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October 22, 2013

Thanks for Never Letting Us Forget

by Brittany Tedesco

Luis and Silvia Janeiro

Dr. Bob Finley, founder of Christian Aid Mission who retired as president several years ago, often used staff meetings to educate us. He made sure we never forgot where we came from and the purpose for our existence as a mission.

“You know we started as an outreach to foreign students,” he loved to tell us. He told us so many times, it’s been forever seared upon my brain.

Sixty years ago, Christian Aid was known as the A.I.D. (Assisting Indigenous Developments) division of International Students, Inc., a ministry dedicated to reaching foreign students in the U.S. with the gospel. These students frequently returned to their home countries as witnesses for Christ. The A.I.D. division provided help to those who’d dedicated themselves to fulltime ministry but lacked resources.

I realized I hadn’t heard Dr. Finley’s oft repeated phrase in a while…until a few weeks ago in staff meeting when our guests, Luis and Silvia Janeiro, reminded us about it. In fact, they are walking examples of it.

As a high school exchange student from Mexico, Luis spent a year with a Christian family in North Dakota. Kind and loving, “they showed me Christ through their lives,” said Luis. He became a Christian that year, and eagerly returned to Mexico as a native missionary.

Luis planted several churches, as well as training and sending other native believers to unreached people groups in rural areas of Mexico. He began evangelizing prisoners and business men alike. His ministry shared Christ’s compassion with orphans and the elderly. “People were getting saved practically every week,” he told us.

He gives the credit to the family in North Dakota.

“I know Dr. Finley’s vision of missions is that of Acts 2, where people from all over the world came to Jerusalem to receive the message and then went back to share it with their own people,” said Luis, “I’ve experienced that.”

Several members of our staff have followed in Dr. Finley’s footsteps, befriending foreign students attending the University of Virginia and inviting them into their homes for meals. Our China Director, Dorothy Sun, for instance has spent countless hours reaching out to homesick Chinese students.

The goal of these staff members isn’t just to produce another native missionary—they desire to extend real fellowship and true hope in Jesus’ name ... but you just never know what their kindness might produce.

Not only have many souls in Mexico been added to the Kingdom because of that family in North Dakota, but now we at Christian Aid are reaping a blessing. Luis and Silvia have decided to work with us to open a Christian Aid office in Mexico.

Luis told us that, because Christians in other countries have invested so heavily in Mexico throughout the years, the Church there has grown significantly. Many Mexican evangelicals believe it is time to move from being a “receiving” country to a “giving” country. Luis hopes to direct some of this giving toward indigenous missions worldwide through awareness and fundraising efforts.

Thank you, North Dakota family. And thank you, Dr. Finley, for never letting us forget that we started as an outreach to foreign students.

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