line to meeting needs to refugees, villagers and military volunteers in Odesa, Ukraine.  This happens through our connection with Greg and Debby Nichols (Greater Europe Mission) in Prague, Czech Republic where they are involved in collecting and distributing funds and resources to contacts in Ukraine.

        Each month, Greg will be passing along money directly to Sergiy, a minister in Odesa Ukraine. Sergiy has been very encouraged by your generosity and wants to make sure that you hear his “thank you” and “amen”.   He has purchased and is distributing food to three groups; refugees passing through, villagers and military volunteers.
        Sergiy’s home had been used to care for runaway teenagers, but is now being used to provide beds and foods for an average of 10 refugees per day. Most of them stay only 2 or 3 days as they pass from eastern to the western Ukraine. The villages have been hard hit by the war and as a volunteer chaplain, Sergiy travels to the villages around Odesa.

        With your help, he can take some meat, fresh bread, and over-the-counter medications to hand out to those he visits. Finally, with your help, he is able to put meat into the meager meals that are served to the volunteers who are assisting the soldiers in any way they can. There is a large group of volunteers in support roles serving beside the active military.

        Thank you for your support and keep them covered in your prayers!  As updates come in each month, we’ll share them with you.

        Heading to a Closed Country in N. Africa | Meet & Greet

        We’re excited to share that, since Missions Week, we’ve added 3 new Global Partner families with more to come later this year. We’d like to let you know a little about them and encourage you to sign up to partner in prayer with them.

        WATCH the monthly missions update video now.

        The Coffey family is headed to a closed country in North Africa this year. They will pursue 2 years of full-time language acquisition and enculturation in a gateway city. Then, as they grow in their ability to communicate, they will focus on market research and analysis, with a goal to develop a sustainable business and residence plan, to enable them to carry on long-term church planting efforts.

        • The Coffeys will be here at Black Rock for a meet and greet dinner Tuesday, June 7 at 5:30 PM. If you’d like to meet them, RSVP now for the dinner.

        Earlier this month, many of you had the opportunity to meet Johnbull and Stacy Omorefe from Ghana. They founded City of Refuge Ministries (CORM) to serve children who have been rescued from slavery by providing them restorative care and education. Their ministry also includes efforts to prevent child trafficking as they work with communities where families are at risk of selling their children or receiving children as slaves. They are also involved with several community outreach programs that care for and empower women and the underserved.

        The Heizer family left at the end of April, 2022 to serve with two other families in the Middle East, where they are making disciples through an organization that seeks to meet both physical and spiritual needs.
        As they began preparations to move to the Middle East, their daughter was born with severe heart defects, and other health issues, and spent 5 ½ months in the hospital. Through this hardship, the Lord remained faithful, giving them peace to continue forward. Through amazing connections and conversations among doctors, God has provided for all of their daughter’s health care needs in their host country, and opened up an opportunity to develop relationships with her new care team.

        Praying for Basic Needs in the Balkans

        Our Global Partners, Mario and Dejana O. serving in the Balkans write:

        “We are glad to be able to share our prayer needs with you and to know that you stand in prayer with us. We are joyful and truly wonderful to see this prayer group grow and have more of you prayer warriors praying and fighting for us. You are like the wind in our back, let’s move forward!

        The month of April was very challenging and active in the spiritual calendar as Roman Catholics and Orthodox fasted and prepared for Easter while at the same time Muslims fasted Ramadan. This is quite unusual for us that the three main religions in this region, in the same month, had time to reflect and draw closer to God. We pray for the salvation of our Muslim neighbors and strength for believers.

        We have just finished dividing the seeds for sowing. Warm weather has not yet arrived. We have frost sometimes in the morning and old people say if there is frost, there will be snow 🙂 so it is possible that there will still be snow?

        • Pray that we will be able to buy a heating stove in the church house before the start of the heating season.
        • Pray for our 30-year-old car. We travel a lot on the route between our main cities and the car is showing weaknesses. We are considering a change and praying for a slightly younger used car that is in good condition.
        • Pray for our politicians and this war in Ukraine because there are indications that it could spill over to us.

        Sorry, there is so much focus on praying for our finances. Everything has become more expensive and it is difficult to keep up with basic needs.

        We are much, much grateful we appreciate your zeal and faithfulness in Christ.

        Mario and Dejana

        Visit Mario and Dejana’s Featured Partner Page

        The Many Faces of Poverty

        Our Global Partners B&R share this perspective on a mindset they encounter on a daily basis:

        As we minister to our neighbors, we have been noticing something even more sinister than the ghosts and religion that surround them—a poverty mindset. Just last week…the day after we gave our landlord our yearly rent, he bought a new motorcycle. He was beaming with pride, believing he had made a wise investment in something that would save on gas even while having an unsteady income and being the main breadwinner. We had hoped he would want to use the rent for an investment like helping his wife turn her enjoyment of plants into a business. Instead, he spends it all in one day on something that will depreciate in value the day he buys it.

        Another dear friend of ours asked us this week to lend her money again. She has had so many hardships and is cynical of local Muslims. She and her husband have seen right through the religious facade of piety and know first hand the back stabbing and lies. Years ago she had been working in another country when all the money had been taken by her family so that she had nothing when she returned. On top of it her husband can barely walk and though he could win the smiling contest, his leg has only landed low-paying jobs. She is an excellent cook, but somehow despite all the delicious meals she provides for others, it seems she often gets the bad-hand deals. She is often stuck having to borrow money from others again and again.

        On Christmas day we spent two hours listening to a sister sobbing her heart out that the money she had borrowed was demanded the next day and she had nothing close to the amount demanded. She was even afraid to return home that afternoon as her family was very angry at her. Several times in the past she had tried to help others in her family only to have them leave her alone with the bag in her hands to pay. No one seemed to care or even listen in the church either. We decided to help her get out of debt totally, so she can start a fresh start. Weeks later another disaster hit the family when her daughter got into an accident. The difficulties to be free of debt seem to never end.

        Earlier this month a friend had texted R, “The bank is going to call me soon. They said I have to pay my loan at the bank tomorrow or they will come for my house.” R texted her a prayer that she would find favor with the bank. Then minutes later she texted back saying they were going to give her a break. Then she was so full of joy a few days later when other friends loaned her the money to pay part of the bank loan. The story is that several years ago a friend had asked her to co-sign so that she could borrow the money to pay the agency who would help her get a job overseas. Once she got the money, she left for her job. Then a few months later, she disappeared, never to be heard from again. As a result, R’s friend has to pay it all back herself.

        It seems there are more questions than answers as we walk together with those in poverty. The people here have been used to oppression for many generations, so it seems that the curse continues and there is no way to get out from under its grasp. Leaders who have worked with the poor have said that generational poverty occurs when a person internalizes the culture of poverty around him as his true identity. Therefore, if we pour money or education into someone’s life, that is not necessarily helping them in the long run as they continue to hear the mindset and years of continual feeling unempowered.

        Even other ethnicities re-iterate that people in this region are poor and unable to be of the same equality. They are treated poorly by other cultures and considered only as good as a housemaid or massage therapist, not smart enough to share the good news. Even if their simple place in the homes of most humanity, they have the most potential to influence others, even kings.

        We understand the poverty mindset. Coming from a broken home, B felt his life was of no value. As a young child he was used to being ignored and overlooked by his parents. As an adult and a believer, he has often caught himself thinking as a slave of God rather than as a son of God. Therefore, when good things happened in his life, he couldn’t fully appreciate it because he thought for sure that the good things wouldn’t last, or that something bad would take it away. Praise God for using everything in our lives for his purpose. For those parts we despise are actually tools to build relationship with those who are feel they are only slaves.

        When we love someone, we start to see and understand their circumstances, weaknesses and the path to hope. Before listening and sitting with them, it is easy to dismiss them for one reason or another, but we love them through God’s love. We love them despite their performance, and most of all we love them out of our love for Jesus. Then suddenly it all makes sense. We are not there to “fix” everything about them. But by living out Jesus, then He will do the healing and redemption to other parts of their lives. Suddenly it is easy, because by loving them we get to love Jesus.