Twenty years of constant change. That’s one way I could describe my experience with MAF.
Over the years, Tanya and I have moved many times, living in nine different countries. That’s a lot of change! But more importantly, the world and this ministry have drastically changed.
• Christianity looks different than it did just decades ago. It’s no longer a majority European and North American religion. Early in the 20th century, two-thirds of the world’s Christians were in Europe. Now, only 25 percent are European, and nearly as many live in Africa.1 This means that past missionary efforts are bearing fruit. It also affects the way we “do missions” as MAF serves fewer western missionaries and supports more local evangelists and teachers ministering among their own people.
• Antagonism toward Christianity is on the rise. Even as Christianity grows and spreads, so do ideologies that are hostile to our faith. And this hostility isn’t just in Asia and Africa. Even in America, those who embrace secularism and atheism look with distain upon followers of Jesus.
• The internet and mobile technology have changed how we communicate, do business, and minister. Rather than living in isolation, today’s missionaries remain connected to their families, friends, and ministry organizations. Some post their experiences online, even daily! Likewise, such electronic communication is an exciting tool for sharing the Gospel in the remote areas of the world.
• Aviation tools have also changed. The larger, more advanced airplanes available today permit MAF to operate much more efficiently and effectively. Modern technology, combined with MAF’s internal safety standards, allows the ministry to operate with a high level of safety.
• A new generation has assumed leadership at MAF. The “pioneer” MAF missionaries have moved on, leaving big shoes to fill. MAF’s current leadership team must develop mission strategies in a world that is more “global” in the sense that what happens in one place can immediately impact others. More than ever, mission organizations must work in partnership to most effectively build God’s kingdom.
Amid this rapid change, I take comfort in knowing that one thing will never change: our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don’t need to fear the inconsistency in this world because He is there to provide comfort, guidance, and rest for our souls. His Great Commission is still relevant and it’s exciting to think about the miracles and transformation that will be seen and experienced by the next generation of MAF missionaries.
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
1 Pew Research: Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population. http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/
Thank you John for your insight into the changes and the “constant” of our Christ focused and led ministries!