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FIRST GLIMPSE: over the horizon

Eric Thomsen is the managing editor of ONE Magazine. Send comments and observations about ONE to

“Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. You sit down. You too. Sit down.”

One by one, she makes her way around the room, touching youth group members lightly on the shoulder as she passes. When she completes the circle, she turns slowly to the scattered handful who remain standing.

With tears in her eyes, she says gently, “If this youth group lived in Swaziland [South Africa], you are the only ones who would be alive five years from now.”

“She” is Magen, visiting summer missionary—a college student who gave sixteen weeks of her life to the hundreds of thousands of children orphaned by the A.I.D.S. epidemic in south-central Africa. She experienced a lifetime of emotions in one summer on the dusty plains. She left a girl. She returned a woman.

“I don’t know about you,” she says, holding up a picture of a beaming group of African teens, “But I am going to go until God says stop. We have so much work to do.”

“It is time to turn our attention toward the cities. For too long we have been too cheap, too scared, and too prejudiced. We must go where the people are.”

The heartfelt words rIng out over the convention hall. David Potete speaks with passion, the passion of a man who has taken the gospel to the inner city of Chicago. With the help of his family, a dedicated staff, and loads of courage, David has carved out a church where few Free Will Baptists have dared to go—in spite of challenges, setbacks, and disappointments. “Quitting,” his voice shakes with fervor, “is not an option.”

Free Will Baptists continue to look to the next horizon. This pioneer spirit stretches from the brazen courage of our ancestors, who left England and Holland seeking religious freedom to the audacity of today’s missionaries who walk boldly into Islamic countries where teaching Christianity carries the penalty of death.

 Consider the facts. Home missionaries—68 of them—are hard at work, building churches in the fastest growing and most densely populated areas in the nation: New York, New England, Arizona, and the urban sprawl along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. International missionaries are active in 20 international locations, and more locations lie just (you guessed it) over the horizon. Free Will Baptist Bible College is leaving the comfortable campus of 64 years to create a new learning environment where young Free Will Baptists can be trained more effectively for the ministry.

Free Will Baptists are on the move, changing the world from Boston to Bulgaria, New York to Nepal. Methods have changed, but the mission and message have not. As new generations scan the map with suitcases packed and Bibles tucked under their arms, the question is not if or when, but where. What does God have waiting…just over the horizon?










©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists