For most people, retirement means taking the well deserved vacations that have been in the planning stages for years; it means relaxation and freedom from responsibilities and commitments. But for Dois Rosser, founder and Chair Emeritus of International Cooperating Ministries, retirement simply meant the beginning of a new chapter. At 67 years of age, Dois founded ICM, a ministry that blankets nations with the Gospel, one local assembly at a time. By implementing a revolutionary reproductive network of neighboring churches, ICM has created a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals to participate in local church planting and missions.
"I wanted to leave a reproducible legacy,” said 92-year-old Dois Rosser, as he described the genesis of International Cooperating Ministries (ICM). “In the business world, you set goals, you plan for your demise, and you determine to put things into place that will last after you are gone. You think in terms of effective ways for your company to continue to produce upon your retirement. The same holds true for building a spiritual legacy. When you invest into Kingdom activities, God reproduces them, and His ROI is beyond comprehension!”
Founded in the early 1980’s, ICM exists to bring the Gospel to the world through the establishment of “mother churches” that train, equip, and send out locals to build subsidiary congregations, effectively blanketing an area with Bible-believing local churches. By teaching local leaders, ICM operates on a strictly national basis—no American staff are employed overseas. Today, ICM has built close to 5,000 mother churches, each of which in turn has committed to plant five daughter congregations. Through this unique principle of multiplication, ICM is blanketing the world.
A Revolutionary Retirement
The story begins with a successful businessman who had a desire to be used of God. There was nothing ground breaking about his desire; rather, it was quite natural for a Christian. Brought up in church from a young boy, Dois had always been active in various ministries of the local church, but as God began to speak to his heart about foreign missions, he began to see the breakdown between his secular accomplishments and his spiritual pursuits.
In 1948, Dois purchased a small auto dealership that grew into the Pomoco Auto Group, an umbrella company that operates 30 franchises in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Named an “Unsung Virginian” in 1986 by the Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives in recognition of his business and civic accomplishments, Dois was a self-made industry giant, but a casual introduction to a local pastor began a chain of events that revolutionized the concept of retirement.
Every Thursday, Dick Woodward, pastor of Virginia Beach Community Chapel, hosted a weekly Bible study attended by over 350 local businessmen. “I had no idea how God would use Dick in my life,” said Dois, as he recounted his first meeting with the man that would eventually partner with him to bring the Gospel to the world. “God used Dick to turn my life upside down, propel me around the world, give away most of my money, and change my thinking forever.”
At the height of his ministry, Dick was diagnosed with a rare degenerative spinal disorder and was confronted with the reality that he would be rendered a quadriplegic. Rather than become bitter and sacrifice his relevance, Dick began to record his teachings and established the Mini Bible College, a systematic and expository survey of the Bible. It was through this curriculum that Dois began to see the bigger picture.
“As I listened to Dick’s exposition of the Bible, I heard the Gospel presented in a way that I had never heard before,” said Dois. “I wanted the world to hear his teachings, and through the tools of media broadcasting, we were able to multiply his message. The roadblock of Dick’s disability became a series of steppingstones that led us higher and higher beyond the limitations of Dick’s ministry in our part of Virginia. That was as far as we could see. But God’s vision went much further. He had a plan to take Dick’s Bible teaching to the whole world.”
Believing God would prosper the transmission of the Gospel, Dois funded the translation and radio broadcast of Mini Bible College in Latin America, China, and India. These recordings became the foundation upon which ICM was built. Today, ICM has translated the Mini Bible College lessons into 32 languages and is currently in production of eight more.
“We produced the recordings, but God developed the mission,” said Dois. “What we had thought to be a simple preservation of understandable Bible teaching turned into an international network.”
Beginning with Bonaire, a rocky island north of Venezuela, the multinational evangelical Christian media provider, Trans World Radio, began to air Dick’s recorded teachings from the Mini Bible College. From there, networks across the globe followed suit.
But radio broadcasts were just the beginning of ICM. God began to work on Dois’ heart to plant churches in regions that had no Gospel-teaching ministries.
An Unconventional Ministry
A big challenge to many mission organizations is the cost of sending American missionaries overseas. Rather than spending years on deputation to raise support for one missionary family, ICM teams up with indigenous ministry leaders in countries around the world to bring the Gospel to their own people.
“We discovered that when we took the church planting to the grass roots level, it developed a nurturing aspect,” said Dois as he described the ministry of ICM. For example, in India, there are 600,000 villages that house over 650 million people. That’s twice the population of the United States! We can’t send enough missionaries to reach every person; we have to equip the nationals.”
Using an innovative concept of self-replication, ICM contracts with local believers to plant a “mother church” with an agreement that five “daughter churches” will be planted within a radius of 12 ½-25 miles over the course of five years by nationals. Through this unique system, the power of the Gospel grows exponentially.
“In simple terms, we build the building, but they build the church. One church becomes another, then another, and before you know it, the body of Christ has grown to multiple assemblies run by national believers. We’re seeing miracles happen every day.” Dois Rosser
At the present date, Cuba has been blanketed with churches 12 ½ miles apart, while Vietnam and Cambodia are at 90% and Tanzania is close to completion.
Pat MacMillan, a consultant with Triaxia Partners in Atlanta and a ministry supporter said, “I knew faith-based ministries, but here was one started by a businessman, and it was violating all the rules of typical ministry. ICM starts a ministry impact right out of the blocks, for considerably less money, and it’s considerably more effective—the core strategy is partnerships that foster results, accountability, and leverage.”
An Extraordinary Father
“It hasn’t been easy,” said Dois. “Every day I wonder when the next shoe is going to drop. We built a church in Vietnam, and before we were finished, the pastor and son were killed. But you know what? The wife stayed, finished the work, and kept going for God. That single church has planted 44 daughter churches! That’s over 17,000 church members! That’s what God can do. We train, we nurture, we plant, but we trust God to take it to the next level. He has always been faithful.”
When confronted with a problem in the business world, we have two choices: give up or find another way to get the job done. ICM is in the “other way” business. With 31 people on staff at the corporate headquarters in Hampton, Virginia, ICM operates on creative solutions to complicated problems.
God has miraculously allowed ICM to continue to plant churches in countries unfriendly to the Gospel. With a goal of 231 churches in the country of Cuba, the government recently restricted access to ICM after the completion of 230 mother churches. But the work continues. In a recent call from a local pastor, Dois was informed that one of the original ICM planted churches was under construction for the final mother church. “The work goes on, no matter if we are there or not,” said Dois. “It’s still producing. That’s the design of it. We put the church in place, but the locals keep it operational. Our role is to keep producing. Every day, I stand in amazement at what God has done; I am so blessed to be used by Him.”
"ICM represents the most efficient way of spreading the anointed word of God to the souls of men. When $1 is given to ICM it turns into $6 or $7 worth of concrete on the ground. The concrete on the ground are churches that act as schools, infirmaries and meeting places for the community. This becomes the place in the community where people can come together and grow into spiritual maturity. I feel my giving to ICM has been one of the best sources of catalytic giving that I have found in 50 years.” Dr. James Gills, St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute
A Kingdom Calling
Edward Hale, American author and clergyman, said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And, by the grace of God, I will.” It is with this heartbeat Dois Rosser has changed the world, and at 92 years of age, he is still going strong.
“All of my life in the business world was preparation for what God has for me now,” said Dois. “I am convinced that there are people everywhere that want to serve the Lord, no matter how old they are. But you know what? Just having the passion to serve the Lord doesn’t make a difference; you must put feet to your desire. Any person who contributes and tries to advance the Kingdom, whether serving soup at a soup kitchen or bringing a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment, I think they are making a difference. We, as humans, look at the big things God is doing, but He’s looking at our hearts. Build the Kingdom one day at a time through your daily grind. Just because you’re in a secular business doesn’t mean that you’re not in the Kingdom business. Give, pray, go. Let God write your story.”
Dick Woodward, pastor, author, father, and friend, passed away on March 8, 2014. More than a simple Bible teacher, Dick had a way of looking past circumstances and presuppositions and seeing the heart of a man. His teachings have changed the lives of thousands of men and women across the world, but most importantly, his testimony of grace and dependence upon God has inspired all those who were blessed to call him friend. Even after his degenerative disorder left him a quadriplegic, his disability never restricted his service; rather, it drove him to a life of intercessory, constant prayer.
“I give all that I have to my teachings and God has blessed that mightily all over the world. That never would have happened without my limitations; that’s the providence of God. To get between the love of Christ and all the hurt out there because He passes His love through you to them is like an addiction; you get hooked. You discover what He is, where He is, and where you want to be for the rest of your life.” –Dick Woodward
From a hospital bed in Williamsburg, VA, to the fields white unto harvest, the Gospel has gone forth and lives have been changed, but above all, God has been abundantly honored through the life and ministry of Dick Woodward.