An interview with Cathy Hendrickson,
AFM’s Diocesan Outreach Coordinator.
Cathy, tell us about your first experience with missions.
Cathy: “Tom and I were missionaries in Tanzania from 1981-1984, jointly sponsored by the Episcopal Church and Goodwill Industries. Tom was the pastor to the English-speaking congregation at the cathedral in our diocese, and I planned and set up and managed a program for the whole diocese for people with disabilities. Our only child was age 11-14 during those years and had a lot of adventures of his own! Our final year in Tanzania he went to boarding school in Kenya, and if we had signed on for another three years we would only have seen him a few times a year, so we felt led to come back to the US.”
And how did you connect with AFM?
“When you come back from the mission field, your life is topsy-turvy as you try to reestablish a life back at home. I started a meaningful job in New York City with a lengthy commute. I really enjoyed it, but after 6 years my organization’s budget was cut and my work hours were decreased. A lot of my friends asked me, ‘Why don’t you get more involved in Christian ministry?’ So I began asking around and researching different Christian organizations that were involved in ministry. Tom and I went to Ambridge, PA, and I spoke to people in a number of different Episcopal evangelical organizations. We visited this fantastic couple who were pioneers of Episcopal missions- Walter and Louise Hannum- and they said, ‘You should call The Rev. Tad de Bordenave.’ So in 1995 I met Tad de Bordenave, and the rest, as they say, is history! In September of that year I met with Tad and Dr. Barrett, a world-renowned Christian scholar, who served on the early AFM board. As we discussed which people group the Lord would have me work with, Dr. Barrett said, ‘Amdo Tibetans’. I was almost speechless. I knew so little about Tibetans, but Dr. Barrett advocated that my work and life skills would serve those actually living among Tibetans. He said that I could be a strategy coordinator, humbly gathering information, prayers, missionaries, funds, tools with the aim that Amdo Tibetans would know Jesus and have the Church in their midst. Dr. Barrett prophesied, ‘It is God’s time for the Amdo’. I prayed, read, and said YES to God’s call to be a strategy coordinator for Amdo T Cathy Hendrickson ibetans. God called me to the Amdo Tibetans and I served in various ways. Fast forward to the present. Thanks to Almighty God and many Christian missionaries, there are now a number of Amdo-language churches in Asia. The New Testament is available in the Amdo dialect. The Amdo church is young, but has persevered through violent persecution. Amdo believers are maturing, witnessing brothers and sisters. I should also add that while I worked primarily with AFM for the Amdo that first year, one year later, Tom joined AFM as a strategy coordinator and was a very strong advocate and supporter of the Amdo. When the Lord moves in the heart of one partner He usually moves in the heart of the other, as well.”
How long have you and Tom been married?
“Tom and I are high school sweethearts. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary in June!”
Congratulations! Tell us about how the Lord is using you through your new role as AFM’s Diocesan Outreach Coordinator.
“My role is making sure that each diocese and their staff know about AFM. I’ve been reaching out to the dioceses around the US and Canada, asking if we could send an AFM representative to their annual synods. If we get permission to have an exhibit table, we send someone from AFM to help spread awareness of our ministry. I think it is important for all evangelical Anglicans to be informed about AFM, so that the Lord can, as He sees fit, call them to be cross-cultural workers, prayer warriors, financial donors, or all of the above.”
What are you most excited about with the diocesan outreach?
“Actually seeing progress made step by step. Reaching all the identified dioceses in the US- it’s a big goal! Little steps quickly take you to fulfilling that goal. You could be talking to a specific diocese, talking to the bishop, diocesan staff- many of them don’t know about AFM and they say, ‘Oh ok, send us info! You can have a booth! Please come share!’ It’s so encouraging, and people have been very gracious about this. What’s surprising is that there aren’t more people who say, ‘Oh yeah, we know AFM.’ But we are laying foundations for strong relationships with AFM.”
What words of encouragement do you have for our AFM family as they serve the Lord through prayer, financial support, short-term trips, and praying about a long-term call?
“God is sovereign, He is powerful, He is great, and He is good. If he puts an unreached people group on your heart, then pray, be active, be alert. God does his job! I have learned that God’s assignments are individualized for my and your unique personality and circumstances. When Jesus calls, He provides everything you need – wisdom, faith, resources, strength, people, and favor with the people you are reaching. AFM is there with guidance and resources to serve your unreached people group. If you’re part of the AFM family, presumably the Lord has called you to be involved with unreached people. And God is going to guide you and provide everything you need. If you’re working full time or taking care of children, God will multiply your time. I went back to working full-time not long after I received my call to be a strategy coordinator for the Amdo Tibetans. I worked long days and had a 3 hour daily commute. How did I do that? It was God’s Holy Spirit at work in my life.
If you’re reading an AFM newsletter or watching world news and you’re upset about a particular country or group of people, that’s probably God speaking to your heart- pray! Go online, go to the library, learn all about the people, and pray! Find out if there are people working with those people groups and pray for them. If God calls you, just go deeper- God will call and equip, we just have to be obedient and take the next step.”
AFM gives thanks to God for the years of faithful service that Cathy has given to His Kingdom through AFM. We join Cathy in her exhortation- is God calling you to take the next step in your journey to see His Kingdom advanced to the ends of the earth? As the Lord leads each of us into greater faithfulness to His high calling, pray and ask the Lord of the harvest how He can use you to bring His glory to the unreached people of the world.