Mud huts, cell phones and Facebook: International Field Conference
By Stephanie Johns
Source of Light Ministries held its 60th Annual International Field Conference last week.
Missionaries from Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Romania, Bolivia, Chile, and Jamaica attended.
Kevin Smith of SLM shared how technology connects international missionaries with one another, “In Africa you can be in the middle of the jungle. You don’t have any electricity for miles, hundreds of miles. People have cell phones. They live in mud huts and they have cell phones. They have access to Facebook. People all over the world can access this stuff. All of these people can be Facebook friends by the end of the conference and they will network.”
Smith said that participants were able to attend educational sessions as well as networking events.
“This is mostly a conference to bring our international delegates here,” he said. “They can see what happens on the home front and also share with each other what works.”
Smith explained that third world prisons are much different from those in the U.S.
“So we may have a good knowledge of how to reach an American prison but we need somebody from a different background to share with us how to reach a third world prison,” he said. “Also, just the different aspects of the reality of their life versus our life.”
Smith explained that SLM grew out of a farmhouse into what is now the Chamber of Commerce building before making its way to the two-story building on Mission Road.
SLM’s motto – Providing the tools to finish the task – is reflected in the organization’s beginnings in 1952.
Smith said that a couple of pastors from this area were charged by an Atlanta area pastor to go on a missions trip to Jamaica to distribute Bible tracts and decided to pass out Bible study interest cards as well. When the missionaries returned home they received so many interest cards that they decided to start a Bible study based on the demand.
“They figured, ‘We need to start something; there’s a demand for it,’” Smith said. “So our entire ministry’s always been driven by request for material.”
Smith is part of SLM’s “Extreme Assignment” program that offers a one-year Bible study course for high school students who have not yet gone to college. The students study Bible curriculum in the mornings and work in the SLM facilities in the afternoons with SLM missionaries, most of whom are retired missionaries from all over the world
Students can earn an associate’s degree in Christian ministry through SLM or complete one year of schooling at SLM to earn two years of credits towards a bachelor’s degree at Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania through an educational agreement the two schools have.
SLM reaches approximately 30,000 students a month in its Madison Discipleship School, a correspondence program that reaches prisoners and lay persons alike who are interested in studying the Bible.
Those unable to read the materials are provided a solar powered recorder to hear the lessons. There is also a Braille ministry and a couple of home school programs – Keys for Kids and the Mailbox Club – offered through SLM.
Printed in the September 20, 2012 edition