A Compelling Calling
A Phoenix-area church is making global evangelism local.Jacob S. Jester’s heart for evangelism began with his first exposure to ministry as a missionary kid in West Africa.
Jester witnessed intense evangelistic outreach growing up in both Sierra Leone and Senegal. His parents, Stephen and Karen Jester, left Arkansas and served as Assemblies of God world missionaries from 1989 until 2016. Jester came to a spiritual crossroads during his family’s ministry in Senegal.
“I realized the only way I was going to survive spiritually and emotionally was to grow closer to God,” he says.
Jester carried his passion for evangelism with him back to the U.S. in 1999. He attended Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, where he met his wife, Kristin, and also started Jacob Jester Ministries during his junior year.
In a 13-year span, the Jesters engaged in evangelistic efforts in several states before moving to Arizona in 2012 to start Compel Church in Glendale. Compel, a plant of the Church Multiplication Network financed in part by Matching Funds from AGTrust has around 300 adherents, 60 percent of whom are millennials. Jester is also a CMN representative in Arizona who helps other new church planters get started on their journey.
Jester is passionate about engaging with local schools (including the one in which Compel meets every week). Ray Hintz, Compel’s experience pastor, says a concern for local outreach also has led Compel to minister to more than 150 refugee children in a primarily Muslim housing complex via gifts, singing songs, and playtime.
The 37-year-old Jester believes the local and global components of evangelistic outreach complement each other well. The style of evangelistic outreach, however, differs from the mass evangelism models commonly used by his family in Sierra Leone.
“Never underestimate the power of a personal invitation,” Jester says. He sees a clear connection between his background in international evangelism and leading Compel to support missional efforts around the world. The church currently supports 10 individual missionaries in various places, but also contributes to numerous ministries such as FeedOne.
Compel is active in humanitarian efforts, such as building a school in Senegal and partnering with Convoy of Hope to feed 70 Haitian children on a monthly basis.