STRATEGIC PARTNER UPDATE 2021, Q4
“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to RUN THE RACE THAT IS AHEAD OF US.”(Hebrews 12:1 – CEV, emphasis mine)
If you have been following any of our 2021 year-end fundraising events or communication pieces you would have noticed the above banner “Help Restart Our Engines!” The picture of course comes from the image of a NASCAR race when the race (our international training ministry) is halted by a crash or dangerous weather front (Covid-19 Pandemic) and the race official puts up the yellow caution flag, then the red flag that means stop the race, drive the cars back into the pit area where they wait impatiently until the official announces “Gentlemen, Restart Youth Engines” at which time the pace care returns to the track and the cars line back up in the order they were in when they stopped the race. The pace car (or safety car) drives onto the track (our country mission fields) drives around the track for a lap, gradually increasing in speed, then when all the cars and their drivers (YMI Staff) appear to be ready, the pace car pulls out of the way and the green flag signals the race to resume at full speed and they are off to the races.
The disruption was of course disappointing, and maybe even altered the race strategy and momentum for some of the drivers, supporting crews and car owners. However, the disruption and pause also provided opportunities for some rest, food and drink for the drivers, car maintenance assessment, and perhaps even time for some rethinking of the race strategy to increase the opportunity for a WIN! Those cars and drivers that were already in the front positions in the race will now have the opportunity to take up right where they left off and push for a successful and winning conclusion to the race!
Of course, the analogy eventually breaks down, but there are some similarities and some comparisons that can be made, some for fun and some for serious application.
The disruption and pause also provided opportunities for some rest, food and drink for the drivers, car maintenance assessment, and perhaps even time for some rethinking of the race strategy to increase the opportunity for a WIN!
The race that was running before and perhaps even during some “bad weather” (beginnings of Covid) was still going forward, but perhaps at a somewhat slower pace for safety’s sake. In 2019 and early 2020 we started slowing down but we did not stop. The yellow caution flag was out and the weather was making the “track” slippery. But wow, even in 2020, YMI registered a record 48,763 youth salvation decisions, 5622 new youth workers were trained, and 331 new youth workers graduated from one of our 32 formal academic training programs in 15 countries. Then it happened… the Tornado Warning Hit; Covid jammed and closed country travel, closed seminaries, and paused all face-to-face training. The race screeched to a halt and trainers and training leaders were forced to stay in their homes, quarantine, wear masks and social distance and scramble to produce any form of distance/remote training, even if possible! Like many mission agencies, YMI had to reboot, rethink and re-strategize for a hopeful restart. Many missionaries came off the field into forced furloughs or were stuck in their home countries and cities with only zoom and online programs available for use in training, producing a total stop or major reduction of training quality. Graduations were postponed or canceled. SAD indeed…. Depressing for so many missionaries and national leaders and trainees.
2020 – Red Flag: Stop
2021 – Yellow: Slow
2022 – Green: Go!
Join us as we “Restart Our Engines” and “Get Back into the Race!”
But WOW… while we were “in the Pits” (pun intended) our nationals on the field were still carrying on the race. In 2021 YMI registered and new record 61,072 youth salvation decisions, 10,632 new church youth leaders trained, 348 new formal academic training graduates and 541 new students registering to take classes online and a few face to face in a few schools. WOW indeed… Praise the Lord.
Finally, even with the new Omicron Covid variant poking its head up, with the help of vaccinations and new safety protocols, some of our fields have reopened, schools have reopened, new training projects are restarting negotiations, missionaries have returned to their fields of service, and travel flights are being rebooked.The pace car and safety car (The Holy Spirit as our guide) came back on the track, the caution flag was waved and the cars (our missionaries and trainers) were back on the racetrack, picking up speed and waiting for the final green flag as the signal for a full-speed renewal of the race to reach the 2.3 billion non-believing youth in the world ages 10-29 who have not heard the gospel. Youth workers are excited to begin or restart their training programs…. and we at YMI are ready to RESTART that race.
In other great news, our 2021 “Restart Your Engines” year-end fundraising goal was $50,000. Thanks to you and the power of prayer, we not only met our goal, but went OVER the goal and are now ready to fund the RESTART program planned for resuming the race to train church youth workers to reach and disciple the youth in their countries and beyond!
Dr. Randy Smith
President & Founder
Randy has personally ministered to teens in over 47 countries and trained National Youth Workers in more than 20 countries, starting his ministry to youth in 1970.