For security reasons, we don’t share our names. Not so much for our safety, but for the safety of those in places we visit. We don’t want to put them, their families, or their work at risk, which unfortunately is a possibility.
The two of us have been in full-time ministry since 1990. We were in a large US ministry in leadership for various pioneering initiatives, which fits our wiring of always asking, “Where is God not being worshiped today, and what can we do about that?” On a trip overseas in the early 2000’s we began hearing about oral-learning ministry, which eventually led us to start Background.
We have had some incredible experiences with our kids and have taken them into the African bush, Indian leper colonies, and South American slums. They’ve laughed with kids learning how to chase soap bubbles, hiked on jungle mountain trails made by gorillas, and drove on kidney-busting roads to nomad villages which are barely surviving yet welcome visitors with hot tea and the hugest smiles. Except for a few stomach bugs, these have been great experiences as a family.
During this journey, I got my PhD focusing on how an oral-learning nomadic people in Africa started dozens of churches despite having little education and few resources. And, yes, I recognize the irony of writing a four hundred page dissertation on a people who can’t read.
Background Partners was never intended to be a large ministry. One of the values we hold is that mission work is the work of the church. Because of this, Background has only two staff and we take volunteers from supporting churches to help us do training in other countries.
Being small also allows us greater flexibility to respond to different opportunities. Despite looking like a freelance ministry, Background is not a renegade work. We have a Board and have taken more than sixty people from different churches on trips to be an active part of training sessions. Many of these people have made multiple trips and can assure you that we are not off on some Pacific island sipping drinks from coconuts while lying in hammocks.