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How AIM Started: Dealing With Failure

In 1989 my heart was broken by a trust betrayed. I had thought that good intentions were enough.  The ministry I had helped start with a friend and partner came to a fork in the road after two years of rapid growth. Either he was going to have his way or I was going to have mine. In my mind…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

In 1989 my heart was broken by a trust betrayed. I had thought that good intentions were enough. 

The ministry I had helped start with a friend and partner came to a fork in the road after two years of rapid growth. Either he was going to have his way or I was going to have mine. In my mind there was only one right thing to do – after all I was the one who was best equipped to lead the ministry forward.

My coworkers didn’t have the same opinion of my abilities that I did. I was asked to leave the ministry I’d helped start. It seemed to me that everything I’d been working for had been dashed to bits. The world came crashing down around me. What I couldn’t understand at the time is that I was in God’s laboratory – He had used those two years as an internship, not so much to shape my vision as to show me myself – my weakness apart from Him.

After being told that I didn’t have a job anymore, I was ready to give up on ministry. I was a victim. I had sold out to the ministry and felt unappreciated for the commitment I’d made.

“Who needs Christians?” I asked God bitterly. It didn’t seem to matter that my wife was pregnant with our fifth child. The path of abandon had left me abandoned. Not only were my dreams dashed, but I still had a family to support.

Immediately I began making contingency plans. I took tests and got my stockbroker’s license. I started a travel agency. I began doing consulting work.

“Don’t grow weary”

Most of my communications with God were probably of a complaining nature. When I was at my lowest point, He spoke to me from Galatians 6:9, telling me not “to become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I felt like saying, “Thanks God! Thanks for leaving this wonderful life of sacrifice and ministry open to me.”

The surrender God was requiring of me was total. Given my bleak record and current prospects in ministry, to abandon the responsible alternatives available to me seemed reckless indeed. Starting Adventures In Missions in my garage seemed foolhardy. What had God shown me that made Him seem trustworthy?

But somehow, God met me at the bottom of my pit. He threw a rope down to pull me up and showed me that the path of ministry, though it seemed crazy to many, was still my path.

Time brings clarity. God showed me other things as the hurt subsided over the years. He showed me that if I had failed along the way, it was in not trusting Him enough. The really reckless thing, He showed me, was to trust in my own competence instead of trusting Him fully. The way of total abandon was really the path that offered the greatest security.

  Next: Lessons from starting in the garage

Comments (4)

  • It’s ironic that you worked at a travel agency. In some ways you still work at a travel agency!
    I really enjoy reading about the beginning of AIM. Ever thought of writing more in depth about it? I bet you could share a lot of wisdom from your experiences.

  • Rashidat Odeyemi

    I agree with Ali. I feel like I’m in a place where God is calling me into ministry, but I don’t know what I don’t know. And not only that, the idea of going to school to learn doesn’t seem to be the right Road at this point. What did that road look like? I can’t wait to continue reading through your blogs to see if you have already shared.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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