Adventures in Missions (AIM) continues to train young men and women for a lifetime of service in the Kingdom of God. AIM started in 1973 with a call for young people to serve the Kingdom of God with their gifts and abilities. Today, AIM still trains the young adults to establish themselves as servants for God with the goal of serving God for the rest of their lives.
AIMers are always moving and their lives are constantly changing while God remains their anchor. The current class of AIMers is preparing to leave Lubbock after eight months of preparation and go out to serve around the world. At the same time, there are other AIMers who are returning to Lubbock to graduate after a minimum of fourteen months on their mission field. They learn the value of relationships, no matter how short they may be. They learn the size and the love of the people of God around the world. They learn the heartache of not quite fitting in, no matter where they are. They learn service to God provides the deepest fulfillment in life. They learn that they have feelings that run deeper than they may have ever known. They learn that disappointments will come in this life, but God’s love will never disappoint.
Ultimately, AIMers learn that the real adventure of life is being a lifelong follower of Christ. Some AIMers will find that God can use them in full-time vocational ministry. Every year, many AIMers return to continue broadening their education by getting a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree from Sunset. They will then continue on to full-time ministry. Others will use the skills, discipline and love that they learn during AIM to be effective in their communities. Angeley Wenner graduated from AIM in 2018 and upon arriving back in Florida began serving her community based on the experience and love that she learned while serving in Brazil. She has now started her own ministry in her community, One Hope International.
Regardless of their destinations after AIM, AIMers all share a bond that comes from similar experiences, from leaving the home they have always known and making a new home with people who can only repay you with love. As Gibby Gilbert, one of the AIMers’ instructors, recently expressed in his prayer for AIMers who were coming for graduation, “They are leaving home to come home.” Cultural change affects each AIMer differently, but it affects all of them in one form or another. Without the support and love that can only be found in God, it can be a challenge to make sense of the experiences they have had.
Once they have completed the official AIM time from orientation to graduation, AIMers come away forever changed in a positive way. They are changed by the trials and the refining that only God can do in a person’s life. They come away prepared for a life of service to God where each new day is an adventure in the mission of God.
What makes an AIMer?
Every year Cory Burns and his staff make appeals to those who have graduated high school. They express how AIM can actually jump start their dreams of education, family and career. Before young people start out on their own, they can take a first step in solidifying their commitment to God and sacrifice two years to God. The Kingdom of God deserves the first fruits of our lives. AIM offers them the opportunity to allow God to have two years at the beginning of their adult lives. There is really a narrow window of time in which a young person in our culture can make an investment so unique and so foundational to a life dedicated in service to God.
The truth is that not everyone can answer this call. There are real obstacles that lie in the way. Money for support and for travel is hard for many young men and women to raise on their own. They need help making connections to people who are willing to join in their dream and help them build this foundation for their lives. They also need the encouragement of people around them. They need someone willing to present Adventures in Missions as an option to what could be one of the best decisions of their lives. Many AIMers who come straight out of high school use this time to explore who they are in Christ and whether they can live up to who they want to be as children of God. Most of all, future AIMers need our prayers. They are facing some of the hardest challenges they have ever had to face, and learning to rely on God and on the family of God is a hard but essential part of a lifetime of service to God.
What makes an AIM field?
Finding AIM fields is a prayerful and intentional process. All AIMers do not have the same experience on the field. Culture shock becomes a very real and challenging barrier. Family situations can stress AIMers to the point of wanting to leave. Coordinators try to care for these young men and women and unexpected problems that arise with churches.The field where an AIMer goes for fourteen to eighteen months serves as an essential part of his or her experience. AIM fields have taken many forms over the forty-six year history. Some are exotic and exciting like Thailand or Kenya. Some are familiar and closer to home like Commerce, Texas, or Phoenix, Arizona. AIM strives for every field to be a fertile yet challenging place where these young men and women can serve God and learn who they can be in God’s Kingdom.
AIM is constantly working to improve the field experience. They are always preparing new locations where AIMers can contribute to the ministry and can mature as Christians. There are many things that AIMers are not qualified to do. They are not church planters; they are not personal servants; they are not babysitters. They are apprentices who need the oversight and guidance of a coordinator who can harness the AIMers’ raw talents and abilities to best benefit the Kingdom of God. They are not partner missionaries who can work independently of a mentor. AIMers require a coordinator who can mentor them and help them see how they can be used in the body of Christ and how they can be a part of a culture that is like nothing they have ever known.
As the call for more AIMers grows, the need for more AIM fields will as well. Increasingly, AIMers are helping campus ministries in the United States. Two fields are currently active in reaching campuses in Commerce, Texas, and in Phoenix, Arizona, and one more field is opening this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. AIM is also adding two new foreign fields-Guatemala and Leicester, England. Both fields have missionaries who are dedicated to helping young people and using them to infuse life and service into their growing works. Leicester should be an AIM field next year. The first team to Guatemala will arrive this May.
Pray for AIMers
Every year the AIM office publishes a prayer list of all the AIMers on the field. Contact the AIM office (firstname.lastname@example.org) for your copy. You can also follow AIM on Facebook (AIMSunset), Instagram (AIM_mission) and Twitter (AIM_MISSONS).