Originally posted at: https://anglicanfrontiers.com/perspectives/
I like to think of myself as a globally, missionally, and theologically savvy Christian. I’ve been to 40 countries and attended weekly mission education classes since I was 3 years old. I’ve even written denominational missions curriculum at the state level, and I love to spend time in God’s Word. So when our Executive Director, The Rev. Chris Royer, encouraged me to take Perspectives this fall, I balked. Do I really need to take this class, I wondered? Given its foundational role in the creation of AFM, I thought it might be worth attending. Wow, is it ever!
In the late 1980s, The Rev. Tad de Bordenave was offered the same challenge that Chris made to me- to take the Perspectives Course. As the then-chair of the board for SAMS, Tad thought this would be a great way to learn more about missions. As Tad says, “The stats in the Perspectives Course staggered me!” He learned that there are still more than 2 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus. Even more surprisingly, only 1% of all money given to missions goes toward reaching these unreached people groups. The Lord used this class to open Tad’s eyes to the need for the Anglican Church to send missionaries to unreached people groups. And thus, with $1,000 and a ping-pong-table-desk in Tad’s basement, AFM was born.
Now, 30 years later, I am sitting in the Perspectives Course finding the same material to be similarly perspective-shaking. My classmates and I study under a different guest lecturer each week while reading our way through the accompanying textbook. The course is rich in Biblical teachings on God’s heart for missions. And all of our teachers have been brilliant, inspiring Christ followers.
One instructor in particular was a retired Wycliffe missionary who had moved his wife and their then-5-month-old baby to a remote area in Papua New Guinea in order to translate the Bible for an unreached people group. They knew none of the language when they arrived- not a word. And over their years of living in a grass-roofed, dirt-floored hut, the Lord helped them to learn enough to translate the Bible into the language of the people among whom they lived.
God used their lives as living testimonies during the years before they could translate the Scriptures. But once this people group- who had never heard of Jesus before- finally had access to God’s Word in their own language, it changed the entire community. Men stopped beating their wives, husbands and wives began living together for the first time, and men began respecting and caring for their wives for the first time in this community’s history. They abandoned their practice of blood sacrifice from pigs and accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus as complete for the forgiveness of sin.
This people group called the Bible, “God’s carvings,” and they were eager to learn more of what it said. One day, as this missionary was working in his hut with another village member who was assisting with the translation, he was asked by his village assistant, “Did your father have access to God’s carvings?” The missionary replied, “Yes.” Then the assistant asked, “Did his father have access to God’s carvings?” The missionary replied, “Yes,” again. After working in silence for a while the assistant asked the missionary, “Did your father’s father’s father have access to God’s carvings?” The missionary answered “yes” once more. He said he could feel the unasked question hanging in the air, “Why are we only just receiving God’s carvings if your people have had it for so many generations?” Listening to this story, I felt the Holy Spirit stir up fresh conviction in my spirit to reach the unreached with God’s message of love and redemption. This is the challenge before us. God’s word is powerful and effective, yet there are millions who have still not heard the good news of God’s love for them. AFM exists to share this message of hope with those who have not yet had the chance to hear and respond to the life-changing name of Jesus.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to take Perspectives. And I encourage all our AFM family to take this class. It will truly change your perspective on your Christian walk. Thank you for partnering with AFM as we respond to God’s clear call to share the gospel with those who have not yet heard it. It is such an honor to serve alongside you as we work together to ensure that all nations, tribes, tongues, and people will be able to hear the gospel. Let’s not wait for another generation to come and go without sharing “God’s carvings” with them.
by Kristin DuMont, AFM Director of Operations