Any mention of Christ or a word of scripture would have been a drop in an empty bucket for the small Indonesian village in which Mary* found herself.
While completing a student teaching program at an international school in 2013, Mary made plans to meet with missionaries in a distant village. A van took her through neighboring towns along the route and she absorbed vibrant scenes in the island heat. They stopped at a tribe along the way and she noticed their remote, secluded location. She realized that with no connection to anyone who knows the Gospel in their language, they had never been given the truth of who Christ is.
Broken and burdened, she thought, “I want to be a part of seeing the unreached come to know Christ.” But how would she get there? Where would she go and how long would it take?
She returned from Indonesia with renewed outlook on her future and where the Lord might use her. Excited and eager, she began to think through what it would look like to live as a missionary long-term.
One thing she knew for certain — she would not begin that phase of life without first paying off her student loan debt. “For me, student loan debt is the only debt I have,” she said as she recounted her despair over the one barrier keeping her from being mobilized. “I have this education that gave me the opportunity to develop a heart for the nations. It crushed me that [it] bound me in ties and prevented me from going.”
In 2015, Mary found The GO Fund. She felt ready to go and knew she had found the way the Lord would get her there. She applied to the Student Debt Repayment Program and when she received a call from the The GO Fund, she was told, “not yet.”
She was told to seek further training. The GO Fund saw a potential in her they did not want to lose but with so much at stake, they wanted to know she would not just arrive but thrive.
The GO Fund referred Mary to Radius International. Radius, a missions training organization, matched perfectly with Mary’s vision and values. During her one-year program in 2016, she grew and learned many tools, but most importantly, she saw the importance of church planting and how to develop a strategy for it.
Then came the task of finding a sending agency who would pair her with the right team to the right place and would propel her well into long-term missions. She found Frontiers and was impressed by their desire to see Muslim unreached peoples know Christ. It was then Mary knew she was being called to central Africa and quickly developed a love for its people.
Throughout her journey of seeking organizations and agencies who might get her to the field, a common thread she observed were the people who care about sending healthy individuals.
“It’s just helpful to have the structure and administration,” Mary mentioned with a smile. “These people have either been on the field or have interacted with field workers. I’m really just thankful for the support and structure.”
When she came back to The GO Fund in 2017, they gladly accepted Mary as a partner and she saw how everything fell into place.
“Now I’m free to be obedient to the Lord,” she said. “In many ways, The GO Fund has acted like Christ by taking away my debt. I have new life in Him and in a lot of ways it’s like how the GO Fund has lifted this burden.”
Now, Mary is trained, prepared and ready. With The GO Fund, she is being backed by hundreds of Champions who will see her to the field faster than her debt would have ever allowed. She is able to see a lost people in central Africa fill and overflow their empty buckets with the good news of Jesus Christ, whose love will never let them thirst again.
*name changed for security reasons
You wake up, brush your teeth, make your breakfast and drive off to work. After you work through the day, you drive home. Then, dinner, plans with friends and family or you may head to bed. The next day, it starts all over again – sound familiar?
In the mundane and routine parts of life, how are we as Christians to keep the Great Commission in perspective?
Patrick and Katie Mullen met at a Bible study through a mutual friend. She said at the time, she wasn’t looking to date anyone, but she caught Patrick’s eye and he said after much persistence, they went out, fell in love and were married soon after.
Katie is a kindergarten teacher. She knew from the time she was young that she would work in education. Patrick works as a construction scheduler, which means when contractors have big projects, they turn to his business to plan out the finite details and logistics so that it gets done on time. Now, the two live in Orange county with their newborn son, Jackson.
Both Patrick and Katie understood their commitment as Christians includes the command to make disciples and to share the love of Christ with others. However, in their first years of marriage, they wondered how they might do more to influence the Kingdom of God with what they had been given. Specifically, how could they be a part of reaching the unreached peoples of the world if they themselves did not feel called to move out of the United States?
“I’ve never had the desire to be an overseas missionary,” Katie said. “I had struggled with understanding where I fit into the Great Commission. I was pretty sure [overseas missions] wasn’t my calling.”
Patrick added that they both work hard throughout the week and can feel like they walk into a repetitious cycle that is mundane or tedious.
Jack and Laura live in the Middle East.*
Both are in their second year of intensive language study. When they are not walking through their city or trying to foster new relationships, they stay home with their one-year-old daughter. Both of their passions involve serving the people of the city in which they now live.
Originally from Wyoming, Jack and Laura have wrestled with difficult transitions. Laura sometimes struggles being in their new home when she is still trying to learn the language and make friends. Some days, she must watch their daughter without any other pressing obligations or plans and it wears on her motivation.
“It’s hard remembering you do have a purpose when the day is menial or tedious,” she said.
In a land 7,123 miles from the Mullens, the question remains the same: “How will we effect the Kingdom of God in our everyday life?” For Laura, she said she resolves that in the rhythmic tasks of the week she will worship and bring glory to God by singing her daughter to sleep, by studying language and by walking around outside to familiarize herself with her city.
Back in Costa Mesa, California, Patrick and Katie were introduced to The GO Fund as a way to purposefully engage in unreached missions.
“It helped me to realize a piece of God’s plan for my life,” Katie said. “This gave me a tangible way to be a part of participating in the Great Commission.”
Patrick added that knowing his efforts at work ultimately lead to the support and urging of those who are called to move from this country is what gives him motivation. “It gives legitimacy to what we do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
It’s the answer to a question asked on two sides of the globe: No Christian is more influential than the other regarding the Great Commission. All in the Kingdom of God are equally responsible to see it completed, but uniquely gifted to effect it in different ways. It is as if the Mullens are holding the top of a rope for families like Jack’s, who are at the bottom, descending into the dark unknown. It is a beautiful partnership, one only the King could envision.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:14-15 NIV
This is the point of being a Champion. It is giving of yourself through your talents, your time or your treasure so that ultimately, someone who has never heard the name of Jesus or the truth of his Gospel in the Middle East will know who he is and what he has done. We all effect the Kingdom. The only remaining question: In what way will you choose to do so?
*Names have been changed for security
Will you consider impacting The GO Fund’s work as a monthly donor? 100% of your monthly gift will help send missionaries to begin making disciples among unreached peoples.
Colorful Post-it notes on pale walls surrounded staff and board members who shifted in swivel chairs as they awaited the arrival of the meeting’s guest speaker. When The GO Fund was first introduced to Dr. Michael Whyte, it was because changes needed to be made.
Every organization needs to take their grand vision and put it into strategy. As ideas grew at The GO Fund, they desperately needed the boundaries of a plan to execute. So, for five hours, Dr. Whyte led the room in a discussion about how the organization would achieve its goals. “What drew me in the beginning was the confusion,” Whyte said. When he first came in as an outsider, he noticed it was difficult to define what the organization really does and that it needed more focus. “What’s fascinating with most organizations, is all this stuff makes perfect sense to the person who designed it … but you need someone from the outside to come in to show you … what needs to be fixed.”
The way to fix them? – A strategic plan. This is a written, foundational and ever-maturing list of achievements all team members hope to see accomplished within a certain allotted time. It is the blueprint of the company, the thing to look back on when ideas and dreams attempt to trump priorities.
To start, Dr. Whyte asked questions about communication styles and whether those in the room were task-oriented or preferred free-reign on projects. By the end of the morning, he honed on the opportunities for and threats to the entire company’s growth. He created a space for the team to discuss the varied hopes and dreams for success and siphoned it into a step-by-step plan. Whyte transformed the organization’s goals into a clean-cut dish, with bite-sized pieces and a clear idea of what the ingredients were.
“I think we get so busy that we don’t sit down and actually plan out what we need to be and what we need to do,” Whyte said. “We waste a lot of money, resources, and peoples’ lives when we don’t plan.”
Whyte’s sage guidance stems from a rich career in education and management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and american politics from the United States Air Force Academy where he later went on to become a senior associate professor. His master’s degree and Ph.D. in Education are from the University of Southern California. He was hired to serve as Azusa Pacific University’s provost for eight years until 2010. Now, Dr. Whyte is provost emeritus for APU and teaches in their leadership department, MBA program, and in their doctoral studies.
His knowledge in organizational management and his personal experience as professor and provost were proved invaluable as he led The GO Fund team to their strategic plan. “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,’” Whyte said, “And another, which is my favorite, ‘if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.’”
Now, The GO Fund’s aim is high and direction clear. Thanks to Dr. Whyte’s experiences and talents, The GO Fund team’s own abilities and growth are better utilized. The biggest target the team came away with: Approve 125 missionary units for educational loan repayment by 2020. Praise God for how he uses the members of his kingdom to build one another up so that his is the vision that prevails.
You can see The GO Fund’s entire strategic plan here!
Tomorrow, Sarah* will move to the Middle East. Her decision to go and the years of planning culminates in one final step – to trust wholeheartedly in God’s promises and get on the plane.
When she looks forward to the moment she will leave America behind, she is reminded of how the Lord brought Abram outside into the dark and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them … so shall your offspring be.”
In our current timeline, we see the result of this promise. Centuries of lineage followed that conversation and we read about them in the stories woven throughout scripture. However, in the moment, Abram wondered and doubted, “how is this going to happen?”
As a freshman in high school, amid a chaotic time in her life, Sarah from a small town in Missouri devoted her life to Christ. At home, she was exposed to the painful effects of her mother’s battle with Bipolar Disorder as well as her father’s struggle with alcoholism. Her father’s commitments to drop his habits and take her fishing on the weekends were replaced with the reality that he would choose to stay home and continue his normal routine. Sarah learned to not expect follow-through.
However, knowing her life had been redeemed by the Lord, she moved through high school and college with renewed perspective of her purpose.
“The Lord saved me in the middle of it,” she said. “Since I started walking with the Lord in high school, I knew there was something bigger, more than the American dream. That’s not what I want to be about.”
She graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree in physical education and was confident in the Lord’s prompting to seek opportunities in full-time ministry. She applied to internships that took her to North Africa, Texas and Arkansas, all with the aim of exposing her to the possibility of life in missionary work.
While in Africa, she became aware of a desperate need for workers to live among unreached people groups, specifically Muslims. She returned to the States and applied with several sending organizations. She found and was accepted by an agency whose specific goal is to reach the Muslim world.
Her path seemed sure. She was confident this was where the Lord was leading her. The only problem – her educational loan debt.
The debt Sarah accrued while earning her degree was necessary to complete it. However, to be sent with the debt on her shoulders would ensure her quick return from the field. To wait until her debt was paid month after month would halt the process for decades. She wondered, “how is this going to happen? Will it actually happen?”
One day, over lunch with a friend, she heard about The GO Fund’s educational loan repayment program. She quickly applied, hopeful and anxious at the possibility this could be the answer to her many prayers. Then, Sarah was contacted by the GO Fund’s program director. She was vetted by a fine-tuned interview process and asked to join a final conversation with a selection committee.
The day after her final interview, she got the call. “You’ve been chosen. Your debt is covered.”
She was freed to go. God did not leave her in her wondering and doubts. He showed her follow-through and provided a way for her to get to the field, without the burden of educational debt.
“In order to get me on the field more quickly and more efficiently, (The GO Fund) made it happen,” she said. “To have that wider base of support and to have more people involved ... It’s really encouraging.”
Now, she is prepared. She has packed and is ready to see the result of years of patience, prayer and provision. As nerves and expected fears settle before her departure, she clings to God’s voice that once told Abraham and now comforts her, “This is how I will make it happen.”
Two years after Sarah began to attend church, her mother joined her. One year later, her father started to come, and Sarah watched them get baptized shortly after. Today, her father is sober, and he and Sarah’s mother continue to support and love their daughter as she transitions into the fulfillment of God’s promises to keep and sustain her.
*Name changed for security
Two hundred people rose to leave at the end of The GO Fund’s 2015 Vision Dinner. Plates and silverware clinked together as several volunteers packed away the evening and David Rimestad made his way to the front of the room.
Luke Womack, executive director of The GO Fund, stood as he thanked and said goodbye to the attendees when he saw David approach him. David grabbed Luke and with tears in his eyes he said, “There is not a chance we would be going overseas right now if it weren’t for this … thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Three years prior, Luke imagined a ministry that would tackle the biggest issues facing missions to unreached peoples and he wondered, “If we want young people to go to the mission field, why aren’t they going?”
Over the course of two months in the fall of 2012, Luke called about 100 peers from his alma mater, California Baptist University, and he asked them two questions. The first, have you ever considered moving overseas for fulltime ministry or in a church-planting capacity? If the answer was yes, the second question was, why haven’t you gone yet?
Without hesitation, the answer was always the same, “My student loan debt.” Luke had discovered the issue around which he could launch a kingdom-focused ministry.
One night in the spring of 2013, he met with his trusted friend and mentor, Brian Zunigha, who works as director of discipleship at CBU. Luke wanted to share his vision for this organization, but decided to first ask Brian what was on his mind. Brian acknowledged a problem he was working through and told Luke, “I want to figure out how to send qualified missionaries to the unreached by paying off their educational loan debt.”
Alarms went off in Luke’s head. God had given him the same concept. Stunned and in awe, his excitement overflowed as he laid out his idea to his friend.
It was in this moment Luke knew the Lord was prompting him to move forward with The GO Fund. “We both laughed for a minute,” Luke said, “then we got right to work.”
David and Emily Rimestad are friends to both Luke and Brian. The Rimestads knew they had been called to the unreached people of Papua New Guinea, but were held back by years of educational loan payments. Luke invited the two to come hear how the Lord was inspiring him to create a non-profit organization that could pay off their educational loan debt and free them to go. “We told them we didn’t have the money and we didn’t know how, but that we would do it unless God stopped us,” Luke said.
The two years that followed were filled with strategic plans and paperwork. Meetings with friends and family lead to The GO Fund’s first 40 investors, without whom The GO Fund would not have been able to break ground.
Then the time came in 2015 when The GO Fund hosted their first Vision Dinner. At the event, people were invited to hear The GO Fund’s purpose and prayerfully respond by giving financially.
That evening, donors provided enough to launch the Rimestads into Papua New Guinea by covering their educational loan debt.
Today, the Rimestads are serving in Papua New Guinea among the Maliyali people. They have built their home and begun to teach and share in the native language. Emily’s degree in kinesiology equips her to offer healing to many who have no access to medical attention. David’s degree in theology gives him the skill set necessary to learn how to translate scripture into a language that has never been written. Missionaries like the Rimestads are growing and flourishing because of faithful donors who believed that educational loan debt was a poor excuse to keep the gospel from spreading to the unreached.
Nearly three years after David embraced Luke, God is using the Rimestads to bring early fruit to the Maliyali people. God has also moved through The GO Fund Champions (donors) to launch 17 missionaries to the field. There is still much to be done and the task is significant.
Eternity alone will show the impact our decisions have made on God’s kingdom. We look forward to the day when we will link arms with representatives from all nations and tribes in worship of the only one who is worthy of our eternal praise!