Shadows from Light Unapproachable:
AFM’s Silver Anniversary Book
Tad de Bordenave, ed.
We are familiar with shadows and signs of God’s work in many places in the world. The focus of this book, however, is on shadows overlooked or not recognized. These shadows come from the Gospel spreading to each and every ethnic group. Shadows of Light Unapproachabledraws the mind’s eye to behold the beauty of the searching love deep in the heart of “Light Unapproachable.”
The book traces the origins, the people, and the continuing foundations of Anglican Frontier Missions at its 25th year. I open my chapter with this brief profile of AFM: “The passion of AFM is the humbled and amazed awe before the slender glance we have of the love of God. The direction of our path is to those who do not yet know of this love.”
The ensuing chapters describe the way this missionary society has served God’s vision. They cover the basic questions of who,where, and how.
For the who, three chapters give transparent stories of ordinary people called into this ministry. One traces a couple’s very surprising call to Nepal. Another describes the strategic efforts by a creative husband and wife to plant the first church in a remote population. A third gives the adventures of a couple carrying out pastoral care for the missionaries in very far-flung areas.
The where takes us to about a dozen countries and ethnic groups within them. The dominant religions in these are Buddhist, Communist, traditional religions, Hindu, and Islam. Missionaries recount their challenges, their persevering efforts, and the support of God directly and through his church.
The how comes in two ways. First, we are given deep insights into the major religious forces of today. One who interacts with Muslims and teaches Islamics gives a clear analysis of Islam and Muslim goals. Two workers in India tell of their strategies among ethnic groups in highly resistant areas of that great country. We read of the remarkable missionary expansion of the Diocese of Singapore, initiated about the same time as AFM.
The other section on howcomes from three essays that uncover what are called “the treasures of Anglicanism in the world of frontier mission.” These chapters show the application of the plain essences of our tradition and the enormous advantages they bring to the world of church planting in frontier settings. These chapters will increase our appreciation for what may be familiar in our tradition but will become more valued in this new light.
Chris Royer begins his Introduction with Yogi Berra’s wisdom that if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else. In fact, as Chris goes on to say, AFM follows a vision that is not our own. He states this clearly in his final chapter, titled “Pressing Onward,” where he concludes with the hope and the future of AFM:
And so, AFM’s vision remains unchanged from our founding days: to mobilize the church to pray for and send missionaries to the largest and least-evangelized people groups and geographical regions, that churches might be established among all the 16,833 ethnolinguistic nations on our planet. Before this became our vision, it was Christ’s vision. And human history is marching forward toward the fulfillment of this vision: ‘With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’ (Revelation 5:9-10, New International Version).
The above press release is by the Rev. Tad de Bordenave. I was privileged to contribute a chapter titled “The World of Islam”. Download the PDF here: Duane Miller The World of Islam.