Merge Ministries Continues to Expand Impact

Post a Comment » Written on January 23rd, 2006     
Filed under: News
MCALLEN, TX (January 23, 2006) – Even as Merge Ministries celebrates the second largest year in its 13-year history of helping churches do foreign mission projects, opportunities for service continue to expand.

Merge is an arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Department of World Mission. Since 1993, more than 9,000 people have served across much of the globe, says Dale Lusk, who founded the ministry upon graduating from North Park Theological Seminary and serves as the executive director. Merge connects teams with projects, and offers assistance in preparing for the trips.

Lusk says 1,039 people participated in 59 Merge trips last year. “The great thing about 2005 was how many people were willing to go with us to locations other than Mexico, like Central and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.”

The largest number of participants was recorded in 2004, when 1,092 individuals participated in 59 trips. Teams contributed to a number of Merge firsts this year, however.

Merge took three times the number of participants (244) to non-Mexican ministry sites than ever before. Mission teams also raised $109,000 for project materials, the first year that more than $100,000 was collected.

A new high of eleven teams had special youth ministry outreaches as part of their mission. Six teams participated in ministry to both Christian and public schools, reaching more than 1,600 students. “This year was by far the largest outreach Merge teams have ever had to schools,” Lusk says.

“Our largest dental team ever reached over 120 people in Costa Rica, and Merge had its first photography classes as part of a church ministry program,” Lusk says.

Increased participation has meant adding staff, Lusk says. Three full-time area directors oversee different areas of the world, with the summer staff expanded to 16 people who work full-time schedules for two months.

The number of area directors is expected to expand to five, says Lusk. The ministry still is looking for an area director for Central America, a role Lusk is filling himself in addition to his executive director duties.

“Even with the growing ministry, we have so many ministry sites that we still don’t come close to covering all of them,” says Lusk. “It would take about 100 teams annually to make sure every host ministry receives a team.”

Lusk expects participation to decline this year because of CHIC – a pattern that happens every three years. Still, he expects 600 Merge missionaries, the largest ever for a CHIC year.

To learn more about Merge and trip opportunities, please see Merge. To contact Lusk, email him at or call 956-458-9568.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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