“Thirty Five and Counting”
The PFF staff and board recently gathered in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, to celebrate our ministry’s 35th anniversary. In 1981, Ralph Winter turned to missionary friend, Harold Kurtz,and handed him the reins. Harold had served in Ethiopia and was ministering as a pastor in Portland. He plunged into the work of calling Presbyterians to engage in frontier mission. After more than ten years, Harold added staff--four mobilizers now known as the “Four Horsemen.” Today we are a staff of twelve: three national office staff in Minnesota, six regional mobilizers, two partners from Ethiopia, and one executive director.
On the eve of the New Wilmington Mission Conference, we gathered at Westminster College and celebrated with an anniversary banquet. Cody Watson, Greg Callison, Bill Young, and Jeff Ritchie shared memories from years gone by. Hunter Farrell, Juan Sarmiento, and Ralph Hawkins brought greetings from Presbyterian World Mission and Shenango (PA) Presbytery. We concluded the evening by recognizing Don Dawson, New Wilmington’s retiring conference director.
We are grateful to God for our heritage. Ralph Winter issued the clarion call to see the world’s unevangelized populations as “unreached people groups.” Harold Kurtz assembled a team of mobilizers to call Presbyterian congregations to care about the unreached. Dave Hackett and Bill Young guided PFF to steward the vision and expand our network. Shelley Schuenke, Nan Bielski, and Lisa Nygaard give us solid administrative support and fiscal management. Our mobilizers, of course, are the unsung heroes. They travel, speak, visit partners, and connect congregations with unreached people groups.
Because we connect to partners on the “mission frontier,” we are privileged to see and hear what God is doing among the least-evangelized peoples on earth. Where do we go from here?
First, we are overhauling our communication practices so we can tell these stories better. This fall we will unveil a new website and a new platform of social media messaging. Secondly, we are expanding our mobilizing beyond traditional Presbyterian communities with an emphasis on mobilizing young adults. Finally, we are discerning where in the world we might expand our partnerships. We have already connected to work in Niger; Bangladesh might be next; Thailand and Indonesia are in our prayers.
Jesus declared, “But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting” (John 4:35). And he also said, ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Luke 10:2). Please join us in prayer, on vision trips, and with generous giving as we follow our Lord in His mission to make disciples of all people groups.
Grace and Peace,
Richard L. HaneyExecutive Director