The World Awareness Week missions fair will highlight 17 different mission organizations that are active worldwide, including ministries like Avant and Navigators. The goal of the fair is to allow students to engage in possible career or internship opportunities.
Avant, in particular, is looking to advertise internship openings this summer, including the need for a camera operator in Málaga, Spain and counselors for a camp in Alaska. Avant began in 1892 as a Bible school in Kansas City called Gospel Missionary Union, and grew into an organization sending missionaries abroad. The name soon changed to Avant, French for “go,” in order to allow missionaries into more countries where missionaries are not always welcomed or even legal.
“Avant is about planting the church where the church doesn’t exist,” Dave Hansen, a retired missionary with Avant, said. “We define that as 2 percent or less [of the population].” Today, Avant has over 325 career missionaries placed all over the world.
“The important thing is that we’re going where there are people who still have not heard the gospel and trying to leave behind a national church as rapidly as we can,” Hansen said. Avant missionaries are taught to establish churches in areas with little to no evangelical exposure. Once the church is established, Avant turns over their ministry to local pastors and Christians to continue spreading the Gospel and moves to another area to plant the church.
One example of Avant’s faithfulness to church planting comes from the country of Ecuador. In a 100-year period, Avant has sent over 300 missionaries to Ecuador, a country that at one time had no evangelical church presence.
“We’re there to plant churches,” Hansen said. “The church is over 20 percent evangelical in Ecuador today.” Ecuador is now closed to Avant missionaries as a possible mission field because of the overwhelming spread of the Gospel.
Navigators, a ministry that began in the 1930s, also seeks to spread the gospel worldwide. Navigators is involved in over 100 countries worldwide including the Philippines, Peru, Kenya and France. Marc Wooten, a member of Navigators, said the mission is all about intentionality.
“There’s a world out there that’s dying and going to hell,” Wooten said. “God has the world on his heart … we should too. “
Navigators uses the talents and careers of their missionaries to get into countries closed to Christian missionaries as well as share the gospel within career fields. “[It’s] vocational missions, not traditional missions,” Wooten said.
Whatever your gifts and talents, Wooten is sure that God can use you in the field of missions. “I don’t think the question should be, ‘why would I do missions?’ It should be, ‘why wouldn’t I do missions?’”
Wooten and Hansen will be available to talk to students more about their ministries at the missions fair during World Awareness Week. World Awareness Week will be held at John Brown University Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.