We have been with an AFM worker for two days now. Hearing her story and remembering how AFM works, I thought I would profile the person, the process, and the goal.
We will call her Mary. She comes to Asia with a long career in medical work. Choosing to live in Asia to do church planting is not for everyone. Needless to say. But Mary has hiked the Appalachian Trail, done white water rapids, worked in Haiti and Eastern Asia. She fits the profile. Evidence is her willingness to move to a village where her housing will be a room no larger than one of our master/recreational bathrooms.
- Still, this must be a calling. Somewhere along her faith journey, Mary learned about people beyond the reach of hearing the gospel. Their hope is in a wooden idol or a goat sacrificed to a god they do not know and which fails to bring forgiveness. Their ignorance is darkness and bondage. She was touched by the love that Jesus Christ has for them and that love grew in her own heart.
- How to get there and through what agency? She found one that concentrates on these people, the least evangelized, one that gives her emotional and spiritual support, and understands her life here. She went through the application process, was accepted, and here she is. (She chose well!)
- The task is secondary. This work could be done by God easily and unilaterally. But he chose to work through co-laborers. The key word here is “purging. “ He wants us to cross the threshold to where we know that if He doesn’t move, nothing happens. And to know for certain that he moves in response to prayer.
- Language learning. That is the best way to learn the culture and to develop trust with the people you serve. She’s in it and is determined. This is not easy with a new and strange alphabet, but the process is a tool to learn and also to share her hope.
- Specific group. That remains to be seen. Two things are going on now – language learning and application for a needed project that uses for medical skills but the benefit of her people. The needs of healthcare are extreme and the love of Jesus through her hands will be tangible.
- Networking. For one possible group of 600,000 there are about 10,000 Christians. This clearly means that some work is already established, and there are workers and agencies for networking. She will not be working alone and she will not be starting from scratch.
- The networking is of two sorts: horizontal where she joins with those who are already there, and vertical where specific needs and expertise come for specific tasks. She will bring with her, “the treasures of Anglicanism,” and weave them in with the treasures of other traditions.
- The goal. The goal is to see a church planted, develop, mature, and reproduce. Yes this will take time. This is an untilled field. What will it take? A co-laborer with God who accepts His purging, loves the people he loves, derives her strength from him, loves and respects the culture here, And by word and example draws many to find the forgiveness and fatherly love through faith in Christ Jesus.
That’s how it works, and Mary is one of God’s skilled co-laborers.
Yours for your all whom He loves,