Robert Van Eaton Finley
May 2, 1922 – March 22, 2019
Pioneer › Reformer › Visionary
Robert (Bob) V. Finley, founder of Christian Aid Mission, departed to be with Christ his Saviour on March 22, 2019, in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the age of 96.
God used this remarkable man to revolutionize foreign missions and establish the first ministry in America to intentionally reach foreign students for Christ, and second to establish the first mission board to support independent indigenous missionary ministries based in lands of poverty or persecution to help them fulfill their vision for reaching the nations.
Life and Legacy
At his graduation in 1944 from the University of Virginia in his hometown of Charlottesville, Bob was recruited by Youth for Christ (YFC) and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, (IVCF) both new ministries in the U.S., to serve as an evangelist. In Youth for Christ he spoke in Saturday night rallies across the country. Cliff Barrows led the choirs for his meetings and Billy Graham often shared the platform. With IVCF he was assigned to universities in the Midwest as campus evangelist.
In 1948, Bob went to Asia representing both Youth for Christ and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. He conducted evangelistic meetings in India and the Philippines with YFC. Later that year, he went to China as a recruiter for IVCF. When the Communists took over China in 1949 and foreign missionaries had to leave, he went to South Korea. There he and Bob Pierce spoke at large evangelistic meetings hosted by a national association of churches to “Save the Nation.” A great evangelical awakening swept the country. Pierce later founded World Vision to help the many orphans from the Korean War.
Finley also traveled in Taiwan where again there was a mighty move of God. The wife of the Minister of Education was a strong evangelical and arranged meetings for Bob to proclaim salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. Schools were closed and thousands of students were bused to his meetings.
“The Lord was moving powerfully in that part of the world,” Finley said. “We had crusades of up to 50,000 people, and thousands were being saved. But it was there in Asia that I discovered some important truths. Native leaders were much more effective than we foreigners in evangelizing, discipling, and mobilizing their own people. But based in impoverished countries or where Christians were a persecuted minority, they needed support. Billy and Ruth Graham supported me while I was overseas, but their funding along with that of others could go much further and have more impact if it was used to support indigenous missionaries.”
Christian Aid Mission
In 1953, Finley returned to the United States to start International Students, Inc. (ISI) to share the gospel with foreign students and Christian Aid Mission to support indigenous missionary ministries internationally. “Some of the brightest and best were coming to America, and they returned as the future leaders of their nations,” Finley said.
“I am humbled to see God’s hand leading me to be an advocate for native missionaries. I’ve seen these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much, sometimes their own lives, because of the call of God to reach their own people for Jesus Christ,” Finley said. “Although much progress has been made, there are still thousands of languages and peoples that have yet to hear the gospel, even for the first time. I pray that Christian Aid Mission will continue to support native missionaries until every one of the tribes and nations on earth has a witness for Christ.”
By God’s grace, Christian Aid Mission plans to continue the work that Bob Finley started 65 years ago.
If you would like to make a memorial gift in honor of Bob Finley to help frontline missionaries that are establishing a witness for Christ in every nation, please call us at 800-977-5650 and ask for Donor Services, or give online below.
Thank you for partnering with us to support indigenous ministries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard it.