We heart this new, ongoing series–a virtual trip to the coffee shop with organizations to help you go there, serve Him, and love them even better. (For more thoughts about why you might join an agency–and a handful of reasons you might not–make sure to check out He Said/She Said/You Say? “Should I go overseas with an organization?”, both the pros and the cons.)
Today, we’re grabbing a pumpkin spice latte (of course) with Avant Ministries.
TELL US WHAT YOUR AGENCY SPECIALIZES IN. WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
More than 2 billion people still need to hear the gospel.
That is why Avant exists.
Through church planting, church support ministries, media, education, camp and business, we hope to establish churches among the unreached: mature, nationally-led churches that desire to plant more churches, first in their own city, and then all over the world.
HOW LONG has Avant BEEN AROUND, AND HOW LARGE ARE YOU GUYS? IN WHAT COUNTRIES ARE YOUR GLOBAL WORKERS LOCATED?
Since 1892, Avant Ministries has focused on planting and developing the church in the unreached areas of the world.
Avant currently serves in 50 countries around the world with more than 500 missionaries. We have missionaries throughout Central and Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
TELL US ONE STORY THAT EXCITES YOU FROM WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION IS DOING.
One of our teams in Asia uses business as a way to build relationships. And it’s leading to gospel conversations like this one our team member encountered with “Nimpha”. He writes,
“Nimpha” is a mid-30s professional here in South East Asia. She’s grew up surrounded by the ancestral traditions that most families practice here. Last fall, she began working for a foreign-run NGO that also employs several like-minded people. Their disposition towards life and work impressed her, so she decided to join the Alpha Course that started in February.
She’s a perfect fit for how the course is designed: curious and seeking, but still slightly guarded and skeptical. Initially, she was quiet, but she began asking more and more questions as the weeks went on.
She consistently asked the best (and hardest) questions, and seemed equally interested in and confused by what we talked about. She was among the first to sign up for Beta as Alpha was drawing to a close.
Just as our study was about to start, a huge thunderstorm rolled over the city and prevented almost everyone from coming, save 5 of us who met together, one of whom was Nimpha. I began by reading Paul’s letter to Colossians 1:15-20, which opened the conversation wide up!
Over the next hour and a half, the seekers asked question after question, each more earnest than the last. They asked, how we can genuinely be hopeful? What do we do when life is difficult? How does the Father actually comfort us in those times? Why do we care so much about sharing our hope with other people? How Jesus has tangibly affected our lives?
My co-leader and I got to witness to the person and nature of our hope for almost 2 hours! Towards the end, I could see Nimpha smiling and holding back tears. I asked her, “Do you want to follow Jesus tonight?” She said, “Not quite yet, but I do want the hope you have. Maybe soon.”
The other participant echoed her sentiment. At the end of the evening, we talked to our Father for a moment.
When we finished, she told us, “I thanked Him that both of you decided to come in the rain tonight and that we had a really good conversation.”
5 WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR ORGANIZATION’S CULTURE. GO.
LET’S TALK BRASS TACKS. GIVE US THE 411 ON YOUR APPLICATION AND TRAINING PROCESS.
Obviously, cross-cultural service is a peculiar and demanding task. We want to make sure our members are as prepared as possible to handle normal facets of life while living in a foreign context; that they have an “eyes wide open” view of what they are about to do.
We’d want to see patterns of life from our applicants having already shown a proficiency to contextualize and share the gospel and the ability to adjust to environments that are often filled with change and the need to be flexible.
Once a candidate completes the application process, they receive training stateside to prepare them for overseas ministry.
Ongoing mentorship opportunities are available when they arrive on the field.
WHAT KIND OF GLOBAL WORKERS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR at Avant? PAINT US A WORD PICTURE.
While what matters to us most is your church, your call, and your doctrinal alignment, there’s this idea called the ‘Avant Mindset’ that we’re always looking for. It’s characterized by constant tension. Avant people are confident, but it’s a confidence rooted in God’s promises and checked by our humble awareness of weakness. Avant people are urgent about planting churches, but it’s checked by a patience rooted in prayer. We take risks, we persevere, we’re committed, and adaptable. These are the kind of learners we’re looking for, too.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER “RED FLAGS” IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
It can be concerning when someone pursues missions with no experience or engagement with people from other contexts/cultures. And it’s often tricky when someone expresses a “call” to missions from a place of isolation and no experience of life in another culture with no affirmation in this type of ministry from the people that are closest to them.
We appreciate when close friends, family members and the local church have seen flexibility and other character traits and a propensity towards missions/cross cultural church planting and can affirm God’s calling on their life.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING IN AN OVERSEAS DIRECTION?
Talk to your church leaders and “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Talking to your church leaders prevents you from moving forward on faulty foundations like youthful ambition and Messianic complexes. Letting others speak into your weaknesses with spiritual authority is a surety when stepping into the volatile life of a missionary.
Secondly, don’t think you’ll do something overseas that you wouldn’t do in your own environment.
If you’re acting as an ambassador for Christ now, we urge you to consider those with no church or missionary.