Send us a "Few Good Men"
The dream of a "Pentagon for Missions" has always been centered on gathering a number of mission mobilizers from as many U.S. mission agencies as possible. These people were to be working together on the research, strategy and recruiting necessary to help the agencies get churches started in each of the unreached people groups of the world.
Right away some workers were attracted directly to the challenge of the new U.S. Center for World Mission. They were able to raise support and their labors were welcome. Only a few were "seconded" to us by an agency, but these have been marvelously used.
They are sometimes seasoned missionaries, able to see the world picture through their field experiences. Some are just beginning a missions career and feel drawn to the strategic need of raising up other workers in order to get the huge job done. But all have been marked by a commitment to the priority of missions to unreached peoples as their way of responding to God's call.
An Interview with Terry Riley
Let's interview one such "missionary family on loan": Terry and Bev Riley of the Evangelical Free Church and now working with the Adopt-A- People Clearing House:
MF: How did you come to the USCWM?
TERRY: I asked to be assigned here by my Evangelical Free Church mission Board and the executives agreed because they thought it strategic. I felt the Center was on the cutting-edge of missiological thinking, and I wanted to be equipped to do pioneer Church Planting. There is such a wide variety of people here, of different traditions, backgrounds and types of work-experience, it seems the best place to get a wide exposure to what is working in frontier missions and what is not.
MF: Does staying here mean putting aside your own dreams of missionary service?
TERRY: Not necessarily. I am equipping myself for a possible cross- cultural ministry later on. In the meantime I am being trained while involved in this strategic ministry.
MF: Does that mean you might spend the rest of your career recruiting others?
TERRY: I want what is most strategic for God's cause. If God wants to use me to replace myself by helping to raise up 1,000 other workers, then that is what I will do.
MF: Does it take a special kind of person to be good at recruiting others?
TERRY: Each type of missionary work requires unique skills. But all must have the same desire: to glorify God by seeing the Great Commission fulfilled. Each goes about it in different ways.
MF: Would you like to see your Agency continue to send men here to the Center?
TERRY: I certainly hope that not only my Agency but others continue to do that, not on the basis of "Let's see; who can we spare?" But with the attitude: "Who of our choice people can we send, knowing we will get back workers trained in frontier missiology and who have developed contacts they can later use to network."
I heard an executive of a large independent agency say: "Sending workers to the U.S. Center is a strategic investment. They will have a better grasp of the whole missionary endeavor when they come back." If an agency is truly interested in church planting among unreached people groups, and developing leaders able to provide vision to their constituents, I can't think of a better place!"
MF: Then it is more than "Let's help the Center?"
TERRY: It does help the Center to have agencies second workers here. But the benefits work both ways. Since it is the Center's goal to be a helper to the whole missions endeavor, what better way to do that than to broaden the perspectives as well as sharpen the skills of workers sent here by agencies for a season?
AN INTERVIEW WITH STAN YODER
Another "seconded" family here is Stan and Valli Yoder, of the Missionary Church's "World Partners," also working with the Adopt-A- People Clearing House on campus.
MF: Stan, whose idea was it for your family to come here?
STAN: My Overseas Director, Chuck Carpenter, approached me, after he heard Dr. Winter challenge the Overseas Board: "If you have experienced missionaries who cannot return to the field for health or other reasons, why not second them to the U.S. Center?"
MF: What was your reaction?
STAN: "I was ready to come! In 1983. I had studied Islamics at the Zwemer Institute here at the Center and I had read the book,"Once More Around Jericho." by Roberta Winter.
On the field we realized we needed more missions training. In the plane on our way home in 1986, we had both prayed for this training, either at Fuller or the Center, but saw no way with only a year at home. Six weeks later, my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and we could not return. After two years representing World Partners in churches and conventions, I asked to be reassigned. That was when Chuck presented this opportunity.
MF: What benefits have you noticed from being here:
STAN: A fresh renewal of our vision for missions. On first learning of my wife's medical condition, I felt we were "held hostage" here at home, because I wanted to return to the field so badly and the Lord could heal her any time! But I see how He has broadened my vision now for His whole world.
In Sierra Leone I was a "hunter," after the Yalunka unreached peoples. Then I became Field Director and saw the needs of work among three tribes and the value of helping other workers do their "hunting" better.
The next stage, speaking to churches, widened the vision further to include those who send and pray. Now at the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse I see the picture of unreached peoples around the world, even down to drawing maps pinpointing the locations of many of them. It seems "behind the scenes," but it allows me to step back and see in a small way as God must see them.
For vision broadening I can't think of a better place for a missionary than the US Center!
What do Mission Executives think of seconding workers here?
Ben Sawatsky of the Evangelical Free Church Foreign Missions Board says:
"There has been a groundswell of input generated by the Adopt-A- People office at the U.S. Center. We are committed to it and that is why we have placed a full-time worker there (Terrry Riley). We are in touch with him continually to get information for us."
Stan's boss at World Partners, Chuck Carpenter, agrees: "We believe you are on the cutting-edge of missionary thinking and philosophy. It is to our advantage to have someone there as close as possible."