For nearly sixty years Bethany International (BI) has existed to delight God’s heart and extend his kingdom by training and sending servant leaders to disciple the world’s least-reached people. It was founded in 1948 by five families with a vision to send one hundred missionaries to the field; this goal was accomplished in 1974. Since then Bethany has trained more than seven hundred missionaries who have served in over seventy-five nations with various agencies around the world. The Lord has continued to expand Bethany’s vision and methods for reaching the world with the gospel of Christ.
A Paradigm Shift in Missions
In the mid 1990s many church leaders in the developing world began to experience a God-inspired paradigm shift. Nations which had long been missionary receiving nations began to understand their mandate to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by mobilizing their own people for cross-cultural missions. God birthed a desire to mobilize for action when research indicated that there were many unreached people groups in their own backyards who were still untouched by the gospel.
Kenya is an example of this. In 1997 delegates to the Global Congress on World Evangelization were challenged with the need to reach the many unreached people groups in their own countries. Kenyan leaders joined together to form Finish The Task/ AfriServe (FTT), an indigenous mission organization, to mobilize the Kenyan Church. While participating in the first FTT missions conference in April 1998, Dan Germo from Bethany International shared his vision with a few key leaders for raising up a missions movement within the Kenyan Church. The Kenyan leadership extended an invitation to Dan and his wife Nancy to come alongside the Kenyan Church to help with the development of missions mobilization, training and sending. The Germos moved to Nairobi in January 1999, and together with the Kenyan leaders started the FTT School of Missions in February 2000. This began one of Bethany International’s most fruitful partnerships.
Kenya is only one of many nations that has experienced this missions shift. Although many national churches have been preparing pastors and Christian leaders for decades, they recognized a gap in their understanding and ability to train for cross-cultural missions. Africa has many Bible schools that send out missionaries; sadly, missionary attrition is high due to a lack of contextually relevant cross-cultural and missions preparation. Through Bethany’s involvement in Kenya and with the World Evangelical Alliance—Missions Commission, we began to receive invitations from many parts of the world to come and help navigate the process of starting and developing sustainable missionary training programs.
As former missionaries and mission educators, Dr. John Kayser and Rev. Paul Strand began to answer these invitations to mentor church leaders in missions training. They began to meet a felt need within national churches and effect a significant mobilization movement to prepare non-Western missionaries to reap a global harvest.
The year 1995 was a turning point in the history of BI when GlobeServe, an international mission initiative, was born with eight international partners. BI’s Tim Freeman spearheaded the movement to further the cause of reaching the least evangelized of the world.
GO100 Vision and Missionary Training Schools
In 2002, out of this initiative, the GO100 vision of starting one hundred Missionary Training Schools (MTS) around the world by the year 2012 was birthed. These Missionary Training Schools were to be equipped with the resources and expertise needed to train missionaries to reach the least-reached peoples of the world. Of the twenty-three invitations that GO100 has received from sub-Saharan Africa alone, we are currently working in sixteen of those nations.
The GlobeServe Training Consultancy (GTC), which is comprised of training consultants from among its partners, was formed to assist with the development of training schools. We continue to ask God to bring effective missions educators and consultants to meet the needs of GO100’s expanding opportunities around the world. So far GlobeServe has been blessed in establishing new schools in places such as Malawi, Cambodia, Nigeria and India.
GO100 Vision and Training of Trainers
Since 2002 GlobeServe’s strategy has evolved to include the development of Training of Trainers (TOT) programs. The strategic TOT programs train experienced national missionary leaders to become trainers of other missionaries. In 1994 Bethany International University (BIU), the BI-pioneered school in Singapore (established 1988), began training national leaders from around the world to establish new missionary training schools. This model is now being used to multiply effective missionary training in Asia and Africa.
GO100 Vision and Hubs
Another important component of the GO100 vision is the development of regional mission resource centers (Hubs). As the vision advanced, GlobeServe realized that its own consultants could not carry the workload by themselves, thus the need for several strategically-placed Hubs. These serve to mobilize missionaries, develop mission training schools, extend sending structures and facilitate the training network in a given linguistic or cultural region, such as Anglophone Africa. Each Hub will help build a regional network of schools designed to empower national leaders to mobilize, train and send missionaries. This decentralizes the task of starting one hundred new missionary training centers.
In the past two years GlobeServe has established Hubs in India, Cambodia and Indonesia. In February 2006 the East Africa Regional Hub was launched in Nairobi. The goal is to start ten Hubs by 2008 and it is estimated that these Hubs will generate one hundred missionary training programs by 2012.
Understanding the Task
Missionary training schools, training of trainers programs and Hubs are important; however, these are not our ultimate goals. Our goal is not programs, but people—the least reached people of the world. Bethany International and GlobeServe are committed to the vision that the Lord has given us to reach those who have never had the chance to hear, understand and respond to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
We have been delighted to see the Lord bring the fruit through partners like the Ethiopian Kale Haywet Church. Bethany International University in Singapore trained their faculty and trainers in 1995, and GO100 consultants worked with them to develop a strong training program. Their missions training school has graduated missionaries who are now working among people groups that were long considered resistant to the gospel. They have seen the Lord confirm their ministry through signs and wonders, but more importantly, have led hundreds of people to a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why we do what we do. We pray that the Lord will continue to give direction and wisdom to GlobeServe’s GO100 project.
For more information, visit www.bethanyinternational.org/GO100.