Backyard or beyond

Multiply’s new, revamped short-term programs equip for local, global service

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Logan Steventon, second from left, of Wichita, Kansas, and Kaiiee Thiessen, Steinbach, Manitoba, pictured at Mae Sot with Myanmar church leaders Pastor Janu and Lily, are among the first FOCUS Internship participants. Photo: Multiply

“Together that the world may know.” For Multiply, the global mission agency for North American Mennonite Brethren, this is a focus, not just a tagline.

In 2019, Multiply announced two shifts in its strategy—releasing the multidenominational aspect of its North American church planting program formerly known as C2C and restructuring its short-term mission programs.

Over the past four years, Multiply has seen changes in short-term mission staffing and short-term training programs and increased its partnership with MB churches in North America in order to unify its ministry, effectively use resources and train workers.

In September 2022, Multiply welcomed the first participants in two mission preparation pathways: the FOCUS Internship, a new, nine-month program, and TREK, a long-standing, eight-month Multiply program that has been retooled.

The emphasis in short-term missions on training and preparation prompted a change in the program name, says Mission Mobilizer Heidi Quiring. What was formerly known as the Short-Term Missions Program is now the Mission Training Program, focusing on training rather than the travel experience.

“Training programs are more about calling people, developing them and equipping them to serve wherever God is calling them whether that be locally, nationally or globally,” Quiring says. “We don’t want to make it only an amazing experience for those in our programs, but we really value training and we thought that needed to be reflected in how we did our programs. Before, we focused more globally, but really if we’re not doing missions in a local or national way, why would we jump globally? Our own backyard is a great place to make disciples and gain experience before jumping right into the global aspect and so we’ve focused on making disciples everywhere you are.”

FOCUS Internships

FOCUS Internships was formed with this purpose and stewardship in mind to help people explore their giftings and discern God’s mission invitation on a journey toward long-term ministry. Interns train at one location in the U.S. or Canada before going to a North American or international location, rather than going directly overseas or to multiple locations, which has improved training and costs.

Carol Letkeman, director of mission training programs, says FOCUS Internships give interns a place to practice outreach while being able to ask questions before going on the global mission field to serve alongside a missionary.

“In this program they’re really practicing, how do we actually reach out to someone we haven’t been in a relationship with before? How do we reach out to people while we’re doing training?” Letkeman says. “That really brought the training alive for people to learn how to share the gospel in a way that is not just textbook but is relational and real.”

TREK 

TREK, a global training program, has seen changes. Formerly, the U.S. and Canada would both train and send TREK teams to different global locations, but Quiring says Multiply has unified to train and send one or more TREK teams to North American and global locations, which has reduced costs and increased unity.

Another way that Multiply has restructured its programs to utilize resources and create a greater impact is by partnering with North American MB churches.

“The concept of being together is something that we hold on to in our programs,” Quiring says. “It’s not us over here doing our thing, the church over there doing their own thing, but it’s striving to serve God in unity. We’ve wanted to take on a position of listening to our local churches, and that’s the feedback we were getting was that people wanted to be in this together and be unified in making disciples locally, nationally and across the globe.”

Partnering with local churches

While in the past Multiply created training programs independently of churches, Quiring says Multiply now intentionally seeks out MB churches throughout the U.S. and Canada and sends FOCUS interns to serve in local churches.

Serving in churches while in training has opened the door for many participants to find ways to serve on mission even if they are not called across the world.

“If they don’t go globally, we want them to go back to their home church and be connected or find ways to be connected in a church and serve their communities wherever God calls them,” Quiring says.

Over the years, that has looked like starting Bible studies in poverty areas, refugee outreach within the U.S. and Canada and church growth.

Letkeman says that the churches have provided a platform for participants to gain experience while also serving locally since many places are different in size, culture and ethnicity whether the church is large or small, rural or urban.

Ultimately, Multiply’s changes have focused on developing leaders who will go and make disciples, whether in global mission or in their local church.

“I feel like the flow of our program is really starting to get sharper and more defined not just for people who are wanting to be missionaries in another part of the world but for those who want to be missionaries at home or really be effective,” Letkeman says. “It’s been learning to help everyday people see that they are called to be a missionary in addition to maybe a doctor, architect or whatever and ask, ‘How do we work together and become fishers of men not just in another part of the world but at home as well?’

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