Tag Archives: Global Frontier Missions

Saturday afternoon trip to the airstrip

Who can help me with information on inexpensive ways to generate electricity for a household?  If you know something about this or can point me to a good resource, please comment!  Read on to hear why…

In praying about next steps recently, I sensed God leading me to put more effort into connecting with people on the outskirts of our town who have ties to villages.  I felt I wasn’t supposed to take on any new projects (water filters, solar dehydrators, and the like) until I had better relationships with people in need and could more directly respond to needs they wanted met.

On that premise, late this afternoon I headed out to a community about a half hour walk from our house, built on an old airstrip.  The community came to be about three years ago when a number of village families were invited to take small parcels of land and build houses on them.  They did so, constructing one-room houses out of wood and sheets of corrugated tin.  These humble dwellings line either side of what was once a working airstrip in our town, now a gravel runway with weeds poking through it.

The airstrip community enjoys a beautiful view

The airstrip community is an intriguing place, strategically.  Its families come from a number of indigenous villages and speak native dialects.  We (and many missionaries) have found displaced people in difficult circumstances to often be more open to the gospel.  The community is poor, meaning community development has an opportunity to make a more significant impact there than in other places.

I went out with no plan other than to try and connect with people.  I figured I’d let them know that God brought me to the region to come to know Jesus better alongside others and to spread the love of Jesus in any way I can.  Then I’d just see what happened.  Arriving at the airstrip, I saw a couple of guys loading wood into the back of a truck at one of the first houses, so I figured I’d see if I could lend them a hand.  As I got closer and called out a greeting, I recognized both of them as men I’d met last summer when GFM was doing some English classes up there.  (Carl and Lisa, students in the 2008-09 Mission Training School, were the first ones to begin building relationships in the airstrip community, which opened the door for our further involvement.)  The two men recognized me, as well.

We started talking, and in the first five minutes one of the guys asked if I know how to generate electricity for a home.  The families at the airstrip had been stealing electricity from some nearby lines, but they got cut off and fined and are now without electricity.  He explained several ideas he’d heard of involving windmills, solar panels, and car batteries.  I don’t know how to generate electricity for a home, but I told him I would look into it if they would help me make something once I found a design.  He readily agreed, saying to let him know what I found and then he would get people in the community together to chip in money for the project and help work on it.

After a half-hour conversation, he offered me a ride back to town.  I accepted, and on the way back we got into spiritual matters.  I mostly just asked questions and let him talk this time around.  He belongs to a sect based out of Guadalajara called Luz del Mundo.

So now I need some good ideas for inexpensive home power generation!  Does anyone know of anything?  We always say that our supporters back home are just as much a part of the team as we are, we’re just field staff, so here’s a bit of a unique way to participate in the work down here!  I’m looking forward to hearing from some of you.

P.S. I don’t have a photo of the airstrip community, but are there any GFMers reading this who have one they could pass along to me?  If so, I’ll add it to this post.  Update: Thanks to Nick and Sarah for providing the above photo.

Update 05 June ’09: Read about my following trip to the airstrip here.

300 days until Urbana09!

Urbana, if you’re not familiar with it, is a huge (20,000+) student mission conference that takes place every three years during the week between Christmas and New Years. It used to be held in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois (hence the name), but has now been moved to St. Louis.

I had the privilege of attending and exhibiting for GFM in both 2003 and 2006. If you are around college age and have never been to Urbana, I highly encourage you to make plans to attend this year. Any college student interested in missions should go at least once. I know of nothing else quite like it for bringing together hundreds of missions organizations, leading mission thinkers and practicioners, and thousands of young people excited about missions.

The talks are provoking. The workshops and networking are insightful. The multicultural worship is unforgettable. The entire experience is exhilarating!

To get a sense of what it’s like, check out the Urbana archives.  Facebook brethren (and sistren) can check out the Urbana09 Facebook group.  Past Urbana attendees may also appreciate the following groups:

Greg Jao is the best Urbana announcer ever! and Ajith Fernando is my Homeboy

If you’re a past MTS student or GFM summer intern, look for upcoming news about the GFM reunion at Urbana!

If you’ve been there before, chime in in the comments on how you liked Urbana.

The next chapter of GFM

A 6-week trip to the U.S. and being 3 more weeks without my laptop has kept me from doing much blogging lately, but I did want to get this news out:

Earlier this week, GFM announced some very exciting changes coming to the ministry.  In a nutshell, we feel we have now done the bulk of the mobilization work we need to do in Mexico, so we are pulling our Mission Training School and a good bit of our short-term mission work out of here.  We are moving the entire mobilization branch to the U.S. to focus on getting laborers into the 10/40 Window, leaving just our church planting team to continue the work in southern Mexico.  (Erin and I will be continuing with the church planting team here in Mexico, just as before.)

If this has piqued your curiosity and you would like a full explanation of the changes and the reasons for them, check out this writeup on GFM’s website.

I’m anxious to hear feedback on these changes, so leave a comment and weigh in!

I hope to be back with more blogging soon.

Follow-up to ‘Changes on the horizon for GFM’

In my last post, I described a couple of strategic discussions GFM staff would be having on our annual staff retreat. Here is the current result of the questions we asked and the subsequent discussions:

How can GFM more effectively disciple those who are part of our body?
We’re not making any large shifts in response to this question, but some positive incremental changes are taking place. Most significantly, our staff has a greater focus this year on the need for good discipleship in the context of relationships. I think we are gradually realizing that programs don’t necessarily produce good disciples, discipleship does. This doesn’t mean that programs can’t produce good disciples, but in order to do so they must incorporate effective relational discipleship.

In the long run, we would like to see every person who is a student, staff member, or apprentice with GFM being discipled in a one-on-one relationship with someone else. This is difficult for us right now, because some of those who would be good disciplers are tied up with other responsibilities (such as learning Spanish), and we are stretched thin overall. For this year, we figured out who is available to disciple others, and then we encouraged each staff member and apprentice to 1) seek out a relationship with someone who will commit to discipling them and/or 2) to set up a regular accountability group with two or three people. We have all done this, and the result is that far more focused discipleship will be taking place this year.

What should be the relationship between the long-term (church planting) and the short-term (mission trips, summer internships, etc.) work?
The outcome of this discussion was interesting. We are now realizing that, with our current strategy, it’s difficult for every mission trip we host to significantly augment the long-term church planting work. Mission trip outreaches in our town are able to serve people in practical ways and help the image of our Mexican non-profit organization, but we are worried that hosting so many trips in our town could also begin to hurt the work due to the presence of so many foreigners year after year. Mission trip outreaches here are able to make new contacts for our church planting team (CPT), but we are also seeing that our CPT is really busy with the relationships they already have and not able to effectively follow up on very many new contacts.

What we are now going to try and do is let the church planting work play a greater role in deciding what outreaches happen on mission trips. If the CPT says a certain outreach in our town would help them, that’s what the mission trip team will do. If CPT doesn’t really need anything at the time of the outreach, then we will take the mission trip team to a village in our area, rather than increasing the foreign presence in our town without providing a definite benefit to the church planting work. We love exposing people to mission work through mission trips, and in the villages they will be able to serve in practical ways while having a more neutral impact on the long-term work. We have plenty of experience taking mission trip teams to villages, because for years that’s always what we did with them. We find that some mission trip teams are happy to serve GFM by helping out with different projects at our base, so we are planning on making that more of an option as well.

Here are the different types of mission trips that may now happen with GFM:

  1. CPT asks for an outreach in our town, so the mission trip team digs a well or puts on a medical clinic or teaches an English class or does anything that the CPT requests.
  2. The team goes out to a village and coordinates with the government to provide some kind of service there. Such outreaches could include things like providing a medical clinic, teaching an English class, or putting on a community health program for kids. Though it is no secret we are Christians, these outreaches would be done under the name of our Mexican non-profit organization, rather than under the name of a church or mission group.
  3. The team goes out to a village and comes under the authority of a Christian church there, serving them in any way they request.
  4. The team stays at our GFM base and helps out with any work projects we may have going on at the time.

As always, all mission trips will continue to include two days of training at our base on the front end of the trip, and a debrief day at the end of the trip. We hope these new options will allow us to continue to expose people to mission work among the least-reached, while also more effectively serving the needs of the long-term work.

Changes on the horizon for GFM

GFM has been in constant flux since its earliest days. This is the way it should be. We change because we learn, so the day we stop changing is the day we start dying. Our mission remains the same:

Global Frontier Missions is a kingdom-minded community dedicated to mobilize, train, and multiply disciples and churches to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the least reached people groups throughout the world.

Our strategy for accomplishing the mission changes as we seek to fulfill the mission as effectively as possible. Striving for better ways to multiply disciples led to our monumental shift a year and a half ago where we stopped working in villages and started focusing our energies on the market town where we live.

For the next week we will be on our annual staff retreat, and we have a couple of significant issues on the agenda for discussion. The outcome of these discussions may well be more big changes for GFM. Here are the issues with which we will be wrestling:

  1. At the heart of the Great Commission is one simple command: “make disciples”. Those who know GFM know we are a very program-driven organization–Mission Training School, summer internships, mission trips, etc. The difficulty is that programs can be big beasts to feed that make it hard to find time for relational discipleship. On the retreat, we will be discussing what true, relational discipleship looks like. We are asking ourselves whether dedicating so much energy to programs has been misguided, or whether it is possible to effectively make disciples in the context of our programs. Those are sure to be interesting discussions with all our staff and apprentices weighing in, and I can’t possibly predict what will be the outcome of them.
  2. Another intriguing topic on the retreat agenda is what should be the relationship between our short-term work (mobilization branch) and our long-term work (church planting branch). Our philosophy has always been that our short-term work, consisting of mission trips, summer internships, and Mission Training School, should fit into and augment the long-term church planting work. The two reasons we have always had our short-term programs are to help the long-term work and to mobilize people to Great Commission service among the least-reached. The short-term programs continue to be great mobilization tools; that would be hard to deny. The question is whether, with our new focus on our market town, those programs are still an aid to the long-term church planting or if they could actually hinder it. We are seeing plenty of good things come from the programs, but we are also increasingly concerned about the impact of such a strong, visible foreign presence in our town of about 20,000. The questions on the table will be if short-term and long-term can work together, what should be their relationship if they can, or what should we do about it if they cannot. This, too, promises to be a lively discussion.

I’ll try and blog some about our developing thinking on these topics. Stay tuned!

Introducing GFM Videos

This summer, we have an artistically-inclined guy we have set to work making daily highlight videos of our mission trips. He is uploading them to GFM’s new YouTube channel, which can be accessed via globalfrontiermissions.com/videos. Check it out! The videos are pretty neat and will give you a better feel of what summers are like down here.

Summer internships – looking for a few good men!

GFM is looking for a few guys who would like to have an adventurous summer serving God on the foreign mission field.  Do you know a solid Christian guy between the ages of 18 to 25 who would be interested in joining us this summer?  Are you one yourself?  Anyone interested can check out the summer internship pages on the GFM website to get more information.

Missions Extreme interns get a great taste of “real life” missions as they work alongside our church planting team for the summer, doing the types of things our team does throughout the year (some of the stuff I write about on this blog).  It’s a great opportunity for lots of interaction with the local people while being mentored by full time field missionaries.

Global Adventures interns have a blast helping us host teams that come down for 10-day mission trips.  They get to make lasting investments in the lives of the trip participants, while also having plenty of interaction with the locals during outreaches.

A summer internship was how Erin and I first got involved with GFM 6.5 years ago, and I have now been overseeing them for the past 3 years.  I can confidently say that for many people they are absolutely life-changing experiences.

We still have a couple of slots available for girls, too, but those ones are going fast.  If you know anyone who would be a good candidate, send them our way!