This is the second part of a series taking a look at how InFaith has been reaching local and changing lives over the past 200 years. You can get an overview of our history on our timeline and read the first part of the blog series here. The following are a smattering of snapshots that demonstrate the ways that InFaith has reached local throughout the years.
In the 1920s and 30s, missionaries started to organized what they called vacation Bible schools and young people’s Bible conferences. The idea was simple: Gather kids together for a week each summer to do concentrated Bible teaching. Get teenagers out in nature and give them a concentrated time together, studying Scripture and fellowshipping. These are now familiar forms of ministry that we take for granted: VBS and summer camp. But they were new ideas at the time and a unique way to reach local kids in a local way.
Though not as famous as the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River Aqueduct was a larger public works project affecting more people. According to InFaith’s records, the project required 10,000 men in various temporary camps working for six to seven years to complete it. A report describes the living conditions of the temporary camps in the 1930s in the Southwest: “Mere shacks are called homes, and many are but tents or adobe houses.” InFaith sent missionaries to these camps to attend to the spiritual needs of the workers and their families.
Throughout the past 200 years, InFaith suffered alongside the rest of the nation in times of turmoil. One such time was during World War II. The mission struggled financially and, like the rest of the country, the number of men fighting in the war left fewer men available as missionaries. Also like the rest of the country, women stepped in to fill vacant roles. The mission recruited what they called the Women’s Auxiliary Missionary Corps to work during the war emergency period.
In the 1950s, InFaith identified the tremendous material and physical needs of some Appalachian communities in Eastern Tennessee. Mission reports identify the declining lumber and coal industries, which left many without work. The mission responded by sending specialized missionary nurses to the area. They started a program that focused on food, health, economic, and occupational assistance.
There are many other stories of reaching local that could be shared. Some of them were simple and no longer relevant. Others were massive shifts that we still benefit from today. Are there things God is calling you to do to reach your local area?