Tag Archives: mission training school

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.

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!