STRATEGY: Case Study: AIMS, WICHITA 1998
Steve Miller has recently been appointed USA Staff Director for the Association of International Mission Services. I had the pleasure of visiting him at his office in Wichita last December to learn more about his mobilization work. He's the only full-time staff there at the office, so he relies on a network of volunteers to help him, even including some of the high school students at the church-run school where his office is located. The church is planning to expand its educational offerings to a college degree-completion program, and Steve was excited about teaching a missions course as part of that curriculum (He's already teaching Bible and Missions in the High School)!
One of Steve's dreams is to build a solid network of mission pastors for the Wichita area. He has held some prayer meetings in the past towards this end, but he is planning to start a newsletter and lead a short-term trip specifically designed for pastors this Summer. Steve's approach is mostly to help volunteer mobilizers around the U.S. to develop their vision for missions. He mentioned helping a man in Texas who is developing a manual on using Short Term mission to mobilize a church, and Steve also introduced me to a local painter who has a vision for starting a radio mobilization program.
Another volunteer project Steve has been involved in is called The WICHITA INDIA PROJECT. A group of missions-minded congregations across denominational lines came together under the leadership of Larry Wren to adopt a region of India, through the ministry of the INDIA GOSPEL LEAGUE and its national director, Samuel Stephens. Samuel's work was known by a number of churches in the Wichita area through his representative in the U.S., Donna Thomas and her agency, PROJECT PARTNER. The 3-year goal of the effort is to combine prayer, short term visits, and financial gifts to underwrite a $225,000 budget, that would saturate the Periyar region of Tamil Nadu in South India, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Two years into the project, Samuel Stephens reports to the 16 churches in the Wichita India Project (WIP), that the region is approximately 60% saturated with the gospel. Participating churches select a key contact person who is responsible to meet 3-4 times a year with other "key contacts" for coordination and reporting, and then to keep their church informed and praying for the project. Part of the budget provides funds for a part-time Director in Wichita who is hired by a steering committee from WIP, to coordinate the churches involved in the project. Once a year, WIP hosts a special evening of praise and celebration where Samuel comes from India to speak, and interested new churches are invited to hear about the work and join, along with others who are already partners. Churches can participate at any level financially, depending upon their size and interest.
The project is particularly appealing to Wichita churches because it is a 3-year program providing an opportunity for involvement but also with a time for closure. The project has also been attractive to churches because the U.S. agency (Project Partner) and the national worker, Samuel Stephens, have demonstrated credibility and were known quantities to some of the key churches involved. People were also attracted to the opportunity for a group of diverse churches committed to missions from all over the city, to come together to accomplish something significant for Jesus Christ, in a specific geographical region of India.
If anyone is interested in contacting Steve and/or AIMS, his email address is <steveAIMS@aol.com>