USA (MNN) — The stereotype of missions brings up pictures of rural poverty, isolation, and desperate or savage people…and often evokes the idea of "far flung."
That's not an entirely inaccurate picture since that's most likely where you'll find Far Corners Missions. President Gary Bishop says that picture defines their work. "When those two things come together: that is, profound spiritual darkness and desperate human suffering, Far Corners feels called to be there."
As the world's population has grown over the last half century, so too have the needs. Far Corners Missions has been answering them for 58 years with an unwavering commitment to the Gospel. However, Bishop says, "Far Corners Missions today provides first of all evangelism. But also we feed people, we provide healing through medical services, we provide rescue to those trapped in human trafficking, and we provide teaching to prepare people to live Christian lives; but also, [we want] to lift them out of poverty."
Bishop started working with Far Corners Missions after spending over a decade serving as the leader of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and World Bible Translation Center. He is an ordained minister and has served in church leadership and as a Bible teacher. After all those years in missionary circles, what stood out about Far Corners Missions? "The effectiveness of indigenous missionaries is just such a boon to the Church for two particular reasons: number one, people do not have to make the cultural adjustment of living in another culture."
Reason number two, he went on to say, "Economically, our dollars go much further in supporting an indigenous missionary than it would a 'sent' missionary, or an expatriate from the United States or Canada to the mission field."
In essence, Far Corners Missions is trying to work themselves out of a job. They've succeeded twice. Bishop explains, "Two of our programs have already spun off into independent operations, and we no longer support them financially–nor are we operationally in control of them. That's our program in South Korea. The other one is Peru."
Once the project spins off, there's an opportunity for growth. "We have now been able to deploy our resources and our ability to help other indigenous missions in other parts of the world."
It takes time to build the relationships needed for a firm footing for self-supported indigenous missions. Their program in India is a good example of that. "In India, we've now planted 932 churches, of which 754 of those are self-supporting churches. That is, the church is able to pay their own pastor and operate without the mission agency providing support to them," says Bishop.
In fact, it's going so well that it's being used as a model for another project. "The newest work is Nepal. We are at the individual evangelism level there. We actually have, on most days, five or six workers that are personal evangelism workers. Our hope is soon to plant a church after the model that we've used now for almost 50 years in India."
The impact of resources goes further than ever before, too. Through technology and experience, the Far Corners team now has the capability to reach even greater numbers of people than at any time in their history. Starting in 1958 in Mexico, today over 300 people serve in nine countries, including India, Thailand, China, Philippines, Mexico, Kenya, Nepal, the U.S. and England.
Working in the name of Christ, as the body of Christ, really brings their mission in from the "far corners" of the world and puts it in front of you. The question is: how will you respond?