Our Story

Starting a global gospel movement

East-West began because two men saw a need for the gospel in unreached and restricted access areas of the world.

In an act of bold obedience to Christ’s command to go and make disciples of all nations, East-West was launched in 1993 by John Maisel and Bud Toole. What informally started behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s became a missions organization with a zeal for empowering national pastors and local believers to transform their communities by making disciples and multiplying churches.

Our passion for Jesus, grace, spiritually dark places, and bold action is the heartbeat that continues to sustain our ministry as we rely on God to use us to reach the unreached. Today, our organization is made up of thousands of believers from around the world who are committed to starting church planting movements in more than 70 spiritually dark nations.

Black and white photo of a white man handing out pamphlets to people on a crowded sidewalk.


John Maisel travels behind the Iron Curtain for the first time


East-West Ministries International is founded


East-West expands ministry beyond Russia


East-West creates a plan to mobilize believers to put their faith in action


East-West begins ministry vision to share the gospel with 50 million people in 10 years


East-West launches church planting movement strategies on the mission field


Kurt Nelson becomes Chief Executive Officer and President


East-West narrows its ministry focus to disciple making strategies


East-West begins a vision to multiply 1 million disciples in five years


East-West church plants surpass 171,000 during its 25-year history


East-West celebrates 25 years of ministry and begins a vision to multiply one million disciples in three years

Core Values

Our distinct values are at the very core of our ministry and influence our decisions and behaviors in pursuit of expanding the Kingdom of God in unreached places.

Statement of Faith

What we believe about God’s heart for the nations is directly tied to what we believe about the triune God, the Bible, and other core doctrines of the Christian faith.


Since 1993, East-West has been committed to God’s great call to make disciples, and he graciously uses our ministry to impact some of the spiritually darkest areas of the world.