How our Indigenous Missionary Ministries Began
Dr. Bob Finley, founder and chairman of Christian Aid, saw firsthand the way various Communist leaders in the Far East were reaching out to the people with their ideology. It was 1948 and Dr. Finley was in China, preaching the gospel to crowds in excess of 15,000, fulfilling the missionary desire the Lord had placed in his heart. But as the battle between the Communist and Nationalist forces for control of this strategic land raged, he saw something that truly made an impact on his life.
Most of the Communist leaders of that era had been converted to atheistic ideology while in Europe or America as foreign students. They returned to their native lands to live among the poor and middle class, propagating Communism and winning converts.
At the same time, countless Christian missionaries from the United States and other industrialized nations - though living far below their accustomed standard back home - were perceived as "rich" by the people they were trying to reach. Faced by this dichotomy, many people turned to the ideology they falsely believed truly cared for them: Communism.
Reaching the Unreached
Dr. Finley saw that the native Christian leaders of each country believers who spoke the language, knew the customs, and lived with the people they were trying to reach, were completely capable of evangelizing the lost and taking the gospel to their corners of the earth. He returned to America, determined to arouse the churches about the need for reform in foreign missions. Citing Acts 2:5-11 and 8:1-4, he said the best way to plant a Christian witness in closed countries was to reach people from foreign lands when they were away from home, then, when they return to serve Christ in their homelands, we must get behind them with financial assistance.
Christian Aid Begun
To meet this goal, Dr. Finley started International Students, Inc. (ISI) in 1953 in Washington, DC. At the same time, he began a division of ISI that was charged with providing financial assistance for indigenous ministries in poorer countries. In 1972, the Assisting Indigenous Developments division was spun off as Christian Aid, with Dr. Finley serving as president.
A continual procession of Christian leaders from every nation began to make their way to Washington to visit Christian Aid. Housing and feeding these visitors became problematic so a search committee was formed to find a new, roomier location outside of DC.
God led them to Charlottesville, Virginia, about 100 miles away, where Christian Aid continues today to serve the men and women of God who labor tirelessly among their own people, often under extremely difficult circumstances.
A Witness for the Lord
Dr. Finley's goal is to have a part in planting a witness for the name of our Lord among every unreached people group on earth. For nearly half a century, Christian Aid Mission has served as a link between believers in industrialized nations and native missionaries from poorer countries around the world. Part of the work of Christian Aid is to tell the stories of the native missionaries, to tell about the dedication, effectiveness, and sacrifice of our brothers and sisters around the world. Christian Aid's other work is to raise awareness about our part, as believers in more affluent countries, in the work of indigenous missions.
Today, Christian Aid through the generous help of Christians who love the Lord, is sending help to more than 800 ministries that deploy over 80,000 missionaries on the field. They are reaching over 3,000 tribes and nations, who have their own language, with the gospel. Several thousand more groups have written to Christian Aid, pleading for help.
They Need Our Help
Native missionaries are hard at work around the world, laboring at great sacrifice for the Lord with very limited resources. At Christian Aid we believe each of us can help them spiritually and financially in some way, whether that help is large or small.
Would you like to know more about how you can come alongside an indigenous missionary to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in a faraway, closed land? They need your help.
Click here to see a timeline of Christian Aid history.