In 1985, Manny and Glenda Fernandez moved to Spain to plant a church in Madrid. Spain was even more spiritually closed at the time then they are today. The country’s population was at 40 million and less than .4% of the population were evangelical Christians; fewer than 200,000 believers! Churches that were decades old had attendances of between 85-100 people.
It wasn’t long before Manny realized that if he were to simply focus on one church the impact would only be felt by fewer than 100 people. This was when God began to lead him to train others who would aid in the work of planting churches.
In 1991, World Link Ministries (WLM) was founded. It was to be a mission organization that would establish seminaries worldwide with the objective of training local leaders to reach their country for Christ. This “Train and Deploy” model began in Madrid with the birth of the first seminary SEFOVAN (a spanish acronym for European Seminary of Theological Formation and Evangelization).
By 1993 SEFOVAN began to establish extensions throughout Spain and has grown to be the largest seminary in Spain!
Because of the early success that the SEFOVAN project was experiencing, it caught the attention of church leaders in North Africa. It wasn’t long before an underground training program was started in Morocco with several Moroccan pastors.
God was moving in Spain in great ways but because the model was to “Train and Deploy” it was difficult for partners outside of the country to get involved if they had no theological training. But in 1999 WLM launched the Short Term Missions Program. This strategic approach to Short Term Missions followed three very important steps. The first step was to identify a leader who was making an impact in their area. Second, was to send a team from a church in the U.S. to canvas that area with the gospel and to obtain as much contact information as possible. Third, the pastor in training would then launch a “followup” campaign to reach out to the new believers or people who were interested in the church as a result of the mission trip. The Short Term Missions Program was a tremendous success that has continued to be an essential ministry for WLM to this day. Hundreds of Americans have been a part of sharing the gospel with thousands to Christ all around the world and these have been followed up and discipled by the WLM leaders.
In 2000 we at WLM experienced a turning point which God has used for unprecedented growth in church planting movements. We were introduced to church leaders in Cuba who were eager to begin the program on their island. We soon discovered that the rapid growth of the churches on the island was allowing us to launch a new model called Accelerated Church Planting (ACP). This model aimed to take advantage of the great opportunity in Cuba because of the openness to the gospel. We began to pay local leaders the average salary of a medical doctor: $40/month (which provided for them and their family’s needs) so they could focus exclusively on preaching the gospel and planting churches.
In the 26 years of World Link Ministries we have since expanded into Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, India, Vietnam, Japan, the Far East, North Africa, Israel, Romania, Ukraine, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.