You may have heard it said, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Missionary success is built on a similar truth: “Behind every great missionary is a great team.”
The AFM recruiting department staff are the first members of this team that most missionaries will meet. By raising awareness about the unreached and illustrating the need for missionaries to go to the 10/40 Window, the recruitment team opens up new possibilities to people who might want to be part of missions but maybe weren’t sure what their next step should be. This department also interviews potential missionaries and helps them through the application process.
After AFM orientation, missionary interests are officially accepted as new missionary candidates, and it is the AFM development department team’s turn to help them in the next stage of their adventure. We spend the last half of the orientation week training missionary candidates to raise their support team and helping them learn how to develop and deepen those relationships.
Now comes one of the most important stages in the missionary journey—actually building a support team. Each one of you who commits to being part of the team becomes an integral part of the mission. Without you, no missionary would ever leave their home country.
As the support team grows and the donations start coming in, they are processed by our AFM receptionist and accounting staff. Each envelope must be opened, the donation processed and entered into the accounting system. Our mailroom clerk sends out receipts for each gift. Imagine the time and effort required of each missionary if they had to do this on their own!
When fundraising is complete, the missionaries are now ready for AFM training. This is a three-month summer intensive in which missionaries learn frontline medicine, language and culture acquisition, how to develop a plan to reach their target group with the gospel, and dozens of other things that will enable their ministry in the field. These classes are taught by our training, development, communications, and finance department staff, of them seeking to start each missionary out on the right foot.
When AFM training is over, you would think the work is done and the missionaries are ready to launch, but it isn’t that easy. There are passport, visa and work-permit details to work out, along with medical screenings, vaccinations and travel arrangements. These myriad details are handled by the HR assistant.
Finally, our missionaries are officially ready to launch. As they head out to the mission frontier, our AFM office team stays in motion to make sure they are supported and successful. When they send back field reports, each article is edited, proofed, laid out and published by our communications staff. Our videographer travels to various projects to record and share a firsthand look at what is going on. Our mailroom clerk sends out newsletters to each missionary’s support team. The finance department continues to process their donations and transfer funds to each project on time. Field directors provide pastoral and logistical support and strategic guidance to missionaries, interfacing with the home office, Adventist Church leadership and civil authorities.
The Three Bricklayers
In 1666 after the devastating Great Fire of London, world-famous architect Christopher Wren was commissioned to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral. One day Wren noticed three bricklayers on a scaffold. One was crouched over, and one was half-standing. The third was standing up straight, and he was outperforming the other two. “What are you doing?’ Wren asked the first man.
“I am a bricklayer. I am laying bricks so I can feed my family,” he replied.
Looking at the second, Wren repeated his question. “I am a builder, so I am building this wall,” the man replied.
Finally, Wren turned to the third man who was obviously the most industrious and meticulous of the group, and he asked his question a third time. With a twinkle in his eye, the man turned to him and said, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral for my Creator.”
On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like sitting at a desk all day running reports, making sure newsletters get out on time, opening the mail and processing donations is the cutting edge of missions. And as a missionary support team member, it can be tempting to think that your donations and prayers might not count for much. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Like the cathedral builder, we can choose to see beyond the day-to-day details and know we are part of the missionary team that is reaching the unreached for the kingdom.
Yes, we need people to go, but they need an office and leadership team behind them taking care of the myriad of behind-the-scenes details that have to be done, and a dedicated support team to bless their work with resources and prayers.
When you give to the AFM Go Fund, you support the people and processes that enable missionaries to go. Thank you for making their ministry possible.