By Bob & Dian Harner, Directors of Missions Mobilization
Inward and Upward! Beyond! These were the themes that were mentioned repeatedly at General Council as our president, Dr. John Stumbo, urged us to sense the excitement of reaching the unreached by extending and empowering the U.S Alliance’s reach together as a family. Various changes in name and structure were announced, all with the goal of extending and empowering our reach.
The new name for our overseas work, formerly called International Ministries, is quite simply “Alliance Missions” (AM). This name reflects a change in structure, which is incorporating the four facets we have had for sending International Workers into one. AM includes aXcess (what we traditionally called “IM”), CAMA, Marketplace Ministries, and Envision. Dr. Tim Crouch stated in his report to Council that “The ‘New Face of AM’ does not signal a significant, unexpected turn… [It] does celebrate the value and dignity of a variety of callings and vocational specializations that are proving strategic.” In short, there are more ways for more people to be involved in Alliance Missions as goers than ever before!
For this to happen, we must work together as a family. In his address to Council, Dr. Mitch Kim (Senior Pastor of Wellspring Alliance Church in Wheaton, IL.) affirmed what we have believed and observed for decades, by saying “…I realize that as a senior pastor I am the number one most effective mission mobilizer in my church.” Pastors, now is a great time to speak up and encourage your church to renew their commitment to Alliance Missions. There is so much to be excited about!
In our district, people from many walks of life are hearing God’s call and heading for the mission field. A newly retired couple, from Buckhannon Alliance Church, recently returned from a 9-month stint in a Middle Eastern country. They kept things going at a community center, using their gifts and skills in business, education, fitness and hospitality, while one of our district IW families was on home assignment. They told us to let them know if another such opportunity opened up because they would be delighted to do it again.
Another family, with three young children from Whipple Heights Alliance Church, sensed God leading them from their work as a Home Depot department manager and a stay-at-home mom running a home bakery, toward something overseas. They became part of the CD 100 (the Central District pipeline for those feeling a call to Alliance Missions). They prepared for about 3 years, taking Perspectives and the Alliance polity course, while they waited for God to present just the right opportunity. Two years ago, they left for language study in France and then down to North Africa, where they serve as the business manager and café worker/baker in a community center.
A few years ago, a middle-aged man in one of our district churches, sensed that God wanted him to learn more about Islam, so he enrolled in Islamic studies at a local college. Today, he and his family are asking God which of the three opportunities they have to work with Muslim refugees in Europe He would have them fill. They, too, connected with us and are now engaged in more preparation through the CD 100
Is there someone in your church who has a holy discontent with where they are? Maybe they just sense God is moving them toward “something different,” but they don’t know what it is yet. Encourage them to look at the Ministry Opportunity Descriptions (MODs) on the Alliance website to see if there is something that stirs their heart (https://www.cmalliance.org/serve/#international). Pastors and missions leaders, we’d also encourage you to familiarize yourself with the MODs. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find one that fits someone in your congregation – or you!