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For 35 years, Reaching Souls International has provided essential evangelism tools and support that empowers thousands of missionaries around the world to reach their own people with the Gospel. Your giving makes it possible.
Charles grew up viewing majestic Malawi sunsets.
He experienced the hustle and bustle of open-air markets and the camaraderie among the people in his own African village and the villages around it. He also saw something else — a mission field full of men, women, boys and girls who hadn’t heard the Gospel. These were his friends and neighbors who needed the hope found only in Christ.
So, Charles, a “preacher’s kid,” leapt at the chance to expand his efforts to save souls. In 2003, he joined Reaching Souls International and watched his ministry grow beyond anything he ever could have envisioned.
“Though I was already pastoring in my rural area there, I had no knowledge about how I could go preach the Gospel to the masses,” Charles says. “This was the first time I heard how to spread the Gospel to the most souls.”
Reaching Souls equips more than 2,000 missionaries around the globe with funding, bicycles for reliable transportation, small portable sound systems, flip charts featuring biblical images and other items like evangelism puzzle cubes to give them an exponential boost in proclaiming the Good News.
Charles remembers how his partnership with Reaching Souls changed his life in more ways than one. First, the ministry provided the necessary funding needed so that he could devote more time to evangelism without worrying about how he would put food on the table for his wife and three children. The partnership also had other benefits.
RIVER REVIVAL – It’s common for Reaching Souls missionaries to baptize new believers in a nearby river, pond or lake since local churches often lack formal baptismal facilities.
“I had a Bible that was left by my father who was a pastor when he passed away, but it was not a full Bible. I got a full Bible from Reaching Souls,” he says.
And most importantly, Reaching Souls taught Charles how to use his newly acquired equipment to help transform the lives of those around him.
A Vision for the Lost
God began stirring evangelist Jimmy Hodges’ heart on his first trip to Africa (Uganda) in 1972. More than 10 years later, Hodges received a vision from God for training African pastors “to go reach their own people for Christ,” based on 2 Timothy 2:2 — “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
EARLY BEGINNINGS – Reaching Souls’ founder, Jimmy Hodges (left), and Ben Manis (center) preached the Gospel through a translator during a pastors’ conference in Kenya in the 1980s.
From its founding in 1986 to 1996, Jimmy Hodges Ministries International (JHMI) trained 3,429 pastors and evangelists and saw 211,718 salvation decisions. Building relationships with trusted national leaders and identifying men with a passion for reaching the lost created a strong foundation for the organization.
In 1996, JHMI selected 50 missionaries to serve as evangelists in their own villages and cities in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. That’s when Hodges’ vision expanded.
The name of the organization was changed to Reaching Souls International in 2007, but its message and mission were never altered. Reaching Souls grew from those first 50 missionaries in five African countries in 1996 to its current group of over 2,000 missionaries serving in 13 countries. Starting in July 2022, the nonprofit plans to equip 460 more missionaries within a year.
SHOW AND TELL – A flip chart helps a Reaching Souls missionary illustrate the Gospel at an open-air meeting in Zambia. These tools are valuable visual aids as evangelists spread the Good News in villages, schools and marketplaces.
Today, Dustin Manis serves as Reaching Souls’ president and chief executive officer, and Odus Compton is its chief operating officer. While the number of missionaries may be impressive, the two leaders say what really matters is the heart of each person whose life is touched and transformed through the organization’s work.
Compton, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, says 96 million people have come to know and invite Christ into their hearts through the work of Reaching Souls’ missionaries. This summer, that number is expected to reach 100 million. It will be a cause for celebration, because winning souls is at the heart of everything the ministry does.
“We believe it’s biblical — Jesus was going from village to village, from place to place,” Compton says. “Our job is to help raise up laborers to bring in the harvest.”
Manis knows firsthand how one person’s commitment to sharing the Gospel can impact individuals and families for generations. Hodges was the youth pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Lawton, Oklahoma, when Manis’ dad, Ben Manis, was a teenager. When Ben joined Hodges on his first mission trip to Kenya in 1986, he returned to Oklahoma with a new vision for his future.
“He came back and the whole trajectory of his life changed,” Manis says of his father.
Ben ultimately ended up embracing Hodges’ missions dream, serving in various roles with Reaching Souls for over 25 years. Manis says he remembers going on Reaching Souls trips with his father and Hodges and came to understand why they were so passionate about the ministry.
Manis is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister and says the Great Commission has always been important to him. By the time Manis was 28 years old, Hodges had approached him more than once about joining Reaching Souls. Each time, Manis turned him down. But, in 1997, he and his wife, Mischelle, felt the Lord tugging on their hearts. It was a calling they had to answer.
“My wife said if we go there, even for a year, think about all the lives we can impact for Christ,” Manis recalls. He eventually accepted the position, and he’s never regretted it.
Manis says it was also Mischelle who recently recognized that Reaching Souls’ premise of helping missionaries win the souls of their own countrymen was the perfect system during the height of the COVID pandemic. At a time when borders were closed, Reaching Souls’ missionaries were able to continue their evangelization efforts, because they have always been focused on expanding God’s Kingdom in their own backyards.
“My wife understood that Reaching Souls was built for a time like this,” Manis says.
The number of people who receive salvation is recorded daily by Reaching Souls’ missionaries. Manis uses those numbers to gauge the ministry’s effectiveness.
“Results matter to God and so they’re important to us. It’s not bragging about this ministry — it’s bragging about the Lord,” he says.
A NEW MAN – While on the road, Kingsley (right) a Reaching Souls missionary, met Aron, who had just been released from prison for murder. Kingsley shared the Gospel with him, and Aron repented and asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior.
Compton describes Reaching Souls missionaries as “bridge builders,” helping to fill the gap between the lost and Jesus with the truth of the Gospel. He says their responsibility is to be obedient and sow the seed for the Lord’s harvest. “In Scripture, Old Testament priests functioned like bridge builders. As followers of Christ, that’s also our responsibility,” Compton says.
Several of those “bridge builders” — missionaries living in places like Malawi, Zambia and Mexico — embody that description. All of them were chosen because they were already actively preaching the Gospel and are willing to do so anywhere, anytime. He described one missionary’s visit to a Major League Baseball game while visiting the United States. The man’s eyes lit up with ideas to gain access to the stadium’s sound system or to simply begin talking to each person he met in the crowded venue; he was ecstatic about the evangelism opportunities the event represented.
“They humble me. I learn from them,” Compton says.
Two such men, Habacuc and Aminadab, minister in the mission field of Mexico, which was recently added to Reaching Souls’ growing list of countries. Aminadab, who serves as Reaching Souls’ regional missions director for Latin America (which currently consists of Mexico and Cuba), grew up in the Christian church and had been a follower of Christ for 17 years before connecting with the nonprofit in 2020. He says the organization was looking for someone to help spread the Gospel in Mexico while overseeing others on the same mission path.
Aminadab has served as a missionary in other places like southeast Asia, Puerto Rico, Belize and Peru. But as a native of Mexico, he says it’s been very rewarding to return to his home country “to support nationals reaching nationals.”
“God’s using me in my own continent and my own culture and my own language,” he says.
Evangelistic efforts in Mexico differ from those in places like Kenya, Aminadab explains, because while his African counterparts may reach numerous people by going to crowded marketplaces or the middle of villages, in Latin America the evangelistic work involves more consistent one-on-one relationships.
“In our culture, it’s all about building trust,” Aminadab says. “For me, this is not just a job, it’s truly a calling. It’s what God has been preparing me to do.”
TRANSPORTING THE TRUTH – Bicycles are an inexpensive, reliable form of transportation that Reaching Souls provides to its missionaries, along with Bibles, visual aids and monthly financial support.
Habacuc believes Reaching Souls is the right fit for his ministry gifts.
“I feel that I am on the right track and where God wants me to be,” he says in Spanish, with Aminadab providing English translation.
He was approached by one of his seminary professors who thought his passion for sharing Jesus would match Reaching Souls’ mission. Habacuc says the ministry has provided him with much-needed resources to effectively evangelize to those he encounters.
RSI Ministry Areas
Habacuc, his wife and their ministry team go door-to-door each week to make one-on-one connections with people. Their evangelism strategy also includes larger ministry venues like jails, rehabilitation centers and children’s centers. Often, they take tangible items including shoes, food and clothing so they can meet people’s physical needs while they tend to their spiritual needs.
“God has really been good to us, and there are always people leaving [the centers], but there are always people coming in,” Habacuc says. “We average preaching the Gospel to about 10 of them a day. We hope to be able to do more big events when COVID protocols are lifted. There’s a lot of prayer involved in this ministry.”
On the other side of the world, Zebrone became a Reaching Souls missionary in 2006 in Zambia. He gave his life to Christ in 1997 while he was a student and began sharing the Gospel with his friends.
When his pastor approached him about working with an organization that trained people who were already proclaiming the Gospel, Zebrone joined Reaching Souls and felt the ministry’s leaders “sharpen” his evangelistic abilities as Proverbs 27:17 calls believers to do.
“When I am preaching in the roads, when I am preaching in the markets, when I am preaching in the church, everywhere — Reaching Souls, it sharpens me,” he says.
Like Charles, Zebrone says the financial support provided by the organization has been vital. He knows of other pastors who are not affiliated with such a ministry and this lack of funding encumbers and limits their evangelistic work.
“There are many, many preachers who are preaching from empty stomachs. I know many pastors who receive nothing from their church,” he says. “Every missionary with Reaching Souls is well trained and well supported. We work hard.”
Indeed, Charles and Zebrone have moved into leadership roles over the years, with Charles acting as Reaching Souls’ Southern Africa director and Zebrone serving as national director of Zambia, overseeing 280 missionaries.
“God is really moving here in Africa — I believe it is God’s time so people can come to his Kingdom,” Charles says. “We want to make sure they have hope — that’s where we start because that hope is only in Jesus Christ. Then it’s God’s part to make sure that some of them, many of them, make decisions for Christ.”
SOCCER & SALVATION – Prosper (speaking), a Reaching Souls missionary, preaches to children at a soccer field in Zambia. Open-air evangelistic meetings take place at markets, slums, schools, prisons, funerals and weddings — any place people gather is an opportunity to share the Gospel, because “everywhere is a pulpit.”
Joy and Sorrow
Zebrone shares a story that is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking.
In the fall of 2021, he was in a tragic car accident. Zebrone was driving on a road flanked by ravines when a young boy darted out in front of his vehicle. He barely avoided hitting the youth — only to end up hitting another boy who had emerged out of the ravine and ran out into the road, following after his brother.
After the collision, Zebrone immediately pulled off to the side, gathered the child into his arms and rushed him to the nearest medical facility. Sadly, the boy died and Zebrone was arrested, as is the custom for accidents in his country. Local authorities placed him in jail while they investigated the accident, which also protected Zebrone from any of the boy’s family members who may have wanted to harm him.
The Zambian missionary says he was immediately bombarded with questions by people in his cell. They wondered why he had been jailed.
“What did you do, Pastor?” they asked.
Once Zebrone explained what happened, he naturally moved into evangelistic mode. Who better to share with than inmates who needed to hear that God loved them and wanted to transform their lives? He didn’t waste one minute of his imprisonment.
SAY CHEESE – Children in Zambia pose for a picture. Reaching Souls shares the Gospel with young and old alike in 13 countries around the world.
“I began to tell them that Jesus is here, so now everyone is quiet. Some were crying, most were listening,” Zebrone says, recalling the scene. “The minute I finished, 10 people received their Savior,” he says. “From the time I entered the cell, I never rested. I forgot my problems — I was encouraging my fellow prisoners.”
Zambian authorities found Zebrone innocent and released him the next morning — but not before he agreed to bring God’s Word to the inmates who begged for it.
“I promised I would get Bibles for the cells,” he says.
He did just that, serving and eating breakfast with the new disciples, too. Zebrone also felt the hand of God upon him as he learned the boy’s family understood that the death was truly an accident, and that they did not blame him for the tragedy.
Zebrone says Reaching Souls, as always, came alongside him with support and resources, especially during this difficult time. Zebrone and his family attended the funeral and comforted the boy’s family.
“It was very peaceful,” he says.
The event brought sorrow but also joy and redemption as he helped bring numerous people to Christ in the jail. While Zebrone’s story is unique, his behavior is not. This zeal for the Gospel is representative of all Reaching Souls missionaries.
An Urgency for the Harvest
As Reaching Souls prepares to celebrate a milestone of 100 million salvations, Manis sees the nonprofit’s mission as more critical than ever before. Today, Reaching Souls supports more than 2,000 missionaries and hopes to add 460 more in 2022. As the organization continues to grow, Reaching Souls expects to see 10 million salvations each year in the near future.
Though it varies by region, Reaching Souls estimates that it costs about $100 per month to support a missionary, which includes salary and the tools of the trade (portable sound systems, bicycles, Gospel flip charts, etc.). This Kingdom work cannot happen without faithful givers, prayer warriors and partnerships with other Gospel-minded organizations.
“We partner with WatersEdge because I trust the leadership,” Manis says. “We’re looking for effectiveness and results in our investments, so we decided endowment was a wise choice.”
Reaching Souls started an endowment with WatersEdge in 2008 with just $10,000, but thanks to generous donors and smart management, it grew to more than $1 million by 2021. Endowment is a long-term strategy for securing a ministry’s financial future because it is perpetual. It works by growing a donor’s gift through investment and annually distributing a percentage of the endowment’s value to the ministry. This cycle repeats year after year, eventually multiplying a donor’s gift many times over.
Manis says Reaching Souls’ endowment represents a significant investment in its future, especially since the organization currently elects to pour annual distributions back into the fund, further accelerating the endowment’s growth. But he adds that this forward thinking doesn’t distract from the immediacy of Reaching Souls mission and the need to use financial resources wisely today.
“We know there’s a sense of urgency,” Manis says. “We want to keep running hard with the Gospel until Christ returns. I believe we’re in a bare-knuckle, drop-dead battle for souls. It’s as serious as it gets. This ministry exists to reach the maximum number of people for Christ in the least amount of time in the most efficient way. Our goal is to look for the Lord’s harvest — and bring it in.”
SHADY SPOT – The wife of a Reaching Souls missionary teaches a group of children about Jesus under a tree adjacent to Joy Baptist Church in Zambia.
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