Mobilizing to Finish the Task
by John Hokmann
It began in 1980, the result of a Perspectives class at Penn State. Twenty-eight students covenanted together to help each other follow through on the commitments they'd made to fulfill the Great Commission.
Today, Caleb Resources is quite a bit larger: 24 staff serve over 3200 people who, "by the p-ace of God and for His glory," have committed their lives "to obeying (God's) commission of Matthew 28:18-20, wherever and However He leads me, giving priority to the peoples currently beyond the reach of the Gospel (Rom. 15:20-21)."
Greg Fritz, president of the organization and one of the students who launched it, notes that this commitment, the Caleb Declaration, focuses on seeing world evangelization "finished, not just worked on."
"We called it 'Caleb Project' because it is a project. It has a termination point. When there are sufficient laborers to complete the task of world evangelization, we will feel we've done our job," he said.
According to Vice President Steve Hawthorne, the group takes its name from the biblical character Caleb "who challenged God's people to finish what God had given them to do, despite the difficulties. In Caleb's day the task was conquering Canaan. In our day it's world evangelization."
So how does Caleb Resources do its work?
Hawthorne says the Fellow-Through Department is "the heart and soul" of the organization, "the beginning of it all, and, if we shut down, the last thing we'll do."
Within each issue of the Newsletter, there's a self-evaluation form designed to help Calebites track how well they're living out their world Christian commitment. When they fill in this form and send it to the central office in Pasadena, staff members take the best ideas they find and print them for the benefit of all Calebites in the next issue of the Newsletter.
Rosen said that besides gathering ideas for the Newsletter, Caleb staff pray through the reports. They also try to answer any questions Calebites ask, and encourage them with personal letters. Everyone on staff is involved in this fallow-through effort.
And what difference does this activity make?
Rosen said that, for him, the self-evaluation form "helps me to see areas of weakness, helps me to take action in those areas, and gives the Caleb staff an opportunity to pray for me. It's encouraging knowing someone is joining with me in prayer ...."
According to Sanders, if you're a sender, you're "a true partner with the missionary. You're considering, 'How can I support these people not only financially, but emotionally, practically, spiritually ... so they can be effective?'"
Sanders described a woman she met at a national ACMC (Association of Church Missions Committees) convention. "With tears in her eyes, she said that after five years on the field, she and her husband with their five kids came home and no one was there to greet them at the airport.
"With 52 weeks of furlough, their family was split up all but two weeks. No one even thought to ask them if that was a problem. It was just understood that 'a missionary is flexible' and 'that's the way it works.'
"She'd just love to have someone sit down with her and hear her side of the story, where she doesn't have to be 'Mrs. Flexible' and 'the missionary' at all times."
A sender is that "someone."
Senders publishes Co-Laborer, a quarterly bulletin filled with articles and resources aimed at helping Christians integrate a sending commitment into their lifestyle.
Sanders said the bulletin is designed for people who "find it tough, especially by themselves, to put missions above things 'normal' people in the church tend to put in higher priority."
Right now, one staff person (Sanders) puts in "a couple or three days a quarter," to service the estimated 600 people on the Senders' mailing list. That list continues to grow at about "50 to 100 a year."
Under Caleb Resources's banner, agencies like Wycliffe, TEAM, OMF, Youth With A Mission, and others jointly send teams of missionary appointees to campuses and churches across the country. Through testimonies and skits, these missionaries-to-be invite their audiences to "come along with us" to the front lines of service.
Team members help their listeners understand more accurately what opportunities for service are available to them (and how they can best pursue them) through additional one-on-one counseling sessions.
Last year, eight teams (four in the fall and four in the spring) spoke to almost 25,000 students÷more than 2,000 of them in one-on-one'counseling sessions. (Seep. 15 for this fall's team schedules.)
Traveling Teams Coordinator Brett West-brook is a veteran of four tours in two years. "The vast majority of students we come into contact with don't know of the world's needs," he said.
"Becoming a missionary is not a career option to them. Missions has nothing to do with their life goals. And why? They don't have any contact with people who have chosen a career in missions." Traveling teams provide the necessary role model: peers÷or "almost-peers"÷who are on their way to the front lines.
Westbrook said Caleb Resources is sharpening the focus of the traveling teams ministry. "We're gearing more and more to challenge and minister to the staff of Christian campus organizations so they will challenge the students.
"Missions should not be just a now-and-then thing. Traveling Teams can talk to a lot of students, but the way the real impact is going to come is by affecting the people who will have the day-to-day influence. Staff already on the scene should pass on the vision and mutiply themselves."
Its primary purpose, according to Coordinator Hank Barlett, is "to do relationally-based mission research in large Third World cities." Specifically: "to identify unreached peoples and to discover ways for them to follow Christ in a culturally appropriate way."
Secondarily, he said, JP is intended to help participants find their place in missions ÷whether going, sending, or mobilizing. "Being out on a Joshua Project helps prepare you to be a missionary because you practice skills missionaries need."
But it also prepares you to be a mobilizer and a sender: "When you gain an idea of the world through the eyes of the unreached, when you see the utter lack of missionaries, the need, how little God is glorified, you come back to the States with all kinds of reasons to let other Christians know about the situation and to help them do something for it. It also helps you keep your vision."
Joshua Project teams range in size from 8 to 15 people, both singles and couples. A normal program lasts four-and-a-half months. There is required reading before the program begins, and then there is a month-long training program, three months on the field, and a couple of weeks for debriefing. Total cost- around $4000.
JP coordinators believe the Bangkok trip this past spring was by far the best they've run so far. The practical results are "yet to be seen" (look at article on pp. 10-12 for a sample of their work), but mobilization for missions÷especially missionary outreach to the unreached peoples of Bangkok÷has been tremendous.
Barlett said several JPers are going back to Bangkok. "One stayed with YWAM, one is looking for a way back right now, and a couple is seriously considering that possibility before God ... ."
JP organizers, he said, also gave those who intend to stay here in the U.S. "a specific mobilization plan for after the experience." Each JPer is to speak to 500 people about the spiritual needs in Bangkok, to challenge 50 of those people to commit themselves to serious prayer for Bangkok, and then, to give serious thought and prayer to the question of which five people they should ask to become missionaries to Bangkok.
Marie Carr, now on Caleb Resources staff, first had contact with the program three years ago when she went on an expedition to India. She said her experience there changed her view of the world.
"I had already been overseas÷two months in Nigeria with my (Christian) college. But I'd call that 'tourist' missions. In the two months I was there, I ate four Nigerian meals. I worked with nationals, but lived on a compound. We were protected from the harsh realities of life. There was absolutely no bonding with the people. The 'high' from that trip lasted maybe two months.
"When I went on JP, there was lots of bonding. I got to know the people, and they got to know me. I saw the people through their eyes (except with God's heart). Two years after the trip, at ACMC, we were praying for India, and I was in tears. It was part of my heart; Nigeria is just part of my brain."
Carr- said she's excited about Joshua Project not only because of what it can mean to those who participate, but also ÷and more importantly÷because of its strategic value to the cause of world evangelization.
Even before the final Bangkok report is out, she said, there have been signs that the Chinese church is "waking up, and saying, 'Oh! Yeah!' and turning toward some of the 'new' people groups that they hadn't considered before..." (see article).
Future Joshua Project expeditions are scheduled for India, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. If you'd like information on these or other opportunities mentioned in this article, write or call: Caleb Resources, P.O. Box 40455, Pasadena, CA 91104, (818) 398-2121.