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How AIM Started: Struggles Along the Way

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Several years later, Jocelyn Woosely, a young lady who helped at the Gateway, was killed in a car accident in Mexico. The staff retreat that year was painful as we mourned her passing. God showed me that He brands those He loves. I remember standing up in front of the staff and trying to express …
By Seth Barnes

Several years later, Jocelyn Woosely, a young lady who helped at the Gateway, was killed in a car accident in Mexico. The staff retreat that year was painful as we mourned her passing. God showed me that He brands those He loves. I remember standing up in front of the staff and trying to express this to them. I’m normally a pretty unemotional guy, but I couldn’t hold back all the feelings.

A few years ago, one of our staff felt God saying He “was going to do a shaking in the ministry.” The way in which she shared that impression itself shook some people up. I think the people who struggled with it the most all left within a year.

We’ve watched in the last couple of years as AIM’s discipleship ministry has grown and taken greater prominence in the scope of our overall ministry. While we started out as a short-term ministry, we’ve become more and more a discipleship ministry that focuses particularly on college students. We’ve also seen God giving a greater priority to the teaching of listening prayer.

Making Disciples Through Missions

Over time, God has modified the vision. Our focus has crystallized around using missions as a discipleship tool. We’ve seen that the web is an efficient way to share opportunities with others. We’ve seen that the longer and more intensively we can disciple young people, the better the long-term fruit.

I’ve found myself getting older. As my children began to grow up, I became consumed by the urgency of the task of discipling them. This began to bring focus to what God has shown me. People like Scott Borg had similar experiences and helped shape the vision. Young people are crying out for someone to invest in them and care about them. There’s a lost generation that wants to be shown how to count for Jesus. The revelation about how to reach out to them may be progressive, but the target remains the same.

The AIM board and I have for years sought a few leaders who could come alongside me and take the administrative burden off so that I could focus more on ministry. Only recently a number of new leaders have begun to do that, positioning AIM for even greater impact.

As AIM moves forward into the future, a number of new ministries like the Institute, the FYM program, and all of our church planting initiatives hold particular promise. God’s showing us how to reach our world. There’s a generation of young people who deserve a higher calling than the risk-averse life of compromise that the church has given them.

That’s what my wife, Karen, and I have sought for our kids. Estie lived in the slums of Nairobi and Matamoros for a year. Emily ministered in drama and dance in South Africa for a year. Our eldest, Talia, joined AIM’s staff after graduating from college. Our other two, Seth and Leah, spent two months ministering in Swaziland.

Our five children represent for me the generation that AIM has targeted. They are eager to make a difference, but need to be discipled and shown how to do so. Maybe you’re like them or maybe you know others like them.

God has called us to raise up a generation of radically committed disciples of Jesus. We’re inspired by Jesus’ own example and seek to follow the methods by which he imparted abundant life to His disciples. That’s the vision, that’s the mission.

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