Feature

Caring Around the World

Alliance workers use their skills in ministry

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What is a tentmaker? The apostle Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). He plied his trade while teaching the truth of God’s Word to anyone who would listen. Currently, 99 Alliance workers residing in 22 countries are following in Paul’s footsteps, although none of them actually makes tents. They serve as English teachers, veterinarians, arborealists (tree trimmers), ethnomusicologists, businesspeople, cooks or in any trade that will allow them to get visas.

These individuals are serving in the International Fellowship of Alliance Professionals (IFAP), a network established by The Alliance in 1979. IFAP personnel are organized into three categories: associates, tentmakers and funded IFAP tentmakers (FITS).

Associates serve for less than two years, network with Alliance workers overseas and contribute to Alliance global strategies. Tentmakers commit to serving two or more years, are willing to learn a foreign language and see “tentmaking” as their long-term-ministry goal. Both associates and tentmakers raise their own support. However, tentmakers receive Alliance funds for medical insurance, one-time grants and assistance to pay for conferences. FITS have completed all requirements to serve as Alliance workers but have a profession that allows them to serve in countries where regular workers cannot acquire visas. Only 10 of the 99 IFAP workers receive full financial support from The Alliance.

Eighty percent of the people who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel live in countries that do not allow cross-cultural workers. Through IFAP, workers are beginning to reach them. These professionals do their jobs with excellence as commanded: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23). They live their lives, as Bryant Meyers of World Vision puts it, to “provoke questions to which Christ is the answer” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Also ministering in both creative-access and open countries is Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA). CAMA began in 1974 as a ministry to people displaced by the Vietnam War. Its ministry continued in refugee camps in Thailand and Lebanon before expanding into famine relief efforts in West Africa.

While IFAP workers come from a variety of professional backgrounds, CAMA personnel focus their efforts on relief and development ministries. However, some CAMA workers utilize their professional backgrounds in dentistry or occupational therapy to reach out to those in need.

CAMA currently has 47 fully or partially funded staff members serving in 12 countries. Donations from individuals and churches enable CAMA personnel to serve tsunami survivors, famine-ravaged people and the poor in developing nations. CAMA provides job training and micro-business loans to assist those in need, consequently providing a way for them to support their families. CAMA workers inextricably link their good deeds with God’s good news, meeting the needs of the whole person.

Editor’s note: To learn more about IFAP and CAMA, write to ifap@cmalliance.org or visit www.camaservices.org.

Cover artwork for March 2006 March 2006

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