By Jaclyn Lewis
Pete Frank and his family are passionate about adoption—of more than one kind.
For a vulnerable orphaned child, adoption is a safe passage to a family. And for us believers, our adoption into God’s family, through Jesus, is what restores our connection to God.
Yet, just as so many children have no parents or family, millions of people are spiritually orphaned from God’s family, with no chance of hearing the Gospel, believing in Jesus, and knowing God as their father.
That’s why Pete serves as representative for Gospelink, a ministry based in Virginia that connects national preachers in 13 third-world countries to sponsors in the United States.
Gospelink focuses on empowering national preachers by supporting the evangelism and church planting efforts they have already begun in their own communities. This is accomplished by linking them to the prayer and financial support of sponsors in the United States. The goal is to accelerate the reach of the Gospel by providing as many people as possible the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ, and to help them grow spiritually.
“We still support sending U.S. missionaries to the field, by all means,” says Pete, “but Gospelink’s model is working through nationals, and it’s a great compliment to the traditional missions strategy. In a lot of these places, the people native to the country know Christ, they’ve been trained, they have a heart for ministry, they know their people, they know their language, and they’re accustomed to the culture, because they were born and raised in that nation.”
Pete serves as a stateside representative for the 130 Gospelink national preachers in Vietnam and 55 national preachers in India. God led him to launch the Gospelink ministry in Vietnam in 2008 after he and his wife, Sunnie, adopted their two youngest daughters, Mikayla and Mikenzie, from Vietnam.
In fact, joining the Gospelink ministry team “all started with adoption,” says Pete.
When Pete and Sunnie were married, Pete’s older brother had just adopted a baby girl from India, and adopting always stayed in the back of their minds. In 2005, after their biological children were born—Taylor, Trinity, Trey, and Tyce—and as Pete was serving as a pastor in Indiana, God began weighing adoption heavily on Pete and Sunnie’s hearts.
“I remember calling my wife from the church one day and saying, ‘I think we’re supposed to adopt from Vietnam,’ and she said, ‘I think so, too.’ It was so crystal-clear in our hearts.”
In 2006 they travelled to Vietnam to bring home their two daughters. Pete says, “You go halfway around the world to adopt, you might as well bring two kids home!”
When the three-week adoption trip stretched out into two months of delay, God used the extra time to break Pete and Sunnie’s hearts for the people of Vietnam.
“It’s like in the book of Acts,” says Pete, “when the Apostle Paul was in Athens. It says in Acts 17:16 that Paul’s ‘spirit was stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.’ I could relate to that at the time. These incredibly sweet people were created to worship God, but I remember going to so many different Buddhist temples and observing them bowing to idols. It really weighed heavily on our hearts.”
There are approximately 90 million people in Vietnam, and only a small minority are believers. The rest are Buddhist, Spiritist, or engage in ancestor worship. Many have never even heard of Jesus.
Once Pete and Sunnie were able to return home with their newly adopted daughters, they continued to see the faces of people they met in Vietnam. They wanted desperately to help, but didn’t know where to begin. As they poured out their hearts to God, Pete realized Gospelink would be a great ministry for Vietnam.
Pete had learned about the ministry in 2001 from a Gospelink speaker he had hosted at his church to preach and share about the ministry. “I thought it was an incredibly effective and efficient model for doing missions,” said Pete. He and his family chose to sponsor a preacher from the Ukraine at that time, and over the years have forged a great relationship.
“We support him for a relatively small amount each month, and we pray for him,” says Pete. “We get his prayer letters, his reports, and we share those with the family. We pray for him. We’ve sent letters to him and photos. He’s planting churches and doing missions work in his own country, reaching people in the Ukraine that I’ll never meet. But he’s being assisted and facilitated by our giving and our praying. It’s a really neat partnership in missions.”
Pete and Sunnie dreamed of facilitating this kind of connection between Vietnamese preachers and U.S. sponsors. In 2008, after months of prayer and counsel, God allowed Pete and his family to start Gospelink in Vietnam. It is now one of the largest ministries of its kind in the country.
“It’s just amazing what God is doing there to reach people with the Gospel,” says Pete. “Churches are being planted, and the Gospel is going out. There are obstacles to the Gospel, as there are everywhere, but the stories coming out of Vietnam are pretty amazing: Buddhists turning to Christ, amazing church plant stories in remote villages. The Lord is building His Church, just as He said. We’re just glad to have a part in it, and that God has used us the way He has.”
From his home office in Indiana, Pete carries out the administrative work involved in overseeing the Gospelink programs in Vietnam and India, including reading all the quarterly Gospelink preacher reports and forwarding them to sponsors, and reviewing new preacher applications. He also leads two-week missions trips to allow U.S. sponsors to meet the national preachers in person.
A big part of Pete’s work is visiting churches in America to speak and share what God is doing through the ministry.
Like the speaker that Pete had hosted at his church when he was a pastor, Pete shares what God is doing through Gospelink at churches. He represents both what sponsored preachers are doing on the field, as well as advocating for preachers who have been approved by Gospelink, but who are still in need of sponsors.
And when Pete visits a church on the weekends, he often brings either his wife or one or two of his kids along with him. He is thankful for his whole family’s involvement with him in the ministry.
“My wife,” he says, “has always been 100 percent faithful, encouraging, and supportive of however I’ve served the Lord,” says Pete, “and in particular, she’s supported me with this ministry through Gospelink to Vietnam. She homeschools our children as well as works part time as a beautician from our home, and with the income from her work she sponsors a preacher in Vietnam.
“The kids at home help me with office tasks like stuffing envelopes and sticking stamps. They’re always eager to help me with my office work.”
And like their mom, all the kids get involved in fundraising for Gospelink causes.
For example, when their son, Tyce, overheard his parents talking about the three grandsons of the preacher Sunnie sponsors, and how the boys couldn’t afford to go to school because their father had passed away, Tyce quietly laid the money he had earned mowing lawns on his Dad’s desk to pay for the boys’ education.
As God continues to grow the reach of Gospelink’s ministry, Pete is in awe of how God has worked through both physical and spiritual adoption to bring people into His family.
“It’s been said that adoption is the visible Gospel,” he says, “and that’s true. But in our case, adoption has been a visible Gospel in more ways than one. There have been literally thousands of people who have come to Christ in Vietnam through the work of Gospelink’s national preachers. Unreached people who were exposed to the Gospel, and wouldn’t have been, without that missions partnership that’s in place now.”
And that Gospelink missions partnership in Vietnam would never have existed without Pete and Sunnie adopting Mikayla and Mikenzie back in 2006.
“I feel like I’ve stepped on board a moving ship,” says Pete. “God is at the helm, and I’m just along for the ride!”