An American Mission

Mission Leadership

Gordon Anderson, D.Min. Ministry Director

The Bible describes Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, the Savior of the world, and Lord of all.  Expressing amazement that a person can live without hope in spiritual darkness and refuse to accept God’s free gift of salvation, Gordon describes his life as “a testimony of God’s persistent love, despite my rebellious foolishness, and the grace and mercy of the Savior.”
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As a teenager attending a Christian winter retreat with his youth group, Gordon heard the Gospel presented clearly.  The speaker described him perfectly when challenging the teens with the Scriptures pointing to personal sin, independence, pride, self confidence, and rebellion.  Gordon was convinced that he didn’t need God in his life.
On the second day of the retreat, he experienced a series of events that shook his self-confident world to the core. While heading to the slopes to go inner-tubing with his friends, he became separated from his youth group in a snowstorm.  Desperately trying to find them, Gordon lost his footing, rolled off a cliff, and landed on his feet.  Knowing full well that his life could have been snuffed out right then and there, Gordon had to admit that God had gotten his full attention.  He gratefully opened his heart and life to the One who created him and had the very best design for his life.

Gordon received Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord at the foot of that mountain. The search and rescue operations of his youth group were successful, and he was reunited with his friends as a new believer. That night in the chapel, he went forward to tell the world that he was now a born-again follower of Jesus Christ.

Gordon was discipled by his home church and by the Navigators in college and then in the military. The Lord later led him to Western Seminary to prepare for full-time ministry.  While attending seminary he met Debby, and they were married on June 17, 1978.  Upon graduation, the Lord opened the door for the Andersons to begin full-time ministry with American Missionary Fellowship (now InFaith).  They served as area missionaries on the Olympic Field in western Washington State, providing pastoral leadership to communities throughout six counties of the Olympic Peninsula.

In the fall of 1989, the mission’s leaders asked Gordon to prayerfully consider taking a larger responsibility as Southern regional director and moving the family to Dallas, Texas.  Following the Lord’s leadership for their family, the Andersons loaded up the U-Haul truck and moved to Mesquite, Texas, to begin a ministry that would influence the work of the mission in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  Fourteen years later (2003) Debby and Gordon were asked to prayerfully consider moving their family back to the Northwest to direct the work of the mission in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  “We are continually praising the Lord for blessing us and allowing us to be a blessing to the [InFaith] missionary family,” Gordon says.

“On December 19, 2007,” he recalls, “we received a call asking us to prayerfully consider my becoming the director of ministry resources.  Our willingness to serve in this capacity is based on our wholehearted commitment to God and our belief that He could and would use us as part of the mission’s leadership to lead [InFaith] toward revival and continuing fruitfulness in obedience to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.”

The Andersons continue to live on the West Coast, where Debby is a kindergarten teacher and children’s book author/illustrator. (Her books are published by Crossway.) Both Gordon and Debby have a passion for sharing Jesus Christ with their neighbors and reflecting God’s love in creative and relevant ways in their community.

Buffy Bowman Director of Development and Human Resources

Buffy Bowman
Buffy chose to follow Jesus as the result of a televised Billy Graham crusade in 1963. Her father, the minister of music for a large church, instilled in her the importance of worship and praise in every aspect of a believer’s life. Her mother taught her the joy of serving others.
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Buffy’s career as an administrative assistant and office manager included working for several start-up companies and a Fortune 500 company. Seeking to use her gifts more in areas that could make a difference for the kingdom, she spent a number of years as her church’s senior administrative secretary. In 1998, she began working for Forest Home in southern California, where Ridge Burns, InFaith’s executive director, was then president. She became InFaith’s director of development in 2011, after two years of working in that department, and took on the added responsibility for our Human Resources Department in 2012.

Ridge Burns Executive Director/CEO

Ridge Burns
Ridge came to our mission with ten years’ experience as president of Forest Home Ministries in Forest Falls,California. Ridge is an effective leader with extensive experience in youth ministry, Christian camping, home and foreign missions, and new ministry development. His strong commitment to Christ and his desire to know the Lord better each day show through all he has accomplished to further the Kingdom of God. Read more

As executive director of InFaith, Ridge encourages our staff members to use their unique gifts to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in whatever type of ministry God calls them to. Ridge delights in getting to know everyone on our staff personally and has a strong desire to see more young adults get involved in service with InFaith.

Godly parents, married for seventy-two years, provided a stable and loving background for Ridge. He also credits Torchbearers as an influence in his spiritual walk. “I [had] spent my whole life trying to be Christ-like and found a very successful rate of failure in that pursuit,” he says. “The change came from understanding that we can’t be Christ-like, but only Christ can be Christ. Our job is to die to ourselves so Jesus can be Jesus within us. This has become a key point in my life and has released me to be far less stressed and yet far more dependent on Him.”

Ridge holds a B.A. in philosophy and biblical studies from Westmont College and M.R.E. and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of five books on youth ministry and has worn red shoes since the 1980s. Ridge met his wife, RobAnne, in college and married her in 1974. They are the parents of two children: a son, R.W., who is married and is a librarian in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and a daughter, Barrett, who attends Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.

Andrea Graver Director of Communication

Andrea Graver
Andrea came to faith at an early age, led by her mother. “I know growing up my mom and dad always instilled in me a real love for missions, having missionaries visit our home and always encouraging me to think about missions as a life path,” she says. For a while, her parents did not expect to see her follow that path. Read more

After college, Andrea worked for both an advertising agency and a design studio. Five years of working in the secular marketplace left her desiring to use her talents in a more meaningful way. “I soon began praying and committing my work and career to the Lord, wherever that would lead me,” she says. “I loved designing print publications but believed that I would even give that up if the Lord would use me for His purposes.”

While praying for direction, Andrea met the wife of the mission’s general director at a women’s retreat, which led to her joining the Home Office staff as “public relations creative design and production manager.” It was a long title, but almost 100% of the job requirements fit Andrea’s background and experience, and Andrea believed the mission was an answer to her prayers. Andrea started working for the mission on May 1, 2003, the day the Home Office celebrated the National Day of Prayer.

Andrea’s role as director of communication is to make the public aware of missions in the United States and to support InFaith missionaries in their efforts to communicate. “It is my hope that we won’t be about the business of earthly things in our communication, but that we’ll be about the business that Jesus has for us until He returns,” she says.

Dan Sheldon Chief Financial Officer

Dan Sheldon
The rhythm of the home where Dan grew up was God-centered, and his parents instilled in him the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. “Belief in a loving Father God who desired a relationship with me and made a way for me to know Him through the work of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, came to me as naturally as learning to walk or talk,” Dan says, adding, “I’ve often been guilty of taking my faith for granted, but God does not let me stay long in those places, and in various ways He turns my attention towards Him again. One of those times came as I reflected on Ephesians 1:3 after the death of my father; I realized I truly have been ‘blessed with every spiritual blessing’ – far beyond my ability to describe in words.” Read more

Dan attended Wheaton College for two years, and then transferred to Gordon College. It was at Gordon he met and fell in love with Deborah Oliveira, a godly young woman who loved him back. They were married in 1984 and have been blessed with four children. Though he studied history and secondary education in college, Dan never did teach high-school history after his time of student teaching. He spent a few years casting about for a career before landing at a Christian non-profit. Finding a place in non-profit finance and administration, Dan realized that God was calling him to serve this way in His Kingdom. He went to school at night and earned an MBA from Widener University.

“As a college student I can remember sitting way up in the rafters of the arena at the University of Illinois, attending the Urbana Mission Conference,” Dan says. “It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1979, and Billy Graham was delivering the closing message. He spoke about giving our lives in service to God and closed by asking everyone who was willing to follow God’s call to serve Him to stand up. I stayed glued to my seat, certain that I was the only one in the whole arena who was too selfish, too frightened, too unwilling to totally surrender control to God’s leading. But God would have His way with my life, anyway. And for the last twenty-five years it has been the joy of my life to serve Him with my skills and gifts in non-profit finance and administration.”

Considering the call to service one of God’s many blessings, Dan has been serving with InFaith since Fall 2012. The spiritual blessings God has given him overflow to our mission as he oversees financial details for our donors and staff.