Victories and Losses on the Mission Field
Although it’s been just over a decade since I left the mission field, some people and events, victories and losses, are still fresh in my mind.
I think of Ayse and Yusuf, the fourth-floor neighbors in our apartment building. In the five years we lived there, they were our closest friends, helping us adjust to the rhythms and routines of their culture. We sipped endless cups of highly-caffeinated tea with them late into the night, ate way too much sugary baklava in their sitting room, and saw our youngest daughter take her first steps in their living room on New Year’s Eve. Although they saw Christ modeled in our family and even gained inspiration from reading the Bible and praying with us, they feared the socio-cultural pushback from a potential conversion would be too costly. To our great sadness, Jesus never became a viable option in their eyes.
I also think of the time I gave Mustafa, an eighteen-year-old friend, a New Testament in his own language. He had grown up without a father, and his older brother constantly abused him. Mustafa remarked that my New Testament was the first gift he had received in his life—ever—and that he felt deeply loved by my family. Mustafa went on to become one of the first majority-background believers in our city. Another local friend we saw come to Christ was Selin, a retired elementary school teacher. Her baptismal testimony still haunts me. She lamented that all her life she had been looking for someone to point her to the love she knew had to be in God but wasn’t in the god of her nation. Remorsefully, she grieved over the difference she could have made in the generations of elementary school pupils she had taught if only she had known about Jesus sooner.
And I think of Fatih, who told me after a major crisis in his life, including being disowned by his family, that the religion practiced by the majority in his country had done nothing for him and that he was “all in” with Jesus. And he truly was all in! He fearlessly and boldly proclaimed Christ to everyone he knew. He took the step of changing his religious classification on his national identity card. And he’s shared Jesus with hundreds, if not thousands, over the years.
These types of stories are repeated every day across the cultures and nations where AFM missionaries are serving. AFM exists to shine the hope of the Gospel in every city and region in the world where the church does have a visible and viable presence- at least not yet!
*Event postponed due to hurricane Florence, new date to be announced* As AFM turns 25 years-old, we will be thanking God for his graciousness in granting us the privilege of being the “beautiful feet on the mountain tops of those who bring the Good News” (Isaiah 52:7). And we will be praying for the nations, that Jesus one day will be worshiped in every tribe and tongue.
The Rev. Chris Royer, Executive Director of Anglican Frontier Mission (AFM) since July 2014. After graduate school, he served as a missionary in a Middle Eastern country, spending his first three years learning that country’s language and culture. Then, he lived in South Korea for a year where he married his wife, Grace. Afterward, Chris and Grace ministered in the Middle East (1994-2006). After theological training at Denver Seminary and Trinity School for Ministry, he was ordained a priest in 2009 and served in parish ministry until he was called to lead AFM. Chris and Grace have two young adult daughters.