Why CMF? — by Dan Cartwright, Chariman, CMF Board of Directors SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret) Chairman, Board of Directors M ore than a few years have passed since I enlisted in the ranks of Christian Military Fellowship. I joined CMF after hearing a presentation by a CMF staff member to a small group of soldiers gathered for a Bible study in a chapel at Ft. Devens, MA. This “prodigal son” had returned home not long before, and I was excited about my rediscovered faith and hungry for both the Word and Christian fellowship. As a result of that hunger, I had joined the small group that met once a week over lunch at Independence Chapel. What I heard about CMF that day really caught my attention! I heard about a fellowship of believers who wore the uniforms of our Armed Forces. They were ordinary people, like this young NCO, with an extraordinary vision! They felt called of God to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their comrades-in-arms, and further, to help each other grow while serving in our country's military. I learned that the purpose of CMF’s small staff, in Denver, Colorado, was to help us “ordinary folks” accomplish the mission defined in the CMF motto— “To Win…To Disciple…To Equip…To Win.” In other words, CMF wasn't about an organization’s ministry TO the military, but about encouraging and supporting ministry IN the military. The “minister” IN the military was supposed to be the “man in the mirror"! Through the years, the mission and goals of CMF haven't changed. If you read the CMF Orientation Brief today (available on the CMF website “Resource” page), you will find the following statement: "We are a PEER ministry TO military people BY military people WITHIN the military society." You might be asking "Why?", and that's certainly a valid question. I found a large part of the answer to that question, already in practice, in a book called "Revolution in World Missions," written by K.P. Yohanan and first published in 1986. K.P. is the founder and President of Gospel for Asia, an organization dedicated to sending support to native pastors in Asia. "Revolution in World Missions" discusses the shift from “colonial" missionary efforts sponsored by Western nations (foreigners), due in large part to countries in Asia gaining their independence from the rule of colonial governments (foreigners) and the tossing out of colonial missionaries (foreigners) along with their governments. The leadership of remaining Christian missionary efforts fell to the native believers, Christians born and raised in the now free countries and remote areas of much of Asia. The spreading of the Gospel became primarily an “inside job,” accomplished by indigenous believers. Was there still a role for the West? Absolutely! K.P. Yohanan aptly remarks in his book:, "God still sovereignly calls Western missionaries to do unique and special tasks in Asia. But we must understand that the primary role for Westerners now should be to support efforts of indigenous mission works through finances and intercessory prayer." What may have begun out of necessity (foreigners tossed out) has actually resulted in evangelization and missionary work in much of Asia that is far more effective than the efforts under the leadership of the westerners (foreigners). There are several reasons for the increased effectiveness of native missionaries, attested to by the many organizations that, like Gospel for Asia, are solely dedicated to supporting native pastors and indigenous mission boards: “They already know the culture, the customs, the laws, the language. So they encounter fewer barriers in witnessing for Christ. They can go where no “foreigner” ever could.” - World-Wide Missions “… the most effective work done in many foreign countries was that carried forward by the nationals themselves. There were many arguments in favor of such missionary endeavors. They were already on the field. They knew the language and the customs.…I later discovered there is another sound argument for national programs—the fact that the work cannot be closed down where there is any type of religious freedom at all.” Dr. Basil Miller. Founder, World-Wide Missions Indigenous means, “native to the land.” A palm tree from Puerto Rico transplanted in Pennsylvania will not survive because it is not indigenous. But fertilizer from Pennsylvania applied to a palm tree in Puerto Rico will make it grow better in its native soil. Indigenous Christianity is not an imported denomination or other foreign organization. A Christian group started by foreigners hardly ever becomes truly indigenous. But an indigenous group can be inspired by visiting speakers from other countries (foreigners) and strengthened by financial help from believers overseas (foreigners), provided it is not used to buy control.” - Christian Aid U.S.A. Let's summarize. Indigenous ministry would be ministry carried out by those who are: Native to the land, Already in the field, Knowledge of the culture, language, customs, and laws, Cannot be expelled, More effective, and Can go where no foreigner could “Culture” is emphasized above because there is a distinct culture in the military. If the military can be viewed as a culture, the different branches can be called sub-cultures. Taken one step further, there are even sub-sub-cultures in each of the branches of service. I spent my entire career, aside from training and certain schools, in the Special Forces culture. If you are a current or past member of one of the branches of service, you know exactly what I mean. I need explain it no further. Suffice it to say that every culture or sub-culture has its own language, customs, and laws. Outsiders to the culture are viewed as foreigners in the same sense as the colonialists mentioned earlier in this article. That last characteristic is strongly emphasized because, years ago, an Army Chaplain invited two young soldiers to a Saturday morning men's breakfast fellowship at a local church of his endorsing denomination. At one point the Chaplain told the assembled group: "These two men go places where I will never be able to set foot." That Chaplain’s few words said it all then, and they still ring true today. They apply to every man and woman in uniform who, unashamed of the Gospel, live out their faith where no Chaplain will ever set foot. And that's what CMF is about!