Movement helps build churches around the world - Movement Mortgage Blog

Movement Mortgage is in the business of getting people into houses. Part of the money the company makes also goes to an organization that helps believers get into houses of worship around the world.

The Movement Foundation regularly invests in International Cooperating Ministries, a nonprofit organization that constructs church buildings. With the foundation’s money, ICM has built one church a month for the past two years.

The partnership was born thanks to Movement’s co-founder Toby Harris. When they met, he was impressed with the vision and vitality of the leadership of ICM — Dois Rosser, founder and chairman emeritus.

“This guy at 94 years old, he sat a conference table. When he started talking, a hush fell over the room,” Harris says. “Picture Casey Crawford at 94.”

Rosser founded ICM in Hampton, Virginia, in 1986 after retiring from a career in auto dealerships, land development and other projects.

“All of my life in the business world was preparation for what God has for me now,” Rosser says on the ICM website.

Since it began, ICM has built 6,000 churches and Rosser has a goal of 10,000. The organization’s vision is “A church within walking distance of every man, woman, and child in our lifetime,” according to its website.

Movement co-founder Toby Harris walks with a little girl in Guatemala.
Movement co-founder Toby Harris walks with a little girl in Guatemala. Photo by David Boller.

A thriving church

Guatemala is an intensely beautiful country full of lush greenery, sprawling hills and soaring peaks. All of this, however, pales in comparison to the vibrant, self-sacrificing and faithful people who live there. Due to the widespread poverty that exists in Guatemala, many of these wonderful people live in small adobe huts or homes made of tin sheets and sticks. Local congregations worship Jesus Christ together in any place they can find. They are exposed to heat, cold and rain. Yet, for all of these disadvantages, the Movement team found the church growing and thriving.  – David Boller, executive assistant to Toby Harris 

When a pastor and congregation need a permanent place to worship, they contact ICM. The church provides the land and the manpower and ICM brings in an equipment and engineer. The organization does not convert indigenous people to Christianity. These are already established churches that need a place of worship. 

“We’re coming in alongside the pastors, helping with ICM,” says Garrett McNeill, Movement Foundation director. “It’s not us going in and creating a dependency structure. We’re not coming to a community who aren’t already Christians. This would be happening if we were there or not.”

Each church costs about $13,500. ICM raises money from many organizations to build churches around the world. The money from the Movement Foundation builds about one church a month, mostly in Central America.

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Children play in Sipacate, a rural village in Guatemala where congregants worship in a tin shack open on all four sides. Photo by David Boller

The churches are simple but important to the people who request them. The buildings become a hub in the community, providing a place not only for services but also for community outreach all week long.

“That door is swinging so much, they may just as well leave it open,” Harris says.

Also, having a building gives the local congregation legitimacy and attracts people to the church.

“It’s a mile marker for the people,” McNeill says. “It shows them they serve a God who provides. The same God they’ve been calling out to under that tree has provided the church they’ve been asking for.”

Harris recently took a group from Movement on a trip to Guatemala to visit some churches built through ICM.

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A church in Guatemala’s Chupol area that sits off a main highway at the top of a hill. Photo by David Boller

“The first church we went to was the last church we saw last time,” Harris says. “Last time, it was a yellowish tin hut. Inside there’s curtains hanging; it look like a place of worship. Outside it looked like a tin hut you put your lawnmower.”

This time it was a beautiful church Movement funded, he says.

As Movement expands opportunities to go on monthly mission trips, team members will get a chance to see the churches they’ve helped pay for through ICM, McNeill says. Watch for details soon.

“These trips are more about creating a relationship with people who are there. Learning from them the things they can teach us,” McNeill says.

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About the Author:

Adam O'Daniel

Adam O'Daniel is Movement's Communications Director. He leads corporate communication and public relations efforts across the organization. Email him at adam.odaniel@movement.com.