Greg and Judy Sirmons, serving the Lord in France
Accueil Remonter




The Intensive Missionary Training

When traveling in France, one is vividly reminded of the contrast between the great need of the people to hear the Gospel and the speed at which this need is being met. Once, some forty years ago, while driving in southwestern France, we passed a team of oxen pulling a farmer's wagon. A few years later, in Toulouse, we experienced the thundering takeoff of the world's fastest passenger plane, the Concord. The plodding oxen brought to mind the way mission work and training continues to be carried on by slow and traditional means. The jet, traveling faster than sound, shows us the speed at which the work should be carried on, given the immense needs, the exploding populations, the advancing New Age and occult religions, all pointing to the urgency of this late hour.

Evangelical missions have not been slow to adopt modern technology to the benefit of their ministries. Air travel has cut weeks from the time required for ocean voyages and jungle treks. Radio carries the message where missionaries can only go rarely or may not be permitted at all. Computers lighten the work load and free the missionary to work with people.

However, whether by necessity or habit, no one questions traditional training methods. Once a young Christian has dedicated his or her life to following the Lord's call, the classic way to prepare for future mission work after the completion of high school is to go on to study at a Bible institut or a Christian college. With a diploma in hand, the missionary candidate then starts to raise support. That is, if indeed he does not go on to seminary for more education, or does not do an internship for practical experience or does not spend a couple of years in language school before raising support for the foreign field. Now needing enough to support a growing family, it can take years to have the necessary amount. Next, in some cases, a furlough is taken. Only after these steps does a missionary finally reach his place of service. Statistics indicate that between the day of dedication and arrival on the field, many candidates (some say 40%) are lost for the cause of missions. There are many reasons given for such a change of plans, yet, one must ask: Is there no way to lessen this loss?

The European director of the Society for Europe's Evangelization and his wife were seeking an answer to this question, when, in 1968, the Lord laid upon their hearts a method of combining in-service training with extensive use of missionary teams. They began a student-missionary program now called the Intensive Missionary Training (I.M.T.) program.

Through this program, a missionary candidate, after high school, with church approval and promised support, can go directly to his field of service. There he participates in a three-year Bible training program taught in the language of the people to whom he is called. With his time divided between classes (language and Bible) and practical work (such as evangelization and church planting) he becomes an intrinsic part of the mission team, actively serving while learning.