Emmanuel Faith is one of 50 churches that have conducted "Perspectives" programs.
"I'm convinced the single most important thing to hit our church in the area of missions in our generation is the Center's perspectives course," says Harry Larson. Larson is missions pastor of Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, California.
"Missions enthusiasm here has always been good, but after that course it look off."
It was in the spring of 1985 that George M'tley. a 20 year Operation Mobilization veteran introduced the course to Larson.
Miley was taking the course at the US, Center for World Mission. He shared with Larson some of the insights he was gaining.
I had spent to years as a missionary in Guatemala myself," said Larson, "so missions was no new thing to me. Yet both George and I were amazed at what he was leaning."
For instance: that the Biblical base for missions is not only found in a few New Testament verses, but throughout Scripture.
And then there is the idea that the missionary task can be completed. "I was of the opinion that missionary efforts were mere drops in a bucket and while the drops were getting smaller, the bucket was getting bigger. I figured the Christian mission would end with a whimper instead of a bang.
"George was hearing things at Perspective; that were totally new to both of us."
As Larson and Miley prayed, they decided to hold the course at their church. They did. In the fall of 1985, they had 126 students, half from Emmanuel Faith, the rest from 18 other churches in the San Diego area.
Larson said the students from Emmanuel Faith, most in their mid 30s to 40s, experienced a revival not only of missions vision, but of personal spiritual vitality.
They started a weekly prayer meeting that is still going strong today with close to 40 people in attendance. According to Larson, "They realized they could not go buck to being 'normal' Christians, so they she asking the Lord what they should do."
Their prayers are being answered. This summer they sent a team to investigate the possibility of planting a church in a Muslim people. They have chosen a people, and are now pursuing a working relationship with Frontiers, an agency located at the Center whose focus is on Muslim church planting.
"Besides the Muslim team, another couple going to North Africa, and several other short tenners on their way," said Larson.
Larson said there have been profound changes not only in those students who attended the Perspectives class, but in the entire mission program. "We have begun to redirect resources to frontier missions; and we have begun to recognize efforts of missionaries we already support who are involved in frontier missions."
Another sign of change: just before the investigative team left for its mission, another church asked Larson to give an update on what was happening. "We've been praying for you for three months!" they said.
Emmanuet Faith has been praying for a team a third church is planning to send out.
"Although we are of different theological persuasions, the 19 churches that had people in our Perspectives class are united in prayer in a way we have never been united before. We are working toward a common goal."
Miley and Larson, in separate interviews, both concluded that the two key elements in the dramatic renewal at their church were "the perspectives course and prayer study and prayer."