A better mission agency...

After finding this out, I became extremely interested in pursuing ways in which our youth-focused, short-term sending organization, could work closer with this adult-led long-term mission agency. At this point you might be asking yourself why on earth YMI would want to do such a thing. Allow me to explain.

Since the beginning, YMI's goal for young people has always been to empower young people to continually live and share their faith in Christ starting right now. We believe that youth have the ability to lead meaningful evangelistic ministry today. We also believe that if they begin doing that now, and continually participate in that, they will do this as a natural part of their Christian journey through adulthood. A byproduct of this, we have found, is that some of those who go through our ministry desire to become full-time professional missionaries abroad. Early in our ministry we had youth asking us who we would recommend they pursue long-term mission ministry with. While we answered, "Ask your pastor", something we will continue to say, we felt that we did so because we did not have any meaningful relationship with a reputable long-term mission agency. If we we're truly interested in providing youth opportunity to continually live and share their faith into adulthood, we needed to find a long-term agency we could recommend for those asking for one.

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In addition to this, YMI has always been interested in sending short-term teams properly. We want every team we send to help further the ministry of the long-term missionaries or churches they serve and to not be a burden while they are there. In order for this to happen we need continual accountability. We also need missionaries that we know work with the local church and will continue leveraging the work of teams we send long after they are gone. The best way to be held accountable as a short-term sender is to find a long-term organization that can speak truth into your ministry while also providing mission sites that they know would be ideal for short-term work and follow up.

These two reasons are why I had approached their table. Out of several conversations I had that weekend in 2009, and after researching more about ACTION and discussing them with staff, we felt they could be a good fit as a partner for YMI. The following year at Missions Fest, I had a chance to sit down with Nelson Reed, the Executive Director of the international side of the ministry and share about YMI with him. ACTION liked our focus on developing youth for long-term ministry and not only for short-term trips. This conversation led to meetings, which eventually led to YMI and ACTION teaching a session together to pastors on how to raise up missionaries within one's own congregation in 2011. At this point, we had done some things together, but we're not officially partners in ministry.

This year, ACTION introduced our ministry to all of their international directors at a meeting in the Philippines. Every one of them had a chance to read a letter from us about our ministry, get an endorsement from ACTION leadership, and review our short-term training manual for students. Out of this meeting opportunities began to crop up for YMI to send college-age students to some of their locations. In fact, I will be visiting ACTION Zambia next month to talk about sending YMI teams there for sports ministry. All of this was very exciting, but both ministries felt that as we had naturally grown closer, the time had come to formalize our partnership.

So, last week over lunch we formally signed an agreement with ACTION. It is a great fit for both organizations. YMI and ACTION are both based in the Seattle area. ACTION, coming from New Tribes, and YMI, coming from Awana, have similar philosophy in how ministry is to be done. With this agreement, YMI has an accountability partner in international mission work. In turn, ACTION desires to use YMI to help it send and receive well-trained short-term teams to as many locations as possible. Of course, YMI now has an agency they can trust and endorse for any young person who might feel the call to long-term mission work.

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