“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” – Habakkuk 2:14
Habakkuk 2:14, that’s what we’ve been working towards since e3 Partners began in 1987; filling the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. It started with a vision God placed on the heart of Mike Downey to help nationals plant churches, and over the last few decades, God has used this ministry to do just that. He’s guided us through challenges and growth, and through it all, the vision has stayed the same. e3 Partners remains focused on helping nationals plant healthy, multiplying, transformative churches all across the world, and we will continue to do so until there is a local church accessible to every person, everywhere.
The Early Years
In 1985, Mike Downey led a group from his church in Oklahoma to Mexico for a mission trip. While there, they saw over 100 people accept Christ into their lives, and when they returned the next year, a church had been planted! Mike called it, “accidental church planting.” He was moved by the passion of these Mexican believers, and as he returned from that second trip, God gave him a vision. He founded Global Missions Fellowship (GMF) with the intent to serve nationals and plant churches in Mexico (on purpose), and it wasn’t long before God expanded that vision further.
In 1990, the collapse of the Soviet Union opened doors that allowed GMF to expand into Eastern Europe, and four years after that, we expanded to Africa as well.
In 1996, God expanded our vision to the entire world, and GMF began taking trips to areas within the 10/40 window.
Over the next two years, God revealed to us the concept of church planting movements (CPMs), which we began incorporating into our short-term trips strategy. There then became a clear need for some scalable evangelism and discipleship tools, which led to the development of the EvangeCube.
The EvangeCube provided our trip participants and national partners with a simple, easily comprehendible way of sharing the gospel. We began using it on all of our trips, and we’d train those who came to accept Christ on how to use it as well, encouraging them to go share the Good News with others.
In 2002, God revealed to us another idea that we refer to as “initiatives”. Essentially, the idea was to combine the evangelistic aspects of our short-term trips with an aid/relief aspect as well.
Medical church planting was our first initiative.
We began taking these types of trips to areas that were severely lacking in accessible medical care, and God used our medical service to open doors to countless families and individuals who had not yet heard the gospel. It was amazing to see how God could use the medical expertise and service of our teams to ultimately lead people to Him.
In 2006, we became e3 Partners Ministry.
Equip God’s people, evangelize His world, establish His church. Those are the three “e’s”, perfectly aligned with the original vision God gave Mike Downey in 1987.
Two years later, the I Am Second brand launched in Dallas, TX, focused on reaching people with powerful Gospel-centered stories through the ever-growing presence of digital media. It quickly became a national brand, and has now grown internationally as well, allowing us to spread the gospel to many people and places we may not be able to get to physically.
That same year, e3 Partners started its “Orality” initiative in Ethiopia. Many communities across Ethiopia speak languages that the Bible has not been translated into yet. The orality initiative focuses on developing strategies and scripts to share the gospel and other Biblical stories with these people through oral storytelling.
By the end of 2008, e3 was taking trips to dozens of countries around the world, and we’d organized the ministry into regional and country teams.
In 2014, we added a more focused training element to the ministry. Training new believers and Christian leaders had always been a part of what we did on our trips, but now there was an added emphasis on training outside of our church planting trips as well. Both domestically and internationally, through one on one meetings, discipleship groups, church gatherings, and other opportunities, we began training new believers how to share their testimonies and the gospel, and training more mature believers on how to disciple others and plant churches.
Then, in 2017, through God’s guidance we employed an integrated Four Fields strategy locally and globally to create something we call the “Great Commission Pipeline”.
The Great Commission Pipeline connects our trips, trainings, international workers, national partners and church partnerships all together to increase the effectiveness and speed at which we reach people far from God.
Looking back on the last 30+ years, it’s amazing to see how God has been at work the whole time. The expansion of our vision from Mexico to the whole world, the addition of initiatives and scalable evangelism tools like the EvangeCube, and now 3-Circles, the added training element, the 4 Fields strategy, the Great Commission Pipeline, it’s all been from God. He’s led this ministry the whole time and has allowed us to do some amazing work for His Kingdom.
In recent years, through our 4 Fields strategy and the implementation of the Great Commission Pipeline, we’ve seen the Gospel reach further and spread faster than ever before. We truly live in an unprecedented time in history. God is moving all across the world.
Come join us as we work to make Habakkuk 2:14 a reality!