I can hardly believe that it has been 33 years ago this month that my wife and I were approached by then IBPFM General Secretary, Dr. Earle White, if we would prayerfully consider taking a leadership role in a summer ministry being formed by the Independent Board. Still in its infant stages, that yet unnamed outreach would eventually develop into our S.O.M.E. (Student Overseas Missionary Endeavor) program. And yes, by the grace of God and to His praise, we did go that summer to Kenya.
Looking over the history of the S.O.M.E. teams, it is clear that every effort was made to offer a program unlike many other summer missionary teams. From its inception it was designed to whet and hone the appetite of those interested in serving the Lord on the foreign field by providing real-life experiences and opportunities as team members working with veteran missionaries. For me and my family, it was exactly what was needed to solidify our longings to follow the Lord to the regions beyond.
“…designed to whet and hone the appetite of those interested in serving the Lord on the foreign field by providing real–life experiences and opportunities as team members working with veteran missionaries.”
I can’t help but compare the S.O.M.E. team ministry to the time young Timothy spent with the Apostle Paul on those earliest of “summer missionary programs.” To learn first–hand of God’s faithfulness to supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus was the Apostle’s testimony, and learned by Timothy, to say nothing of the countless numbers that followed in their footsteps. For Timothy to hear Paul preach Christ’s resurrection to the heathen, teach God’s grace to believing families, stand up to idolatrous opposition was only a portion of what was learned and built into this young man’s character.
Now, the Lord has indeed called a few of our former S.O.M.E. team members to serve on the foreign field. Others, I am sure, are using that experience to pray more intelligently for missions, to help in the local congregation to improve their missionary outreach, and even to challenge others to missionary service. My own testimony supports this as we ministered on the field for one term, later serving as a member of the IBPFM Board of Trustees, and today laboring for the Lord here at our headquarters — the S.O.M.E. team was an invaluable part of this.
My letter today is to refresh your mind to the fact that we have, what I believe to be, a very good team preparing to go to Kenya on June 16 this year. There are 15 members going under the leadership of veterans Gary and Pat Johnson. What is unique about this team is that seven are young people — parents wanting to share the powerful experience of ministry with their own children in Kenya. How will the Lord use this time to mold and shape these willing servants is yet to be seen. But the opportunity exists.
In closing, I want to lay before you the financial challenge: airfare (due by April 9), local transportation, food, lodging, and visas must be covered before the team leaves on June 16. I am not asking you to give as if it all depends on you, I am not asking you to “pray and see what the Lord would have you to give.” All I know is that God will provide, and that this is sufficient testimony to His grace.
- Pray that all the funds will be available
- Pray that each team member will be ready, spiritually and physically, for the service they are about to give overseas
- Pray that the hearts of the nationals will be receptive to this outreach
Ministering together for His glory,
Executive Director, IBPFM