An Avenue to the World

igo-board-2004_1In the late nineteen eighties our family struggled with the question of terminating our role as pastor of the Kitchi Pines Church in Blackduck, Minnesota. We had ministered for about twelve years to the local congregation there. We felt the Lord confirmed our transition to administer at the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute through the account of Paul setting up a training ministry in a school owed by Tyrannus. This scripture also confirmed what the ultimate outcome should be for any educational ministry. Luke records that as the disciples (students) were separated for training they were also diffused into the entire area so that after two years “all they that which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord.” This confirmed that the primary goal of our time at the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute would need to focus on preparing students to take the gospel to world.

For the past twenty-three years we have had the privilege of continuing to perpetrate and build upon the evangelistic emphasis of those that preceded us. During this time the World Awareness Training in Evangelistic Responsibility (WATER) program was commenced as an added training possibility. The WATER program has been used by the Lord to give hundreds of youth a taste of mission life. A significant number of these have returned to spend a portion of their lives in foreign mission work.

Along with laboring in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, we contemplate the potential of taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world. This is what has prompted the idea of the Institute of Global Opportunities (IGo). The uttermost parts are no more crucial in evangelism than the next door neighbor but they are not as accessible and attended to by fewer. In far too many situations we have sent people to these far-away locations who were ill-prepared to take up the leadership of emerging church that resulted from their ministry. This can happen as a result of either a lack of preparation and training or training that is too removed from the realities of the particular mission setting. It is important that we unite training and ministry as much as possible. Often, when we leave the “book learning” phase of mission work, we discover that there are questions we wish we could bring back to the teacher, the mentor and/or the classroom.

God has raised up eight brethren with a burden and vision for a “hands on” training ministry that is located on the foreign field. Each of these brethren have spent a significant portion of their lives on the mission field, almost all of them have taught in Bible schools or institutes, and all but one have had pastoral experience in church leadership. It is their burden to provide an avenue for members of conservative Anabaptist churches to impact the world with the message of the Kingdom. They are committed, by their experience in missions, to taking the gospel to all people, and by their experience in church leadership, to keeping that message Biblical and uncompromised. This is the heart of IGo!

Our goal is to call the Pauls as well as the Timothys to be involved in the harvest field. In too many situations the Timothys have the vision for ministry and are sent to do mission work with no Pauls available or, even worse, the Pauls are called home to leave the Timothys to struggle alone. IGo is an opportunity to take the student and the teacher to the mission field where they learn and labor together. Asia is home to so many countries, cultures, and religions. The opportunities are countless! While this ministry will be located in Asia, it is designed to prepare missionaries to go to any continent. The early church sent their leaders to the foreign fields. Paul set aside his leadership at Antioch and took the youthful Timothy with him to plant churches in Asia. On one of those trips, Paul set up the school referred to previously. This account illustrates the first ministry goal of IGo. That goal is stated this way:

IGo purposes to create a passageway for conservative Anabaptist people from the West to become involved in missions. Whether God calls the individuals to minister in Asia or elsewhere, this training will give him/her a life impacting vision for people groups all over the world. Bible, missions, and doctrine classes will interface and alternate with field experience in each term of the Institute.

In our next issue of this newsletter we will further develop and explain the ministry tracks of IGo. We beg for your prayers as the foundations of this organization continue to be laid.

By Val Yoder, IGo Administrator (I Witness News/Fall 2004)

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