Mission Service FAQs

Table of Contents

Adventist Frontier Missions FAQs

What is Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM)?

We are a church-planting mission agency operated by Seventh-day Adventist clergy and laymen. Our goal is to recruit, train, and send missionaries to pioneer new churches among groups of peole who have not yet been reached with the everlasting gospel.

Isn’t what AFM is doing already being done?

We work exclusively among groups of people where the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not yet have an established congregation of believers. So no, we are neither repeating nor competing with what is already being done. We are pioneering new mission work and only new work.

Is AFM starting new work where no other Christian agency is working, or just where there are no Seventh-day Adventists?

Both. Some of our projects are among peoples previously untouched by any Christian agency. Others are among groups where other Christian agencies may be at work but no Seventh-day Adventist work has previously been established.

Aren’t national workers better suited for this kind of work than expatriate missionaries, and more economical besides?

By definition, there are no churches in an unreached people group and, therefore, no indigenous workers. Further, working for any unreached people group is cross-cultural ministry, no matter who does it. AFM seeks to send missionaries where there is great need for any gospel worker. In some cases, a national worker form elsewhere in the region may be better suited to cross the cultural barriers, but not always. Barriers of tribalism, racism, and prejudice that exist between neighboring groups are often greater than the barriers of language and culture that exist between groups separated by half the globe. After our missionaries have identified a unique worldview approach to evangelizing the local people, they intentionally train nationals within that people group to continue the vibrant church-planting movement long after the missionary is gone.

What is AFM’s relationship with the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

From the very beginning, AFM has worked closely with the church at all levels. We greatly value the assistance and guidance provided by church leaders. We appreciate the positive working relationships AFM has with leaders and fellow missionaries around the world. It is our goal to plant Seventh-day Adventist churches, so we cooperate with church leadership. We only work where we have signed agreements with Adventist field leadership.

What is the source of AFM’s funding, and do you accept tithe?

We are entirely supported by the contributions of dedicated Christians and organizations who firmly believe in missions. We appreciate the spirit of sacrifice exhibited by our supporters and their desire to see God’s work go forward among the unreached. We do not knowingly accept tithe funds.

Is AFM financially accountable?

Adventist Frontier Missions is thoroughly committed to providing faithful stewardship of the funds our committed partners have entrusted to us for the planting of churches in unreached people groups. We are fully aware of the sacrifices our partners make as they give, and we faithfully commit to using their gifts wisely. AFM engages in full financial accountability by having our records audited by an outside accounting firm. A financial report of this audit, listing income and expenses, is available from our office.

General Mission Service FAQs

I don’t know how to be a missionary. Is there training?

Yes! AFM provides training at our training center in Berrien Springs Michigan. For Student and Short Term Missionaries, this is a 4-week intensive from mid-July to mid-August. For Career Missionaries, training lasts 3 months beginning in mid-May. Visit the training section of our website for more information.

What will I be doing on a day to day basis?

That depends on where you go. We have a list of calls for a wide range of jobs and skill sets. Your primary goal is always to make friends for the Kingdom, share the Good News with the people around you, and help to start a church planting movement in your local people group, so your job will be geared toward facilitating those opportunities.

What does the application process look like?

The first step to service is to fill out our preliminary interest form so we know you would like to be a missionary. If you’d like to learn more about the application process, here are descriptions of the full application process for each call type:

I want to be a student or short-term missionary. Can my friend come with me?

Yes, so long as both you and your friend apply with AFM and are accepted to serve as student missionaries (SMs). However, we cannot guarantee that you will both be sent to the same location.

Do we really have to fundraise to cover our costs for our upcoming time in the mission field?

Yes. Although fundraising might seem daunting at first, many missionaries talk about how much of a blessing the fundraising process can be to them, their families, and their support team. Fundraising is not just about raising funds — it is about building a support team that will pray for you, encourage you, and help you through your entire missionary experience. In turn, you are giving them an opportunity to participate in foreign missions and allowing more people to join in the Great Commission who perhaps are not able to go to the mission field themselves at this point in their lives.

How much will it cost me to go?

We at AFM recognize that the cost of being a missionary often entails sacrifices of time and value that aren’t easily quantifiable. Those costs are out of our hands. In monetary terms, the cost depends on how long you plan to serve. If you are applying as a Career Missionary, your monetary launch goal varies depending on location. If you are applying as a Student (SM) or Short-term Missionary (STM), the costs are fixed according to the following scale (these costs are for those applying for their first service cycle with AFM. Costs are reduced for individuals applying for a 2nd service cycle, and those costs will be shared upon request for those who are apply for their 2nd service cycle):

  • NAD SM: $5,500
  • Non-NAD SM: $6,500
  • NAD STM: $12,900
  • Non-NAD STM: $13,900

You build a support team to cover these costs, and this covers essential travel, training, and living costs while you serve with AFM.

For a more detailed and personalized explanation, please contact our office at service@afmonline.org.

I’m in the middle of my educational experience. How can I get my school loan deferred for the year?

If you are attending an SDA university, you should enroll in their SM program in addition to applying through AFM. Your school will help you with loan deferment. If you are attending another university, AFM would be happy to provide you the necessary letter to get your loan deferred while you serve with us. If you do not qualify for loan deferment and are worried about what to do with your school loans while serving, please contact our office at service@afmonline.org for a more personalized answer.

What kind of support do missionaries have once they get to their field of service?

Student, short-term, and platinum missionaries will be serving under experienced career missionaries who will help them get used to their living conditions, answer questions, and support them during their time of service. The career missionaries are grateful for the assistance that these workers provide and are happy to help when and where they can.

Missionaries have the support of not only employees at the home office in Berrien Springs, MI, but also field directors (supervisors). These field directors visit the project once or twice a year, are available to assist with logistical and other questions, and support the missionaries in their day-to-day operations. You can think of our field directors as missionaries to the missionaries! The field directors and all field workers are also supported by our international field director, who overseas all field operations.

I want to be a missionary, but I don’t see an open opportunity for the country or people group where I want to go serve. What should I do?

Please get in contact with us via our email address, service@afmonline.org, so that we can talk to you and learn about your desire to reach unreached people groups. It may be that we can still send you to that country or people group, or we may discover together that you are being called to another country or people group altogether.

Does AFM require vaccinations?

Certain vaccinations, yes, based on the project location. AFM works with qualified personnel from Loma Linda University School of Medicine to develop a list of vaccinations that are necessary or prudent to obtain before going to the field for the safety of the missionaries and the local people they serve. We do require that all AFM missionaries adhere to this policy.

Currently, AFM does not require the COVID-19 vaccination for international travel or service.

My question isn’t answered here. How can I get an answer?

We are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to e-mail us at service@afmonline.org.

COVID-19 FAQs for Potential Student Missionaries (SMs)

Preface: Adventist Frontier Missions is dedicated to taking the Gospel to those who would otherwise have no chance to hear it. In the midst of the current pandemic, AFM is taking every precaution to preserve the safety of our missionaries, both long-term and short-term, while still endeavoring to share God’s love and plan of salvation with people who are struggling through life without Him. The following are some answers to questions we have received concerning Student Missionary service in light of COVID-19.

Is AFM still sending out SMs?

Yes, AFM is still recruiting and sending out SMs. The uncertainty of these times has made people around the world more eager for the Truth. The Gospel must go to every nation, tribe, language and people.

Does AFM have SMs in the field during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, there are many SMs from the US, South Africa and Brazil currently serving at AFM projects around the world.

What happened to all the SMs who were in the field when the COVID-19 pandemic began?

Everyone was offered the option to return home. Most have chosen to remain in the field at their projects. AFM worked hard to bring everyone home that wanted to come back, and, with a lot of prayer and a few small miracles at airports, this was accomplished.

Was AFM able to launch the student missionaries that wanted to serve in the 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 service terms?

Yes! Several student missionaries had to be moved to different projects, but nearly every student missionary was able to be sent to the field and serve, even during the global pandemic.

Is AFM still recruiting SMs who can launch in August-September 2023?

Yes, God willing. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting flights and visas worldwide, but AFM is still recruiting SMs to launch in August-September 2023. Training is scheduled to begin in Berrien Springs, MI, in July 2023.

How will training work?

Our hope is that training will take place in Michigan as normal, and that all SMs will be able to attend in person. However, we recognize that the COVID-19 situation is ever-changing. Should in-person training be impossible, an alternative curriculum will be held online via Zoom.

What will happen if I can’t launch in August-September 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

You will have a number of options.

  • A. You can re-enroll in your regular college classes for another full academic year. If you take this option, AFM will hold your funds so you can launch in August-September 2024 as a regular SM, only 1 year later than planned.
  • B. You could re-enroll in your regular college classes through December 2023, and assuming global travel is functional again, attend SM training in S Africa in January 2024, and launch to your chosen project in early February 2024. You can stay at this project through June, August or December 2024, depending on when you need to return to re-enroll in your college classes.
  • C. You could decide to re-enroll in your regular college classes, and let AFM know that you will not be able to launch in the future due to personal commitments and plans. AFM will utilize the funds you have raised to support other SMs who are seeking to launch, but will not divert those funds to another ministry.

Can I expect to serve at one of my desired AFM projects?

Answer: Most likely. Every year, AFM does its best to ensure you can serve at one of the 3 projects you listed on your application. Most SMs do serve at one of their 3 preferred projects. However, there are a wide variety of relevant factors that are beyond our control, e.g. sudden political instability in a country, unexpected visa restrictions, or local disease outbreaks (e.g. the Ebola outbreak in Guinea in 2014). If a change needs to be made, the final decision will be made in consultation with you during your training program.

I am struggling to make a decision whether to serve or not. What should I do?

Pray. When Jesus gave the Gospel Commission, He knew that His disciples would be sent into a world hostile to the Gospel. He knew the Gospel would go forth to places of the world where there would be profound personal hardship, war, poverty, social distress, disease outbreaks, political breakdown and religious hostility. Yet, the Gospel Commission was still given. If you never attempt great things for God, you can never expect great things from God. So, prayerfully consider the matter, apply in faith, and see how God works for you and through you in ways that you have never experienced before.

If you have more questions, please contact us at service@afmonline.org.

Questions that Parents of Student Missionaries Commonly Ask

Dear Parents,

Thank you for lending your child to the Lord for frontier mission service. We are very grateful for the commitment that you and your child have made in taking the gospel to unreached people groups. We know that this represents a sacrifice for you and them, and we want to acknowledge that this is in response to the sacrifice made by Jesus on Calvary.

Below are some questions that parents often ask. We hope they will help encourage as you pray for your child and the people that they are serving in the coming service term.

If you have any questions or if there is something we can do to help you, please do not hesitate to contact us at service@afmonline.org. Please know that your child is in our prayers.


John Baxter,
Father of two student missionaries and director of Human Resources

What do the terms Student Missionary (SM) and Short-term Missionary (STM) mean?

  • Student Missionary (SM) – Anyone who has been a student within the past twelve months.
  • Short-term Missionary (STM) – Singles or married couples without children who are not students and who will serve 1-2 years at a project.

When will my child be leaving and for how long?

All SM/STMs are required to attend a month-long, cross-cultural training here at the AFM Training Center in Berrien Springs, Michigan, from mid-July to mid-August.  They will return home, generally for 2-3 weeks, before launching to the field.  Depending on the call, they return from the field nine to twelve months later.

Will my child be able to come home for Christmas or any other special event, such as a wedding or the death of a grandparent?

SM/STMs spend the entire term in the field, including the holiday season. If some emergency requires a trip home, the SM/STM should seek permission from their supervising missionaries before making travel arrangements. Any such travel is considered personal expense.

Who is watching out for my child while they are overseas?

All of our SM/STMs are sent to places where Career Missionaries are serving.  The SM/STM may be living on their own, or with other SM/STMs of the same gender, or with a trusted national family. The Career Missionaries closely oversee their work and are available for counsel. Additionally, Field Directors live in the same country or a neighboring country and oversee the Career Missionaries, making a trip to their project at least once each term and dealing with any issues that may arise. Of course, we are thankful that God Himself watches over each of us.

Will I be able to communicate with my child while they are overseas?

In most locations cell phone service and internet is available and affordable.  Because of the remoteness of some of our projects, cell phone reception is only randomly available, and internet is only available on an as-needed basis.

Can I send care packages to my child while they are overseas?

By all means, please send letters and gifts to your child while they are serving on the frontiers. The SM/STM has been given the mailing address for their location with mailing instructions specific to that project. Letters are most likely to arrive at their destination, and in most locations carefully planned packages will arrive intact, although at times packages might not make it to the project. If your child is serving in a “creative access” location, we may have specific, cautionary counsel for you when sending parcels. Please contact the office if you need a copy of these instructions.

What kind of insurance does AFM have?

AFM provides health insurance for SM/STMs while in the field, beginning the day they launch up until they time they leave the project and return home. This accident/illness policy has a $2,500 deductible and AFM covers an additional 75% beyond what the health insurance policy covers. Dental and optical are not covered for SM/STMs.

What happens if my child becomes seriously ill or is injured while overseas?

In the rare event that an SM/STM becomes seriously ill or injured, they would be taken to the appropriate hospital for treatment. Suitable hospitals have already been identified. If more extensive treatment is required, they would be flown home.

I heard that many AFM missionaries get malaria. Isn’t malaria deadly?

With modern medicine, malaria is not a life-threatening disease. SM/STMs going to locations where malaria is common have been instructed on precautionary measures and told which preventative medications to use, greatly reducing the severity and duration of the disease should they become ill.

Are immunizations absolutely required for missionaries going out with AFM?

AFM requires certain immunizations for every missionary and each project has their own list of required immunizations based on CDC recommendations. These required immunizations are non-negotiable for service with AFM.

Can I go visit my child while they are overseas?

Parents are welcome to visit their child overseas. We ask that you adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. The SM/STM must discuss the plans and receive approval from their supervising Career Missionaries before making arrangements. The SM/STM would be expected to take vacation days while their parents visit them.
  2. The Career Missionary should not be expected to make any of the travel or boarding arrangements.
  3. The family member should not stay more than a few days at the project site, and the timing should be such as to disrupt the project as little as possible.

My child is going to a “creative access” project. Why is a pen name needed?

Anyone serving at a “creative access” project is required to choose a pen name for use in our magazine and online. The missionary will use their own name in the country where they serve, but when their articles are printed in the magazine or on the internet, they will be listed by their pen name. This preserves the project’s private nature and allows us to report missionary activity without associating it with the project (which also goes by a pen name) or with the SM/STM directly.

What can I say or what shouldn’t I say when communicating with my child in a “creative access country”?

The SM/STMs at “creative access” projects are known to the nationals as Volunteers. You may freely refer to their work as volunteers, but you should avoid all words referring to specific Christian jargon, missions, or evangelistic activity. You may contact the office for further instructions regarding appropriate words to use.

My child is going to work among Muslims. What about terrorism?

SM/STMs are not sent to areas deemed inordinately risky. Sadly, the US has far too much violence, especially in urban areas. The safest place for you or your child to be is in the center of God’s will.

What if it becomes unsafe in the area where my child is serving?

In the event that the area where an SM/STM is serving becomes seriously unstable, the Career Missionaries will notify the office. You would then be notified of the possibility of danger. In the event an area becomes legitimately dangerous, all SM/STMs will be evacuated immediately, probably to a neighboring country until things settle down. All of our projects have emergency evacuation plans developed for their location.

How much will this cost? What are the out-of-pocket expenses for our family?

The fundraising goals cover every part of training and service except the following:

  1. Such immunizations as are required here in the States (i.e. Tetanus, etc.) are also required by AFM and are the SM/STMs personal expense. Such immunizations that apply to the project specifically (i.e. Yellow Fever) are covered by AFM. (Please refer to the Info Guide sent to your child).
  2. A health clearance must be performed and signed by the SM/STMs doctor, and fees incurred will be the responsibility of the SM/STM.
  3. The cost of obtaining a passport is the responsibility of the SM/STM. The cost of the immigration documents required by the SM/STM for there project (visa, etc.) are considered AFM’s responsibility.
  4. Their stipend is adequate to cover all necessities (food, shelter, personal amenities, etc.). Any money for souvenirs, travel, or additional spending money is the responsibility of the SM/STM.

If I can cover the entire cost myself, why does my child have to fundraise?

Fundraising is not merely for monetary support; supporters are asked to pray for the SM/STM and the people they will serve. This prayer support is crucial for the success of the mission. The process of fundraising is also a lesson in faith to the outgoing SM/STMs preparing them for subsequent experiences in the field which will require faith in God’s provision.

All AFM Missionaries must raise their own funds. No one party, including relatives, is allowed to provide more than 40% of the SM/STMs total fundraising goal.

What if my child has student loans?

Most student loans may be deferred (put on hold) for a year while the “student” is overseas for humanitarian purposes. If the SM/STM attends an NAD SDA College, they should talk to the Student Financial Services Department at their school. We are happy to write a letter on behalf of the SM/STM to ensure that their loans are deferred during their term of service.

Won’t my child get behind in their studies and suffer academically because of a missed school year?

Living in another country and serving cross-culturally is an education that cannot be gained any other way. We in the office have often said, “We send them out boys and girls, and they come back men and women.” Your child will still have to complete the year of school they put on hold in order to go overseas, but this will not reduce the amount or quality of education received.

What if my child “falls in love” with a national or fellow student missionary and I do not approve?

AFM has a strict “no dating” policy for all SM/STMs in their first year of service. The Career Missionaries monitor this, and the SM/STMs know they will be sent home if non-compliant. Unfortunately, we have had to send a few young people home. For the safety of the projects with various cultural differences to consider, the distraction to the ministry and the SM/STMs themselves, and the impossibility of policing “innocent relationships” at all times, the policy is strictly enforced.

If my child backs out of their commitment, can we get the money back?

During the application process, we ask all SM/STMs to make a firm commitment before God and to AFM before their acceptance as missionaries. If for some reason an SM/STM backs out of this commitment after they have been voted by the HRC and have started fundraising, we cannot legally refund any of the funds to the SM/STM due to IRS regulations and our status as a not-for-profit organization.